SOUTH KOREA REPORTS 52 MORE CORONAVIRUS CASES

South Korea Reports 52 More Coronavirus Cases

Country now has second-highest number of infections after China

Deutsche Welle – FEBRUARY 21, 2020

South Korea reported 52 new cases of coronavirus, or COVID-19 on Friday, taking up the number of infected to 156.

The country now has the second highest number of infected people after China.

The country also confirmed its first death from coronavirus on Thursday.

The Korean Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that of the new cases, 39 were from the southern city of Daegu. All of these cases were linked to the Shincheonji Church of Jesus in the city.

The infections have been traced to a 61-year-old woman, who attended the church. The sect has since shut down its services. The mayor of Daegu, Kwon Young-jin has advised residents to stay indoors as much as possible.

Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said that Daegu and the neighboring area of Cheongdo County would be declared as “special care zones.”

The government is trying to identify those who might have come in contact with infected people, and diagnose the disease at the earliest opportunity.

“We will proactively provide necessary assistance including sickbeds, personnel, and equipment,” the PM said in a meeting with senior officials.

Also on Friday, officials in the capital Seoul banned public rallies in a bid to control the spread of the disease.

The coronavirus outbreak that originated in China has infected more than 76,000 globally. It was named COVID-19 by the World Health Organization due the coronavirus that causes it, and the year 2019 when it originated.

Room to room

By Dr. John Campbell – 2/21/2020

My son is in South Korea with the US Army at a base in Daegu. He said the generals are taking this very seriously. Thank you for the updates. It’s lack of information that causes fear for some of us.

 

Report: Coronavirus-Infected Americans Were Flown Home Despite CDC Objections

Infected Americans flown Home, coronavirus

By Joshua Caplan – 2/21/2020

Over a dozen coronavirus-stricken Americans who were flown back to the United States with others who tested negative for the deadly illness were transported against the advice of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), according to a Thursday report.

Earlier this week, 14 Americans with the virus flew stateside along with around 300 others after they were evacuated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Yokohama, Japan.

Upon confirmation of the cases, the State Department and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) officials opted to greenlight the fight despite CDC objecting to the move amid concerns of the disease spreading on the aircraft, the Washington Post reported.

In a statement, both agencies explain the rationale behind returning the infected Americans home, but left out the CDC’s advice against the move. The federal public health agency requested that it be removed from the explanation.

The statement read:

These individuals were moved in the most expeditious and safe manner to a specialized containment area on the evacuation aircraft to isolate them in accordance with standard protocols. Every precaution to ensure proper isolation and community protection measures are being taken, driven by the most up-to-date risk assessments by U.S. health authorities.

The 14 infected evacuees were transported to Travis Air Force Base in California and Lackland Air Force Base in Texas. Thirteen of them were then transferred to the University of Nebraska Medical Center for treatment.

“Those who have tested positive for this novel coronavirus, are only showing mild symptoms of the disease,” Nebraska Medicine said in a statement.

WHO Chief Warns “Window Of Opportunity Is Narrowing” As Coronavirus Spreads To Lebanon, Iran & Israel; China Orders Millions Back To Work

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Update (1130ET): Epidemiologist had already warned that patients could be reinfected with the virus. But the Epoch Times’ Jennifer Zeng is sharing a report about a patient in Sichuan (notably one of the provinces visited by WHO experts) who was reinfected with the virus after recovering.

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UPI reported earlier that everal patients in China who were discharged from hospitals after making a full recovery have been reinfected, citing reports in the People’s Daily on Friday.

One patient in Chengdu was discharged from a local hospital and was quarantined for 14 days at home, but somehow became reinfected. And doctors quoted in the story said her case isn’t unique.

It’s also possible to catch the flu twice in one season, but that is rare.

* * *

Update (1100ET): Epoch Times’ Jennifer Zeng is reporting that in parts of China, the government has signaled to workers that they will be “punished” if they don’t report back to work.

And for everyone who gets infected, don’t expect your employer to deal with it, Zeng adds. “if you get infected, it is not a work-related injury. You are on your own.”

That’s pretty chilling stuff, but as we pointed out yesterday, there’s an ongoing debate in parts of the country where case numbers aren’t as high (not that anybody trusts the government’s figures) about whether keeping the economy on lockdown might be doing more harm then good. And in order to prevent a repeat of what happened last time (when millions just simply didn’t show up), it’s upping the ante for citizens who don’t abide by the state’s command.

The New York Times is reporting that, for the first time since the outbreak began, Chinese health officials acknowledged on Friday that their constant changes to the ‘criteria’ for what constitutes a ‘confirmed case’ have sown confusion and mistrust.

As we have assiduously reported, officials in Hubei have revised their case tallies three times now because of these shifting definitions.

in the province hardest hit by the coronavirus acknowledged for the first time on Friday that their methods of confirming and reporting infection numbers had sown confusion and mistrust. They added that they would no longer subtract cases from the total. The message comes just hours after state media reported new breakouts in a handful of Chinese prisons.

Moving over to the WHO’s daily press conference from Switzerland, Director-General Dr. Tedros commented on the new cases and deaths reported in Iran, as well as Lebanon, which reported its first case this morning though hasn’t yet recorded a death.

Dr. Tedros said the new wave of outbreaks suggests that the world is at a “tipping point.”

“The window of opportunity is narrowing,” Dr. Tedros said, and humanity is running out of time to stop this virus before things get much, much worse.

You know, just some reassuring words to kick off the weekend with a little levity.

We’re starting to suspect that Dr. Tedros may have recently purchased some out-of-the-money S&P puts.

Seemingly responding to the growing number of ‘armchair cranks’ and ‘conspiracy theorists’ questioning why a WHO team of experts – a team that includes two Americans – hasn’t yet traveled to Wuhan, Dr. Tedros added that the team is planning to travel to the epicenter of the outbreak on Saturday.

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So far, the team has traveled to Beijing, Sichuan and Guangdong provinces.

* * *

Update (1000ET): Check this out.

The NYT has published an interesting interactive illustrating the huge drop in flights departing from China to the US and other major economies.

The disappearance of tens of thousands of flights leaving China shows “how the coronavirus has hobbled a nation,” the NYT said.

Jan. 23:

Feb. 13:

Put another way:

As the NYT reports, Oxford Economics said in a recent report that the outbreak could wipe $1.1 trillion from global output, which kind of undercuts Larry Kudlow’s stammering on CNBC about this not being a ‘US story’: It’s difficult to imagine a scenario where the US economy would walk away unaffected by this.

See it here.

In other news, Beijing continues to push the ‘everything’s fine; we’re winning’ narrative.

Update (0725ET): Lebanon has confirmed its first case of COVID-9.

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The tiny Levantine state, which has swollen with refugees from nearby Syria in recent years, is in the middle of an economic crisis, and its government is presently weighing whether to default on an upcoming loan payment, which could lead to deeply unpopular austerity measures, as Al Jazeera reports.

Earlier, Israel’s Health Ministry confirmed that an Israeli citizen contracted the virus while aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship (1 of 11 Israeli passengers). She is currently under supervision and isolation in Israel. All 11 were flown out of Japan and sent directly Friday into isolation at Sheba Tel Hashomer Hospital, where they will remain during a 2-week quarantine period. Earlier this week, Israel’s government announced a temporary travel ban on all foreign nationals who had traveled to Thailand, Singapore, Hong Kong and Macao during the past 2 weeks.

Following reports yesterday that two Beijing hospitals had been put under quarantine amid fears of a wider outbreak, WaPo reported that one district in Beijing has been found to have an “infection density” second only to Wuhan on mainland China. This has served to further intensify concerns about what might happen when millions of Chinese return to work next week.

* * *

When historians look back at the COVID-19 outbreak, they’ll remember this week as an important turning point in the crisis, when international public-health experts and investors started to focus their attention on South Korea, Japan and other countries in the region that have seen the number of new cases accelerate markedly in recent days.

Put another way, evidence that the virus is spreading more rapidly within other Asian countries outside mainland China has become impossible to ignorewhich is probably why US futures are pointing to a lower open for a second straight day.

As Bloomberg reminds us, South Korea has seen its total cases soar past 200 as the number of infections doubled in 24 hours.

Meanwhile, cases in Singapore and Japan have topped 85, and let’s not forget the 600+ from the ‘Diamond Princess’ who have been excluded from the ‘Japan’ total.

At least as far as deaths are concerned, the numbers outside of China remain small: out of 2,247 deaths, only 13 have occurred in other regions (this includes 2 more deaths in Iran announced just minutes ago).

But there’s no getting around it: the spread of the virus will undoubtedly worsen the economic blowback, as one economist explained to BBG.

“The sudden jump in infections in other parts of Asia, notably in Japan and South Korea, has sparked renewed concerns,” said Khoon Goh, Singapore-based head of Asia research at Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd.

“This points to a new phase in the outbreak, and one which will see continued disruption and more economic impact than previously thought.”

Last night, we reported on the latest case numbers out of South Korea, and more have already been recorded. The current total is 204. Earlier this month, the WHO said China’s approach to tackling the virus should be a “model” for other governments facing similar outbreaks. At the time, experts criticized the organization for appearing to parrot Chinese propaganda. But it looks like they might have been on to something. Because as we reported late last night, the Blue House has ordered a ‘special management zones’ in the cities of Daegu and Cheongdo, or what appears to be a kind of ‘soft’ quarantine. The government said that since they’ve failed to prevent an outbreak, they’re pivoting decidedly to a strategy of containment.

Just a few hours ago, Chinese state media reported that 500 cases – roughly half of the new cases reported in China on Friday – involved prisoners at a handful of jails across the country, according to the Washington Post.

Infections have been confirmed at five prisons in Shandong, Hubei and Zhejiang, according to China’s Ministry of Justice. A prison in eastern Shandong province showed 207 out of 2,077 inmates and staff were infected, and the provincial justice department’s Communist Party secretary was dismissed as a result, the province announced. Another jail in Zhejiang province found 34 cases. Hubei province, at the center of the outbreak, said Friday it found 220 new cases inside penitentiaries.

According to the Washington Post, the prison outbreaks underscore the virus’s easy transmissibility in confined spaces.

Even the Global Times acknowledged that the prison outbreaks have “weakened” Beijing’s claims that the virus is receding…

CAP

…Even as local officials adopt ever-more bizarre and draconian restrictions on individual movement.

CAP

Tests at a prison in eastern Shandong province showed 207 out of 2,077 inmates and staff were infected, and the provincial justice department’s Communist Party secretary was dismissed as a result, the province announced. Another jail in Zhejiang province found 34 cases. Hubei province, at the center of the outbreak, said Friday it found 220 new cases inside penitentiaries.

The prison outbreaks underscored the SARS-CoV-2 virus’s high transmissibility in confined spaces after the disease ravaged the Diamond Princess cruise ship docked in Japan.

While overall numbers remain low, thousands who fear they may have come into contact with a ‘super-spreader’ in Daegu, a city of 2.5 million about 2 hours south of Seoul. The woman, who believed she was suffering from a simple cold because she had not traveled abroad, reportedly attended four church services at a “cult-like” church with 1,100 members in the city, as well as branches in other cities, including Seoul, where the mayor has ordered the local church closed until further notice.

Communist Party leaders made yet another public misstep overnight when health officials said they would once again change their ‘criteria’ for what constitutes a ‘confirmed’ case of COVID-19 back to the more inclusive and accurate definition. Officials said they decided on the switch because they couldn’t subtract already confirmed cases from the total, which sounds…almost plausible.

On CNBC Friday morning, Eunice Yoon, the network’s reporter on the ground in Beijing, interviewed the owner of a Beijing restaurant discussing his fears about going out of business. But as China slouches back to work, millions are worried that Beijing might sacrifice the public welfare to get a few factories up and running.

Looks like the cat’s out of the bag: North Korea has cancelled the Pyongyang Marathon, the country’s largest tourism money-maker, because of COVID-19, according to the operators of several tour companies who spoke with AFP.

Beijing-based Koryo Tours, the official partner of the marathon, said on its website it had “received official confirmation today that the Pyongyang Marathon 2020 is cancelled”.

“This is due to the ongoing closure of the North Korean border and COVID-19 virus situation in China and the greater region,” it added.

North Korean officials have vehemently denied reports that the virus had crossed the Yalu River, evening becoming enraged at the US in response to an offer of assistance from the State Department. Recently, a WHO official said there are “no indications” that the virus has arrived in North Korea, but considering that we’re talking about North Korea, that’s hardly surprising.

As the lockdowns in Beijing, Tianjin and other cities intensified over the last week, more Chinese were subjected to displays like this:

On Friday, Japanese health officials and Carnival Japan will release the last batch of passengers and crew from their 14-day quarantine aboard the ‘Diamond Princess’ despite criticisms from the CDC that Japanese officials had failed to maintain the quarantine. Right now, infectious disease experts see Japan as one of the riskiest places outside China, according to BBG. Health Minister Katsunobu Kato said on Sunday that Japan had lost track of the route of some of the infection cases, which have tripled in the past week to more than 90.

Iran just confirmed 13 more cases and 2 new deaths, mostly in Qoms, the same city where some earlier cases had been detected, while also reporting that the virus has reached Tehran, according to Reuters. So far, seven Iranians have been diagnosed in Qom, four in Tehran and two in Gilan, according to a tweet from the Iranian health ministry. Iranian officials have acknowledged the possibility that the virus might have arrived in every major Iranian city.

Even in Korea, health officials say they their investigators can’t figure out how some of the outbreaks started. That’s not exactly reassuring.

Right now, the focus is on South Korea. Last week, it briefly shifted to the UK before moving on to Japan. Italy just reported another three cases, doubling its count from 3 to six. Will they be next? Maybe Africa?

REPORT: COMMUNIST CHINA EXECUTING PETS TO STOP CORONAVIRUS

Report: Communist China Executing Pets To Stop Coronavirus

Officials force residents to hand over family pets during door-to-door visits

  – FEBRUARY 20, 2020

“Community officers” in China are reportedly going door-to-door and forcibly removing and executing villagers’ pets in an attempt to mitigate the coronavirus currently ravaging the nation.

An activist group called Nanchong Missing Animal Aid Group claims officers from a county in south-western China’s Sichuan Province were going house-to-house and ordering citizens to hand over their furry companions, most often dogs.

The township of Longcan in Peng’an County, Nanchong is where the inhumane executions are allegedly taking place.

Video posted to a Chinese website similar to Twitter allegedly shows officers from the villages of Qianqiubang putting deceased dogs into the back of a truck.

Another video posted by an animal activist shows an officer touching a lifeless dog lying on the ground as bystanders watch.

Warning: Viewers may find the following content disturbing.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/video/coronavirus/video-2114744/Video-Chinese-officials-continue-kill-dogs-coronavirus-fears.html

An activist who posted one of the videos claims the Communist Party Secretary of Longcan Town ordered the mass executions.

“Stop slaughtering pets in the midst of the epidemic. Enforce law in a civilized way,” the activist wrote in the social media post.

A spokesperson for PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) told DailyMail the outbreak is not “an excuse to abuse animals.”

“Violent acts like this one don’t address the public health problems. They only cause more conflicts in society,” the PETA spokesperson added.

Additionally, the WHO (World Health Organization) has already dismissed claims that pets are transmitting the virus.

Just last week footage allegedly coming out of China showed a community officer beating a dog to death with a massive wooden staff.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/video/coronavirus/video-2108104/Video-Chinese-worker-beats-dog-death-stop-spreading-coronavirus.html

Pet culling campaigns have also been reported in the cities of Chengdu and Wenzhou.

As the virus continues spreading throughout the world, hitting China the worst, the nation’s communist government is becoming increasingly violent and authoritarian.

Coronavirus pandemic could wipe $1.1 TRILLION off global economy — Oxford Economics

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China’s GDP growth is expected to fall from six percent last year to 5.4 percent in 2020 due to the spread of the COVID-19 virus, said the latest report by Oxford Economics.

It has modeled two scenarios on the coronavirus outbreak morphing into pandemic. Under the first scenario, if it spreads more widely in Asia, world GDP would fall by $400 billion this year, or 0.5 percent. The second scenario foresees the global GDP dropping $1.1 trillion or 1.3 percent, if the virus outbreak becomes a pandemic and a disruption to manufacturing in Asia spreads worldwide. Such a decline would be the same as losing the entire annual output of Indonesia, which is the world’s 16th largest economy.

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“Our scenarios see world GDP hit as a result of declines in discretionary consumption and travel and tourism, with some knock-on financial market effects and weaker investment,” wrote the analysts.

Oxford Economics said it still expected the impact of the virus to be limited to China and to have a significant, but short-term impact, bringing world GDP growth just 0.2 percent lower than January at 2.3 percent.

The growth of new confirmed cases of the deadly coronavirus has slowed down this week, but experts warn it is too early to call the all-clear for the risk of a pandemic. So far, there are over 75,500 confirmed cases and more than 2,100 deaths.

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