‘INCINERATORS HAVE BEEN WORKING AROUND THE CLOCK’: WUHAN RESIDENTS SAY OFFICIAL CORONAVIRUS DEATH TOLL FAKE

‘Incinerators Have Been Working Around the Clock’: Wuhan Residents Say Official Coronavirus Death Toll Fake

Communist Party reportedly paying off bereaved families to keep silent about true death count

By Jamie White – March 30, 2020

Residents in Wuhan, China are reportedly skeptical of the Chinese Communist Party’s official coronavirus death count of 2,500 in the city, with most believing the actual number is over 40,000.

“It can’t be right…because the incinerators have been working round the clock, so how can so few people have died?” a Wuhan resident surnamed Zhang told Radio Free Asia on Friday.

“They started distributing ashes and starting interment ceremonies on Monday,” he said.

Over the last week, seven funeral homes in Wuhan have been distributing cremated remains of 500 people every day, according to a source close to the provincial civil affairs bureau.

“Every funeral home reports data on cremations directly to the authorities twice daily,” the source said. “This means that each funeral home only knows how many cremations it has conducted, but not the situation at the other funeral homes.”

In the fourth quarter of 2019 alone, Wuhan saw 56,007 cremations, according to data released by the Wuhan civil affairs agency.

Additionally, photos out of Wuhan show pallets of urns delivered in trucks, with one mortuary receiving over 5,000 urns in a two-day period.

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“Maybe the authorities are gradually releasing the real figures, intentionally or unintentionally, so that people will gradually come to accept the reality,” a Wuhan resident named Mao told RFA.

The Communist Party is reportedly paying families 3,000 yuan for “funeral allowances” in exchange for their silence.

“There have been a lot of funerals in the past few days, and the authorities are handing out 3,000 yuan in hush money to families who get their loved ones’ remains laid to rest ahead of Qing Ming,” Wuhan resident Chen Yaohui said, referring to the traditional grave tending festival on April 5.

“During the epidemic, they transferred cremation workers from around China to Wuhan keep cremate bodies around the clock,” he added.

China claimed Sunday that Wuhan had only 1 new case of coronavirus in the last 10 days.

Since the coronavirus outbreak went global earlier this year, China launched a massive propaganda campaign to deflect blamemitigate the fallout of its global reputation, and hide the true scale of the coronavirus devastation it unleashed.

‘Incinerators Have Been Working Around the Clock’: Wuhan Residents Say Official Coronavirus Death Toll Fake

Pandemic Historian: Coronavirus ‘a Disease of Globalization’

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 24: Doctors test hospital staff with flu-like symptoms for coronavirus (COVID-19) in set-up tents to triage possible COVID-19 patients outside before they enter the main Emergency department area at St. Barnabas hospital in the Bronx on March 24, 2020 in New York City. New York …

By John Binder

The Chinese coronavirus “is emphatically a disease of globalization,” a pandemic historian at Yale University says.

In an interview published in the Wall Street Journal, Yale University’s Frank Snowden — a historian who most recently in 2006 published a book about Italy’s eradication of malaria — details how the coronavirus pandemic is threatening the globalist worldview of free movement of people and free trade.

The interview finds the Journal‘s Jason Willick seemingly admits the coronavirus is tainting globalism and pushing Americans and the peoples of Europe toward nationhood:

Yet while the [bubonic] plague saw power move up from villages and city-states to national capitals, the coronavirus is encouraging a devolution of authority from supranational units to the nation-state.  This is most obvious in the European Union, where member states are setting their own responses. Open borders within the EU have been closed, and some countries have restricted export of medical supplies. The virus has heightened tensions between the U.S. and China, as Beijing tries to protect its image and Americans worry about access to medical supply chains. [Emphasis added]

Snowden told the Journal the coronavirus is a direct result of the globalization of the American economy after nearly four decades of free trade policy initiatives:

The coronavirus is threatening “the economic and political sinews of globalization, and causing them to unravel to a certain degree,” Mr. Snowden says. He notes that “coronavirus is emphatically a disease of globalization.” The virus is striking hardest in cities that are “densely populated and linked by rapid air travel, by movements of tourists, of refugees, all kinds of business people, all kinds of interlocking networks.” [Emphasis added]

Globalization, Snowden notes, has driven the coronavirus to majorly impact the wealthiest of Americans.

“Respiratory viruses, Mr. Snowden says, tend to be socially indiscriminate in whom they infect. Yet because of its origins in the vectors of globalization, the coronavirus appears to have affected the elite in a high-profile way,” the Journal piece states. “From Tom Hanks to Boris Johnson, people who travel frequently or are in touch with travelers have been among the first to get infected.”

The infection of thousands of the nation’s rich and upper-middle-class has driven class warfare in regions like the Hamptons in New York where some of the wealthiest, most liberal celebrities own property.

A report by Maureen Callahan for the New York Post chronicles how the working class staff of the Hamptons’ elite are turning on them as those infected disregard rules and Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines:

“There’s not a vegetable to be found in this town right now,” says one resident of Springs, a working-class pocket of East Hampton. “It’s these elitist people who think they don’t have to follow the rules.” [Emphasis added]

It’s not just the drastic food shortage out here. Every aspect of life, most crucially medical care, is under strain from the sudden influx of rich Manhattanites panic-fleeing … — and in some cases, knowingly bringing coronavirus. [Emphasis added]

“We’re at the end of Long Island, the tip, and waves of people are bringing this s–t,” says lifelong Montauker James Katsipis. “We should blow up the bridges. Don’t let them in.” [Emphasis added]

While globalization has delivered soaring profits for corporate executives, working- and middle-class American communities have been left behind to grapple with fewer jobs, less industry, stagnant wages, and increase competition in the labor market due to decades-long mass legal immigration.

Since 2001, free trade with China has cost millions of Americans their jobs. For example, the Economic Policy Institute has found that from 2001 to 2015, about 3.4 million U.S. jobs were lost due to the nation’s trade deficit with China.

Of the 3.4 million U.S. jobs lost in that time period, about 2.6 million were lost in the manufacturing industry, making up about three-fourths of the loss of jobs from the U.S.-Chinese trade deficit.

People who brand China a ‘dictatorship’ are jealous that Beijing beat the pandemic, embassy claims

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Commentators refusing to give China credit for containing the Covid-19 outbreak in Wuhan and citing ‘Asian democracies’ as better examples simply envy Beijing’s efficiency, the Chinese embassy in France has said.

China, from which the coronavirus spread throughout the world, has largely succeeded in containing the disease, according to official updates. Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak, has recorded no new cases in a week and has been lifting the restrictions that helped quash the pandemic.

Beijing sees the outcome as a success story and finds it irritating when commentators in countries currently overwhelmed by the virus insist they have nothing to learn from the Chinese experience. At least that’s what’s suggested in an article published this week by the Chinese embassy in France, where the Covid-19 death toll may soon exceed China’s.

Negative commenters “envy the efficiency of our political system and hate the inability of their own nations to perform as well. So they try to stick the ‘dictatorship’ label on China,” the embassy said.

Instead, detractors praise ‘Asian democracies’ like South Korea, Japan and Singapore, which have been more successful than Western nations in containing the pandemic. However, China, which resorted to more drastic quarantine measures than those countries, has a much bigger population. So its task in fighting the disease was far more difficult, the article argued. Ultimately, the virus doesn’t care whether it is ravaging a ‘democracy’ or an ‘autocracy.’

With the threat of coronavirus diminishing at home, Beijing has been busy building goodwill and sharing expertise with other nations affected by the pandemic, sending doctors and aid supplies to those in need.

Serbian PM: ‘Fake news’ that we don’t appreciate EU help, but Covid-19 aid came from China

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This ‘mask diplomacy,’ as some commentators call it, has drawn quite a lot of negative feedback on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. Critics say the help comes with political strings attached, undermines European solidarity, and damages targeted nations’ relations with the United States.

There is also a popular narrative claiming that China has massively misreported the human cost of containing the pandemic. The latest item to fuel it is the reported delivery of about 2,500 urns to a funeral home in Wuhan.

Links to the urns story inevitably popped up in comments to the Chinese embassy’s Twitter feed, after it published excerpts from the article.

 

China’s coronavirus recovery is ‘all fake,’ whistleblowers and residents claim

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By Yuan Ruiyang and Isabelle Li

China’s claims of how it’s handling coronavirus recovery should be taken with more than a few grains of salt.

Even before COVID-19 became a global crisis, Chinese leaders had been criticized for their handling of the situation and lack of transparency about the disease’s progression. Things now look like they’re on the upswing, and businesses even appear to be headed back to work — but whistleblowers and local officials tell Caixan that’s just a carefully crafted ruse.

Beijing has spent much of the outbreak pushing districts to carry on business as usual, with some local governments subsidizing electricity costs and even installing mandatory productivity quotas. Zhejiang, an province east of the epicenter city of Wuhan, claimed as of Feb. 24 it had restored 98.6 percent of its pre-coronavirus work capacity.

But civil servants tell Caixan that businesses are actually faking these numbers. Beijing had started checking Zhejiang businesses’ electricity consumption levels, so district officials ordered the companies to start leaving their lights and machinery on all day to drive the numbers up, one civil servant said. Businesses have reportedly falsified staff attendance logs as well — they “would rather waste a small amount of money on power than irritate local officials,” Caixan writes.

In Wuhan, officials have tried to make it appear that recovery efforts are going smoothly. But when “central leaders” personally survey disinfecting regimens and food delivery, local officials “make a special effort” for them and them alone, one resident told Caixan. And in a video circulating on social media, residents can be seen shouting at visiting leaders from the apartments where they’re being quarantined — “Fake, it’s all fake.” Read more at CaixanKathryn Krawczyk

Americans “Should Prepare For Community Spread,” CDC Warns As HHS’ Azar Admits US Lacks Mask Stockpile: Live Updates

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Summary:

  • WHO warns the rest of the world “is not ready for the virus to spread…”

  • CDC warns Americans “should prepare for possible community spread” of virus.

  • HHS Sec. Azar warns US lacks stockpiles of masks

  • Italy Hotel in Lockdown After First Coronavirus Case in Liguria

  • First case in Switzerland

  • First case in Austria

  • First case in Spain

  • Iran Deputy Health Minister infected with Covid-19

*  *  *

Update (1145ET): US CDC says COVID-19 epidemic is rapidly evolving and expanding, warning that a vaccine could be ready in a year, and Americans should prepare for possible spreads in communities.

“Now is the time for businesses, hospitals, communities, and schools to begin preparing to respond to coronavirus.”

Additionally, HHS Secretary Alex Azar says at Senate panel hearing that the U.S. doesn’t have enough stockpiles of masks and ventilators to fight the coronavirus and that’s one reason the Trump administration is seeking $2.5b in funding.

About 30m so-called N95 respirator masks are stockpiled but as many as 300m are needed for healthcare workers, Azar says, adding that his department doesn’t yet know how much they would cost.

Democratic Sen. Patty Murray, who questioned the administration’s readiness to battle the spread of the virus:

“I’m deeply concerned we’re way behind the eight ball on this,” Murray said while questioning Azar at the Appropriations subcmte hearing.

Azar also says the money would be used to help develop vaccines and treatments for the virus and that a vaccine could be ready in a year.

*  *  *

Update (1100ET): WHO’s Bruce Aylward told journalists that China’s actions “prevented hundreds of thousands of cases” and warned that the rest of the world “is not ready for the virus to spread,” adding that “countries should instruct citizens now on hygeine.”

*  *  *

Update (1001ET): A case of the novel corona virus has been confirmed for the first time in Switzerland. The federal government announced on Tuesday. One person was tested positive for the virus, said those responsible.

Italian officials stated that the first patient was “obviously infected in Italy,” and will consider further measures if they think “uncontrolled transmission” of the virus is occurring.

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Update (0950ET): Spanish authorities have confirmed the fourth case of coronavirus in Catalonia, according to La Vanguardia.

Jordan has banned flights arriving from Italy, becoming the first country in the region to guard against travelers from Europe’s third-largest economy.

* * *

Update (0900ET): Iran’s MP Mahmoud Sadeghi said he had tested positive for the coronavirius, telling supporters: “I don’t have a lot of hope of continuing life in this world”.

CBS has confirmed that it was an Italian doctor visiting the Spanish isle of Tenerife who prompted all guests at his hotel to be confined to their rooms on Tuesday. The country has now confirmed nearly 60 cases on Tuesday.

In the UAE, home to long-haul carriers Emirates and Etihad, airlines have suspended flights to and from Iran for at least a weekcutting the country’s 80 million people off from thousands of flights.

Unsurprisingly, the Dems were quick to slam the White House’s $2.5 billion spending plan that was sent lawmakers on Monday to address the deadly coronavirus outbreak. Democrats said the request fell far short of what’s needed.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the president’s request “long overdue and completely inadequate to the scale of this emergency” in a statement released Monday. She added that the House would propose a “strong, strategic” funding package of its own to address the public health crisis.

Because nothing solves a public health crisis like a political stalemate.

“We have a crisis of coronavirus and President Trump has no plan, no urgency, no understanding of the facts or how to coordinate a response,” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.

Trump joked in public remarks Tuesday that if he had authorized more, Chuck Schumer and the rest would be criticizing him, saying “it should be less.”

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For those who have been watching, CNBC has been talking up a storm about the drugmaker Moderna, which delivered its first experimental coronavirus vaccine for testing, with the clinical trial slated to start in April. The WSJ is supposedly one reason why market’s are clinging to optimism on Tuesday.

The CDC’s Dr. Fauci praised the development, said “nothing has ever gone that fast.”

“Going into a Phase One trial within three months of getting the sequence is unquestionably the world indoor record. Nothing has ever gone that fast,” Dr. Fauci said.

As Jim Cramer won’t stop repeating Tuesday morning, the advances are “really remarkable.”

Finally, Austrian health officials have confirmed that at least one of the likely coronavirus patients isolated Tuesday was an Italian living in the country.

This comes after Italian authorities reported the first coronavirus case in the country’s south: a tourist visiting Sicily who had traveled from Bergamo, an Italian city in the Lombardy region.

* * *

Update (0825ET): Bahrain has banned its citizens from traveling to Iran as it reports 9 new cases of coronavirus, raising the total cases in the tiny island kingdom to 17 in the span of 24 hours.

* * *

Update (0800ET): With his reputation under fire and his popularity slipping, PM Giuseppe Conte said Tuesday that he’s confident that the measures his government has put in place will contain the contagion in the coming days.

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This comes after the PM admitted that a hospital in Lombardy inadvertently helped spread the virus by not adhering to certain health-care protocols. The PM has blamed the hospital for the outbreak in the north, raising questions about whether “the European nation is capable of containing the outbreak,” according to CNN. To put things in perspective, Italy now has 3x the number of cases in Hong Kong.

“That certainly contributed to the spread,” Conte said, without naming the institution concerned. The infection has been centered around the town of Codogno, around 35 miles south of Milan.

“Obviously we cannot predict the progress of the virus. It is clear that there has been an outbreak and it has spread from there,” Conte told reporters, referring to the hospital.

A team of health experts from the World Health Organization and the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control arrived in Italy on Monday to assist local authorities while some 100,000 remain under an effective quarantine.

Over in India, Trump added to his earlier comments by saying a vaccine is “very close”, even though the most generous estimates claim we need another year.

Market experts cited a WSJ report on a possible vaccine as helping market sentiment, though even that report made clear that human tests of the drug are not due until the end of April and results not until July or August.

* * *

Update (0650ET): It’s not even 7 am in the US, and it looks like a new outbreak is beginning in Central Europe.

Local news agencies report that Croatia has confirmed its first case, while the Austrian Province of Tyrol has confirmed two cases.

In South Korea, meanwhile, officials have just confirmed the 11th coronavirus-linked death, a Mongolian man in his mid-30s who had a preexisting liver condition.

Over in India, where President Trump is in the middle of an important state visit with the newly reelected Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the president struck an optimistic tone once again claiming that the virus will be a “short-term” problem that won’t have a lasting impact on the global economy.

“I think it’s a problem that’s going to go away,” he said.

Trump also reportedly told a group of executives gathered in India that the US has “essentially closed the borders” (well, not really) and that “we’re fortunate so far and we think it’s going to remain that way,” according to CNN.

Meanwhile, SK officials announced they’re aiming to test more than 200,000 members of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus, the “cult-like” church at the center of the outbreak in SK.

* * *

Last night, a post written by Paul Joseph Watson highlighted commentary from a Harvard epidemiology professor (we realize we’ve heard from pretty much the whole department at this point in the crisis, but bear with us for a moment) who believes that, at some point, ‘we will all get the coronavirus’.

Well, up to 70% of us, but you get the idea: The notion that this outbreak is far from over is finally starting to sink in. Stocks are struggling to erase yesterday’s losses, with US futures pointing to an open in the green after the biggest drop in two years. More corporations trashing their guidanceand more research offering a glimpse of the faltering Chinese economy (offering a hint that all the crematoriums are keeping air pollution levels elevated even as coal consumption and travel plunge) have seemingly trampled all over the market’s Fed-ensured optimism.

And across Europe, the Middle East and the Far East, headlines tied to the outbreak hit at a similarly non-stop pace on Tuesday.

With so much news, where to start?

In China, data out of the Transport Ministry revealed that barely one-third of China’s workforce has returned to work, despite state-inspired threats. CNN reported Tuesday that only 30% of small businesses in China have returned to work. The problem? Travel disruption has left millions of migrant workers stranded. There’s also the question of schools: Some cities, including Shanghai, are offering students the option of completing their studies online after March 2.

China’s rapidly advancing tech sector has responded to the crisis by unleashing a wide range of technologies outfitted for specific tasks, including ferrying supplies to medical workers, fitting drones with thermal cameras and leveraging computer-processing power to aid the search for a vaccine.

In a televised interview, one health official said it might take 28 days to safely say an area is free of coronavirus, while another official insisted that “low risk” areas should “resume normal activity” on Tuesday. The government is dividing the country outside Hubei and Beijing into three ‘risk’ tranches, and will mandate that those in the lowest tranche get back to work, school or whatever they were doing before the virus hit.

Investors are clearly concerned that, instead of the ‘v’-shaped recovery promised by the IMF, the economic bounce-back from the coronavirus might be closer to a “u”-shape. On top of that, as cases proliferate in South Korea, Italy and the US, pundits are beginning to worry that the rest of the world is where China was two months ago – in other words

Throughout the day, South Korea confirmed 144 more cases, bringing the country-wide total to 977, the highest number outside China.

As the Korean government warns that foreigners shouldn’t travel there, Korean Air Lines and Asiana Airlines, to South Korean airlines, said they would halt flights to Daegu until next month, leaving the door open to a longer shutdown.

On Tuesday afternoon, South Korean President Moon Jae-in traveled to Daegu, the city where more than half of the country’s cases have been detected, and advised its residents to stay indoors but pledged to avoid the draconian restrictions Chinese authorities implemented in Wuhan.

Outbreak-related news in Seoul took on a more morbid tone Tuesday following reports in the local press that a civil servant from the Ministry of Justice’s Emergency Safety Planning Office jumped off a bridge in Seoul at around 5 am local time Tuesday.

The official was one of several individuals charged with overseeing the government’s response to the virus. As cases soar and hysteria mounts, we suspect this news won’t exactly help quiet the public’s nerves.

A Singaporean government minister warned that the city-state could impose sweeping travel restrictions targeting South Korea if the outbreak gets worse.

Minutes ago, Italian authorities confirmed another 8 coronavirus cases, 54 of which have been confirmed on Tuesday, bringing the total to 283. 

More than 100,000 Italians in 10 villages are under lockdown in the ‘red zone’ in northern Italy, where the military has been deployed and people have been told to stay inside. Fears about the virus spreading throughout the region were validated yesterday when Spain reported a third case, an Italian traveler. On Tuesday, Reuters reports that Spanish authorities have closed the Tenerife Hotel on the Canary Islands and are testing all of its occupants.

Most of the cases have been recorded in Lombardy (200+), while Veneto, Emilia-Romagna, Piedmont, Bolzano, Trentino and Rome have all confirmed at least one case. The UK government warned that any British travelers in northern Italy should self-isolate, according to the Washington Post.

In Japan, the “J League”, Japan’s professional soccer league, has announced that it will postpone all games until at least March 15, saying in a statement that it’s “fully committed” to stopping the spread of the coronavirus. The decision followed a government recommendation to cancel all public events and gatherings.

Embracing a markedly different approach from Beijing, Japan has announced a new policy on Tuesday designed to focus medical care on the most serious cases, while urging people with mild symptoms to treat themselves at home.

According to the FT, the new strategy of containment announced by a panel overseeing the virus response acknowledged that simply testing everyone potentially exposed to the more than 100 cases outside the ‘Diamond Princess’ would overwhelm its health-care system.

It is radically different approach from that adopted by China,

Though it hasn’t announced new cases in a day or so, Japan has confirmed 840 cases of novel coronavirus so far, with nearly 700 of them linked to the ‘Diamond Princess’ cruise ship.

Iran’s ‘official’ death toll climbed to 14 on Tuesday, with 61 cases confirmed so far. Despite a wave of border closures that left Iran virtually isolated by its neighbors, more cases have started to bleed across the border: Iraqi health ministry officials have confirmed four coronavirus cases in Kirkuk, all of whom are members of a family. He previously looked unwell during a press conference.

Even more embarrassing for the Iranians than having a local lawmaker expose the horrifyingly real death tollon Tuesday, the government confirmed that a Deputy Health Minister had been sickened by the virus.

We suspect we’ll be hearing more bad news from the Middle East as the full scope of the Iranian outbreak becomes more clear.

 

Shocking Spike In COVID-19 Cases Puts Beijing On High Alert; Officials Weigh “Wuhan-Level” Lockdown

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Summary:

  • Iran confirms 5 cases of COVID-19

  • Japanese officials defend their handling of ‘Diamond Princess’ quarantine

  • Beijing tightens lockdown after dozens more cases reported

  • As outbreak ex-China accelerates, WHO warns case #s “won’t stay low for long.”

  • Hong Kongers evacuated from ‘Diamond Princess’ after Japanese government confirms 2 deaths

  • Researchers confirm COVID-19 more contagious than SARS and MERS

  • Tim Cook welcomes back employees, customers as Apple reopens some China stores

* * *

Update (1420ET): WSJ reports that Japan’s top health officials have defended their handling of the ‘Diamond Princess’ quarantine during a statement to Japan’s parliament, the Diet.

Japan’s Health Minister Katsunobu Kato told Parliament the two people from the Diamond Princess cruise ship who died had “received the best medical treatment” but couldn’t be saved after catching the novel coronavirus on board. As of Thursday, 634 passengers and crew members were diagnosed with the virus out of 3,063 tested. Slightly more than half have no symptoms at all, officials said, and many of the remainder have only mild fever or a cough. Among patients who tested positive for the virus, 28 were reported in serious condition Thursday.

Doctors have said the virus can be particularly harmful in elderly patients, and one of the two fatal cases from the Diamond Princess, a Japanese man in his 80s, had pre-existing bronchial asthma and had been treated for angina. The other, a Japanese woman in her 80s without underlying illnesses, came down with a fever on Feb. 5, the same day passengers were told they would be quarantined in their cabins for two weeks, according to health ministry officials. The next day, she started suffering from diarrhea and saw a doctor on board.

She wasn’t taken to a hospital until Feb. 12 when she started suffering shortness of breath. Her virus test came back positive the following day, and despite treatment with antiviral drugs normally used to treat HIV infection, she died Thursday.

Asked about the woman’s case, health ministry official Hiroshi Umeda said, “I believe it was handled promptly.” He said the ship was a difficult environment for medical staff but they worked day and night and tried to prioritize the most serious cases.

The country has been widely criticized for appearing to break quarantine on the cruise ship, which was home to the largest COVID-19 outbreak outside China. More than 700 passengers who tested negative for the virus disembarked the ship on Wednesday and Thursday.

* * *

Update (1415ET): A group of 59 Hong Kong police officers has been quarantined after a fellow officer tested positive for the virus, according to a statement released publicly by the city’s police.

* * *

Update (1250ET): Less than an hour ago, we mentioned that Beijing’s heavy-handed virus-fighting measures had become the subject of an intense “public debate” about whether they were doing more harm than good.

Well, according to an unconfirmed report from the Epoch Times’ Jennifer Zeng, party officials in Beijing are upgrading its “epidemic prevention” status to “Wuhan-level” – meaning a complete lockdown where residents aren’t allowed to leave their homes without specific permission.

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Another tweet sent earlier in the day reported new restrictions being imposed at a Beijing apartment complex.

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How much longer can the party keep this up before it damages public confidence to a degree that can’t be repaired.

* * *

Update (1200ET): In what appears to be yet another consequence of Beijing’s rushed push to get all of China “back to work” nearly two weeks ago, the Global Times, a Chinese tabloid that also publishes in English.

A hospital in Central Beijing has reported 36 novel coronavirus cases as of Thursday, a sharp increase in the number of cases reported in the capital city. The new cases bring Beijing’s total to 45, stoking fears that the outbreak could accelerate.

Among the infected at Fuxing Hospital in Beijing’s Xicheng district were eight medical workers, nine cleaning staff and 19 patients, along with members of their families.

These confirmations follow reports that Beijing officials quarantined whole office buildings following after some employees were suspected of having the virus.

“Considering 36 confirmed cases were found in Fuxing Hospital, it is more about one case of multiple infections rather than an epidemic of the whole area,” Wang Guangfa, director of the department of respiratory and critical care medicine at Peking University First Hospital, told the Global Times on Thursday.

“This coronavirus issue is big. It will effect a lot of companies, and I think the market’s have underestimated what a big supply-side shock this is,” said Mohammad El-Erian, Bill Gross’s former No. 2 man at PIMCO and a widely watched economist who works now with PIMCO parent Allianz.

Peking University People’s Hospital, another major hospital in Beijing, confirmed that it had received three patients carrying the virus earlier this week on Feb. 17. Already, a total of 164 medical workers at the hospital have been placed under close medical observation after they had “close contact” with the patients – something that seems almost unavoidable for nurses and doctors.

A total of 164 people including medical staff at People’s Hospital who have had close contact with the patients have been put under close The hospital said it had conducted coronavirus tests on 251 personnel, and so far, they’ve all been negative.

In other news, another analyst has told the GT that Apple’s iPhone sales in China will shrink 40% to 50% in the near term after the company closed all its retail stores in the country earlier this month. Those stores have only just started to reopen.

Liang Zhenpeng, a senior industry expert, told the Global Times on Thursday the COVID-19 outbreak has dealt a heavy blow to the sales of all mobile phone suppliers in China, including Apple.

“The iPhone’s sales in the first quarter of this year are likely to be less than half of the same quarter in 2019,” he said. “Mobile phone sales, both online or offline, are very difficult during this period, because the supply chains can hardly be normalized.”

Apple CEO Tim Cook said on his Sina Weibo account, China’s Twitter-like social media, that the company is welcoming back employees and customers and is looking to work closely with their manufacturing partners to get everything back on track.

We suspect this is what triggered the market plunge over the last 30 minutes.

Circling back to Beijing, the municipal officials said that all hospitals in Beijing should “accelerate hospitalization of patients and try their best to diagnose suspected cases to treat the infected patients at the earliest time.”

So far, the confirmed cases in the city have been scattered around 15 of its 16 districts.

The hysteria surrounding the outbreak across China has actually sparked an interesting public debate – something you don’t see much in China – about whether all of the heavy-handed government measures – the quarantines and lockdowns and roadblocks – and the work stoppages are really necessary.

Some even contend that by impoverishing regular Chinese people via work stoppages that damage the economy, the government might be doing more harm to the population than the virus has, according to the New York Times.

With hundreds of millions of people in China now essentially living in isolation and its economy nearly at a standstill, experts in the country are increasingly arguing that Beijing’s efforts to fight the coronavirus are hurting people’s lives and livelihoods while doing little to the stop the virus’s spread.

If the country becomes poorer because of emergency health measures, they say, that drop might hurt public health more than the virus itself.

The debate – including questions about whether mandatory 14-day quarantines, roadblocks and checkpoints are really necessary in areas where there have been few cases – is unusual in a country where dissent is usually censored.

It comes as China reported a significant decrease in new coronavirus infections on Thursday, as health officials changed the way they counted confirmed cases for the second time in over a week.

Of course, President Xi and China’s senior economic officials claim that there won’t be any economic pullback, since Beijing is obviously winning the ‘People’s War’.

* * *

Update (1010ET): Talk about a spike in deaths: Iran is now reporting 9 deaths after shocking the world by revealing that two Chinese nationals infected with the virus had died in the city of Qoms earlier this week.

The Iranian regime has reportedly imposed a China-style crackdown on Qoms, deploying military and crowd-control police across the city.

It’s just the latest sign that the cases and deaths ex-China are accelerating.

CNBC’s Eunice Yoon reports that Beijing has warned Hubei not to allow people back to work before March 10.

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Local leaders said yesterday that they would launch a special financing vehicle to help struggling companies in the province survive the outbreak.

Following the WHO’s daily press conference, Director General Dr. Tedros said the WHO had confirmed 1,000 cases outside mainland China (with more than half of them infected aboard the ‘Diamond Princess’), and 7 deaths, likely excludes some of the deaths announced over the past 12 hours. Though he added that the data coming out of China “appeared to show a decline in new cases.”

“Outside China, we have seen a steady drip of new cases, but we have not yet seen sustained local transmission, except in specific circumstances like the Diamond Princess cruise ship,” he added.

More ominously, Dr. Tedros exclaimed that the outbreak is far from over, and if governments don’t take adequate steps to fight the virus, the number of cases outside China “won’t stay low for very long.”

Worried about more shortages of personal protective equipment like facemasks, Dr. Tedros pleaded with a dozen different manufacturers to do whatever they can to keep up appropriate global supplies.

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The director said the WHO expects to have more data from two clinical trials for treatments in roughly 3 weeks.

Since we haven’t posted a breakdown of new cases yet today, we figured we’d share this list of countries, cases and deaths courtesy of the Associated Press:

According to the Associated Press, the latest figures provided by each government’s health authority as of Thursday in Beijing are:

  • Mainland China: 2,118 deaths among 74,576 cases, mostly in the central province of Hubei

  • Hong Kong: 65 cases, 2 deaths

  • Macao: 10

  • Japan: 727 cases, including 634 from a cruise ship docked in Yokohama, 3 deaths

  • Singapore: 84

  • South Korea: 51, 1 death

  • Thailand: 35

  • Taiwan: 24 cases, 1 death

  • Malaysia: 22

  • Vietnam: 16

  • Germany: 16

  • United States: 15 cases; separately, 1 U.S. citizen died in China

  • Australia: 14

  • France: 12 cases, 1 death

  • United Kingdom: 9

  • United Arab Emirates: 9

  • Canada: 8

  • Iran: 5 cases, 2 deaths

  • Philippines: 3 cases, 1 death

  • India: 3

  • Italy: 3

  • Russia: 2

  • Spain: 2

  • Belgium: 1

  • Nepal: 1

  • Sri Lanka: 1

  • Sweden: 1

  • Cambodia: 1

  • Finland: 1

  • Egypt: 1

In other news, UK passengers aboard the ‘Diamond Princess’ will be evacuated by their government on Friday. The chartered evacuation flights (following the standard template) will land at Boscombe Down airbase in Wiltshire. Elsewhere in the anglosphere, Australia has extended its travel ban for arrivals from China into a fourth week. It will last until Feb. 29, the Guardian reported.

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Hours after Japanese press reports claimed that two passengers who contracted COVID-19 aboard the ‘Diamond Princess’ died yesterday – news that was later confirmed by Japanese authorities – South Korea reported its first fatality while one of its major cities asked citizens to stay inside and avoid venturing outdoors, according to the Washington Post.

According to Japanese government officials, both of the virus-related fatalities were Japanese citizens in their 80s who had been moved off the ship more than a week ago for treatment in a Japanese hospital, though the government has so far declined to release names.

The latest reports Thursday morning confirmed another 13 cases aboard the DP bringing the total to 634. The odds that individuals being released from the 2 week quarantine on Thursday and Friday might have contracted the virus, but have yet to show symptoms, remains high. The death in South Korea raised the death toll ex-China to 10.

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The speed is hardly a surprise for those who have been paying attention to all of the new research, instead of dismissing it for being ‘alarmist’ and ‘not peer reviewed’.

Finally, earlier this week, researchers published the largest study yet of the outbreak, which confirmed that COVID-19 is more contagious than SARS and MERS, leaving it on par with seasonal influenza.

Still, experts insist that the virus’s fatality rate is probably around 2%, meaning that it’s less deadly than SARS, but the wider spread will result in more deaths, CNN reports.

“My sense and the sense of many of my colleagues, is that the ultimate case fatality rate … is less than 2%,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNN’s Jim Sciutto on “New Day” Tuesday. “What is likely not getting counted is a large number of people who are either asymptomatic or minimally symptomatic, so the denominator of your equation is likely much much larger.”

“So I would think at tops it’s 2% and it likely will go down when all the counting gets done to 1% or less. That’s still considerable if you look at the possibility that you’re dealing with a global pandemic,” he added.

Even as President Xi does everything in his power to present an image of success to the Chinese people – in his speeches, he claims the Chinese government’s strict quarantines have been an unmitigated success – global experts, including the WHO, have warned that the disease will continue to spread globally, and that the end of this crisis is still far from certain.

And as new confirmed cases dropped substantially on Wednesday in Hubei, everywhere else, the rate of new infections is accelerating.

In South Korea, the number of cases soared by almost two-thirds to 104 overnight, further emphasizing our observation that the number of cases ex-China has started to accelerate notably as the curve starts to resemble an exponential progression.

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One WHO health expert told a Japanese TV station on Thursday that the virus is “a moving target” making it difficult to collect information and treat people: “Nobody has ever had to deal with this situation before, this is a new virus on a ship with 4,000 people, there are no guidelines for that.” He added that he suspects there was a substantial amount of transmission before it arrived in Yokohama, adding that it was “not possible” to isolate everybody individually.

The WHO senior epidemiologist was responding to claims made by another expert in infectious disease that the Japanese had failed to observer proper quarantine protocols.

Back in Korea, the mayor of Daegu, a city of 2.5 million where 10 South Koreans contracted the disease from a church service, asked residents to stay indoors. Iran also reported two infected that then died.

Experts suspect that one woman in Daegu may have infected at least 40 others by going to her Christian church, according to Yonhap. The alleged ‘superspreader’ is the reason for the huge jump in new cases on Thursday. Experts say the city is now facing an “unprecedented crisis” following the spike in cases.

“We are in an unprecedented crisis,” Daegu’s mayor, Kwon Young-jin, told the press.

Cases are also surging in Singapore, where Deutsche Bank confirmed that an employee in its Singapore office had contracted the virus.

Adding to its woes, Iran reported three new cases on Thursday a day after it confirmed two virus-related deaths in the city of Qoms.

Warnings about the virus’s economic blowback are increasing, as Goldman said Thursday that stocks aren’t completely pricing in the risks from the virus.

Meanwhile, Air France-KLM, Qantas, and the global container shipping giant Maersk became the latest companies to warn about the financial impact from the continued spread of the coronavirus.

As President Xi balances the risks to tens of thousands of lives on one hand, and keeping his promise to double the size of China’s economy by 2020 on the other, it seems the leadership in Beijing are beginning to believe their own propaganda. Premier Li Keqiang, Xi’s No. 2 who is in charge of the committee managing the crisis, local governments should seek to increase the rate of resumed production and work, according to China Central Television.

Put another way: Come on in, the water’s fine, and if you get the virus and die, we’ll cremate your body and tell your family you died of “pneumonia.”

China’s smartphone shipment declined 50%-60% during the 2020 Spring Festival holidays due to the coronavirus outbreak. About 60 million smartphones remain unsold.

Chinese officials are pulling out all the fiscal and monetary stops to protect China’s damaged economy, and on Thursday local officials from Hubei announced a new lending scheme – a “special financing vehicle” – worth 50 billion yuan (more than $7 billion) to stabilize financing for local companies.

To be sure, the drop in new cases last night was largely caused by health officials reversing their decision to include “clinically diagnosed” patients – i.e. those who haven’t yet tested positive due to a shortage of effective tests – in the case totals.

The spate of deaths rattled investors overnight, and US equity futures are pointing to a lower open on Thursday, and a rush of risk-off trading in Asia has pushed the BBG dollar index to a 4-month high following the latest piece of evidence that the coronavirus isn’t simply “another flu”.

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