From clothes to condoms: Coronavirus is threatening global consumption in ways you never knew were possible

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China’s status as the world’s manufacturing powerhouse means the coronavirus epidemic’s effects are being felt in some odd places. We’ve come to terms with no new iPhones, but weirder shortages could upend people’s daily lives.

Plummeting iPhone production and a lack of new cars rolling off the assembly line dominated early discussion of coronavirus-induced shortages. But the epidemic currently sweeping China and making determined inroads into over two dozen other countries has forced hundreds of factories to close, affecting dozens of industries. If nothing else, coronavirus has made the world realize that globalization has its downsides.

Panic buying

It’s not just the virus itself that’s causing shortages, of course – rumors about the virus can be equally as devastating. Hong Kong, which is heavily dependent on China for many staples, has seen store aisles stripped of necessities like toilet paper, rice, and pasta in recent weeks as panic-buying ramps up while some factories struggle to reopen. Mere rumors of a toilet paper shortage earlier this month were enough to send thousands of locals pouring into stores to denude the shelves, triggering a rebuke from the government to those people “with evil intentions” spreading falsehoods “leading to panic buying and even chaos.”

No food

At the same time the virus disrupts its exports, China is having a difficult time getting meat into the country, its own pork supply decimated by a recent outbreak of African swine fever. The US, Europe, and Brazil are still shipping meat to China, but the refrigerated containers have to be handled carefully, plugged in as soon as they’re unloaded to keep the meat cold and moved out quickly to make way for other containers.

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Citywide quarantines have limited the supply of workers to move meat in Shanghai and Xingang, meaning much never makes it off the ship.

No clothes

If anyone was hoping to break the monotony of quarantine with a little gym time, they’re out of luck unless they already have the duds. Athletic-wear behemoth UnderArmour revealed that coronavirus-related delays were causing shortages of fabric, packaging and raw materials, potentially reducing first-quarter revenues by up to $60 million.

They’re far from the only clothing brand hit hard by the outbreak – London-based designer Xuzhi Chen lamented that his clothes are manufactured in Shanghai, and he doesn’t know when production will be back online. He’s not alone in his plight – plenty of western brands have clothes made in China.

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At the same time, Chinese buyers have stayed home from fashion shows in Milan and London, hitting even those Italian, and British brands that do their manufacturing at home hard.

No sex?! 

Selling a niche product doesn’t guarantee safety from the ravages of virus-related factory closures, either. The owner of a chain of Russian sex shops revealed he was feeling the coronavirus squeeze in an interview with Gazeta, lamenting that many of the products he sells are either made in China or have major components sourced from China.

Condom shortages in Singapore and Hong Kong would at first seem to suggest that people are using their quarantine time to get hot and heavy, but photos circulating on social media indicate the prophylactics are flying off the shelves for other reasons – to cover for shortages of gloves and masks, to start. About a quarter of the world’s condoms are made in China.

No sports 

Even sports stars have had to deal with coronavirus-induced shortages, a problem they might have expected their celebrity to insulate them from. Bauer Hockey, which makes custom hockey sticks for elite customers including many NHL players, saw its factory in Tongxiang City in Zhejiang province shut down last month and delay reopening twice.

The issue has apparently caused ripples in the league, leading to players being restricted to a “one-stick limit for practice and maybe two for games.” A player might typically go through several sticks in a single game, so while the shortage is very much a “first world problem,” it has caused much consternation in the hockey world.

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No business

Coronavirus’ economic impact is likely to be felt far into the future. A handful of major trade shows have either been put on hold or canceled altogether, most notably the Mobile World Congress, the world’s largest smartphone trade show. Scheduled for later this month in Barcelona, the conference – which typically hosts 100,000 attendees – has been completely called off. Smaller events for brands like Swatch and Cisco have also gotten the axe. Even gatherings still on the calendar, like this week’s Singapore Airshow, will see attendance severely curtailed as over 70 exhibitors have pulled out. Multi-million-dollar deals that might have been sealed at these temples of commerce will fall by the wayside or be postponed until the return of a favorable business climate – and no one knows quite when that will be.

The virus has disrupted next week’s Berlin Film Festival, with over 50 Chinese delegates and several other international execs pulling out because they couldn’t get travel visas. The festival is supposed to include three Chinese features and one short, which presumably will be screened anyway – even if their directors are stuck home in quarantine. But with China an ever larger international market for films, the absence of the executives will be felt.

No communion

And the virus has caused behaviors to change even where it hasn’t reached epidemic levels. People are thinking twice before having unnecessary contact with others, and redefining what contact might be “necessary.” Our Lady’s Acomb Church in York has pressed pause on its Communion ritual, which involves drinking wine out of a communal chalice, “until further notice” – lest an infected parishioner sicken others.

Such symbolic attempts to stave off an uncertain, invisible threat exemplify the global response to an epidemic that is still not well understood: a combination of panic and prayer.

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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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CDC Admits Coronavirus Patient Accidentally Released Because Of “Lab Mix-Up”; Bullard Says Virus Still “Tail Risk” For Markets

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by Tyler Durden

Summary:

  • Two inmates at a UK prison are being tested for coronavirus and have been restricted to their cells
  • 13th case diagnosed in San Diego was evacuee rescued from Wuhan, she was briefly accidentally released
  • China death toll tops 1,000, globally cases top 40k
  • CNBC’s Eunice Yoon reports on China’s sluggish ‘return to work’
  • Hong Kong building residents quarantined over fears virus spread via pipes
  • Cruise ship with 0 nCoV cases refused entry to fourth port, in danger of running out of food
  • Beijing fires top health officials in Hubei, summons others to Beijing for an explanation
  • Scientists in Hong Kong and the mainland present vastly different takes on virus
  • 2 Japanese men test positive but were accidentally released
  • President Xi says China will be ‘more prosperous’ after outbreak
  • Experts suspicious about how Indonesia hasn’t reported any nCoV cases
  • Xi also reportedly warned top officials that efforts to contain the virus had gone ‘too far’
  • CDC admits lab “mix up” led to coronavirus patient being briefly released back to quarantine
  • Another citizen journalist goes missing in China
  • Hilton warns travel numbers could be impacted for up to a year after Under Armor saw shares plunge on sales warning
  • Bullard warns virus still major “tail risk” for US economy and markets

* * *

Update (1415ET): For everybody buying on Tuesday, uber-dove Jim Bullard, the president of the St. Louis Fed, has some advice: until the coronavirus pandemic has been completely contained, it will continue to pose a tail risk to the market.

Bullard, who spoke Tuesday following Congressional testimony by Fed Chairman Jay Powell, added that the three rate cuts last year will cushion the economy, but even that might not be enough to offset all of the economic uncertainty that markets are facing this year, from the virus to the presidential race.

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This after Powell – who was attacked by President Trump in the middle of his testimony via another Fed-bashing tweet calling for lower rates and a weaker dollar -said that the US economy “looks resilient” despite the coronavirus risk.

But Bullard apparently maintains a somewhat more cautious view:

“The efforts to bring the virus under control are substantial enough that the Chinese economy is expected to grow noticeably slower in the first quarter of 2020 than it otherwise would have,” Mr. Bullard said. “Experience with previous viral outbreaks suggests that the effects on U.S. interest rates can be tangible and last until the outbreak is clearly contained,” he said.

As futures markets price in at least one rate cut in 2020, Bullard said monetary policy “feels a bit too accommodative.” That’s saying something coming from one of the more dovish Fed presidents, though Bullard won’t be a FOMC voter again until 2022, assuming he’s still the president of the St. Louis Fed at that time.

The easing has shifted the outlook for short-term US rates considerably, he added.

“The efforts to bring the virus under control are substantial enough that the Chinese economy is expected to grow noticeably slower in the first quarter of 2020 than it otherwise would have,” Bullard said. “Experience with previous viral outbreaks suggests that the effects on U.S. interest rates can be tangible and last until the outbreak is clearly contained.”

But ultimately, we will need to “wait and see” whether the coronavirus truly becomes the catalyst of a global slowdown, like many analysts fear. Barring that, “the current baseline outlook for 2020 suggests a reasonable chance that a soft landing will be achieved,” Bullard said.

The St. Louis Fed twitter account shared this report that seems to expand upon the theme that monetary policy is much looser than the market realizes.

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Update (1330ET): Beijing has reportedly arrested another citizen journalist named Fang Bin. His arrest follows that of Chen Quishi, whose whereabouts are still unknown days after his disappearance.

Hilton is one of the latest American companies to warn about how the coronavirus outbreak will impact its business. The company said it could suppress travel numbers for up to a year, with their predictions based on what happened during the SARS epidemic. Facebook and Cisco have joined Sony and several other firms in pulling out of the Mobile World Congress, which was scheduled for Barcelona, Spain, a place the virus hasn’t yet touched.

This all comes after Under Armor warned about a $60 million sales hit, sending its stock tumbling lower. And it’s only the latest retailer to warn about the virus’s squeeze on sales.

In one of the more shocking revelations on Tuesday, the CDC said a “lab mix-up” is what led to them nearly releasing an infected patient back into mandatory quarantine on a nearby military base.

On the other hand, several carmakers including Hyundai and Ford confirmed that they had reopened at least some plants on Monday after idling them for all of last week.

Dr. Anne Schuchat, a top official at the CDC, told reporters in Washington, admitted that “it turns out there was probably a mix up and the original test wasn’t negative.” Earlier, state officials claimed the initial test was negative, but a second test was positive.

As we noted earlier, four evacuees at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego had been in federal quarantine after showing symptoms of the virus. After testing negative for the virus, they were returned to the base on Sunday where they joined more than 200 people who are stuck there under a 14-day quarantine order. The patient who tested positive was immediately returned to isolation, according to CNBC. 

Google trends shows that interest in the virus remains elevated, though it has fallen from a peak reached on Jan. 31.

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Finally, the WHO gave the virus a new name: Covid-19.

* * *

Update (1035ET): Two inmates at HMP Bullinton prison in Oxfordshire, UK are being tested for coronavirus, according to Sky News.

The men are being kept in isolation in their cells, while access has been restricted to the wing where the prisoners are. HMP Bullington has capacity for 1,114 inmates, and holds both prisoners on remand and who have been sentenced, along with young adults aged 18-21, according to Sky.

Eight people in the UK have been confirmed as having coronavirus – four of them testing positive on Monday.

* * *

Update (0900ET): The Guardian reports that the diagnosis of four people living in a single apartment block in Hong Kong that has been evacuated and some of its residents quarantined has prompted worried comparisons to SARS.

Medical workers descended on the apartment block in Tsing Yi district wearing full protective suits and evacuated 100 people in 34 apartments after cases were identified more than 10 floors apart, suggesting that the virus may have traveled through the pipes.

One 62-year-old woman was among the victims, and she apparently passed it to her son and daughter-in-law who live with her and were among seven new cases reported on Tuesday, raising the city’s total to 49, leaving it in third place overall, behind mainland China and the ‘Diamond Princess’, which is under quarantine in Yokohama. The worsening outbreak a high profile incident of an individual believed to have tried to escape quarantine prompted Carrie Lam to threaten affixing GPS tracking devices to anyone in an HK quarantine.

Johns Hopkins

Plumbing was a problem during the SARS outbreak as well, as there were incidents where the virus traveled through the pipes.

Meanwhile, the Westerdam luxury liner still hasn’t found anywhere to dock after Thailand refused it entry earlier on Tuesday, which we noted below.

In other China news, the Communist Party Boss of Huangguang, a city that has been badly impacted by the outbreak, warned taht the crisis in his city is still “Very severe.” We suspect he will be scapegoated by this time tomorrow. After appearing in public yesterday for the first time since the outbreak kicked into high gear, President Xi said Tuesday that China will be “more prosperous” after the outbreak (despite its economy-crushing blowback). It’s the latest sign that Beijing is growing desperate to convince the public that China’s slowing economy can weather the outbreak without a severe downturn.

It begs the question: Will Xi add the capitalist concept of ‘creative destruction’ to his ‘Xi Jinping Thought’?

Meanwhile, Reuters reported on Tuesday that Xi warned top party officials last week that the country’s efforts to contain the outbreak – including quarantining 400 million+ people inside their homes and locking down whole cities – had gone too far. Xi fretted that the lockdown would threaten China’s fragile economy. Protecting and nurturing economic growth is Xi’s No. 1 priority in office and the bedrock of his ‘mandate’ to govern.

It’s unclear where Reuters got its information, but it claimed Xi made the remark during a Feb. 3 Politburo Standing Committee meeting that has already been covered by media reports (hand-picked comments were passed to state press). It just shows how much Cina’s tepid growth last year, the weakest in nearly 30 years, has been weighing on the president’s mind.

After reviewing reports on the outbreak from the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) and other economic departments, Xi told local officials during a Feb 3 meeting of the Politburo’s Standing Committee that some of the actions taken to contain the virus are harming the economy, said two people familiar with the meeting, who declined to be named because of the sensitivity of the matter.

He urged them to refrain from “more restrictive measures”, the two people said.

Local authorities outside Wuhan – where the virus is thought to have first taken hold – have shut down schools and factories, sealed off roads and railways, banned public events and even locked down residential compounds. Xi said some of those steps have not been practical and have sown fear among the public, they said.

China’s state council information office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

In an incident that mirrors the circumstances of the 13th virus case diagnosed in the US by health officials in San Diego, Bloomberg reports that two Japanese men who were evacuated from Wuhan late last month have tested positive for 2019-nCoV after earlier having been cleared by the Japanese health ministry. It’s just the latest sign that the virus may be undetectable – or ‘silent’ – for a period, allowing its host to unknowingly spread it without being detected.

Health officials let the coronavirus patient in San Diego travel back to the army base quarantine briefly before realizing the error and recalling her to the hospital.

The case brings Japan’s total to 28 (not including the 136+ trapped aboard the DP).

In other news, the NYT reported late Monday that scientists are growing increasingly suspicious of Indonesia, and the fact that no cases have been reported in the country, despite thousands of tourists from Wuhan and Hubei visiting the country after the outbreak began. Many worry Indonesia is simply ignoring the threat, given that it was relatively slow to freeze flights from China. A consular official estimated that 5,000 Chinese remained in Bali alone, including 200 people from Wuhan.

“So far, Indonesia is the only major country in Asia that does not have a corona case,” Indonesia’s security minister, Mohammad Mahfud MD, told reporters on Friday. “The coronavirus does not exist in Indonesia.”

None of the 285 people who were evacuated from Wuhan and are now in quarantine on the Indonesian island of Natuna have shown signs of the virus, he added.

* * *

Update (0800ET): CNBC’s Eunice Yoon tweeted out a report that aired early Tuesday morning on CNBC detailing the struggles of one factory owner as China lurches slowly back to work.

The takeaway: Much of China’s economy, particularly its industrial core, remains shuttered.

* * *

A 13th case of the Wuhan coronavirus has been confirmed in the US after one of the Americans who traveled to California from the epicenter of the outbreak on an evacuation flight last week has been determined to have contracted the virus.

Like with cockroaches, where there is one case of coronavirus, there will likely be more, especially since the patient traveled on a long-haul flight with dozens of others, increasingly the likelihood that at least some of them were infected. The State Department chartered four flights to rescue more than 800 Americans who had been trapped in Wuhan by the quarantine passed by Chinese officials on Jan. 23. One American who apparently opted to stay behind in Wuhan has succumbed to the virus, according to Chinese officials.

Even more alarmingly, the evacuee was accidentally mistakenly released from UC San Diego Medical Center, though she wasn’t released to the public: All evacuees will spend 14 days on designated military bases being repurposed as quarantines. The case was the first in San Diego.

Initially, the hospital reported that four patients undergoing testing at the hospital had tested negative for the virus, and they were discharged and returned to federal quarantine at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, where more than 200 evacuees are staying. However, “further testing revealed that one of the four patients tested positive for 2019-nCoV,” CDC officials advised San Diego Public Health on Monday morning, and the person was returned to hospital” for observation, the hospital said in a statement.

The CDC said it’s tracing all of the individual’s contacts since arriving in the US, Reuters reports.

“CDC is conducting a thorough contact investigation of the person who has tested positive to determine contacts and to assess if those contacts had high risk exposures.”

Most US-China flights have been suspended by the White House, and only a handful of American nationals arriving on commercial flights from China have been quarantined under rules imposed on Feb. 2 to curb the virus’s spread.

There are now at least 3 cases of the virus diagnosed in California.

One of the private jets that carried Americans back from Wuhan

Out of eight states that have set up airport screenings for the virus, only six of them said they had no one under quarantine, while NY said it had 4 and Illinois aid it had a “tiny” number.

In China, the scapegoating continued on Tuesday as Beijing fired two of the most senior health officials in Hubei just hours after officials reported 108 new deaths from the virus on Monday, the first time a daily death toll has topped 100. Only 2 of the more than 1,000 deaths occurred outside mainland China.

Zhang Jin, the Communist party boss of the provincial health commission in Hubei, and its director Liu Yingzi were removed by decree of the party yesterday.

In their stead, senior Beijing official Chen Yixin has been sent to Wuhan to lead virus-suppression efforts at the crisis’s ground zero. Chen, a former deputy party chief in Hubei, will be deputy head of a central government group dispatched to the province.

Additionally, 3 senior Wuhan officials have been summoned to Beijing to explain their failings, according to state media reports cited by the SCMP.

Authorities were accused of playing down the extent of the outbreak in early January because they wanted to project an image of stability.

Wuhan authorities also faced criticism for going ahead with an annual public banquet for 40,000 families just days before the city was placed on lockdown, according to the Daily Mail. Beijing is of course trying to deflect attention from the senior Party leadership’s failures – failures that are implicit in their policies which guarantee the suppression of information during crises. However, the death of Dr. Li Wenliang late last week made it almost inevitable that the locals in Wuhan and Hubei would be punished – after all, it was Wuhan police who initially reprimanded Dr. Li for his warnings about the outbreak. Warnings that, if heeded, would have helped save hundreds of lives.

A top Red Cross official in Wuhan was also removed for dereliction of duty earlier this month. Local officials have faced an intense backlash almost since the beginning, once it had become clear that the virus had been allowed to spread within Wuhan without police or health authorities doing anything to stop it.

“Right now I’m in a state of guilt, remorse and self-reproach” said the official in an interview with CCTV last month.”

“If strict control measures had been taken earlier, the result would have been better than now.”

In South Korea, Reuters reports that the first confirmed coronavirus patient is returning to Wuhan (apparently despite the lockdown) after being discharged by the South Korean medical team that treated her.

While searching through virus-related headlines this morning, we stumbled on a telling example of Beijing’s strategy of extreme media censorship after its brief experiment with ‘openness’ provoked widespread public rage Consider this contrast: A doctor who helped lead the fight against SARS in Hong Kong warned Tuesday that nCoV could infect “60% to 80%” of the global population if left unchecked. While on the mainland, the state media reported that another veteran SARS fighter named Zhong Nanshan, the Chinese government’s senior medical adviser, is claiming that the outbreak is peaking right now.

In an interview with Reuters, the 83-year-old scientists who helped fight the SARS epidemic said his model showed the virus should peak in the middle of February.

Echoing comments from President Trump, the scientist added that he hoped the virus would peter out by April.

“I hope this outbreak or this event may be over in something like April,” he said in a hospital run by Guangzhou Medical University, where 11 coronavirus patients were being treated.

“We don’t know why it’s so contagious, so that’s a big problem,” added Zhong, whose previous forecast of an earlier peak turned out to be premature. He said there was a gradual reduction in new cases in the southern province of Guangdong where he was, and also in Zhejiang and elsewhere.

Finally, the man from Brighton believed to be the ‘super spreader’ linked to 11 cases involving a French ski chateau has broken his silence, according to the Guardian.

His name is Steve Walsh, he’s 53 years old, and this is his story:

“I would like to thank the NHS for their help and care – whilst I have fully recovered, my thoughts are with others who have contracted coronavirus.”

“As soon as I knew I had been exposed to a confirmed case of coronavirus I contacted my GP, NHS 111 and Public Health England.”

“I was advised to attend an isolated room at hospital, despite showing no symptoms, and subsequently self-isolated at home as instructed.”

“When the diagnosis was confirmed I was sent to an isolation unit in hospital, where I remain, and, as a precaution, my family was also asked to isolate themselves.”

“I also thank friends, family and colleagues for their support during recent weeks and I ask the media to respect our privacy.”

Over in Hong Kong, dozens of residents of a housing complex in Hong Kong have been quarantined after two people living on separate floors were infected with the virus, raising the possibility that it might have been traveling through the pipes.

Per local officials from Hong Kong’s Center for Health Protection, the decision to partially evacuate the building was made after investigators discovered an unsealed bathroom pipe in the apartment of a 62-year-old woman found to be infected. She lives 10 floors below another resident who was found to be infected, the NYT reports.

Yesterday, we reported that the Westerdam cruise ship had finally been granted permission to dock in Thailand after being turned away from three other countries, despite having ZERO confirmed nCoV cases aboard. Now, Thailand has rejected it, leaving it once again adrift. The ship is set to run out of food and other essentials in just two days.

BREAKING: CHINA TO QUARANTINE CITY OF SHENZHEN IN GUANGDONG PROVINCE, CAUSING “MAD RUSH” TO HONG KONG

BREAKING: China to Quarantine City of Shenzhen in Guangdong Province, Causing “Mad Rush” to Hong Kong

Infected citizens now fleeing to other nations

Mike Adams | Natural News – FEBRUARY 7, 2020

This is a breaking news update from Natural News, translated from the Chinese language Liberty Times Net website, which has produced some of the best reporting on the coronavirus pandemic outbreak.

According to the report, the communist Chinese government has just announced the imminent quarantine of the city of Shenzhen in the Guangdong Province, causing a “mad rush” of Chinese citizens fleeing to Hong Kong to try to escape the quarantines before the international community blocks all flights from Hong Kong. This effort will, of course, only serve to accelerate the spread of the virus internationally.

There are roughly 25 million people in the greater Shenzhen municipal area, so this is a significant increase in the number of Chinese citizens who will soon be living under military-enforced quarantine. (Currently over 50 million, soon to be at least 75 million and growing…)

Here’s the translated text that explains this. Just remember, automated machine translations from Chinese to English are very difficult, so the English appears quite broken:

Shenzhen News Network reported that the Shenzhen Municipal People’s Government said on the 7th, all communities will be 100% closed management, if there are confirmed cases of residential “hard isolation” for 14 days, and organize “regulatory service team” to do key ethnic groups tracking, where there is a history of close contact with the case 100% of the implementation of centralized isolation, households also want to take temperature and other measures.

According to Hong Kong’s “Position News” reported that Shenzhen city from the 8th began to seal the city after the announcement of the news, 7 days from the emergence of a large number of people want to pour into Hong Kong, from the scene film can be seen at 10:28 p.m., shenzhen port before the appearance of long lines of taxis, are to load the people of Shenzhen into Hong Kong, long car long about 1 km.

The same story also reports that the hard quarantine of Shenzhen begins on Feb. 8th (tomorrow), which is why people are panic fleeing today, while they can still get out: (another important reminder to always have a bugout bag)

Comprehensive Chinese media reports, the Shenzhen Municipal Government announced that from February 8 on the city’s people’s vehicles fully implement control, in the “vehicle epidemic control checkpoint” vehicle control, and foreign vehicles to sacrifice “advance declaration measures”, the first time the public driving through the “vehicle epidemic prevention checkpoint”, must be at least 1 day in advance of the Internet registration declaration, approval before passing.

https://www.brighteon.com/440295cb-ff15-4c57-a9dd-8b207652113a

THE WUHAN QUARANTINE HAS BEEN BREACHED… “HONG KONG IS FINISHED”

Shenzhen, in Southern China, is very close to Hong Kong. This explains why Shenzhen residents are fleeing to Hong Kong, no doubt bringing more infections with them. Many residents will attempt to take flights out of Hong Kong in order to escape the draconian quarantine, which means of course that some of these people will be inadvertently spreading the coronavirus pandemic to yet more countries, including the United States, which still accepts flights from Hong Kong and China.

According to the Liberty Times Net story, observers in Taiwan are now saying, “Hong Kong is finished” and are demanding that flights from Hong Kong be cut off in order to protect Taiwan and other Asian countries from the exploding pandemic. Some of the quotes in the story include, “”The people of Hong Kong are dead, Taiwan will soon be cut off…” and “next week becomes the crazy influx of Hong Kong people into Taiwan.”

We pray for the people of Hong Kong in this desperate time. They are good people, and they don’t deserve this madness from communist China.

CHINA’S QUARANTINE EFFORTS NOW ACCELERATING THE SPREAD OF THE PANDEMIC

It brings up an important point in all this. As China is chasing the outbreak with ever-expanding quarantines, the citizens who live in those areas are attempting to flee before the quarantine, causing a mass exodus of infected individuals who would have otherwise probably just stayed home if not for the draconian quarantine measures enacted by the Chinese government. In effect, the quarantines are accelerating the spread of the virus to other countries due to this “fleeing” effect.

Much of this likely stems from the fact that China is now running door-to-door roundups of citizens, medically kidnapping them and throwing them into “quarantine prison camps” with bars on the windows of each room. Nobody wants to end up a prisoner in one of these “death hospitals.”

The coronavirus pandemic is currently spreading at the rate of roughly a 20% increase per day, achieving sustained, exponential growth that has spread to three cruise ships, dozens of countries and an ever-expanding list of mainland Chinese cities.

The initial attempt to quarantine the Wuhan region in order to stop the coronavirus has clearly failed. Yet the WHO, the CDC and the totally discredited mainstream media are still lying to the public, falsely claiming this outbreak is “under control” and “poses no risk to America.” Those claims are malicious, dangerous lies that even the CDC’s own scientists are contradicting in their public statements.

In addition, multiple health experts are now on the record confirming this pandemic has broken containment and will spread globally.

Any media source saying this is “no big deal” is actually trying to make the pandemic worse by keeping people uninformed and unprepared.

https://www.brighteon.com/0208e343-0c03-45b7-a4fe-eb84836571a3

 

HONG KONGERS EMPTY STORE SHELVES OF FOOD, SUPPLIES AMID CORONAVIRUS OUTBREAK

Hong Kongers Empty Store Shelves of Food, Supplies Amid Coronavirus Outbreak

Stores running out of rice, toilet paper and surgical masks

Kit Daniels  – FEBRUARY 6, 2020

Hong Kong residents are emptying store shelves of storable food and household supplies out of fears China will seal its borders, thus stopping exports to Hong Kong.

Residents have already wiped out supermarkets of rice, toilet paper and cleaning wipes in addition to surgical masks and sanitizers which were already running in short supply.

If China stops exporting stuff here, where would we get our necessities from?” Asked an elderly lady in front of empty shelves, as reported by Voice of America.

The outlet also reported that there’s a “there is also panic buying on rice — a staple food for Hong Kongers — packet noodles and vitamins, leaving the shelves eerily empty, although there was no shortage of meat and vegetables in shops,” suggesting that residents are stocking up on food that won’t spoil.

“There has been a severe shortage of surgical masks and sanitizing agents such as alcohol hand rubs and wipes, with many pharmacies posting notes on their windows saying ‘No masks, alcohol sanitizing agents or wipes available,’” stated Voice of America. “Long queues quickly form outside any shops that announce they have a supply of masks.”

“Thousands braved chilly winds and camped overnight Tuesday outside an outlet at Kowloon Bay that said it had procured a supply of masks from Dubai.”

Additionally, 10 clinics have closed in Hong Kong due to the lack of surgical masks, and another 400 clinics may soon close if more mask shipments are not received.

China’s economic output has slowed down significantly due to the unprecedented quarantine of millions of mainland residents, which has also contributed to the stockpiling in Hong Kong.

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