Coronavirus class

Remember, folks, the authorities are looking out for you and the situation is totally under control:

There’s first class and there’s business class. But on this flight, everyone flew coronavirus class.

These exclusive photos show the surreal, polyethylene-wrapped aerial hell suffered by 329 American passengers of the Diamond Princess cruise ship as they were flown back to the US this week — after two weeks quarantined in their cabins off the coast of Yokohama, Japan. […]

And worst of all, 14 of their fellow passengers were actually infected with the deadly virus, though they showed no symptoms as yet.

Perhaps the State Department should be disbanded if it can’t fulfill its primary function as expressed in its mission statement:

The State Department’s decision to allow the infected, but asymptomatic, passengers to fly back to the US — rather than to stay in quarantine in Japan — was highly controversial.

The 14 were allowed on the two flights even though the CDC was reportedly adamant that they not come to the US.

And President Trump was “furious” to learn after the fact that the 14 were flown home, the Daily Mail reported.

Is this an example of “advancing the interests of the American people, their safety and economic prosperity”? You be the judge.

In other news:

A mistake in the lab led U.S. health officials to release an infected coronavirus patient from a San Diego hospital, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed Tuesday.

The patient was evacuated from Wuhan, the epicenter of the new coronavirus outbreak, on a government-chartered flight last week. Two such evacuation flights carrying more than 200 Americans in total arrived last week at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego.

It’s easy to mock China, but the US is comically inept. We sat on our hands for a month while China locked down hundreds of millions of people to prevent the spread of a mysterious virus. What is our plan when the pandemic starts claiming victims here? There are probably thousands of undetected cases in major cities already. I hope I’m wrong, but the US will have no one to blame but itself if this thing explodes in our faces.

The economic impact

It looks increasingly plausible, even likely, that coronavirus will tank the global economy. Let’s take a gander at some recent headlines:

From the Fortune article:

Now, as coronavirus continues to spread, the region of China most heavily affected by the outbreak is a hub of global supply chains. A new Dun & Bradstreet study estimates that 163 of the Fortune 1000 have tier 1 suppliers—those they do direct business with—in the area. And 938 have tier 2 suppliers, which feed the first tier.

“That’s where it becomes troubling,” Nelson said. “It’s going to be that [item] where only one plant is qualified to make that and it’s going to interrupt a whole production line.”

Allow me to reference a blog post I wrote on the long-ago date of Feb 4. How many other people were writing about this at the time?

[Your humble author:] Mark Kern’s thinking about the global economic shocks being set in motion by the coronavirus outbreak is likely to prove prophetic, even if the virus itself doesn’t morph into a devastating pandemic:

On a related note, Asia’s gigantic work-from-home experiment continues in Japan:

From Sony to Takeda Pharmaceutical, top Japanese companies across industry lines are telling employees to work from home as the country continues to see a rise in coronavirus cases.

The outbreak has spread to nations across Asia in the weeks since it started in the Chinese city of Wuhan. With 66 cases [Ed: 132 now], Japan is among the countries with the most cases outside China, and the growing number of infections with no traceable links to the original epicenter have alarmed experts and government officials alike.

To keep employees out of large crowds, Sony urged staffers Tuesday to telework and avoid commuting during rush hour. It is suspending its usual 10-day monthly cap for working from home.

John Robb asks a pertinent question:

This thing is going to hit the US like a freight train and we won’t be ready for it.

Preparations have begun but they will almost certainly be inadequate.

CNBC: FBI has ordered $40,000 in hand sanitizer and face masks ‘in case the coronavirus becomes a pandemic in the United States’

760 million people on lockdown

One-tenth of the human race is under some form of quarantine… but “it’s just the flu, bro”…

From the NY Times:

To stop the spread of the coronavirus much of China has effectively shut down. What’s not been fully appreciated is how extensive the closures are. By our calculations 760 million are living under some kind of residential lockdown.

A friend of mine in a large city not in Hubei province wrote (Feb 7):

A lot of companies are going to shut down soon. No business is allowed to open. Shopping malls are closed. There is nobody in the street. It’s like a zombie movie.

This person, who runs a small business, a few days later told me his office lease was about to expire and he had fired all his staff.

I cannot even go to my office. The government is asking all companies to apply for a certificate to open a business. Before you get the certificate you cannot go back to the office. But you are still paying for the rent and your staff. Amazing. In order to get the certificate, you need enough supplies: masks, sanitizer… make sure it’s enough for all your staff to use for at least a month. Nobody is going to want to do business after this. I cannot even get enough supplies for myself, now I have to provide for my staff.

Today I received the following messages:

Supermarkets and pharmacies are open. All restaurants are shut down. Malls are open but nobody goes shopping. They only go to the supermarkets in the mall. Cinemas are closed. Some companies are back to business. Most are still not open. Employees work at home. There were some incidents where employees got diagnosed with the virus after back to office. Then the whole company/floor has to lock down. All people have to be isolated.

A Reddit user comments:

It might not fit the true definition of a a quarantine, but the restrictions are still locking everything down. You can’t enter certain cities, currently, schools are going all online or cancelling altogether, 95% of all businesses are closed or operating on a skeleton crew with limited hours, and restaurants are banned from dine-in in most cities. Couple that with being required to wear a mask outdoors and constant temperature checks, plus most housing districts not allowing visitors inside, it’s as close as you can get without locking the front doors.

John Robb, a former advisor the Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff who is not given to hysteria, comments thusly:

Top tier US Government national security insiders all saying the same thing:

China’s extreme mismanagement of the virus (Chernobyl-like reflexive information control, refusing intl aid, etc.) makes it very likely it will become a pandemic. US needs to prepare.

Simple way to think about this:

Very easy to get sick with this virus (possibly very high % of people getting sick).

80% get a little sick (as little as a slight fever).
20% get very sick.
2-3% die (mostly elderly + smokers) vs. 0.1% w/flu.

And this is hardly reassuring:

As the number of coronavirus cases jumps dramatically in China, a top infectious-disease scientist warns that things could get far worse: Two-thirds of the world’s population could catch it.

So says Ira Longini, an adviser to the World Health Organization who tracked studies of the virus’s transmissibility in China. His estimate implies that there could eventually be billions more infections than the current official tally of about 60,000.

Fire up the crematoriums

Can this possibly be true? Take it with a healthy dollop of salt…

Wuhan crematoriums are reportedly working around the clock to cope with the extra workload during the coronavirus outbreak.

It comes as the death toll from the virus climbed to 490 in China on Wednesday.

The bodies of victims who have died from the virus must be cremated rather than buried, China’s National Health Commission ruled on February 1.

A crematorium worker in the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak has revealed the long working hours he and his colleagues are putting in to transfer bodies from hospitals and private homes.

According to Mr Yun, at least 100 body bags are required every day. The bodies are collected from Wuhan’s three main hospitals plus other small hospitals, as well as private residences.

‘Since Jan. 28, 90 percent of our employees are working 24/7 … we couldn’t go back home,’ Mr Yun told The Epoch Times.

‘We really need more manpower.’

He explained that the funeral homes in Wuhan are struggling to cope with the influx of bodies. ‘Almost all staff at each funeral home in Wuhan are fully equipped, and all Wuhan cremation chambers are working 24 hours,’ he said.

This obviously would mean that the official death toll (490) is a massive undercount. Is it true? I don’t know.

And then there’s this. Again, take it with an ample quantity of sodium chloride:

As many experts question the veracity of China’s statistics for the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak, Tencent over the weekend seems to have inadvertently released what is potentially the actual number of infections and deaths, which were astronomically higher than official figures.

On late Saturday evening (Feb. 1), Tencent, on its webpage titled “Epidemic Situation Tracker,” showed confirmed cases of novel coronavirus (2019nCoV) in China as standing at 154,023, 10 times the official figure at the time. It listed the number of suspected cases as 79,808, four times the official figure.

The number of cured cases was only 269, well below the official number that day of 300. Most ominously, the death toll listed was 24,589, vastly higher than the 300 officially listed that day.

Moments later, Tencent updated the numbers to reflect the government’s “official” numbers that day. Netizens noticed that Tencent has on at least three occasions posted extremely high numbers, only to quickly lower them to government-approved statistics.

Fortunately for Americans, the virus seems to be well-contained in the US, so far.

Meanwhile…

“Likely to become a pandemic”

I believe that many media outlets have been significantly downplaying the seriousness of the Wuhan virus situation. The New York Times is a notable exception. Today we learn that many scientists view the globally spreading virus, which has infected perhaps 100,000 people and has an estimated mortality rate of 2%, as a probable pandemic and possible catastrophe:

The Wuhan coronavirus spreading from China is now likely to become a pandemic that circles the globe, according to many of the world’s leading infectious disease experts.

The prospect is daunting. A pandemic — an ongoing epidemic on two or more continents — may well have global consequences, despite the extraordinary travel restrictions and quarantines now imposed by China and other countries, including the United States.

Scientists do not yet know how lethal the new coronavirus is, however, so there is uncertainty about how much damage a pandemic might cause. But there is growing consensus that the pathogen is readily transmitted between humans.

The Wuhan coronavirus is spreading more like influenza, which is highly transmissible, than like its slow-moving viral cousins, SARS and MERS, scientists have found.

“It’s very, very transmissible, and it almost certainly is going to be a pandemic,” said Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease.

“But will it be catastrophic? I don’t know.”

Well, that’s reassuring. Not to be alarmist, but an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and it may be time for individuals in America – particularly those in major, globally connected population centers – to start thinking about sensible measures to reduce their exposure during a potential outbreak. Good question to ask yourself: what would you do if your town/city became Wuhan?

Meanwhile:

Good question from LZ (website here):

First case in the Northeast

It was only a matter of time:

Health officials in Massachusetts confirmed the first case of coronavirus in the state after a man returning from Wuhan, China, tested positive for the virus.

The man is in his 20s and lives in Boston, the state’s Department of Health said in a press release on Saturday. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notified health officials about the case late Friday evening, the release stated, adding that the risk to the public is low.

This is the eighth confirmed case of coronavirus in the United States. The other cases are two in Illinois, three in California, and one each in Washington state and Arizona.

And a possible case in the Big Apple:

On Saturday, the New York City Department of Health announced that a person in the city has been identified for testing. Health officials said the person, who is under 40 years old, had recently traveled from China and “presented with fever and cough or shortness of breath without another common cause.” Testing to determine whether the person has the first confirmed case of coronavirus in New York will take 36 to 48 hours.

The China travel ban comes not a moment too soon. Hopefully it’s not too late.

China’s global connectivity has become a casualty:

On Saturday, Australia followed the US by imposing a ban on entry to most travellers from China. Canberra said citizens, residents or relatives would still be allowed in. Countries including Uzbekistan and Vietnam cancelled flights from China altogether.

Dozens of commercial carriers have cut back or halted flights to China, and several hotel chains have said they will allow cancellations by Chinese travellers. Major companies such as Google and Facebook have banned travel to the country, while international retailers such as Starbucks and Apple have shut stores.

In Hong Kong, where there are strong memories of the impact of the 2003 Sars outbreak, thousands of hospital staff went on strike, demanding that authorities close the border. (…)

Cases of human-to-human transmission, which has driven the fast rise in infections inside China, have been detected in Germany, Thailand, Taiwan, France, Japan and the US.

Well that escalated quickly (coronavirus edition)

Is this what the beginning of the end of the world looks like?

BREAKING: China confirms 5,974 virus cases, exceeding nation’s SARS total – AFP

A comment from yesterday:

🚨
BREAKING: #China says that #coronavirus infections increased from 2,887 to 4,515 *an increase of 56% in a single day*. Deaths increased 29% to 106.

This is just the beginning. Expect these numbers to continue to rise…quickly

#Beijing — population 21.5 million — reported its first death from #2019_nCov and shut down 28 bus routes to nearby cities.

#Shanghai—population 24.2 million — already recorded a death, and now has 13 new cases of #coronavirus (total of 66).

NOT GOOD.

#CoronavirusOutbreak

Coronavirus *appears* to be highly contagious as well as serious:

Having YEARS of experience developing an #Ebola treatment, I was concerned about this #CoronavirusOutbreak from the outset, because this #coronavirus strain is very contagious, causes severe illness, and NO treatments or vaccines are available.

Unlike H5N1 “bird flu” (which does not spread easily between people) or SARS (which was spread by only a handful of “super spreaders”), this #coronavirus DOES appear to spread easily between people, even after making the jump from an animal (this is not common).

In addition to being highly contagious, this novel #coronavirus can cause a SEVERE infection that can kill even healthy people. It’s rare to see BOTH of these (bad) attributes in the same novel virus. Usually, it’s one or the other.

More reason for alarm:

The Chinese regime is likely underreporting the true scale of the coronavirus outbreak, according to a Harvard epidemiologist.

Fears of a rampant epidemic are mounting after the infectious disease hit most parts of China and have spread to over a dozen countries globally.

Official figures record the pneumonia-like virus infecting thousands and killing scores, although experts say the total number of infections is vastly greater than that reported by the communist regime.

In a recent study by Imperial College London, the researchers found that “self-sustaining human-to-human transmission” is the “only plausible explanation of the scale of the outbreak in Wuhan.”

Researchers said that each infected individual could infect 2.6 others, on average, and the authorities would need to block transmission of more than 60 percent of the cases to contain the outbreak. […]

China has quarantined 17 cities, postponed school openings, and extended the week-long national Lunar New Year holiday to Feb. 2, in an attempt to curb the disease’s spread.

Despite such efforts, 5 million people left the virus epicenter of Wuhan before the lockdown took effect on Jan. 23.

As it turns out, we are dealing with the consequences of another SARS-type government coverup:

Everyone must understand, first of all, that this epidemic was allowed to spread for a period of more than forty days before any of the abovementioned cities were closed off, or any decisive action taken. In fact, if we look at the main efforts undertaken by the leadership, and by provincial and city governments in particular, these were focused mostly not on the containment of the epidemic itself, but on the containment and suppression of information about the disease

Shanghai has seen its first death from the virus.

Russia’s Far East has closed its border with China.

Japan and Germany confirm coronavirus cases in people who had not traveled to Wuhan.

The US has decided not to block flights from and to China.

It’s hard to know what is real and what is media- and government-generated hysteria. The information from China is incomplete and hardly reliable, and it seems that nobody outside China knows what is going on.

Then there’s this:

The novel #coronavirus outbreak may reach its peak in one week or around 10 days, and then there will be no large-scale increases, says Zhong Nanshan, a renowned Chinese respiratory expert

We see through a glass darkly. As a hedge against gullibility, here’s a thread in which a science writer debunks hysterical claims by a Harvard epidemiologist.

On the other hand, I would note that the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918-19 infected some 500 million people, or about one-third of the human race, and killed at least 50 million people.

Last flight from Wuhan

The US government stages a Last Flight from Saigon for the Americans caught up in the Wuhan Quarantine:

All aboard the Virus Express!

Japan and France are also pulling their people out. The UK and Australia are considering it.

One California-based angel investor raises a salient point:

China quarantines an entire city to stop a deadly virus from spreading. America decides to take people with “greater risk” direct to SFO.

A better plan may be to send these folks supplies so they can shelter in place. Airlifting them out into a commercial airport is not smart.

Related:

Health officials in Los Angeles County have confirmed a fourth U.S. case of the new pneumonia-like virus from China.

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health said Sunday the infected person presented themselves for care once they noticed that they were not feeling well and is currently receiving medical attention.

The person is a returning traveler from Wuhan City, China. The case came on the heels of confirmed cases in Orange County, California, Washington state and Chicago.

Update!

Authorities on Sunday confirmed the fifth known case of the new coronavirus in the U.S.

The newly identified case was out of Maricopa, Ariz., Centers for Disease Control (CDC) director of National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases Nancy Messonier told reporters.

The confirmation follows two confirmed cases reported Sunday out of California. Cases in California have been confirmed in Orange County and in Los Angeles, according to the CDC.

Meanwhile, in Canada:

Breaking: Federal health officials say the Toronto man who has the coronavirus was symptomatic on the airplane last week when he was returning to Canada. Efforts are now underway to reach passengers who may have been in contact with him.

Health officials stress the risks to the public remain low. This virus is transmitted by droplets, i.e. when a person coughs or sneezes. People in close proximity to the infected patient, i.e. those seated next to him or immediately in front/behind may be at an increased risk

Work is being done to contact those seated within two metres of the Toronto man infected with #nCoV2019 on the plane. People who simply waked past him in the airport likely face no risk. The man flew China Southern Airlines flight CZ311 from Guangzhou to Toronto on Jan. 21.

The man took private transportation home and had limited contact with anyone after arriving home. He called 911 the next day after he developed a cough, fever and other symptoms. Toronto health officials are monitoring his family members for the next ~14 days.

What’s going in the UK?

Government officials were last night searching for some 2,000 people who flew from Wuhan to the UK over the past fortnight.

The Department of Health and the Border Force were scrambling to track down those who might not have shown any symptoms when they landed, but could still have been carrying the coronavirus.

There are usually three flights a week from Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak, meaning up to 2,500 passengers and crew arrived over the two-week period, though some will have already left the country.

Guess that Wuhan quarantine wasn’t exactly airtight:

About 5 million people left #Wuhan because of the Spring Festival and #pneumonia outbreak, Mayor of Wuhan, Zhou Xianwang, said on Sunday.

An abundance of caution

The Wuhan coronavirus is apparently spreading much faster than SARS. The Chinese government, it seems, is concerned:

I visited Wuhan a couple times, many years ago. Even at the time it was described as “the Chicago of China.” A thriving economic, manufacturing and education hub.

Perhaps the US should be more concerned than it is:

Twenty-one students and five chaperones from the province at the epicenter of the deadly coronavirus outbreak in China arrived in the D.C. region two days ago to take part in a school exchange program with Longfellow Middle School in Falls Church, Virginia.

Fairfax County Public Schools has confirmed with FOX 5 that the students will no longer take part in classes at the school, which were supposed to begin Wednesday, and they will not stay with host families in the area “out of an abundance of caution.” Instead, the students will stay at hotels until February 3, and visit tourist and cultural sites.

Oh, they will be visiting museums instead of attending school. That’s reassuring.

My modest proposal: shut down international travel until we get this thing firmly under control.

Jurisdiction creep

I don’t see how this can be viewed as anything other than insane overreach of US power:

How far past the water’s edge do America’s laws apply? Can the US become a focal point from crimes allegedly committed in places like Indonesia, Africa, and Europe? Those questions are not hypothetical. Rather, they are being asked in courtrooms across the US, from New Haven, Connecticut, to Brooklyn, New York, to Salt Lake City, Utah, and up to Congress and the Supreme Court.

In New Haven, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) trial of Lawrence Hoskins, a British national, enters its second week for actions alleged to have been committed in Indonesia. Already, an appellate court has pared back the charges being leveled at Hoskins on the grounds of governmental overreach. As the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit saw things, the FCPA applied to non-resident foreigners only in those instances where the government could demonstrate that the individual acted as an agent of a “domestic concern” or while actually in the US.

The crazy example of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou also fits in here. The US government is seeking the extradition of a non-resident foreigner whose alleged crimes were apparently not even committed in the US. Will anyone take US complaints seriously when China begins detaining Americans on spurious grounds?