Philippines Reports First Death Due To Coronavirus Outside China; 137,600 Under Observation In China

Summary:

  • Death toll tops 300, 14,550 cases reported globally

  • First death outside China reported in Philippines

  • Suspected case being tested in New York City

  • 8th US case confirmed in Massachusetts

  • Vietnam, Japan, Australia limit travel to China

  • Hong Kong health-care workers threaten to strike unless border to mainland closed

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Update (2200ET):  The Philippines office of the World Health Organization has reported the first death of a coronavirus victim outside of China.

A 44-year-old male was confirmed as the second person with the 2019 novel coronavirus in the Philippines.

He passed away on February 1 2020.

There are currently 114 cases worldwide (ex-China)...

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Update (1900ET): There were 45 new deaths reported in Hubei China, sending the global death toll to 304 as China's CDC reports 2,589 new infections, bringing China's total to 14,380 of which Hubei Province has reported 9,074 cases (including 4109 cases in Wuhan).

With another 173 outside the mainland, the new global total is 14,550 as of Sunday morning in China. Additionally, there were a total of 19,544 suspected case in China (up from 17,988 yesterday), and the total number of cases under observation is now a whopping 137,594, an increase of over 19,000 from 118,478.

And as the number of cases and deaths continues to grow almost geometrically, there was one silver lining: the number of discharged patients jumped to 328, for the first time surpassing the number of deaths by 24.

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Update (1645ET): The New York Times reports that NYC has yet another suspected case of the coronavirus. This is at least the third report of a suspected coronavirus patient in NYC or New Jersey.

The scares have made the sight of people wearing masks more common throughout the Five Boroughs.

The suspected patient is in their 40s and recently returned from China suffering from telltale symptoms including fever, cough and shortness of breath.

The suspected virus carrier is undergoing testing at Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan.

  • NEW YORK CITY HEALTH DEPARTMENT TESTING PATIENT FOR CORONAVIRUS
  • NYC HEALTH OFFICIALS SUSPECT A PATIENT HAS CORONAVIRUS: NYT
  • NYC OFFICIALS AWAITING CONFIRMATION FROM FEDERAL AGENCY: NYT
  • SUSPECTED NYC CORONAVIRUS PATIENT IS AT BELLEVUE HOSPITAL: NYT

City health officials have been bracing for a case given NYC's large population of Chinese immigrants.

“An individual with a travel history to China felt unwell and sought help from a medical provider who promptly contacted the Health Department,” said the health commissioner, Dr. Oxiris Barbot.

NYC has already struggled with outbreaks recently, including an outbreak of measles in the ultra-orthodox Jewish community.

Testing at the CDC will take a minimum of 36 - 48 hours, depending on testing capacity.

That's all we know for now.

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Update (1400ET): The Global Times, a popular mouthpiece for the Chinese government, has acknowledged that the outbreak has reached a "critical" situation, and that many places in China would "extend" the 'Spring Festival' holiday.

Just another piece of faux-sympathy as the government pushes the "full transparency" angle.

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Update (1255ET): According to officials with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, the first case of novel coronavirus has been confirmed in the state on Saturday afternoon. 

Boston health officials said the man is in his 20s, contracted the deadly virus after he returned from a trip in Wuhan, China. 

The Boston Public Health Commission said the U.S. Centers for Disease and Control Prevention was notified about the lab results on Friday evening.

"He has been isolated since that time and will continue to remain isolated until cleared by public health officials," the department said, adding that his few close contacts have been identified and are being monitored for any signs of symptoms.

"We are grateful that this young man is recovering and sought medical attention immediately," said the state's public health commissioner, Monica Bharel. "Again, the risk to the public from the 2019 novel coronavirus remains low in Massachusetts."

Fortunately he is 'recovering'.

This is the eighth case of confirmed coronavirus in the US after the 7th was confirmed in the Bay Area on Friday afternoon.

Meanwhile, Australia's flag carrier Qantas is the latest airline to cancel flights between China after that country cracked down on foreigners who have been to Hubei traveling in the country.

Though US has taken steps to stop foreigners who might be an infection risk from entering the country, airline employees are pushing for all American carriers to temporarily suspend all flights to and from China. The Association of Flight Attendants, representing 50,000 flight attendants at 20 airlines has called for "clear direction from our government to U.S. airlines to pull down all travel to China until the spread of coronavirus is contained,” in a statement shared by ABC News.

"It is critical that any crew potentially infected through travel to and from China not be assigned to any additional flights until safely through the fourteen-day incubation period," the statement added.

Back in Wuhan, the government is dialing up the propaganda as public anger (which has been manipulated to focus on local officials who have been scapegoated by Beijing) crests.

There's more where that came from.

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Update (1230ET): Vietnam has become the latest country to strictly limit travel with China. SCMP reports that the country has banned all passenger plane traffic to and from mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau.

Apparently, Vietnam, which has confirmed several cases, including at least one instances of human-to-human transmission, doesn't think much of the WHO's assurances. Can't say we blame them. Meanwhile, back in China, a citizen journalist took a video of a sea of unopened boxes allegedly containing medical supplies. We've reported in the past that the government is largely relying on 'volunteers' to open boxes and sort supplies, leading to massive backlogs.

But of course Beijing has everything under control...just so long as you don't leave your house/apartment/whatever.

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Since our last update Friday evening, the situation on the ground in China has reportedly gone from bad to worse. The true extent of Beijing's 'quarantine' has been exposed - and not just the ridiculously oppressive tactics exercised on sick people simply out trying to buy food so they don't starve, but the even more bizarre notion that the WHO has decided to try and validate Beijing's response when all evidence suggests that public relations is and always will be Beijing's No. 1 concern.

By most recent count, total cases have eclipsed 12,000, while confirmed deaths inside China have hit 259. More than 100,000 people are still under observation, as we reported last night. The 46 new deaths announced last night (Saturday morning in China) was the largest daily death toll (that was the total from Friday) since the start of the crisis.

To that end, a report reportedly signed by hundreds of doctors blaming the Communist Party's leadership for waiting a month to inform the Chinese public and the international community that the virus could spread from human-to-human contact. The leadership was apparently aware of this fact as early as mid-December, yet they actively concealed it until the situation started getting out of hand and cases were being confirmed in neighboring countries.

China's finance ministry has finally announced that it's going to lift import taxes on American-made medical products needed to help combat the outbreak (it's interesting how it took them nearly - checks notes - two months since the start of the outbreak to lift the trade-war tariffs).

ABC News is the latest American media outlet to collect footage from Wuhan via drone. The haunting footage clearly shows the scope of the lockdown. An entire city as big as New York, with almost nobody outside or in the streets.

This is becoming an increasingly common sight across China.

We got some interesting corporate news overnight: Apple announced early Saturday that it would close all of its stores and offices in China at least through Feb. 9. Already, the factories of many of its suppliers (like Foxconn) have been impacted by holiday "extensions" that will keep them closed through at least early Feb.

As of midday on Saturday, at least 19 provinces, municipalities and regions have told businesses not to resume work before Feb. 10 at the earliest, according to CNBC, which also noted that Disney, Tesla several US airlines and myriad other American business have suspended operations in China. Hubei, the center of the outbreak, has reportedly extended its Lunar New Year holiday until Feb. 13.

On Saturday, Huanggang, a city of 6 million people near Wuhan, has banned residents from leaving their homes in an effort to stop the coronavirus. The ban states that 1 person per family can leave every other day to buy basic needs.

It's the first city to declare a lockdown on par with Wuhan's total ban of people leaving their homes. Meanwhile Huanggang's mayor warned on Saturday that a "significant" increase in the number of confirmed cases on Saturday or Sunday.

Here's a video of a doctor from Huanggang saying the media won't dare report the true infection totals from Huanggang, adding that it's almost as bad as Wuhan.

The scapegoating of local officials by Beijing continued on Saturday, when more than 300 party officials from Huanggang were punished for failing in their duty.

Though we're hearing labels like these used far less often than we were just last week, it appears the "fearmongers" and "alarmists" were once again correct to be skeptical of the information coming out of Beijing. A few days ago, Zero Hedge was declared alarmists for discussing the possibility that nCoV could metastasize into a particularly deadly seasonal illness, like the flu. The mainstream press has now apparently decided to take the warnings of epidemiologists seriously.

When the WHO first declared that travel restrictions on China simply weren't necessary, even as Beijing quarantined more than 50 million of its own people, we wondered how the organization could possibly expect the world to listen, considering that Russia had already closed its border with China, and dozens of countries had already imposed some kind of restriction, while more than 40 airlines had suspended routes to China.

On Saturday morning, Australia joined the US in temporarily blocking all foreigners who have recently visited China. Japan said it would bar visitors who had been to Hubei in the last 2 weeks, or had passports issued in Hubei, according to the New York Times.

Then we heard Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam tell the people that complete shutdown of travel to China wouldn't be necessary. Once again, Lam was doing the leadership's bidding to the detriment of her local popularity. By doing so, Lam has handed the workers all the ammunition they need to successfully challenge, and defeat, the city government.

Carrie Lam

Thousands of Hong Kong doctors, nurses and hospital employees have voted for a strike which could begin as early as Monday. The reason? To pressure the city government to close all borders with mainland China. This isn't the first bout of virus-related unrest to rock Hong Kong. Last week, a group of locals set fires and rioted in response to rumors that the government planned to transform a newly built housing project nearby into a quarantine, according to SCMP.

Reports that the Hong Kong government has found 49 people from Hubei after searching about 500 hotels has only ratcheted up public anxiety. The individuals are reportedly being moved to quarantine centers.

The pledge of action by thousands of nurses and hospital workers is picking up steam as more local unions are joining the movement. Pretty soon, Lam will have no choice but to close the border with China, which would be a major blow to global confidence in Beijing.

The alliance of health care workers have a few other demands: that the government make clear policies to ensure a supply of surgical masks, a halt on non-emergency services and an increase in the number of isolation wards at hospitals, as well as better support for medical practitioners and an open promise not to punish those who participate in the strike.

Back on the mainland, local authorities have taken to using drones to 'name and shame' anybody who disobeys the isolation orders. Here are a few examples:

Across China, drones are being loaded with disinfectant to spray public streets (another shock-and-awe measure with little real-world advantage).

Before we go, here's a complete list of countries that have confirmed cases of the virus: Thailand, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, Australia, Malaysia, Macau, Russia, France, the United States, South Korea, Germany, the United Arab Emirates, Canada, Britain, Vietnam, Italy, India, the Philippines, Nepal, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Finland and Sweden.

Meanwhile, Thailand, Taiwan, Germany, Vietnam, Japan, France and the US has confirmed human-to-human transmission involving at least one person who hadn't been to China.

The timing of this outbreak could not be worse: China confirms a case of H5N1 bird flu in Hunan, prompting authorities to cull 17,828 chickens as a precaution. Though we doubt mainlanders will be seeing many stories about that.