Via Zerohedge


  • China reports 97 deaths on Sunday bringing death toll to 910
  • Westerdam cruise ship to dock in Thailand after being turned away from 3 countries
  • Stocks are in the red as coronavirus worries return to rattle investor confidence
  • WHO designates 10 Chinese provinces ‘hot spots’
  • UK confirms 4 more cases tied to possible ‘super spreader’
  • Extended LNY holiday ends but millions still too afraid to return to office
  • WeWork Chairman says 100 buildings temporarily closed in China

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Update (0850ET): Carnival cruise’s PR crisis team just hit it out of the park with this one. After the NYT reported on the growing sense of paranoia among the 3,600 people stuck onboard the Diamond Princess – including their ‘deranged conspiracies’ about the virus spreading through their food and air ducts – another passenger participated in a remote live interview on CNBC to defend the cruise line’s handling of the incident.

“I personally believe it’s run very well…getting us into quarantine and keeping us in the cabin as much as possible in the circumstances…the only people they’ve bee letting out are in small groups to get some air.”

“I recognize the situation…I’m maintaining my confidence that they will conclude that we’re asymptomatic and we’ll be allowed to leave after the 14 days.”

“Though after you think about how many days remain…it can get a little depressing.”

“I give Princess Cruises and the captain of this vessel an A++ in handling this.”

In other words, everything is fine. There’s nothing to see here people. Hopefully, if we play ball, the Japanese health officials will take pity on us and let us go after 14 days, instead of keeping us trapped on this ship forever.

* * *

Update (0815ET): Listening to WeWork’s Executive Chairman Marcelo Claure during a Monday morning interview with CNBC, we heard him say that WeWork has temporarily closed 100 buildings in China due to the coronavirus.

While the virus has been an unequivocal disaster for the Chinese economy, at least WeWork now has a scapegoat for when its already floundering China business goes completely belly-up (dragging the rest of the company down with it).

Meanwhile, CNBC’s Eunice Yoon, whose early-morning reports have become a lodestone for investors following the situation inside China’s borders, just shared an update on China’s big ‘return to work’, essentially confirming that the global supply chain remains frozen.

Finally, here’s some more food for thought that we included in one of our earlier posts:

More food for thought…

Meanwhile, Peter Navarro told Fox Busines that the outbreak in China might inspire more drug and medical supply manufacturers to the US, building on Wilbur Ross’s claim that the outbreak could help bring more jobs back to North America. More ominously, he also claimed that China will have to pay for how the virus started.

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* * *

Monday was supposed to mark the official ‘return to work’ for many companies around China. That hasn’t exactly panned out…

…though the image presented by state controlled media was somewhat more optimistic.

Western media like CNN reported that “millions” returned to work on Monday, even if large swaths of the Chinese economy remained shut down. many will be working from home if possible, as quarantines leave millions stuck in their homes and millions more terrified to go outside. After Chinese health authorities reported 97 deaths on Sunday, the total number of cases worldwide has now topped 40,000, while the death toll has hit 910, according to the most up-to-date data from the SCMP:

But even as workers started to log back in, or even returned to the office in some rare cases, nearly 100 more were declared dead from the outbreak, a daily record. Meanwhile, as we noted last night, the WHO – which previously had aggressively kowtowed to Beijing – said the number of cases outside China could be  “just the tip of the iceberg,” according to Reuters.

Across mainland China, 3,062 new infections were confirmed on Sunday, bringing the total number to 40,171, according to the National Health Commission (NHC).

Wu Fan, vice-dean of Shanghai Fudan University Medical school, said there was hope the spread might soon reach a turning point.

“The situation is stabilising,” she told a briefing when asked about the spread in Shanghai, which has had nearly 300 cases and one death.

But WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, speaking in Geneva, said there had been “concerning instances” of transmission from people who had not been to China.

“The detection of a small number of cases may indicate more widespread transmission in other countries; in short, we may only be seeing the tip of the iceberg,” he said.

Dr. Tedros added that the WHO is monitoring 10 Chinese provinces as possible virus ‘hot spots’.

But outside China, the viral outbreak is beginning to take on more characteristics of a global pandemic. An outbreak at a ski chateau in the French Alps has reawakened anxieties about an uncontrolled outbreak in Western Europe, as government health officials in Britain and France scramble to trace everybody who had contact with a British citizen who apparently picked up the virus during a visit to Singapore.

Authorities worry that this unnamed ‘patient zero’ might be a ‘super spreader’: The man unknowingly carried the virus across continents, and at least six people have already been sickened after coming into contact with him. Research released last week suggested that the virus can spread before symptoms are present. on Monday, the British secretary of state declared the virus “a serious and imminent threat to public health.” This gave the government new powers to forcibly quarantine people after one infected patient tried to leave Arrowe Park, where the British government has quarantined some of those who just returned from Wuhan. In Hong Kong, two people appear to have escaped from a mandatory quarantine, prompting police to issue wanted notices.

“The Secretary of State declares that the incidence or transmission of novel Coronavirus constitutes a serious and imminent threat to public health,” the U.K. health ministry said in a statement on Monday.

“Measures outlined in these regulations are considered as an effective means of delaying or preventing further transmission of the virus.”

All rescued Britons signed a contract agreeing to a 14-day quarantine period at a place of the government’s choosing. On Monday, EasyJet has confirmed that a passenger who recently flew aboard one of its flights had been diagnosed with the coronavirus. The airline said Public Health England is reaching out to passengers.

Source: Johns Hopkins

Public Health England said Monday that anyone who has had contact with the newly confirmed cases should seek help immediately. Dr Nick Phin, deputy director of National Infection Service at Public Health England, said the following, according to the Guardian:

These new cases are all closely linked and were rapidly identified through Public Health England’s comprehensive contact tracing approach and tested quickly.

Our priority is speaking to those people who have had close and sustained contact with confirmed cases so that we can advise them on what they can do to limit the spread of the virus.

Back in China, Reuters reports that more than 300 Chinese firms, including Meituan Dianping, China’s largest food-delivery company, and Xiaomi, the smartphone-making giant, have sought bank loans of at least #8.2 billion (5.4 billion yuan). The PBOC has said it will offer special lending facilities, providing the first batch of re-lending fundings on Monday. It plans to offer the facility weekly until the outbreak subsides. Reuters also reported that Apple supplier Foxconn was ultimately not allowed to resume production at its plant in Shenzen, which had been shuttered by authorities during the outbreak. In another blow to Beijing, Mongolia, China’s impoverished northern neighbor, has suspended exports of coal to China until March 2, according to the country’s National Emergency Commission. The Commission has also recommended cancelling the Mongolian Tsagaan Sar Lunar New Year celebrations set for later in the month, Bloomberg reports.

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Picking up from where JPM left off, research firm Capital Economics said Monday that based on forecasts for global GDP, the outbreak could cost the world more than $280 billion during the first quarter of 2020.

Airbnb has suspended Beijing bookings until at least the end of February while promising to “refund and support guests who had cancelled reservations. And we will continue to work diligently to build programs that support our community of hosts.”

Fitch ratings warned overnight that China’s international profile “could diminish” because of the outbreak for two reasons: One, China might once again turn inwards as policymakers focus on maintaining social order and fighting the virus, two, foreigners might start to turn away from China (or maybe even move jobs back to North America, as Wilbur Ross suggested).

Authorities said they would inspect the plant “later this week” to ensure virus-control measures are being properly implemented. This after authorities initially denied reports that the plant wouldn’t reopen, though they said the plant’s reopening would be contingent on it passing an inspection.

But China isn’t the only country feeling the blowback. Sony said earlier that it wouldn’t attend the Mobile World Congress conference in Barcelona later this month because of virus-related fears. After all, the Japanese already have enough on their hands with the ‘Diamond Princess’ and the two dozen-plus infected patients scattered around the country.

CNN reports that the Westerdam, a cruise ship with no confirmed cases of the virus, will dock in Thailand on Thursday after being turned away by Japan, Taiwan and the Philippines.

More countries are planning evacuation missions to rescue citizens trapped in Wuhan and other parts of China. Reuters has put together a list (text courtesy of the Guardian) of countries that have carried out at least one evacuation mission so far…

Kazakhstan will send two planes to China on 10 and 11 February to evacuate its citizens. Kazakhstan has already evacuated 83 people from Wuhan. Of the 719 Kazakhs remaining in China, 391 have asked to be repatriated.

Singapore: A second evacuation flight is bringing back another 174 Singaporeans and their family members from Wuhan to the city-state on 9 February, Singapore’s foreign ministry said.

Philippines: Thirty Filipinos returned to the Philippines on 9 February from Wuhan, the department of foreign affairs said. The returning passengers and a 10-member government team will be quarantined for 14 days.

UK: Britain’s final evacuation flight from Wuhan, carrying more than 200 people, landed at a Royal Air Force base in central England on 9 February. A plane carrying 83 British and 27 European Union nationals from Wuhan landed in Britain last week.

Brazil: The 34 Brazilians evacuated from Wuhan landed in Brazil on 9 February, where they will begin 18 days of quarantine.

US: Two planes with about 300 passengers, mostly US citizens, took off from Wuhan on 6 February bound for the US. It was the third group of evacuees from the heart of the coronavirus outbreak, the US state department said.

Taiwan: About 500 Taiwanese stranded in Wuhan are the first batch to be evacuated

Uzbekistan: 251 people from China and quarantined them on arrival in Tashkent, the Central Asian nation’s state airline said on 6 February.

Italy: The country flew back 56 nationals from Wuhan to Rome on 3 February. The group will spend two weeks in quarantine in a military hospital, the government said.

Saudi Arabia: 10 students from Wuhan have been evacuated, Saudi state television reported on 2 February.

A plane-load of New Zealanders, Australians and Pacific Islanders evacuated from Wuhan arrived in Auckland, New Zealand on 5 February, officials said.

Thailand: A plane brought 138 Thai nationals home from Wuhan last week. They will spend two weeks in quarantine.

France: Some nationals have been evacuated from Wuhan and would be placed in quarantine. It said it would first evacuate nationals without symptoms and then those showing symptoms at a later, unspecified date.

Canada: The first group of 176 citizens were evacuated from Wuhan to an Ontario air force base early on 5 February, according to the Globe and Mail newspaper. All evacuees will be quarantined on the base for two weeks.

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Japan: The country has repatriated 565 nationals since the end of January.

South Korea: About 368 people were flown home on a charter flight that arrived on 31 January. A second chartered flight departed Seoul for Wuhan on the same day, with plans to evacuate around 350 more South Korean citizens.

Indonesia: The government flew 243 Indonesians from Hubei on 2 February and placed them under quarantine at a military base on an island north-west of Borneo.

…and a (much shorter) list of countries that are still in the ‘planning stages’:

Netherlands: The country is preparing the voluntary evacuation of 20 Dutch nationals and their families from Hubei, Stef Blok, the Dutch foreign minister, said. The Netherlands is finalising arrangements with EU partners and Chinese authorities.

Spain: The government is working with China and the European Union to repatriate its nationals.

* * *

So far, two foreigners have died within China, one Japanese, one American, news we reported last week.

Those who have already been rescued from Wuhan in the US, UK and other countries are nearing the end of their 2-week quarantine detentions. Unfortunately, Chinese scientists are now saying 14 days might not be long enough for symptoms to appear. At least one patient exhibited no symptoms for 17 days – a full 2.5 weeks.

That’s bad news for the cruise ship that was allowed to sail away from Hong Kong after just a four-day hold.

Speaking of Hong Kong, CNA reports that a 24-year-old man and his grandmother, 91, were initially confirmed to have the virus, but later spread it to seven other family members, including the boy’s father, mother, two aunts and three cousins were also infected.-

Officials said the family was part of a gathering of 19 who shared the hotpot meal over the Lunar New Year holiday at the end of January. A hotpot – also known as a steamboat – is a bubbling cauldron of stock shared communally, to which diners add ingredients.

Hoarding that started in Hong Kong last week has already spread to Singapore, where CNBC reports shelves are running bare as hundreds of thousands of people scramble to brace for a worsening outbreak.

First found in the city of Wuhan in central China last December, the new coronavirus has infected nearly 37,200 people on the mainland and at least 36 in Hong Kong.

One day after the New York Times published a story asking “Where’s Xi?” in the headline, the President/God-Emperor of China has finally appeared in public, wearing his facemask in the correct fashion (several local officials in Hubei elicited an avalanche of public criticism for appearing in public without masks, or with their masks worn incorrectly).

State Broadcaster CCTV aired a brief segment featuring Xi visiting a neighborhood in Beijing. In keeping with the Chinese state’s propaganda narrative, Xi “investigated and directed” the ongoing virus prevention work and asked after residents and workers.

Xi said Monday that China would take “more decisive” measures to suppress the virus. Those words should send a shudder of anxiety through a population that had expected to return to work on Monday, only to find that one most offices and factories remain closed.

Xi visited the Chaoyang district, according to state-run media Xinhua

As we reported earlier, the number of confirmed cases aboard the ‘Diamond Princess’ cruise ship under quarantine in Japan has climbed to 136.

Across China, public anger over the death of Dr. Li, a martyr who was one of eight doctors punished by local authorities for speaking out about the virus. He succumbed to the virus last week, making him the first outbreak martyr. While his portrait has circulated on the Internet, and in fliers, Weibo has introduced a new emoji on the Chinese Internet to commemorate Li: A chicken drumstick.

The virus has spread to at least 27 countries and territories and infected more than 330 people outside China. While vaccines have been tested on animals, China’s CDC announced Monday that animal testing was in the “very early stage” of vaccine development. With the number dead already having surpassed the total number of deaths from the SARS outbreak by a margin greater than 100, many are bracing for the outbreak to be much worse than experts had anticipated.