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

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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.

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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.

EERIE DRONE FOOTAGE OF WUHAN REVEALS CHINA’S REAL “GHOST CITY”

Eerie Drone Footage Of Wuhan Reveals China's Real "Ghost City"

Scenes resemble apocalyptic horror movie

Zero Hedge – FEBRUARY 6, 2020

In its latest video on the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak, the New York Times managed to fly a drone over the city of Wuhan, which has been under quarantine/lockdown orders from Beijing for more than a week.

The footage is haunting – like something out of an apocalyptic horror movie.

https://www.nytimes.com/video/players/offsite/index.html?videoId=100000006960506

 

Roughly 80% of virus-related deaths have occurred in Wuhan since the outbreak began. But there’s reason to believe the death toll – particularly in Wuhan – might be much higher.

 

DESPERATE PATIENTS SWARM WUHAN HOSPITAL AS HONG KONG CLOSES BORDER

Desperate Patients Swarm Wuhan Hospital as Hong Kong Closes Border

Medical facilities overwhelmed at virus outbreak’s epicenter

Zero Hedge – FEBRUARY 3, 2020

Late last night, we reported that the death toll from the coronavirus outbreak had surpassed 360 as more suspected cases popped up in New York.

Though no deaths have been reported overnight, Chinese officials warned yesterday that many more cases and deaths would be confirmed on Sunday/Monday.

In the meantime, Chinese markets finally faced their inevitable reckoning. Despite the best efforts of the PBOC and the government, the Chinese market bloodbath was about as bad as expected.

Matt Bracken joins The Alex Jones Show to analyze the state of the world amid a potential pandemic.

But over in the US, investors ignored the latest news out of China and have seemingly bought into the WHO’s optimistic message and China’s accusations about an ‘alarmist’ Washington.

This is surprising, since anybody who has been paying close attention to the situation in China should know that this is far from the truth.

Late last night, while most of America was watching the Superbowl, the New York Times published a scathing story recounting what it’s like on the ground in Wuhan right now. The truth is that all of the warnings of alleged ‘conspiracy theorist’ have more or less turned out to be correct. Supply shortages are still making it impossible for China to diagnose every case of the virus.

Ms. An, 67, needed an official diagnosis from a hospital to qualify for treatment, but the one she and her son raced to last week had no space, even to test her. The next hospital they were referred to here in Wuhan, the city of 11 million people at the center of the outbreak, was full, too, they said. They finally got an intravenous drip for Ms. An’s fever, but that was all.

Since then, Ms. An has quarantined herself at home. She and her son eat separately, wear masks at home and are constantly disinfecting their apartment. Ms. An’s health is declining rapidly, and even keeping water down is a struggle.

“I can’t let my mom die at home,” said her son, He Jun. “Every day I want to cry, but when I cry there are no tears. There is no hope.”

Chilling stuff. And once again, doctors and health-care workers are leveraging their newfound immunity to shed a light on the government’s brutality.

Last month, the government put Wuhan in a virtual lockdown, sealing off the city and banning most public transportation and private cars from its streets in a desperate effort to contain the outbreak. Now, many residents say it is nearly impossible to get the health care they need to treat – or even diagnose – the coronavirus.

Expressing exasperation, doctors say there is a shortage of testing kits and other medical supplies, and it is not clear why more are not available. The ban on transportation means some residents have to walk for hours to get to hospitals – if they are well enough to make the journey. Layers of bureaucracy stand between residents and help. And the long lines outside hospitals for testing and treatment suggest that the outbreak is spreading far beyond the official count of cases.

For many sickened residents, their best hope is the new coronavirus hospital that has just been finished (a second hospital is also being built).

Those who do make it to the hospital say they are squeezed together for hours in waiting rooms, where infections are easily spread. But the shortages have meant that many are ultimately turned away and sent home to self-quarantine, potentially compounding the outbreak by exposing their families.

Many doctors and residents are putting their hopes on the two new coronavirus hospitals that China has been racing to build in Wuhan in just a matter of days. One of them spans about eight acres, has 1,000 beds and is scheduled to open on Monday. The government says 1,400 military medical workers will be deployed to work there, potentially helping with the shortage of health professionals on hand to combat the outbreak.

Ironically, the hospital, which was supposed to open on Monday, is still undergoing ‘finishing touches’, and when masses of sick patients showed up at the gates on Monday morning, construction workers were forced to turn them away.

More than a week into the quarantine/lockdown, millions of residents fear the virus has spread much further than the government realizes.

On Sunday, city officials announced plans to set up quarantine stations around Wuhan for people with symptoms of pneumonia and close contacts among coronavirus patients. But just over a week into the lockdown, many residents believe the virus has already spread much further than the official numbers suggest.

“The situation that we’ve seen is much worse than what has been officially reported,” Long Jian, 32, said outside a hospital where his elderly father was being treated. Mr. Long said his father had to go to six hospitals and wait seven days before he could even be tested for the coronavirus.

But after Monday’s market shellacking, we suspect Beijing will be diverting more resources away from meeting critical shortages of medical supplies to focus instead on arresting shortsellers and locking up ‘fearmongers’, like the doctors who were arrested by local authorities in December for trying to warn the public about the outbreak.

Notice the bars on the hospital-room windows…this hospital is a prison with beds, as we’ve pointed out.

CAP

Following reports OPEC is weighing another supply cut to ‘rebalance’ the global oil market and warnings from economists that the outbreak could wipe more than a percentage point off Chinese GDP growth, officials in Beijing have reportedly changed their economic growth forecasts for 2020 to below 5%, what would be the lowest rate of growth since the beginning of China’s modern era of state-directed capitalism.

To help the economy cope, Beijing is reportedly considering more stimulus measures to try and bolster growth.

Of course, the fallout won’t be limited to China, and in a report published Monday, WSJ explores how the outbreak is already disrupting global supply chains and placing “additional strain” on an increasingly fragile economic expansion.

As we’ve pointed out, the outbreak has stoked racism against Chinese around the world.

If you’re looking for a quick refresher on the outbreak, here’s a short video from SCMP.

On a slightly more positive tip, Chinese state media posted this video about an infected woman who gave birth to a healthy baby in the middle of the crisis.

CAP

And here’s a video of a drone being used to take the temperature of a terrified civilian trapped by decree inside their apartment.

Finally, RT points out that the death toll from the coronavirus outbreak has already eclipsed the death toll from SARS, as the virus has spread to nearly two dozen countries and territories. The pandemic will eventually “circle the globe,” according to scientists from the NYT.

Given the fear of the virus ravaging densely populated areas, the people of Hong Kong have succeeded in pressing the city’s government to tighten travel restrictions, joining the US, Vietnam, Japan, Russia, Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia and many others.

CAP

Hong Kong has shut crossings to the mainland. But even this is likely too little, too late, as the first cases have already been diagnosed in the city.

Members of the G-7 will hold an emergency call on Monday to discuss strategies for containing the outbreak.

Get ready for another week of virus-induced craziness as this doesn’t look ready to disappear from the headlines any time soon.

BRITISH AIRWAYS ENDS ALL FLIGHTS TO CHINA AS VIRUS SPREADS TO MIDDLE EAST

British Airways Ends All Flights To China As Virus Spreads To Middle East

The decision comes after United Airlines said it would temporarily reduce the number of flights between the US and China

Zero Hedge – JANUARY 29, 2020

As the Trump Administration denies plans to shut down all passenger air traffic to China, more airlines around the world are suspending routes, a sign that the coronavirus outbreak could do permanent damage to the industry.

Just hours after the UK Foreign Office warned Britons against traveling to China, British Airways, Britain’s flag carrier, and its second-largest airline in the UK, suspended all flights to China.

British Airways operates direct flights from Heathrow to Beijing and Shanghai, but right now, passengers can’t book flights on those lines until Feb. 29. CNN called it “the most drastic action yet by a major airline” in response to the crisis.

The decision comes after United Airlines said it would temporarily reduce the number of flights between the US and China.

“We have suspended all flights to and from mainland China with immediate effect following advice from the Foreign Office against all but essential travel,” the company said in a statement Wednesday.

This comes after United said Tuesday that it had seen a “significant decline in demand” and been forced it to suspend flights from Feb. 1 through Feb. 8 between its US hubs and Beijing, Hong Kong and Shanghai. In total, 24 round trips have been impacted between Hong Kong to San Francisco and Newark; Beijing to Dulles, O’Hare and Newark; and Shanghai to San Francisco, Newark and O’Hare.

American Airlines, Delta and United all extended change fee waivers through the end of February, while Hong Kong flagship carrier Cathay Pacific said it will reduce the capacity of flights to and from mainland China by half or more until the end of March.

Finland’s Finnair is canceling three weekly flights between Helsinki and Beijing between Feb. 5 and March 29, and two weekly flights between Helsinki and Nanjing between Feb. 8 and March 29, because of the suspension of group travel by Chinese authorities. It will continue to operate flights to Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Guangzhou.

There are now 5,974 cases in China, with 1,239 of whom are severely ill, according to state media on Wednesday. Initial theories, put forward by some infectious disease experts, that the mortality rate of the virus is much lower than reflected in press reports because thousands with mild cases are likely toughing it out in their homes. If anything, it looks like the virus is more lethal than we previously believed.

And it’s certainly more infectious.

Per the SCMP, a 48-hour span of no new nCoV infections came to an end Wednesday when Hong Kong authorities announced two more patients tested positive for the potentially deadly illness, bringing the local total to 10, as the HK government suspends high-speed rail travel between the Special Administrative Region and the mainland. The HK Department of Health said the two new patients, an elderly couple, aged 72 and 73, tested positive at Queen Mary Hospital in Pok Fu Lam, and, because of their age, fall into the high-risk category of infections. More than 100 people are still in isolation in HK.

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The situation is growing increasingly worrisome in Guangdong province, which is centered around the city of Guangzhou, the fifth-largest in China.

Guangzhou is at the center of a massive conurbation stretching out all the way to Shenzen, and to the other neighboring cities of Foshan, Dongguan, Zhongshan and several other neighboring provinces. This agglomeration is one of the largest of its kind on Earth, home to more than 100 million. City officials announced five new infections, two locals and three foreigners. With more than 270 confirmed cases, this well-connected and economically important province is behind only Hubei and Zhejiang in terms of number of cases.

Now that several countries have copies of the coronavirus genome, the race for a workable vaccine is intensifying. Russia joined that race on Wednesday after receiving a copy of the virus genome from China, Russian state media reported on Wednesday. The US said on Tuesday that it would take three months to start initial trials for a vaccine that it’s developing, and three further months to gather data.

In Hong Kong, infectious diseases expert Professor Yuen Kwok-yung said on Tuesday that the city’s researchers had stumbled on a vaccine, but that it would take months to test on animals and at least another year to conduct trials on humans before it could be confirmed ready for human use. Scientists in Melbourne said they grew the virus from a patient sample, which could prove a “game-changer” in combating the outbreak. It was the first time the virus had been grown in a cell culture outside China (here’s hoping it isn’t misused as a potential bioweapon).

After confirming the first case of human-to-human transmission in Japan, health officials in Tokyo have shared more information about the case with the press: The man did not travel to Wuhan but drove buses with tour groups from the city twice this month. The man is in his 60s and lives in Nara Prefecture, according to the Japan Times.

Overnight, the first case of the virus in the Middle East have been confirmed in the United Arab Emirates, according to the country’s Ministry of Health and Community Protection. The 4 infected patients are members of a family that had traveled from Wuhan. In its statement, the health ministry reported the family as being in a stable condition under medical observation, according to CNBC.

As hysteria surrounding the outbreak grows, SCMP reports that resentment toward people from Wuhan is growing across China, as provincial authorities ramp up screenings of those from Wuhan, and citizens build unauthorized roadblocks to keep strangers out of their towns.

Meanwhile, President Xi said Wednesday that “preventing and containing the virus remains a severe and complex task,” a follow up to his claims that China would do whatever is necessary to contain the “demon” virus.

CHINA CURBS TRAVEL TO HONG KONG AS PROJECTIONS SHOW 300,000 MIGHT ALREADY BE INFECTED

China Curbs Travel To Hong Kong As Projections Show 300,000 Might Already Be Infected

Top health officials share grim statistics

Zero Hedge – JANUARY 28, 2020

On Tuesday morning, China’s top health officials shared some grim statistics essentially confirming that the novel coronavirus believed to have emerged from a shady food market in Wuhan is on track to confirm some of the more dire projections shared by epidemiologists.

As we reported late yesterday, the death toll in China has soared past 100 while the number of confirmed cases doubled overnight. Health officials around the world have confirmed more than 4,500 cases, more than triple the number from Friday. All but a few of the deaths recorded so far have been in Wuhan or the surrounding Hubei province, per the SCMP.

Panic has swept across the region as border closures appear to be the overarching theme of Tuesday’s sessions. Even North Korea, which relies on China for 90% of its foreign trade, has closed the border with its patron. More than 50 million remain on lockdown in Hubei, and transit restrictions have been imposed by cities and regions around the country.

CORONA

An ‘extension’ of the Lunar New Year holiday is threatening GDP growth, as economists try to size up the knock-on potential impact on the global economy. The virus has now spread across China and another 17 countries/autonomous territories globally, according to BBG.

But the most important announcement made overnight – at least as far as global markets are concerned – was Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s decision to suspend high-speed rail and ferry service, while halving the number of flights between HK and the mainland.

This news helped send US stock futures higher in early trade, after health experts yesterday urged Lam to use ‘draconian’ measures to curb the spread, for fear of a repeat of the SARS epidemic, which killed some 300 people, according to the BBC.

“The flow of people between the two places needs to be drastically reduced” amid the outbreak, Ms Lam told the South China Morning Post.

China, meanwhile, said it would stop individuals from traveling to Hong Kong to try and curb the virus.

Jiao Yahui, deputy head of the NHC’s medical administration bureau, said during a press conference Tuesday that shortages of medical supplies in Wuhan were still a serious problem.

CDC has issued new travel recommendations urging people to avoid all non-essential trips. But officials remained reluctant to declare a global emergency, instead insisting that this is merely an emergency “in China”. Of course, after yesterday’s brutal pullback, that’s to be expected.

The big piece of evidence that the WHO is purportedly looking for is human-to-human transmission outside China. Zhong Nanshan, a leading expert on SARS and other communicable diseases in China, confirmed human-to-human transmission in at least one case in Wuhan and two cases in Guangdong Province.

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Meanwhile, as we noted yesterday, one case of possible human-to-human transmission is being investigated in Canada, while Vietnam and Japan have now each confirmed one cases.

Japan revealed on Tuesday that a bus driver in his 60s, who recently carried passengers from Wuhan, has been found to have the virus.

During a meeting in Beijing, President Xi told World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus that the safety of the people is his government’s first priority, and that he recognizes the situation is “very serious.”

“This was supposed to be a time for rest, but because of the pneumonia outbreak caused by the novel coronavirus, the Chinese people right now are faced with a very serious battle,” Xi said. “This is something we take very seriously because in our view nothing matters more than people’s safety and health. That is why I myself have been personally deploying, planning, and guiding all the efforts related to containment and mitigation of the outbreak.”

That’s ironic, considering Beijing’s sluggish response after the first cases were discovered in December. After all, Wuhan Mayor Zhou Xianwang on Tuesday spoke out against the deluge of criticism he has faced to accuse Beijing of tying his hands. This comes after President Xi and the party tried to scapegoat him and other local party officials for the crisis.

This was supposed to be a time for rest, but because of the pneumonia outbreak caused by the novel coronavirus, the Chinese people right now are faced with a very serious battle,” Chinese President Xi Jinping tells in Beijing.

Speaking at a press briefing in Beijing on Tuesday, Jiao Yahui, deputy head of the NHC’s medical administration bureau, said shortage of medical supplies was a major constraint in China’s efforts to contain the outbreak and treat infected people.

Tens of thousands of patients are under observation in China after displaying one or more symptoms of the virus. In the US, roughly 100 people are in isolation. But former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb told CNBC that China is obscuring the true number of cases – a suspicion that’s widely held among American infectous-disease experts.

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According to some projections, there might be up to 300,000 cases in China, and there are likely dozens of people who have died of pneumonia who in reality died from nCoV – but those deaths will never be recorded. Although China is “behaving better” than it did during the SARS outbreak, they’re still concealing information from the international community.

“They’re still not behaving well. They’re concealing information, including the spread to health care workers, which we didn’t know until last week” Gottlieb said.

China is already in a “full-blown epidemic.” The US will likely face some limited outbreaks, but Gottlieb said we have the tools to suppress the virus and prevent the same thing from happening in the US.

Jiao said China was sending about 6,000 medical personnel to Hubei from around the country – with more than 4,000 already there and 1,800 more due to arrive by Tuesday evening – to work in Wuhan and seven other cities in the province.

In Wuhan, more than 10,000 hospital beds have been made available for patients, he said, while another 100,000 are being prepared.

In Beijing, CNBC’s Eunice Yoon reported that the local government is strongly encouraging the wearing of facemasks in public.

Police guarding Beijing’s public transit are wearing full hazmat suits, and anybody hoping to board a train must be wearing a mask, and must submit to a temperature check via infrared thermometer. If an individual is found to have a fever, they’re sent to a hospital to be quarantined.

As Beijing tries to telegraph to the world that it has the situation under control, health experts have raised new questions about the government’s response. One infectious disease specialist told the NYT that they were skeptical about the Wuhan quarantine’s ability contain the virus (unsurprising considering that 5 million left the city before the lockdown began).

Beijing and Guangzhou, a port city northwest of Hong Kong, have broken ground on new hospitals, mimicking the speedy construction of not one but two new hospitals in Wuhan to treat patients infected with the virus.

Beijing is also reopening a hospital used to fight the SARS outbreak in 2003, while 6,000 medical staff have been sent to Hubei.

“At this stage of the outbreak, the things that make the most difference are finding people, diagnosing people, and getting them isolated,” said Dr. Tom Inglesby, an infectious diseases specialist and director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.

“If you isolate the city, then my question and my concern is that you’re making it harder in a number of ways to do those things you need to do,” including ferrying critical supplies and ensuring that infected victims receive adequate treatment.

 

Chinese health chiefs warn coronavirus is growing ‘stronger’, MUTATION closely monitored by scientists

CAP

The mysterious coronavirus is now spreading more rapidly and little is still known about it, China‘s senior health officials said, as Beijing grapples with shortages of hazmat suits and protective masks.

“The virus’ transmission ability has become stronger,” National Health Commission Minister Ma Xiaowei said at a press briefing on Sunday.

Ma said that the previously-unknown coronavirus, which has already killed 56 people in China, is spreading faster, while the outbreak is entering a “more serious and complicated phase.”

The official noted that the government’s knowledge of the new virus remains limited and they remain puzzled about the risks posed by its mutations. Beijing will dispatch additional teams of medics to assist patients and study the virus, he added.

Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention head Fu Gao said that there were no signs of clear mutation of the virus so far, but further surveillance is needed.

Local media has reported about the shortage of basic protective gear, like goggles and masks, in Wuhan, the capital of the central Hubei Province, which has been hit hardest by the outbreak. Vice Minister of Industry and Information Technology Wang Jiangping said that Hubei needs about 100,000 protective medical suits per day but the factories across the country are making only 30,000 of them daily.

Chinese virus death toll rises to 56, with nearly 2,000 infected nationwide & more cases confirmed abroad

CAP

The authorities have ordered an increase in production and have diverted millions of masks, along with scores of hazmat suits, gloves and goggles, to Wuhan. The local office of the Red Cross has set up a 24-hour hotline for accepting donations of equipment. E-commerce giant Alibaba, laptop-maker Lenovo, and the world’s largest gaming company Tencent have all pledged to donate large sums of money to purchase medical supplies.

Wuhan and nine other major cities in Hubei were partially quarantined in an effort to contain the outbreak. Ma said that the week-long Lunar New Year vacation provides the best window for the “isolation and disinfection” of the area.

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