21 Million Chinese Cellphone Users Disappear in Three Months of Pandemic

A woman wearing a Minnie Mouse face mask looks at her mobile phone in Beijing on February 11, 2020. - The death toll from a new coronavirus outbreak surged past 1,000 on February 11 as the World Health Organization warned infected people who have not travelled to China could be …

By John Hayward – 3/24/2020

The opacity of the Chinese Communist government obliges responsible outside observers to look for clues to the truth of the coronavirus epidemic, instead of merely repeating official information without question.

The official count from China is 3,277 fatalities from 81,171 infections as of Tuesday, but the Epoch Times noted the troubling disappearance of some 21 million cell phone accounts in China over the past three months – an unprecedented decline that hints at more fatalities than Beijing is prepared to admit.

It should be stated at the outset that we should not be forced to read tea leaves to figure out what really happened in China, especially in the virus epicenter of Hubei province and the city of Wuhan, where Chinese officials are currently making claims of zero new infections that no one seriously believes. While more responsible governments issue troubling warnings of a second wave of infections, severe enough to prompt the re-imposition of quarantine procedures that were only recently lifted, China claims it has no second wave and all of its new coronavirus cases are imported.

With that in mind, the Epoch Times thought it was a bit odd for 21 million Chinese cell phones to abruptly disappear, given that cell phone usage has been increasing constantly in China for years, and phones have been touted as an important tool for containing the coronavirus epidemic:

China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) announced on March 19 the number of phone users in each province in February. Compared with the previous announcement, which was released on Dec. 18, 2019, for November 2019 data, both cellphone and landline users dropped dramatically. In the same period the year before, the number of users increased.

The number of cellphone users decreased from 1.600957 billion to 1.579927 billion, a drop of 21.03 million. The number of landline users decreased from 190.83 million to 189.99 million, a drop of 840,000.

In the previous February, the number increased. According to MIIT, the number of cellphone users increased in February 2019 from 1.5591 billion to 1.5835 billion, which is 24.37 million more. The number of landline users increased from 183.477 million to 190.118 million, which is 6.641 million more.

According to China’s National Bureau of Statistics, the country’s population at the end of 2019 was 4.67 million larger than in 2018, reaching 1.40005 billion.

The article went on to postulate that some of the landlines might have been shut down as a consequence of the coronavirus quarantines, particularly lines used by shuttered business operations, but the sheer magnitude of the cell phone user decline makes it more difficult to explain. China Mobile, the nation’s largest carrier, reported gaining 3.7 million new accounts in December but then losing over 8 million in January and February, months in which it posted gains of 3.5 million users the previous year.

The Epoch Times considered several explanations for the loss of users, such as migrant workers who kept different cell phones for their home and work cities – necessary due to some of China’s regulations on phone service – abandoning the work phone because it was not needed during the quarantine period, or people generally canceling their phone service because they wanted to save money during the hard months.

On the other hand, the government is currently requiring citizens to use their cell phones to generate “health codes” so their movements can be tracked and permission to travel can be restricted to healthy individuals, so as U.S.-based commentator Tang Jiangyuan put it, it is effectively “impossible for a person to cancel his cellphone.”

“Dealing with the government for pensions and social security, buying train tickets, shopping … no matter what people want to do, they are required to use cell phones,” Tang noted.

The New York Times explained just how heavily Chinese authorities are leaning on those cell phones to monitor their population, and not just for coronavirus infections:

The Times’s analysis found that as soon as a user grants the software access to personal data, a piece of the program labeled “reportInfoAndLocationToPolice” sends the person’s location, city name and an identifying code number to a server. The software does not make clear to users its connection to the police. But according to China’s state-run Xinhua news agency and an official police social media account, law enforcement authorities were a crucial partner in the system’s development.

While Chinese internet companies often share data with the government, the process is rarely so direct. In the United States, it would be akin to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention using apps from Amazon and Facebook to track the coronavirus, then quietly sharing user information with the local sheriff’s office.

The system, which relies on a unit of the immense Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba, assigns users a green, yellow, or red “health code” in the style of a traffic light. Predictably, Chinese citizens find the opaque system cryptic and frightening, since the government has not explained exactly how it works.

“In some cities, residents now have to register their phone numbers with an app to take public transportation,” the Times added.

At the beginning of March, the so-called Alipay Health Code system had been launched in the city of Hangzhou, expanded to 200 other cities, and was on its way to a complete nationwide rollout. The rollout ran into some hitches over the following weeks, from technical glitches to confusion caused by local governments adding their own health codes to the already intimidating system.

A correspondent writing for Bloomberg News on March 18 reported using the system and said it was in the process of being “rolled out nationwide at railway stations, restaurants, pharmacies, and more.” Other reports in China have noted how cell phones are ubiquitous there and are employed for everything from accessing public and commercial resources to telecommuting to school during the coronavirus lockdown.

With this in mind, it might not be completely impossible to get by in Chinese cities without a cell phone at the moment, but it seems unlikely that a huge number of citizens would choose this moment to get rid of their phones.

“Lacking data, the real death toll in China is a mystery. The cancellation of 21 million cellphones provides a data point that suggests the real number may be far higher than the official number,” the Epoch Times concluded.

 

 

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

Profile picture for user Tyler Durden

Summary:

  • China says 1,716 medical workers have been infected

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

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

  • Hong Kong reports 3 new cases

  • Hubei’s new party boss orders quarantine tightened

  • President Xi touts new “biosecurity law”

  • Hong Kong Disney land offers space for quarantine

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

  • US mulling new travel restrictions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* * *

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

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

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

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

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

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

* * *

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

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

* * *

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

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

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

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

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

* * *

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

CAP

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

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

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

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

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

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

* * *

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CAP

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

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

Reporter Claims Authorities ‘Hiding’ 300 Coronavirus Cases & 1 Death In Shanghai

by Tyler Durden

Summary:

  • Japan reports first virus death

  • President Xi says China will minimize impact from virus

  • Chinese leadership scapegoats local officials

  • Death toll and case count soared last night: There are more than 60k cases worldwide, and more than 1300 deaths

  • EIA joins OPEC in warning about upcoming drop in oil use, the first in a decade.

  • HHS Secretary says CDC will announce another confirmed COVID-19 case in US on Thursday

  • 21 people in Spain released from quarantine

  • US admin reportedly questioning China’s reporting

  • White House reportedly “doubts” China’s coronavirus numbers

  • CDC warns more infections possible after first US case confirmed in Texas (15th overall)

  • 2 Russian women attempt escape from quarantine

  • EU could close border if outbreak worsens

  • Kudlow says US “disappointed” in China virus response

  • Shanghai reports 300+ more cases

* * *

Update (1400ET): President Trump just reportedly said during a radio interview that he believes China is handling the outbreak “professionally.”

This after a slew of frustrated messages from his administration and officials including Larry Kudlow.

* * *

Update (1320ET): Following last night’s admission that local officials in Wuhan were undercounting the number of cases, a reporter appears to have found evidence that more than 300 unreported cases are active in Shanghai, as well as 1 previously unreported death.

So China is tightening the lockdown in Shanghai to hide the truth about the outbreak? That’s unconfirmed for now.

* * *

Update(1250ET): Not long after reports claimed the White House is widely skeptical of Chinese numbers, Trump’s top economic advisor Larry Kudlow appeared on television to say the US is “disappointed” in how China has handled the virus response, and that the Trump administration wishes there was more clarity.

Specifically, the US was most hurt by China’s refusal to accept an American team of experts from the CDC, who offered to help.

The US economy would be at 3% growth if not for the virus, he added.

* * *

Update (1230ET): As Beijing insists that it’s safe for foreign nations to soon lift their travel restrictions on China, CNN reports that the European Union is considering closing its borders if the outbreak really escalates.

They cite a Croatian health official, who said the plan is in the works, though he strongly suspects that it won’t be necessary.

The WHO has said that level of restriction isn’t necessary, but that’ hasn’t stopped Russia from closing part of its border and other countries restricting travel by Chinese.

* * *

Update (1215ET): For the second day in a row, the CDC has warned that more confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the US are inevitable, especially as the testing of ~800 evacuees from Wuhan continues.

After confirming the US’s 15th case at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, officials warned that “there may be additional cases” identified during this period.

The 15th patient was a “solo traveler” from China who has been quarantined “since arriving at Lackland Air Force Base from Wuhan.

They remain in isolation at a local hospital.

Officials assured the public that there’s no risk to the local community, according to CNN.

“We are right in the middle of that incubation period so it is not surprising” that the individual developed symptoms, McQuiston said.

“For the most part the people in quarantine are not doing much associating with each other,” McQuiston said.

Across the ocean in Russia, two women being held under quarantine over fears they might have contracted the virus managed to escape, citing the appallingly poor conditions of their medical detention, according to the NY Post.

Both of the women were hospitalized with flu-like symptoms after returning the Hainan region in southern China that is popular with Russian tourists because of its tropical environment.

In honor of US stocks turning green, we’d like to share this memorable clip of hazmat-suit-wearing person spraying an office down with disinfectant as China continues to slow lurch back to work.

Remember, it’s just like the flu – except much, much worse.

If it was really so mild, would authorities be treating anybody even suspected of having the virus like this?

But as the lockdown begins to lift in Beijing, here’s how people are reacting to…well…being around other people.

Update (1150ET): Citing a senior White House official, CNBC reports that the White House doesn’t have “high confidence” in the coronavirus numbers coming out of China.

CAP

The U.S. does “not have high confidence in the information coming out of China” regarding the count of coronavirus cases, a senior administration official told CNBC.

The official also noted that China “continues to rebuff American offers of assistance.”

The current thinking is there must be a reason why they won’t allow the CDC to send over personnel to help with the virus response.

Meanwhile, Jennifer Zeng tweeted out video of migrant workers being forced to sleep outside because of the draconian lockdown.

How much longer until President Trump demands evidence that the virus wasn’t bioengineered?

* * *

Update (1015ET): Following last night’s debacle over China reporting, Fox News’ Edward Lawrence reports that administration sources say they believe China is under reporting the number of coronavirus cases by at least 100,000 in China.

CAP

Additionally, Lawrence notes that administration sources say scientists working on how the coronavirus spread are having difficultly getting to the sight on where the first case happened.

CAP

We suspect Chinese authorities will do their best to keep any “help” from the west at arm’s length for fear of discovering the truth behind this deadly outbreak.

Jennifer Zeng meanwhile tweeted a video of migrant workers in Jiangsu province being reduced to sleeping in the streets or woods thanks to the lockdown.

* * *

Update (0950ET): Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said Thursday morning that the CDC is preparing to announce another confirmed coronavirus case in the US later in the day. That would be the 15th case in the US.

The announcement hit US stocks just minutes after the open.

In Europe, CNN reports that 21 Spaniards who returned from Wuhan on an evacuation flight have been released from Gomez Ullah Hospital in Madrid. The Spanish Health Ministry said the individuals had finished their quarantine stretches.

* * *

Update (0915ET): Even China’s state-controlled press is beginning to sound alarmist as it becomes increasingly clear that the epidemic is anything but ‘contained’.

CAP

Meanwhile China’s CDC has reportedly declared ‘War Time Status’ to authorize war-time conditions on quarantine, supplies, management and, of course, control & discipline.

CAP

If you thought the lockdowns were bad, it looks like Beijing is about to get pretty creative as it tries to walk the balance of pushing the public to get back to worked and protecting them from the virus.

In Xiaogan, in Hubei Province, two young men were forced to kneel in the street after violating restrictions of traveling outside.

Reuters adds that Huanggang, another city in Hubei, that it will tighten epidemic controls by “sealing residential complexes and only allowing essential vehicles on roads.”

Patients quarantined in China’s hospital jails are clearly hoping that their patriotic socialist principles of valuing the common good over individual liberty will see China through.

In other news, the EIA warned earlier that the COVID-19 outbreak would cause the first drop in oil use in a decade.

CAP

* * *

Update (0750ET): News out of China is presenting yet another lesson in contrasts.

In his latest remarks, President Xi said his government is striving to hit China’s development targets, and that the government will “definitely be able to minimize impact from the virus,” according to Chinese state media that has been relayed to English-language newswires.

He also pledged to maintain the development momentum of China’s economy.

Meanwhile, over in Macau, the government of the beleaguered casino paradise is planning to hand out vouchers to residents allowing to buy food to try and help boost local consumption once the outbreak starts to subside, Bloomberg reports.

They can only be used at local restaurants and businesses over the next 3 months.The government is also planning to reduce some taxes and fees to help people recover (a rare example of fiscal stimulus directed at main street).

Here’s a video report published on NHK’s site (please excuse the excess text):

 

WHO DUBS CORONAVIRUS ‘PUBLIC ENEMY NUMBER 1’

WHO Dubs Coronavirus 'Public Enemy Number 1'

Death toll rises as virus continues global spread

Deutsche Welle – FEBRUARY 12, 2020

More than 1,000 people have so far lost their lives to the new coronavirus, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called on the world to act and warned that “a virus is more powerful in creating political, economic, and socialist upheaval than any terrorist attack.”

“If the world doesn’t want to wake up and consider this enemy virus as public enemy number one, I don’t think we will learn from our lessons,” he said. “It’s the number one enemy to the whole world, and to the whole of humanity.”

CAP

The number of fatalities from the virus reached 1,113 on Wednesday after China’s hardest-hit Hubei province reported 94 new deaths and three more were reported elsewhere in the mainland. In its daily update, the province’s health commission also confirmed another 2,105 new cases on Tuesday, the lowest since January 30.

Ghebreyesus, who previously served as the Ethiopian foreign minister, called on investing in prevention measures and helping countries with weaker health systems, He warned that “if this virus makes to (a country with) a weaker health system, it will wreak havoc.”

“For now it doesn’t seem so, but it doesn’t mean it will not happen. It may,” he said.

The virus has already paralyzed China’s economy as many large companies urged their employees to stay at home in order to curb the spread of the disease.

Meanwhile, an additional 39 cases have been reported on the Diamond Princess cruise ship, which was being quarantined for a second week off the coast of Japan.

The new reports bring the total number of cases on the ship, which has 3,700 passengers and crew on board, to 174. A quarantine officer was also found to be infected with the virus.

COVID-19

The WHO chief also announced a new official name for the disease, saying that the agency has dubbed it COVID-19.

The “CO” stands for “corona”, “VI” stands for “virus”, “D” for disease, and “19” for the year 2019, as the virus was first officially confirmed in December last year, according to Ghebreyesus.

The UN health agency intentionally avoided names that could be linked to a geographical region, an animal, or a group of people, he said.

‘We are not defenseless’

The WHO is currently hosting a conference of 400 medical experts who should prepare a “roadmap” for the outbreak response, including discussion on possible treatments.

“They will take time to develop, but in the meantime, we are not defenseless,” Ghebreyesus said, noting that a first vaccine “could be ready in 18 months.”

CAP

Ghebreyesus also recommended washing your hands, keeping at a distance from people who are coughing, and — if you are coughing yourself — covering your mouth with a tissue or your elbow.

There are now more than 44,200 confirmed cases across China, based on previously released figures from the government.

Separately, Chinese epidemiologist and senior medical advisor Zhong Nanshan told the Reuters news agency that the outbreak would likely peak before the end of February.

“I hope this outbreak or this event may be over in something like April,” said the 83-year-old Zhong, who was also involved in fighting the 2002-2003 SARS epidemic.

Coronavirus death toll tops 900 as China’s envoy to US dismisses ‘absolutely crazy’ bioweapon rumors

CAP

As the death toll from the novel coronavirus outbreak soared to over 900 people worldwide, the Chinese ambassador to the US has cautioned against fueling panic and spreading dangerous rumors about the virus’ unknown origins.

With China’s Hubei Province, the epicenter of the lethal viral outbreak, reporting 91 deaths and some 2,618 additional cases of infection throughout Sunday – the global toll now stands at over 40,000 cases with at least 904 fatalities.

Asked about the situation and speculation surrounding the 2019-nCoV origins and spread earlier in the day, Chinese Ambassador to the United States Cui Tiankai told CBS it would be “absolutely crazy” to believe unsubstantiated rumors online while the entire global scientific community that is working day and night on the issue has yet to come a conclusion.

For one thing, this will create panic. Another thing that it will fend up racial discrimination, xenophobia, all these things, that will really harm our joint efforts to combat the virus.

Chinese scientists say pangolins might be missing link in coronavirus transmission

CAP

Until thorough research is conducted, there are and always will be “all kinds of speculation and rumors” about the virus potentially being a lab-created bioweapon, the diplomat noted.

There are people who are saying that these viruses are coming from… some military lab, not of China, maybe in the United States… How can we believe all these crazy things?

The outbreak is believed to have originated in a market in Wuhan, China, which sold wild animals. According to a UK medical journal, the Lancet, the disease is very similar to two coronaviruses found in bats.

READ MORE: Fear fueled by speculation & doomsday scenarios over coronavirus spread poses greater threat to global economy than the epidemic

Meanwhile, recent Chinese research pointed the finger at pangolins as a potential source. Researchers tested samples from more than 1,000 wild animals and found that the genetic code of coronavirus strain samples taken from pangolins was 99 percent identical to samples taken from infected humans.

However, most studies on the virus that was first discovered last December so far have been far from conclusive, as they are yet to be scrutinized and peer-reviewed in any meaningful way.

One such recent pre-print study was widely misinterpreted and fueled rumors that the virus might have been genetically engineered to put pieces of HIV in it. The authors have rushed to withdraw their research, saying it was never their intention to “feed into the conspiracy theories and no such claims are made here.”

The strict isolation and quarantine measures in China and border screenings elsewhere have been “very effective,” China’s ambassador to Britain, Liu Xiaoming, told the BBC on Sunday. He emphasized that with proper precautions and response efforts this new “enemy of mankind” is “controllable, preventable, and curable,” even though he admitted it was “very difficult to predict” when the outbreak might reach its peak.

 

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.

 

RUSSIAN EVACUEES FROM CHINA SOON QUARANTINED IN REMOTE SIBERIAN REGION

Russian Evacuees From China Soon Quarantined In Remote Siberian Region

150 Russians, foreigners to be monitored in isolated zone

Zero Hedge – FEBRUARY 5, 2020

The Russian Air Force on orders from President Vladimir Putin is currently in the midst of evacuating some over 150 Russian nationals from China and sending them to be “monitored” for coronavirus symptoms in a region of Western Siberia.

“Russian citizens and people from other countries evacuated from China will be temporarily accommodated in the Tyumen Region where they will be placed under quarantine, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova told reporters on Tuesday,” official news agency TASS reports.

This also after the first two cases of coronavirus in Russia were confirmed last Friday. Two Chinese nationals have already been quarantined in Tyumen and the far eastern Zabaykalsky region, and are expected to recover.

Tyumen Region is in Western Siberia, and was among the first regions of the harsh and remote eastern areas of Russia to be settled starting in the 16th century. During pre-revolutionary Russia and into Soviet times, the region historically served as a place of exile, including as part of the gulag system of labor camps in the north.

Some 147 people will be flown by the Russian Air Force from Wuhan and Hubei Province to the Tyumen area where they are expected to be monitored by medical authorities for at least 14 days.

“We are preparing ourselves for a possible wide spread of the infection,” Deputy Health Minister Sergei Krayevoy said, according to the Interfax news agency.

…Two Russian military planes were due to help evacuate 130 Russians stranded at the epicentre of the outbreak in China’s Hubei province, officials said. — Reuters

Russian authorities over the weekend restricted direct flights to China and shut the massive land border with China, which extends for 2,600 miles, which will no doubt have significant economic impact for both countries, given China remains Russia’s largest and most important trading partner.

“Our citizens as well as citizens of the Eurasian Economic Union and Ukraine will be accommodated in the Tyumen Region as the best prepared region where they will be placed under quarantine,” Deputy Prime Minister Golikova said in her statement Tuesday.

She indicated further that an evacuee list is still being finalized between the foreign ministry, the Russian Embassy in China, and the Chinese government.

On Monday, Russia’s Federal Service for Supervision of Consumer Rights Protection and Human Well-Being (Rospotrebnadzor) revealed that more than 4,000 total people who had contacts with suspected coronavirus infected individuals remain under medical supervision in Russia.

“Since December 31, Rospotrebnadzor examined 29,651 flights, and 1,627,142 people, discovered 379 people with diseases, who previously were in China for 14 days. Currently, more than 4,000 people who contacted with suspected coronavirus patients remain under medical supervision,” an official statement from the health agency said.

Coronavirus death toll surpasses SARS numbers in China, traces of disease found on door handle

CAP

More people in China have already died from the ongoing coronavirus outbreak than from the SARS epidemic 17 years ago, Chinese officials said. Meanwhile, traces of the disease were spotted on a door handle used by the patient.

The death toll from the previously-unknown coronavirus in China has grown to 361 on Sunday, the country’s National Health Commission said. This number exceeds the 349 fatalities from the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) epidemic in mainland China in 2003.

Out of 57 newly reported deaths, 56 were in central Hubei Province, whose capital Wuhan remains the epicenter of the outbreak, and one in the city of Chongqing in China’s southwest. So far, the only death from the virus outside mainland China was registered in the Philippines.

Overall, 17,205 cases of the virus have now been registered in China since the outbreak started in late December.

During a press briefing in Beijing on Monday, Deputy Director of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) Lian Weiliang announced that China will step up measures to supply Wuhan with basic goods as it remains quarantined along with several other major cities.

China’s first ‘instant’ coronavirus hospital accepting patients, second facility days from opening

CAP

Army troops stationed in Wuhan have taken over the delivery of food and basic necessities, using military trucks to stock local supermarkets. The authorities also ordered to boost the production of face masks and test kits after the Lunar New Year holidays in response to shortages in Wuhan and some other areas in Hubei.

Zhang Zhoubin, deputy head of a disease prevention center in the southeastern city of Guangzhou, said coronavirus was “found” on the door handle at a patient’s home. “This reminds me that we have to do well in keeping hygiene at home, and it is important to frequently wash our hands,” he said. Zhang warned that other areas prone to contamination include mobile phones, keyboards, and faucet handles.

Meanwhile, biotech companies in Wuhan have been conducting experiments on rats and monkeys, in hope of developing vaccines. The scientists identified three drugs “effective” in slowing down the spread of the virus in the cell structure, however, they have not been tested on humans yet, Wang Wei, director of Hubei’s Science and Technology Department, said.

China’s first ‘instant’ coronavirus hospital accepting patients, second facility days from opening

 

World Health Organization Chief Blames ‘Human Error’ on Calling Coronavirus Threat ‘Moderate’

World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus briefs the press on evolution of new coronavirus epidemic on January 29, 2020 in Geneva. (Photo by FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP) (Photo by FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP via Getty Images)

By JOSHUA CAPLAN

World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus blamed “human error” on Wednesday for the United Nations agency initially downplaying the global threat of the deadly coronavirus.

WHO is walking back its assessment after publishing a report this week, in which it called the risk surrounding the killer Chinese illness “moderate.”

WHO deeply regrets the error in this week’s situation report, which inserted the word ‘moderate’ inaccurately in the #coronavirus global risk assessment,” Ghebreyesus wrote on Twitter Wednesday. “This was a human error in preparing the report. I have repeatedly stated the high risk of the outbreak.”

CAP

The striking admission comes after Ghebreyesus met with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and praised the communist government’s measures against the killer virus. 

Breitbart News reported:

Ghebreyesus said his organization is advising foreign countries that evacuating their citizens from Wuhan and the surrounding Hubei province is unnecessary. Chinese state media eagerly promoted his remarks in a bid to control the political fallout from the outbreak.

Foreign Minister Wang Yi acted quickly to capitalize politically on the WHO director’s comments.

“With the strong leadership of comrade Xi Jinping and the advantage of the socialist system, as well as the experience from SARS, we are more resolute in tackling this epidemic with more forceful and quicker action. We are totally confident that we have the ability and resources to defeat this epidemic,” he said.

While the WHO has been quick to praise China over its handling of the coronavirus, Republican lawmakers such as Sens. Tom Cotton (R-AR) and Josh Hawley (R-MO) have expressed doubt about Beijing’s quarantine measures and transparency. In a Tuesday letter to top Trump administration officials, Cotton urged the federal government to institute a “target travel ban” on China.

“Given the latest developments and the many unknowns about this virus, we ought to follow Benjamin Franklin’s maxim: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. America is blessed with world-leading researchers and laboratories on the cutting edge of medical science and epidemiology,” he wrote to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, and acting Homeland Security Director Chad Wolfe. “Working in tandem with them, I’m confident our federal research agencies can develop a vaccine in record time.”

The U.S. has expanded screenings to 20 airports around the country and CDC officials said they are racing to develop a vaccine to treat the virus.

United Airlines and American Airlines announced this week that the airlines have canceled several flights from the U.S. to China, citing health concerns and a sharp decline in demand.

 

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