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

See the source image

Profile picture for user Tyler Durden

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.

CAP

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

CAP

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.

CAP

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.

CAP

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.

* * *

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.

CAP

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.

CAP

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”.

WHO Turns On China, Demands To Know How Nearly 2,000 Doctors Were Infected With COVID-19

Profile picture for user Tyler Durden

Summary:

  • China says 1,716 medical workers have been infected

  • WHO demands to know more about sick doctors, insists group of 12 virus experts will reach Beijing over the weekend

  • Singapore reports largest daily jump in cases amid increased human-to-human transmission

  • Hong Kong reports 3 new cases

  • Hubei’s new party boss orders quarantine tightened

  • President Xi touts new “biosecurity law”

  • Hong Kong Disney land offers space for quarantine

  • Chinese company says blood plasma of recovered patients useful in combating the virus

  • US mulling new travel restrictions

  • Japan reports 4 new cases; one patient recently returned from Hawaii.

  • CDC Director: Virus is “Coming” to the US.

Update (1040ET): The WHO has just wrapped up its now-daily presser for Friday, and it appeared to focus on imminent plans to send a group of a dozen scientists and researchers to Beijing to figure out exactly what the hell is going on.

Much fuss has been made over the past week over China’s continued refusals to allow Americans, or any other foreigners, for that matter, to offer assistance with the virus response. It’s almost as if they’re…hiding something…

Even after yesterday’s big reveal about the change in their ‘pro forma accounting standards’ to reflect a higher death toll and number of confirmed cases (the jump alarmed global investors and prompted a selloff on equity markets), China still won’t let Americans participate in a WHO-sponsored team of 12 researchers who are traveling to the mainland.

It was a big deal earlier this week when Beijing said it would reluctantly accept the team, ending weeks of suspiciously standoffish behavior (though the WHO bigwigs did travel to Beijing for meetings). But as one analyst said earlier on CNBC: ‘We want to see foreign boots on the ground before we simply take the Chinese at their word’.

It’s also notable how the WHO, initially a purveyor of what seemed like propaganda hot off the presses in Beijing, seems to have turned completely against its benefactor, now treating it with public suspicion.

  • WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION TEDROS SAYS WE NEED TO KNOW MORE ABOUT INFECTION OF 1,760 CHINESE HEALTH WORKERS, INCLUDING TIME PERIOD AND CIRCUMSTANCES

  • WHO BOSS TEDROS SAYS HE EXPECTS FULL TEAM OF WHO-LED INTERNATIONAL HEALTH EXPERTS TO TOUCH DOWN IN CHINA OVER WEEKEND TO HELP PROBE CORONAVIRUS

  • WHO MISSION TO CHINA WILL FOCUS ON UNDERSTANDING TRANSMISSION OF CORONAVIRUS, SEVERITY OF DISEASE AND IMPACT OF ONGOING RESPONSE MEASURES – WHO CHIEF TEDROS SAYS

  • WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION TEDROS SAYS WE NEED TO KNOW MORE ABOUT INFECTION OF 1,760 CHINESE HEALTH WORKERS, INCLUDING TIME PERIOD AND CIRCUMSTANCES

But after today’s WHO press conference, we were left with the distinct impression that it’s almost as if China doesn’t…want the team to come.

Why else would they have waited to reveal the figures about all the sick doctors and health-care workers until Friday morning in the US and Europe? Just a thought.

Back in the US, a team of American expertss is prepared to travel to China to investigate the outbreak on a moments notice, should they ever receive clearance from a government official, according to Secretary Azar.

As he said (and we noted) earlier, the US is bracing for the possibility that the warm weather doesn’t kill the virus, as President Trump expects.

Anyway, moving away from China, we’ve seen unconfirmed reports of four patients in St. Petersburg escaping a COVID-19 quarantine. Earlier in the week, two women escaped quarantines in Siberia.

* * *

Update (1000ET): China is turning the quarantine nob up to ’11’.

After imposing strict lockdown conditions on nearly a third of the country, Beijing’s is kicking off its shift to ‘wartime measures’ by adopting even more strikingly draconian measures on the residents of its capital city.

From Feb. 14 on, all people returning to the city will be advised to quarantine for 14 days.

Meanwhile, the BBC reports that hundreds of conference atendees in London have been contacted by health officials after one of them was later diagnosed with the virus.

The person, who has not been identified, attended the UK Bus Summit at the QEII Conference Centre last week. Two Labour MPs who attended the conference said they’re cancelling public events until Feb. 20, just in case.

So far, nine people in the UK have been confirmed to have the virus.

* * *

Update (0915ET): Japan has reported 4 new cases of the virus, including one man who recently returned from the US state of Hawaii, and another who helped transfer an infected patient diagnosed aboard “the Diamond Princess”, the cruise ship that has been quarantined in Yokohama for 10 days.

Meanwhile, over in the US, this interview of the director of the CDC warning that the virus could become widespread in the US ‘beyond 2020’.

* * *

Update (0850ET): Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said during an interview on Friday morning that more travel restrictions are “on the table,” suggesting that the US might apply similar restrictions to Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan and other Asian countries that have reported rising numbers of cases.

Earlier this month, the State Department raised its travel alert for China to ‘4’, and the US imposed restrictions on foreigners who have recently traveled to China and re-routing Americans who have been to viral hotspots to certain US airports for screening on arrival. These travel restrictions have infuriated Beijing, and prompted a government spokesperson to accuse the US of spreading hysteria.

Even if the virus does “go away” in April, as President Trump has insisted…

…At this point, Q1 GDP is going to be a disaster anyway, so the US might as well kitchen-sink it.

And it’s not like investors have anything to worry about – bad news is still good news, after all, and the market will simply go to pricing in ~1 Fed rate hike in 2020 to ~2.

* * *

Update (0810ET): Earlier this morning, Hong Kong confirmed three more coronavirus infections, bringing the total number of cases in the city to 56.

CAP

Here’s more information on the new cases from SCMP:

  • The Centre for Health Protection said one of the three cases involved a man in critical condition after suffering shortness of breath for more than 10 days. He had to be intubated in Princess Margaret Hospital. He lives in Shek Lei Estate in Kwai Chung, and passed through the Lok Ma Chau border crossing on January 22.

  • Another person who tested positive for the virus, which causes the disease known as Covid-19, was the cousin of a previously infected case. Both attended a family gathering of 29 at a restaurant in North Point on January 26. At least six other members at that gathering have been infected with the new deadly virus, while at least two are still in quarantine pending test results.

  • The third case is a worker in a dim sum restaurant in Sheung Wan, whose husband visited their son in Xinhui, Guangdong province, from January 23 to January 28. Her husband and son are not infected.

Unlike most of the countries that have reported cases of the virus, both Singapore and Hong Kong have confirmed human-to-human transmission within their own borders, meaning the outbreak has already started to spread past the 2nd and 3rd generations of the infected.

Though Singapore is still ahead in terms of number of cases, Hong Kong is giving it a run for its month (though, as we’ve said before, it’s an outbreak, not a race).

* * *

Following Chinese health officials’ claim last night that it “double-counted” some deaths (while crematoriums in the country have been working 24/7 as the outbreak has worsened over the last few weeks), the good people at China’s NHC have disclosed for the first time that 1,716 medical workers have been infected across the country.

Does this figure seem a little underwhelming? Officials put the infected medical worker total at 3.8% of 60k+ total cases on the mainland, and added that six medical workers – including the martyr Dr. Li – have died as of Friday. Of course, even if they’re all wearing protective gear (which we know many aren’t especially in the hardest hit areas like Hubei) this number would still seem low for such an infectious disease, given that more than 65,000 cases have been confirmed across the world.

One expert who spoke to the New York Times said the number of infected medical workers is “concerning.”

“I think it’s quite concerning,” said Benjamin Cowling, a professor of epidemiology at the University of Hong Kong. “Healthcare workers face the challenge of caring for a substantial number of patients in Wuhan. It’s worrying to discover that a number of them have been infected.”

From what we’ve heard and read, it seems that shortages of supplies like facemasks, gloves, goggles and other protective gear have persisted, even in Hubei, according to the NYT. During the SARS outbreak, 961 medical workers were infected, representing some 18% of all infections. Since COVID-19 is even more contagious than SARS, we’d expect the number of medical workers infected to be even higher.

After expressing skepticism about Beijing’s response to the virus earlier in the week, it looks like the WHO is back to shilling for the Communist Party, claiming overnight that the jump in cases in China shouldn’t be characterized as a “spike,” and that it’s normal to change how cases are defined.

Across the mainland, the Chinese people, who have been frustrated by the government’s dissembling, have come up with jokes like this one.

CAP

Given everything we’ve learned about the virus, and all the reports about shortages of medical supplies like facemasks across the country, but especially in Hubei Province, we suspect that the real number is much, much larger. It’s just the latest evidence that Beijing hasn’t given up on doctoring its disease stats, even after its big non-admission on Thursday that its methods for confirming virus-linked cases and deaths hadn’t been sufficiently inclusive.

As we first pointed out yesterday, party officials said yesterday that the country would use “wartime measures” – a kind of public emergency declaration – to fight the virus, suggesting that the lockdowns will become even more widespread.

China Has Ground To A Halt: “On The Ground” Indicators Confirm Worst-Case Scenario

by Tyler Durden

Back on Monday, when analysts and investors were desperately seeking clues whether China has managed to reboot its economy from the 2-week long hiatus following the Lunar New Year/Coronavirus pandemic amid the information blackout unleashed by the communist party in the already opaque country, we pointed out some alternative ways to keep tabs of what is really taking place “on the ground” in China, where Xi Jinping has been urging local businesses and workers to reopen and resume output, while ignoring the risk the viral pandemic poses to them (with potentially catastrophic consequences).

Specifically, Morgan Stanley suggested that real time measurements of Chinese pollution levels would provide a “quick and dirty” (no pun intended) way of observing if any of China’s major metropolises had returned back to normal. What it found was that among some of the top Chinese cities including Guangzhou, Shanghai and Chengdu, a clear pattern was evident – air pollution was only 20-50% of the historical average. As Morgan Stanley concluded, “This could imply that human activities such as traffic and industrial production within/close to those cities are running 50-80% below their potential capacity.”

CAP

As a reminder, all this is (or technically, isn’t) taking place as President Xi Jinping on Wednesday sought to send a message that progress had been made in bringing the coronavirus outbreak under control and, for most parts of the country, the focus should be on getting back to business.

According to state television, Xi chaired a meeting of the Politburo Standing Committee, China’s supreme political body, on the latest developments on the crisis and future policy responses, concluding that there had been “positive changes” with “positive results”.

Xi also reiterated that all levels of local government and Communist Party committees must strive to achieve China’s social and development goals this year, indicating that he did not want the public health crisis to hinder progress.

Most importantly, Xi urged local authorities to refrain from taking excessive measures to curb contagion, and yet clip after clip from China…

… shows that the measures being taken are far beyond merely “excessive” when it comes to limiting the potential spread of the virus, which probably makes sense considering the unexpected surge in infected cases in Wuhan, which have sent the total for China just shy of 60,000.

Add to this the ongoing uncertainty that Beijing is far behind the curve in containing the virus, and one can see why most businesses are reluctant to “get back to normal.”

In the latest confirmation of just that, several other indicators have emerged showing that despite Xi’s stark demands for 1.4 billion Chinese to ignore the global pandemic which may very well have been started by one of China’s own experimental labs…

… virtually all of China – and all those critical supply chains that keep companies across the globe humming and stocked with critical inventory – remain on lockdown.

As confirmation, while we wait for an update from Morgan Stanley on the latest Chinese pollution data (at least until Beijing’s definition of “pollution” is also revised) here is JPMorgan showing that while traditionally daily coal consumption – the primary commodity used to keep China electrified – rebounds in the days following the Lunar New Year collapse when China hibernates for one week, this year there hasn’t been even a modest uptick higher, indicating that so far there hasn’t been even a modest uptick in output.

CAP

Yet electricity is just one core indicator of real-time economic activity. Perhaps an even more critical one is human transit across the 1.4 billion person strong nation. Conveniently there is a way to track rudimentary traffic patterns across some of China’s key metro areas, and they show that – in a confirmation of the worst-case scenario – activity, as measured by travel, across most of China appears to have ground to a halt.

The charts below show TomTom’s traffic congestion data across key Chinese cities such as Beijing, Shanghai and Wuhan as compared to the average measurement for 2019. What they show is that virtually nobody appears to be driving in China!

Here is Beijing’s congestion level over the past 48 hours (a 7 day average is also available) compared to 2019. The data indicates that travel is about 70% below its 2019 peak.

CAP

Amazingly, the industrial hub of Guanghzhou also appears to have ground to a crawl:

CAP

By comparison, here is what Los Angeles traffic looks like over the past 48 hours vs 2019 average.

CAP

While not perfect, and certainly not a comprehensive view of what is really taking place “on the ground”, the above data is a useful real-time indicator of how the people in China perceive the threat of the coronavirus pandemic, and one thing is abundantly clear: as the pandemic spreads further without containment, and as the charts above flatline, so will China’s economy, which means that while Goldman’s draconian view of what happens to Q1 GDP is spot on, the expectation for a V-shaped recovery in Q2 and onward will vaporize faster than a vial of ultra-biohazardaous viruses in a Wuhan virology lab.

CAP

D.C. Airport: Bag of Dead Birds Found in China Traveler’s Luggage

birds found in airport luggage

By PENNY STARR

836

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) seized a package of dead birds from a passenger arriving from China at Dulles International Airport in Virginia, preventing what could have led to the spread of disease in people and domestic livestock.

“These dead birds are prohibited from importation to the United States as unprocessed birds pose a potentially significant disease threat to our nation’s poultry industries and more alarmingly to our citizens as potential vectors of avian influenza,” Casey Durst, director of field operations for CBP’s Baltimore Field Office, said in a press release.

“Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists continue to exercise extraordinary vigilance every day in their fight to protect our nation’s agricultural and economic prosperity from invasive pests and animal diseases,” Durst said.

According to the press release:

The traveler arrived on a flight from Beijing, China January 27 and was destined to an address in Prince George’s County, Maryland. During a baggage examination, CBP agriculture specialists discovered a package with pictures of a cat and dog that the passenger said was cat food. The package contained a bunch of unknown small birds, about 2.5 to 3.5 inches in length.

The birds from China are prohibited for import due to the potential threat of highly pathogenic avian influenza.

The package with the dead birds were “destroyed by incineration,” according to authorities.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regulate animal and animal importation.

BEIJING FALLS TO CORONAVIRUS… CAPITAL OF CHINA LOCKED DOWN UNDER PANDEMIC QUARANTINE

BEIJING FALLS TO CORONAVIRUS… capital of China locked down under pandemic quarantine

China’s capital city of Beijing is now under a pandemic lock down / quarantine order.

Mike Adams | Natural News – FEBRUARY 10, 2020

(Natural News) Two weeks after a draconian quarantine was slapped down on Wuhan, China, the coronavirus pandemic is now spreading out of control, despite the desperate efforts of the communist Chinese regime to control it.

In an emergency order that will no doubt shock the world, China’s capital city of Beijing is now under a pandemic lock down / quarantine order.

breaking news alert just published by the Chinese language Liberty Times Net now confirms that Beijing is under pandemic quarantine lock down: (translated from Chinese)

…today the Beijing authorities also issued a “epidemic prevention and control notice strict residential closed management”, declaring that Beijing has also entered a “closed city” state.

According to the notice, Beijing further restricted “community closure management”, foreign vehicles and personnel are not allowed to enter, arriving in Beijing must also report health status, complete the registration of personal information.

Those who refuse to accept medical observation, home observation and other preventive measures, which constitute violations of public security management, shall be severely punished by the public security organs in accordance with the law.

This means the original Wuhan quarantine is fallen, and the pandemic is now on track to spread across China, throughout Asia and eventually reach the far corners of the world. If China cannot contain it using draconian, military police measures that utterly deny the human rights of its own citizens, what hope do more free societies have of containing the outbreak?

80 CITIES NOW UNDER QUARANTINE IN CHINA, IMPACTING HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF PEOPLE

The number of people under quarantine lock down in China now exceeds the entire population of the United States of America.

Beijing alone is currently around 20 million people, and Beijing is one of the original 11 key cities that Chinese leaders demanded be protected, even if it meant sacrificing other cities and regions in China. The fact that Beijing has fallen to the coronavirus pandemic means China’s last line of defense has now been toppled. From here, the virus is going to burn through the entire Chinese population and could easily lead to millions of deaths over time as the pandemic peaks in regions outside of Wuhan.

Here’s a complete list of the cities now affected, via Liberty Times Net:

From January 23: Wuhan City, Ezhou City, Xiantao City, Zhijiang City, Submarine River City, Tianmen City.

From January 24th: Huanggang City, Xianning City, Chibi City, Xiaoxian City, Yellowstone City, Jingmen City, Yichang City, Enshi City, Dangyang City, Shiyi City,

From January 25th: Huzhou City, Hubei Province.

From January 31st: Wanzhou District, Liangping District, Chongqing City.

From January 31st: Wuzhong City, Yinchuan City, Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region

From February 2nd: Wenzhou City, Zhejiang Province.

From February 4th: Hangzhou, Leqing, Ningbo City, Zhejiang Province, Zhengzhou City, Madian City, Shandong Province, Linyi City, Heilongjiang Province, Harbin City, Jiangsu Province, Nanjing, Xuzhou, Nantong City, Fuzhou City, Fujian Province, And Jingdezhen City, Jiangxi Province.

From February 5: Liaoning Province (14 cities); Kunming City, Yunnan Province; Jinan, Tai’an, Rizhao, Qingdao City, Jiangxi Province; Nanchang City, capital of Jiangxi Province; Hefei City, capital of Anhui Province; Nanning City, capital of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.

From February 6th: Jiangxi Province (11 cities)

From 7 February: Hubei Province (17 cities)

CHINA RECENTLY ACCIDENTALLY ADMITTED THE CORONAVIRUS KILL RATE IS 15% – 17%

Do the math. Follow the real numbers here:

Brighteon.com/7e8cd2d6-3a05-43fa-b83c-b72c28049a1b

CITIZEN JOURNALISTS WHO EXPOSED BEIJING’S LIES IN WUHAN SUDDENLY VANISH

Citizen Journalists Who Exposed Beijing's Lies In Wuhan Suddenly Vanish

Chicoms cracking down on truth about coronavirus crisis

Zero Hedge – FEBRUARY 7, 2020

As we reported late Thursday evening, the death toll from the viral outbreak on mainland China has surpassed 600.

With global markets once again in the red, Bloomberg reports that Beijing has silenced two of the citizen journalists responsible for much of the horrifying footage seeping onto western social media.

As BBG’s reporter explains, Chinese citizen journalists Chen Qiushi and Fang Bin have effectively been “the world’s eyes and ears” inside Wuhan (much of the film produced by American news organizations has consisted of drone footage).

In recent days, SCMP and other news organizations reporting on the ground and publishing in English have warned that Beijing has stepped up efforts to censor Chinese social media after allowing citizens to vent their frustrations and share news without the usual scrutiny.

On Wednesday, China said its censors would conduct “targeted supervision” on the largest social media platforms including Weibo, Tencent’s WeChat and ByteDance’s Douyin. All in an effort to mask the dystopian nightmare that life in cities like Wuhan has become.

But that brief period of informational amnesty is now over, apparently. Fang posted a dramatic video on Friday showing him being forcibly detained and dragged off to a ‘quarantine’. He was detained over a video showing corpses piled up in a Wuhan hospital. However, he has already been released.

Chen, meanwhile, seems to have vanished without a trace, and is believed to still be in government detention. We shared one of Chen’s more alarming videos documenting the severe medical supply shortages and outnumbered medical personnel fighting a ‘losing battle’ against the outbreak.

The crackdown on these journalists comes amid an outpouring of public anger over the death of a doctor who was wrongly victimized by police after attempting to warn the public about the outbreak. Beijing tried to cover up the death, denying it to the western press before the local hospital confirmed.

The videos supplied by the two citizen journos have circulated most freely on twitter, which is where most in-the-know Chinese go for their latest information about the outbreak. Many “hop” the “great firewall” via a VPN.

“There’s a lot more activity happening on Twitter compared with Weibo and WeChat,” said Maya Wang, senior China researcher at Human Rights Watch. There has been a Chinese community on Jack Dorsey’s short-message platform since before President Xi Jinping rose to power, she added, but the recent crackdown has weakened that social circle.

Chen has now been missing for more than 24 hours, according to several friends in contact with BBG News.

Chen has been out of contact for a prolonged period of time. His friends posted a message on his Twitter account saying he has been unreachable since 7 p.m. local time on Thursday. In a texted interview, Bloomberg News’s last question to Chen was whether he was concerned about his safety as he’s among the few people reporting the situation on the front lines.

It’s all part of the great crackdown that Beijing is enforcing, even as the WHO continues to praise the Communist Party for its ‘transparency’.

“After lifting the lid briefly to give the press and social media some freedom,” said Wang about China’s ruling Communist Party, the regime “is now reinstating its control over social media, fearing it could lead to a wider-spread panic.”

With a little luck, the world might soon learn Chen’s whereabouts. Then again, there’s always the chance that he’s never heard from again.

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑