Hong Kong Confirms 2nd Non-Mainland China Coronavirus Death As Hospital Workers Strike, Over 200,000 'Under Observation'

Summary:

  • Hong Kong reports that a 39-year-old man is the first death from coronavirus (2nd non-mainland China death)
  • Hong Kong closes more land borders with mainland
  • Virus death toll rises to 425 in China (427 if we count two deaths abroad)
  • Total number of confirmed cases tops 20,500, 171,329 cases under observation
  • 2 more cases reported in Germany
  • President Xi threatens to punish local authorities if they fail to contain virus
  • Xi may delay visit to South Korea amid pressure to restrict travel from China

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Update (0108ET): A woman was reportedly shot dead by police after attempting to breach a quarantine blockade in Wuzu Town approximately 50 miles from Wuhan.

Elsewhere:

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Update (2120ET): According to Hong Kong State TV, officials just confirmed the first death from coronavirus: a 39-year-old patient has become the first to die in Hong Kong from an illness related to the deadly coronavirus. The man, who was being treated in Princess Margaret Hospital in Kwai Chung, died on Tuesday morning due to sudden heart failure, according to three medical sources.

According to the government, the deceased man had lived in Whampoa Garden with his mother. She was confirmed on February 2 as Hong Kong’s 15th case, but did not have a recent history of travel.

This is the second death outside of mainland China from the deadly virus.

To make matters worse, thousands of Hong Kong medical workers went on strike for a second day on Tuesday to demand that leader Carrie Lam immediately close the city’s border with the mainland to prevent the spread of a deadly coronavirus.

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Update (1850ET): In what is by far the largest dump of coronavirus cases so for, Beijing just announced more than 3,000 new confirmed cases.

Beijing is now reporting 3235 newly confirmed cases (2345 in Hubei Province) and 492 severe cases (442 in Hubei Province). And that's not all. China is reporting 171,329 cases under observation, up 18,629 overnight, along with 23,214 suspected cases.

There are now 20,438 confirmed cases in China, and another 154 outside China, bringing the total global count to 20,592. Meanwhile, 632 have been cured and discharged.

As a reminder, we don't know quite yet what the real mortality rate of nCoV-2019 is. It's still early days and nobody is sure of the numbers out of China. But Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health told CNBC on Monday that a quarter of China’s coronavirus cases require intensive treatment.

"About 25% of them have very serious disease, requiring relatively intensive or really intensive care," said Fauci, the director of the NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Fauci has participated in some of the CDC's press conferences.

Read the full statement from China's NIH below:

At 04:00 on February 3, 31 provinces (autonomous regions, municipalities) and the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps reported 3235 newly confirmed cases (2345 in Hubei Province) and 492 severe cases (442 in Hubei Province). There were 64 death cases (64 cases in Hubei Province), 157 newly cured cases (101 cases in Hubei Province), and 5,072 suspected cases (3182 cases in Hubei Province).

As of 24:00 on February 3, the National Health and Health Commission has received a cumulative report of 20,438 confirmed cases (2 nuclear reductions in Heilongjiang Province) in 31 provinces (autonomous regions, municipalities) and the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps. There are currently 2788 severe cases with cumulative deaths.

There were 425 cases, 632 cases were cured and discharged, and there were 23214 suspected cases. At present, 221,015 close contacts have been tracked.

12,755 people were released from medical observation on the same day, and 171,329 people are currently receiving medical observation. A total of 33 confirmed cases were reported in Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan: 15 in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, 8 in the Macao Special Administrative Region, and 10 in Taiwan.

So much for 'contained'...

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Update (1840ET): A Korean newspaper just reported that President Xi may delay a planned visit to South Korea to focus on dealing with the coronavirus outbreak. Xi reportedly said during a Politburo meeting Monday that he would punish local officials for failing to successfully suppress the virus, a process of scapegoating that has already begun, as we noted earlier.

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Update (1720ET): It's early Tuesday morning and China, which means we're getting another batch of statistics about the coronavirus outbreak - statistics that likely underplay the severity of the outbreak.

According to Chinese health authorities, 2,345 were confirmed on Monday, while another 64 died (including 48 in Wuhan alone).

Hubei Province is now reporting 13,522 cases of coronavirus infection (including 6384 in Wuhan), while 58,544 are under observation across China. 46 new deaths were reported overnight, bringing the death toll in China to at least 425.

For those who are keeping score at home, that's a 18% rise in deaths overnight.

Another terrifying video shows a man collapsing in a virus-induced fit.

Meanwhile, President Xi is cracking the whip. According to the SCMP, at a meeting of the Politburo Standing Committee, President Xi Jinping said local cadres would be punished severely if they failed to heed Beijing’s orders to stop the virus from spreading.

"[We] must treat the fight of the outbreak as the most important task at hand," Xi was quoted by state broadcaster CCTV as saying.

Punishments of local officials has already started; more than 400 have already been 'penalized', according to Nikkei. Meanwhile, the party has acknowledged that it shouldn't have arrested a group of doctors in December for allegedly spreading 'disinformation' (they were trying to warn the world of the outbreak - yet the WHO has praised China for being 'transparent').

Looks like everything is under control.

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Update (1545ET): Germany reports 2 new cases of coronavirus, raising country's total to 12. Nearly all of these cases have been linked to the same company.

Here's the latest roundup of cases:

Elsewhere, Princeton isolates 108 students as precaution after China trips. Remember, the US has it all under control.

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Update (1400ET): Stocks are still in the green, but the administration is taking zero chances. To wit, the USTR's office reportedly told Fox that China hasn't requested any changes to the 'Phase 1' trade deal struck last year just before the virus emerged as a global threat to the public.

  • USTR SAYS HAS NO CHINA REQUEST ON DEAL CHANGE DUE TO VIRUS: FOX

This follows reports from earlier claiming that China was seeking 'flexibility' regarding its trade deal commitments. Meanwhile, HHS is telling Congress that it might need another $136 million to fight the virus (this after the Pentagon requested quarantine space for 1,000 people).

A few hours ago, Hong Kong’s leader announced the closure of four more border crossings with mainland China on Monday, leaving just three checkpoints open, but stopped short of demands for the entire border to be closed to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

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Update (1250ET): The Pentagon confirmed that 198 people have been quarantined at March Air Base in California's Riverside County. It's believed that those under quarantine traveled on the evacuation flight out of Wuhan.

Meanwhile, Fox reports that China has accepted the US's offer to incorporate a group of American experts into a contingent of WHO researchers focusing on studying and understanding the virus.

This comes after Beijing blasted the US for inciting a panic over the virus.

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Update (1140AM ET): The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the US is starting to increase at a concerning pace, and moments ago, the CDC confirmed in a telebriefing that there are 11 cases in the US.

  • U.S. CDC CONFIRMS 11 CONFIRMED CORONAVIRUS CASES IN UNITED STATES - TELEBRIEFING

More ominously, the CDC said that the new Coronavirus case is close contact of other California case, and was spread person-to-person.

And while traders were not happy with this latest confirmation that the disease is anything but contained, it is what the CDC aid said next that sent stocks and yields both sliding:

  • CDC: PREPARING AS IF CORONAVIRUS WERE THE NEXT PANDEMIC

Judging by the market reaction, it appears that algos are not fans of that word.

Finally, the CDC also said at its briefing that it has added four more airports for screening of Coronavirus.

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Late last night, we reported that the death toll from the coronavirus outbreak had surpassed 360 as more suspected cases popped up in New York. Though no deaths have been reported overnight, Chinese officials warned yesterday that many more cases and deaths would be confirmed on Sunday/Monday.

In the meantime, Chinese markets finally faced their inevitable reckoning. Despite the best efforts of the PBOC and the government, the Chinese market bloodbath was about as bad as expected.

But over in the US, investors ignored the latest news out of China and have seemingly bought into the WHO's optimistic message and China's accusations about an 'alarmist' Washington.

This is surprising, since anybody who has been paying close attention to the situation in China should know that this is far from the truth.

Late last night, while most of America was watching the Superbowl, the New York Times puablished a scathing story recounting what it's like on the ground in Wuhan right now. The truth is that all of the warnings of alleged 'conspiracy theorist' have more or less turned out to be correct. Supply shortages are still making it impossible for China to diagnose every case of the virus.

Ms. An, 67, needed an official diagnosis from a hospital to qualify for treatment, but the one she and her son raced to last week had no space, even to test her. The next hospital they were referred to here in Wuhan, the  city of 11 million people at the center of the outbreak, was full, too, they said. They finally got an intravenous drip for Ms. An’s fever, but that was all.

Since then, Ms. An has quarantined herself at home. She and her son eat separately, wear masks at home and are constantly disinfecting their apartment. Ms. An’s health is declining rapidly, and even keeping water down is a struggle.

"I can’t let my mom die at home," said her son, He Jun. "Every day I want to cry, but when I cry there are no tears. There is no hope."

Chilling stuff. And once again, doctors and health-care workers are leveraging their newfound immunity to shed a light on the government's brutality.

Last month, the government put Wuhan in a virtual lockdown, sealing off the city and banning most public transportation and private cars from its streets in a desperate effort to contain the outbreak. Now, many residents say it is nearly impossible to get the health care they need to treat - or even diagnose - the coronavirus.

Expressing exasperation, doctors say there is a shortage of testing kits and other medical supplies, and it is not clear why more are not available. The ban on transportation means some residents have to walk for hours to get to hospitals - if they are well enough to make the journey. Layers of bureaucracy stand between residents and help. And the long lines outside hospitals for testing and treatment suggest that the outbreak is spreading far beyond the official count of cases.

For many sickened residents, their best hope is the new coronavirus hospital that has just been finished (a second hospital is also being built).

Those who do make it to the hospital say they are squeezed together for hours in waiting rooms, where infections are easily spread. But the shortages have meant that many are ultimately turned away and sent home to self-quarantine, potentially compounding the outbreak by exposing their families.

Many doctors and residents are putting their hopes on the two new coronavirus hospitals that China has been racing to build in Wuhan in just a matter of days. One of them spans about eight acres, has 1,000 beds and is scheduled to open on Monday. The government says 1,400 military medical workers will be deployed to work there, potentially helping with the shortage of health professionals on hand to combat the outbreak.

Ironically, the hospital, which was supposed to open on Monday, is still undergoing 'finishing touches', and when masses of sick patients showed up at the gates on Monday morning, construction workers were forced to turn them away.

More than a week into the quarantine/lockdown, millions of residents fear the virus has spread much further than the government realizes.

On Sunday, city officials announced plans to set up quarantine stations around Wuhan for people with symptoms of pneumonia and close contacts among coronavirus patients. But just over a week into the lockdown, many residents believe the virus has already spread much further than the official numbers suggest.

"The situation that we’ve seen is much worse than what has been officially reported," Long Jian, 32, said outside a hospital where his elderly father was being treated. Mr. Long said his father had to go to six hospitals and wait seven days before he could even be tested for the coronavirus.

But after Monday's market shellacking, we suspect Beijing will be diverting more resources away from meeting critical shortages of medical supplies to focus instead on arresting shortsellers and locking up 'fearmongers', like the doctors who were arrested by local authorities in December for trying to warn the public about the outbreak.

Notice the bars on the hospital-room windows...this hospital is a prison with beds, as we've pointed out.

Following reports OPEC is weighing another supply cut to 'rebalance' the global oil market and warnings from economists that the outbreak could wipe more than a percentage point off Chinese GDP growth, officials in Beijing have reportedly changed their economic growth forecasts for 2020 to below 5%, what would be the lowest rate of growth since the beginning of China's modern era of state-directed capitalism.

To help the economy cope, Beijing is reportedly considering more stimulus measures to try and bolster growth.

Of course, the fallout won't be limited to China, and in a report published Monday, WSJ explores how the outbreak is already disrupting global supply chains and placing "additional strain" on an increasingly fragile economic expansion.

As we've pointed out, the outbreak has stoked racism against Chinese around the world.

If you're looking for a quick refresher on the outbreak, here's a short video from SCMP.

On a slightly more positive tip, Chinese state media posted this video about an infected woman who gave birth to a healthy baby in the middle of the crisis.

And here's a video of a drone being used to take the temperature of a terrified civilian trapped by decree inside their apartment.

Finally, RT points out that the death toll from the coronavirus outbreak has already eclipsed the death toll from SARS, as the virus has spread to nearly two dozen countries and territories. The pandemic will eventually "circle the globe," according to scientists from the NYT,.

Given the fear of the virus ravaging densely populated areas, the people of Hong Kong have succeeded in pressing the city's government to tighten travel restrictions, joining the US, Vietnam, Japan, Russia, Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia and many others.

Hong Kong has shut crossings to the mainland. But even this is likely too little, too late, as the first cases have already been diagnosed in the city.

Members of the G-7 will hold an emergency call on Monday to discuss strategies for containing the outbreak.

Get ready for another week of virus-induced craziness as this doesn't look ready to disappear from the headlines any time soon.