Full economic recovery may require vaccine

The US Federal Reserve Chairman  says that a full economic recovery may take well over a year, and it may be dependent on a Covid019 virus becoming available.

That isn’t a surprising prediction, as a return to unrestricted international travel is likely to also depend on a vaccine. Travel affects business, especially tourism. Airlines that survive may it difficult to get back previous levels of business if social distancing remains required.

Reuters: Fed’s Powell says full economic recovery may require coronavirus vaccine

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said a U.S. economic recovery may stretch deep into next year and a full comeback may depend on a coronavirus vaccine.

“This economy will recover. It may take a while … It could stretch through the end of next year. We really don’t know,” Powell said in remarks aired on CBS’s “Face the Nation”.

“Assuming there is not a second wave of the coronavirus, I think you will see the economy recover steadily through the second half of this year. For the economy to fully recover people will have to be fully confident and that may have to await the arrival of a vaccine.”

Like governments a lot of businesses will need to rely on borrowing to survive, and that could be a burden for years.

The world economy is in part reliant on the US economy, as is New Zealand’s economy. We have done a lot of travel to and through the US, and a lot of business with them.

Covid deaths have now passed 90,000 in the US, with trends indicating that wil reach well over 100k by the end of May and still climbing into June – see Where The Latest COVID-19 Models Think We’re Headed 

Reuters: So far, no spike in coronavirus in places reopening, U.S. health secretary says.

U.S. authorities are not yet seeing spikes in coronavirus cases in places that are reopening but it was still too early to determine such trends, health secretary Alex Azar said on Sunday.

“We are seeing that in places that are opening, we’re not seeing this spike in cases,” Azar said on CNN’s “State of the Union” program. “We still see spikes in some areas that are, in fact, closed.”

However, Azar said identifying and reporting new cases takes time. A critical part of reopening will be surveillance of flu-like symptoms in the population and other hospital admissions data, as well as testing of asymptomatic individuals, he said.

“It’s still early days,” Azar cautioned in an interview with CBS’ “Face the Nation.” He said data will take some time to come in from states that reopened early such as Georgia and Florida.

There are now 315,000 deaths currently recorded world wide. It is difficult to predict what the trends are going to be over the next few months as US states as well as countries start to cautiously reopen.

Some countries have increasing problems, like Brazil and Mexico, and Russia is now second to the US in number of cases, but with an extraordinarily low number of deaths recorded.

Two of the worst hit countries are at lowering rates – Spain and Italy record lower death tolls

Spain has recorded its lowest death toll in two months with 87 deaths in 24 hours, while Italy recorded its lowest daily toll, 145, since lockdown was declared.

It was the first time that Spain announced under 100 deaths in a day since mid-March, which could be due to a delay in reporting over the weekend, the health emergency coordinator said.

Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said on Saturday that the government would request to extend the state of emergency for another month as the country continues to phase out restrictions on movement amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The state of emergency was set to end on May 24.

Declaring the lowest number of daily deaths since 9 March, Italy is now looking to bring forward the reopening of some commercial activity in the country, with retailers, hairdressers, salons, restaurants and cake shops authorised to open from tomorrow.

Spain has been relaxing stringent restrictions over the lats week. But weekend numbers are lower then weekday numbers.

DW: Brazil overtakes Spain, Italy in COVID-19 cases

Brazil overtook Spain and Italy in the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases on Saturday, making it the fourth-largest outbreak in the world.

The country’s total number of cases rose to 233,142 after authorities logged 14,919 new cases, according to data form Brazil’s Health Ministry.

A total of 15,633 people have died due to the coronavirus in the country so far, with the country registering 816 new fatalities over the past 24 hours.

Experts have warned that due to under-testing, the actual figures could be as much as 15 times higher, cautioning that the worst could be yet to come.

Despite the rising case numbers and fatalities, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has repeatedly downplayed the seriousness of the outbreak, dismissing the virus as a “little flu.”

He has also continued to attack lockdown measures implemented by some governors to contain the spread of the virus, and calling for businesses to reopen

“Unemployment, hunger and misery will be the future of those who support the tyranny of total isolation,” the far-right president tweeted.

RNZ: Brazil’s Bolsonaro sees second health minister quit

Brazil’s health minister has resigned after less than a month in the job following disagreements over of the government’s handling of the country’s escalating coronavirus crisis.

At his news conference, Teich did not reveal why he had stepped down. He just thanked President Bolsonaro for giving him the chance to serve as a minister and praised healthcare workers.

But he has clashed with the president over several aspects of how the government has dealt with the spiralling epidemic.

He disagreed with the president’s desire to widely use chloroquine as a treatment. The drug has gained widespread attention although the World Health Organisation (WHO) says there’s no definitive evidence it works.

Teich also butted heads with the president over plans to open up the economy, saying last week that he was not consulted ahead of an order that paved the way for gyms, beauty salons and hairdressers to reopen.

Case and death rates are increasing in Brazil.

A study comparing Denmark and Sweden claims that most of the drop in consumer spending is due to the virus itself and not the lockdowns. Newsroom: New paper calls into question benefits of Swedish strategy

Economists at the University of Copenhagen have found lockdowns have had little impact on consumer spending habits and that the true dampener of purchasing activity is the coronavirus itself.

The findings of the preprint paper, which may not have been peer-reviewed, call into question the premise of the much-touted Swedish strategy, in which the Nordic country has shied away from entering lockdown, suffering thousands of deaths as a result, in order to preserve the economy.

Transaction data for 830,000 Danes and Swedes from the second-largest Scandinavian bank found aggregate spending dropped by 25 percent in Sweden and 29 percent in neighbouring Denmark, which instituted a lockdown. Denmark has had 10,713 cases of Covid-19 and 537 deaths, while Sweden has seen 28,582 cases and 3529 deaths.

“In Denmark, spending drops sharply around the shutdown on 11 March 2020 and remains below the level in the reference period,” the researchers write.

“In Sweden, spending drops sharply at almost the exact same time although no significant restrictions were imposed. Presumably, this is no coincidence but reflects that the Danish shutdown responded to an escalating pandemic, similar in the two countries, with its own strong effect on spending. This highlights the empirical difficulty of separating the effects of social distancing laws and the pandemic they are designed to contain.”

In their conclusion, the economists argue that the lockdown resulted in just a 4 percent decrease in spending and that the virus itself was to blame for the vast bulk of the economic slump.

With no sign of a vaccine keeping the virus in check and getting economies back in action may be a long slow process.

USA now has highest number of Covid-19 deaths

The USA now has more deaths related to the Covid-19 virus than an other country (current total 20,455 but rising about two thousand a day), but their death rate per 1m population is still a lot lower than Spain, Italy, Belgium, France and the UK.

Countries with the most deaths (Worldometer 9pm 12 April 2020 GMT)):

  • USA 20,455 (61 per 1m)
  • Italy 19,468 (322 per 1m)
  • Spain 16,480 (352 per 1m)
  • France 13,832 (212 per 1m)
  • UK 9,875 (145 per 1m)
  • Iran 4,357 (52 per 1m)
  • Belgium 3,346 (289 per 1m)
  • China 3,339 (2 per 1m)
  • Germany 2,736 (33 per 1m)
  • Netherlands 2,643 (154 per 1m)

Total deaths currently 108,333

Total recorded cases 1,771,543

Covid-19 death toll now over 100,000

The official world-wide death toll is now over 100,000 – current numbers as at 8:00 pm Friday 10 April 2020 GMT (Worldometer):

  • Total cases 1.685,533
  • Recovered cases 375,221
  • Active cases 1,208,213
  • Attributed deaths 102,099

Cases rose yesterday (Thursday GMT) by 85,589 and deaths by 7,234, with similar increases looking likely today.

As at the end of 10 April GMT:

Over the past week about a third of new cases and a quarter of new deaths have been recorded in the US. Total US cases are now 493,426 and total deaths 18,331 (just 500 fewer than Italy).

Italy and Spain seem to have flattened off at around 6-700 deaths per day.

France (+987 deaths)  and the UK (+980) are increasing rapidly, as is Belgium (+496).

Largest death totals (9 pm Friday GMT):

  • Italy 18,849 (312 per 1m)
  • USA 18,430 (56 per 1m)
  • Spain 15,970 (342 per 1m)
  • France 13,197 (202 per 1m)
  • UK 8,958 (132 per 1m)
  • Iran 4,232 (50 per 1m)
  • China 3,336 (2 per 1m)
  • Germany 2,728 (33 per 1m)
  • Belgium 3,019 (260 per 1m)
  • Netherlands 2,511 (147 per 1m)

So Spain now has the most deaths per 1m population.

New Zealand currently has 1,283 cases and 2 deaths, and for now is ‘flattening the curve’ with daily new cases less than recovered cases.

New confirmed and probable cases over time

Australia has 6,203 confirmed cases and 53 deaths but also seems to be flattening:

This graph shows new cases of COVID-19 in Australia by date of notification. See the Description field on the publication page for a full description

Covid-19 projections may be high, but measures may have helped

Modeled projections of numbers of deaths from Covid-19, even modified and moderated projections after more stringent restrictions were increasingly put in place around the world, seem a bit high at this stage, but it’s hard to know what will happen months away or in a year as ongoing bounce backs are expected as restrictions are lifted.

It may be that ‘worst case’ and even more moderate projections spurred governments and health authorities to pull out all stops (or a lot of stops) to limit the spread of the virus and to substantially ramp up health care supplies and facilities. This will have had some impact, but it’s impossible to know how much.

New Zealand seems to have got off relatively lightly. In proportion to population we have a similar case rate as Australia, but we have just one death to date, and Australia now has 48. Australia has had fairly tight restrictions but not as comprehensive as New Zealand.

A week ago US projections were for 100,000-240,000 deaths, but there is a more optimistic but undefined view now, even as the death rate increases at over a thousand a day. The current total is 12.274 which is well short of projections, but the death toll has doubled in less than a week, with 1,255 yesterday and already 1,522 1,681 1,821 1,934 so far today.

The US continues to have about a third of the daily world increase in cases, and a quarter of the daily increase in deaths.

Nearly half of the deaths have been in New York, which may be simply because the virus took hold there in a big way sooner than many other parts of the US. Despite a record number of deaths in the last day things may be plateauing in New York: New York’s Cuomo sees coronavirus plateau approaching even as daily death toll hits high

New York state, the U.S. epicenter of the coronavirus, is nearing a plateau in number of patients hospitalized, Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Tuesday, a hopeful sign even as deaths in his state and neighboring New Jersey hit single-day highs.

In addition, the U.S. surgeon general said the pandemic may kill fewer Americans than had been projected.

New York state’s death toll rose by 731 to 5,489 over the past day, Cuomo said, though he called that a “lagging indicator” illustrating past trends. He said the state was “projecting that we are reaching a plateau in the total number of hospitalizations” due to the coronavirus.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said his state recorded 232 coronavirus deaths in the past day – also a new high – bringing its total death toll to 1,232.

New York state overtook Italy on Tuesday, reporting overall coronavirus cases second in the world only to Spain, according to a Reuters tally.

The tally showed New York has 138,836 reported cases compared with Italy at 135,586. Spain has the most cases at 140,510. In total, the United States has recorded 380,000 cases and 11,800 deaths.

Deaths in Italy and Spain seem to have steadied for now but both are still around 600-700 a day.

The death rate in France is climbing fast, with 833 yesterday but a surge to 1,417 so far today with their current total now over 10,000. And France’s Covid pandemic has not yet peaked, says health minister

“We are still in a worsening phase of the pandemic,” Véran told broadcaster BFM TV. He also said that the country’s lockdown would last as long as necessary.

France’s coronavirus figures on Monday showed that the rate of increase in fatalities – at almost 9,000 – sped up again after several days of slowing.

Neighbouring Belgium has also surged with 403 deaths today.

While the news focus in the UK is Boris Johnson breathing without aid in intensive care the overall picture is worsening, with 439 deaths yesterday and 786 so far today.

And there’s another study: UK will have Europe’s worst coronavirus death toll, study predicts

World-leading disease data analysts have projected that the UK will become the country worst hit by the coronavirus pandemic in Europe, accounting for more than 40% of total deaths across the continent.

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) in Seattle predicts 66,000 UK deaths from Covid-19 by August, with a peak of nearly 3,000 a day, based on a steep climb in daily deaths early in the outbreak.

The analysts also claim discussions over “herd immunity” led to a delay in the UK introducing physical distancing measures, which were brought in from 23 March in England when the coronavirus death toll stood at 54. Portugal, by comparison, had just one confirmed death when distancing measures were imposed.

But:

The newly released data is disputed by scientists whose modelling of the likely shape of the UK epidemic is relied on by the government. Prof Neil Ferguson, of Imperial College, said the IHME figures on “healthcare demand” – including hospital bed use and deaths – were twice as high as they should be.

These studies are informed guesses in a rapidly changing environment, so they will need to keep being revised.

But most news is still of significant problems. Europe toll passes 50,000 as Japan declares emergency

Europe has passed the grim milestone of 50,000 Covid-19 deaths and Japan has declared a state of emergency to curb the virus’s spread, as China declared no new fatalities for the first time since January and lifted the 11-week lockdown of Wuhan.

While Denmark and Norway announced plans to lift some of their physical distancing measures on Tuesday, the Japanese prime minister, Shinzo Abe, declared a month-long state of emergency in major population centres, including Tokyo, where the number of cases has more than doubled this week to 1,116.

While studies and projections will continue to make predictions and be contested and debated, two things are not in doubt.

Numbers of cases and numbers of deaths will continue to grow around the world.

And Covid-19 will dominate news and government actions for months at least.

It’s just a matter of how bad and for how long.


Relevant to this: Adjusted coronavirus model predicts fewer people in US will need hospitals, but 82,000 will still die by August

An influential model tracking the coronavirus pandemic in the United States now predicts that fewer people will die and fewer hospital beds will be needed compared to its estimates from last week.

As of Monday, the model predicted the virus will kill 81,766 people in the United States over the next four months, with just under 141,000 hospital beds being needed. That’s about 12,000 fewer deaths — and 121,000 fewer hospital beds — than the model estimated on Thursday.

A “massive infusion of new data” led to the adjustments, according to the model’s maker, Dr. Christopher Murray, who serves as director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington School of Medicine.

But the newest version of the model underscores just how important social distancing continues to be: It assumes that those measures — such as closing schools and businesses — will continue until August, and it still predicts tens of thousands of deaths.

While the analysis has been repeatedly cited by Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House’s coronavirus response coordinator, the administration’s current guidelines only recommend social distancing through April 30.

Trump considers quarantine as Covid-19 keeps climbing in US and world

|Earlier this week President Donald Trump said he wanted business and congregations back to normal by Easter Sunday, but with Covid-19 cases and deaths climbing in the US he is now considering imposing quarantines in some areas. However the horse may have already bolted, with a lot of people movement around the country over the last couple of weeks, and new cases and deaths surging.

Cases in the US currently are 105,573 (UPDATE half an hour later 112,468), with deaths now at 1,841 and climbing by hundreds each day.

NHS medical director: if the UK were to keep the number of deaths from coronavirus below 20,000, “we will have done very well”.

On Tuesday Trump’s Easter goal in war on virus a nod to faith, business

President Donald Trump’s “beautiful” idea to reopen the U.S. economy by Easter Sunday and pack church pews that day was dreamed up during a conference call among business leaders desperate to get the country back up and running.

But his target date for easing coronavirus restrictions is another outstretched hand to a group he has long courted: evangelical Christians.

Cooped up at the White House and watching the stock market tumble, Trump had already been eager to ease federal guidelines aimed at halting the spread of a virus that had infected more than 55,000 Americans when about a dozen business leaders convened a conference call on Sunday.

His rush to get back to business as usual was questioned – Trump’s plan to reopen the economy by Easter could cause more damage in the long run, according to LinkedIn’s top US economist

However, framing America’s response as a direct trade-off between the health of its people and the health of its economy could ultimately harm both, according to LinkedIn principal economist Guy Berger.

“There’s no economy without people, so getting them healthy is the way to get the economy off the ground,” Berger told Business Insider.

“That’s why the public health measures are so important and why they’re essential, even though they’re hard in the short run, that’s the only way to really end up rebooting the economy,” he said.

Easing lockdowns and social distancing measures too early, while the virus is still spreading rapidly, could ultimately cause more people to get sick, forcing them out of the workforce and causing an even more negative impact on the economy.

The message must have got through to Trump about the risk – to health, lives and to business – of rushing back to no restrictions.

Fox News: Trump mulls coronavirus quarantine on New York, New Jersey, Connecticut

“Some people would like to see New York quarantined because it’s a hotspot — New York, New Jersey, maybe one or two other places, certain parts of Connecticut quarantined,” he said outside the White House.

“I’m thinking about that right now. We might not have to do it but there’s a possibility that sometime today we’ll do a quarantine — short term, two weeks for New York, probably New Jersey and certain parts of Connecticut.”

He said that if such a move happened, it would be primarily a restriction on residents of those states traveling to other parts of the country.

“This will be an enforceable quarantine, but hopefully we won’t need it,” he said.

The move would be a dramatic escalation of the efforts to stop the spread of the coronavirus, and comes on the back of those states essentially shuttering daily life — closing schools, businesses, leisure activities and urging residents to stay at home.

But this could be too late. Movement of people has been a problem elsewhere in the country for weeks.

Fox News: Frightening cellphone ‘heat map’ shows coronavirus’ potential spread as spring break revelers went home

Heat maps that show cellphone location data in the U.S. paint a disturbing picture of the potential spread of coronavirus as the country grapples with lockdown meaures and tries to stem the virus’ tide.

Tectonix, geospatial data visualization platform, working in partnership with location company X-Mode Social, created an alarming map that shows the impact of ignoring social distancing restrictions.

Focusing on just one group of spring break revelers on part of one beach in mid-March when they left Fort Lauderdale, Fla., it quickly becomes obvious that the thousands of people who were at the beach ended up all over the country — in the Midwest, the Northeast and other parts of the South.

That’s just one example. Contract tracing must be a nightmare.

Reuters: U.S. coronavirus cases surpass 100,000

The sum of known coronavirus U.S. cases soared well past 100,000, with more than 1,600 dead, as weary doctors and nurses coping with shortages resorted to extremes ranging from hiding scarce medical supplies to buying them on the black market.

Reuters: As virus threatens, U.S. embraces big government, for now

Whatever the motivation, in the scope of two frantic weeks, U.S. elected officials and central bankers have engineered an economic intervention unparalleled outside of wartime.

All in it would supplant perhaps 30% of gross domestic product with government spending and loans, drive the federal deficit as high as needed to make that happen, and broaden U.S. social spending in ways that just a few weeks ago Republicans and President Donald Trump were branding as “socialist.”

In the time taken to put this post together (so far) US cases jumped to 112,468 – that’s how rapidly Covid-19 is growing in the US.


BBC: Number of UK deaths rises above 1,000

The number of people to have died with the coronavirus in the UK has reached 1,019.

The latest government figures on Saturday showed there were another 260 deaths in the UK in a day, up from 759 on Friday.

There are now 17,089 confirmed cases in the UK.

The jump in deaths is the biggest day-on-day increase the UK since the outbreak began. The number of deaths is 34% higher than Friday’s figure.

NHS England Prof Stephen Powis said if the UK were to keep the number of deaths from coronavirus below 20,000, “we will have done very well”.


BBC: More than 900 deaths in a day in Italy

Italy has recorded 919 new coronavirus deaths, its highest daily figure in the outbreak so far.

It means 9,134 people have now died from the virus in the country.

Earlier World Health Organization chief Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said a “chronic global shortage” of protective equipment was one of the “most urgent threats” to the ability to save lives.

Italy is the worst-affected in Europe. Almost everything has been closed and people told to stay at home.

Earlier on Friday, authorities warned that restrictions were likely to be extended beyond 3 April.

That seems inevitable.

Deaths now recorded on JHU&M CRC are at 10,023, cases have jumped to 92,472 (they were 80,589 this time yesterday) so the problem is far from over in Italy.


Spain’s coronavirus death toll rose by 832 in 24 hours, bringing it to 5,690. However, the number of people recovering is also increasing, with a total of 12,285 out of over 72,000 cases

French PM: ‘Fight is just beginning’

The first 15 days in April will be “even more difficult than the 15 we have just left”, French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe has warned.

France has recorded 1,998 deaths and has been in lockdown for 10 days, a period which has now been extended until 15 April.

“I want to speak clearly to the French,” said Mr Phil

Total confirmed coronavirus cases in Africa: 3,926

South Africa has 1,170 but it is spreading across the continent.


There are improvements in places that first has major problems,

The Chinese city of Wuhan, where the virus first emerged, has partially reopened after more than two months in isolation

South Korea says it has more people who have recovered from the virus than infected.


Brazil’s Bolsonaro questions coronavirus deaths, says ‘sorry, some will die’

Following the advice of public health experts, the vast majority of the country’s 26 governors have banned non-essential commercial activities and public services to contain the outbreak in their states.

“I’m sorry, some people will die, they will die, that’s life,” Bolsonaro said in a television interview on Friday night. “You can’t stop a car factory because of traffic deaths.”

Bolsonaro said that in the state of Sao Paulo, Brazil’s economic powerhouse, the death toll seemed “too large.” Sao Paulo has the most cases and deaths so far of coronavirus in Brazil, at 1,223 cases and 68 deaths.

“We need to look at what is happening there, this cannot be a numbers game to favor political interests,” Bolsonaro said.

Earlier on Friday, Sao Paulo Governor Joao Doria, a former Bolsonaro ally who many expect to be a rival in the 2022 presidential election, accused Bolsonaro of promoting “disinformation” by launching a TV ad campaign criticizing the restrictions, featuring the slogan “#BrazilCannotStop.”

The slogan is similar to a campaign in Milan before deaths in Italy soared.

Currently 3,477 cases in Brazil with 93 deaths.

 

Covid-19 “will be here for some time”

It has become obvious that the impact of Covid-19 will continue for some time, either contracting the virus or the significant impact on everyone’ way of life – months if not years.

Yesterday Jacinda Ardern said we should accept there would be a “significant disruption” to daily life from now on – “this will not leave in weeks. It will be here for some time”. Some time is obviously going to be quite a bit more than a few weeks.

As of Saturday afternoon there were 52 confirmed cases in New Zealand, with the possibility that two of the latest my have been community spread. This is significant, because if community spread is confirmed then communities (probably local at first, for example towns, cities or schools) are going to be locked down – that is, we will be asked if not compelled to stay at home.

So far 279,000 people have been confirmed infected across the world and 12.755 have died.

Italy and Europe continues to bear the brunt of the pandemic.

Reuters: Italy coronavirus deaths surge by 793 in a day, lifting total death toll to 4,825

The death toll from an outbreak of coronavirus in Italy has leapt by 793 to 4,825, officials said on Saturday, an increase of 19.6% — by far the largest daily rise in absolute terms since the contagion emerged a month ago.

The total number of cases in Italy rose to 53,578 from a previous 47,021, an increase of 13.9%

Italy is in lockdown and their health system is under severe strain, currently having to try to care for 2,857 people in intensive care.

Spain, France and Germany also have a large number of cases, but the death rates are markedly different, suggesting that access to good healthcare is imperative – Germany has started to take patients from France. The worst affected countries:

The full table, map and other information from Reuters here.

Good data summaries from John Hopkins University including this map:

That shows the virus spread around the world, with China, Iran, Europe and the US prominent. It seems odd to see so little in Russia but these are reported cases.

Russia has reported few coronavirus cases but a sharp spike in pneumonia

Despite its large population and hefty border with China, Russia has reported just 306 confirmed coronavirus cases. Pneumonia, however, is booming, according to official statistics.

As of March 18, only one lab, located near the Siberian city of Novosibirsk, has been able to carry out tests—and had found only 114 positive results from 116,000 tests, according to the Moscow Times. That is the lowest ratio of tests to positive cases in the world, the paper reports. A deputy in the health committee of the Duma, Russia’s parliament, acknowledged the “figures are likely a lot higher.”

As the US and EU accuse the Kremlin of sowing disinformation about Covid-19 at Americans and Europeans, some Russians are looking back at Chernobyl and accusing their government of again lying to its own people about a public health crisis.

International power playing and propaganda haven’t been halted by Covid-19.

More from Reuters: Latest on the spread of the coronavirus around the world

  • Spain said it would turn a Madrid conference center into a giant military hospital, as Europe’s second-worst outbreak claimed another 235 lives.
  • France reported 78 new deaths on Friday, taking the total to 450, an increase of 21%.
  • Germany may enforce a nationwide curfew if the country’s 83 million people fail to keep their distance from each other this weekend.
  • New Jersey’s governor was expected on Saturday to follow four other states – California, New York, Illinois and Connecticut – demanding that millions of Americans close up shop and stay home to slow the spread of coronavirus infections. The total number of known U.S. cases has climbed past 19,000 in a surge that health officials attributed in large part to an increase in diagnostic testing. More than 270 Americans have died.
  • China reported a record rise in imported coronavirus cases as students and expatriates returned home from the United States and Europe, sparking fears of a second wave of infections just as the country recovers from the initial outbreak.
    All 41 of the new confirmed cases in China were imported from overseas.
  • Indonesia’s total of cases rose to 450, with 38 deaths, a health ministry official said on Saturday. This comes a day after the governor of Jakarta declared a state of emergency in the Indonesian capital for the next two weeks.
  • Malaysia’s cases jumped to 1,183 on Saturday with four deaths.
  • Iran’s death toll from the outbreak rose on Saturday by more than 100 to 1,556, and the total number of people infected now exceeds 20,000, a health ministry official said.
  • Angola on Saturday confirmed its first two cases of coronavirus, while Mauritius recorded its first death as the virus spreads across Africa.

The news may not all be bad.

One reason for measured optimism is the prospect that antiviral medicines will beat the coronavirus; some are already in clinical trials. Scientists have hopes for remdesivir, originally developed for Ebola; chloroquine, an old anti-malaria drug; and some anti-H.I.V. and immune-boosting drugs. Many other drugs are also lined up for trials.

Even without proven treatment, the coronavirus may be less lethal than was originally feared, so long as health care systems are not overwhelmed. In South Korea and in China outside Hubei Province, about 0.8 percent of those known to be infected died, and the rate was 0.6 percent on a cruise ship.

But:

By some counts, the United States is just eight days behind Italy on a similar trajectory, and it’s difficult to see how America can pirouette from the path of Italy to that of South Korea. The United States may already have 100,000 infected citizens — nobody knows. That’s too many to trace. Indeed, one can argue that the U.S. is not only on the same path as Italy but is also less prepared, for America has fewer doctors and hospital beds per capita than Italy does — and a shorter life expectancy even in the best of times.

Sounds a bit ominous. And I hate to think what may happen when Covid-19 gets going in Africa.

eNCA: Africa coronavirus cases to rise as some undetected

Africa will likely see higher numbers of coronavirus cases in coming weeks because of the likelihood some are slipping through the net, the head of a regional disease control body said.

“We are picking (up) some people but we are also missing some people,” said John Nkengasong, head of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) which is a branch of the African Union bloc.

“The situation will get worse before it gets better because the chances are clear that people have slipped through.”

That’s a worry around the world, including here in New Zealand. Even if we manage to contain it and prevent community spread we will have a problem as soon as we re-open our borders. Our lives for the rest of the year are going to be markedly different to anything we could have imagined.

Just one town: Wanaka on the brink

Businesses are shuttering in the picturesque South Island town as the coronavirus pandemic takes its toll.

“The mood is pretty sombre. Businesses are laying off staff and some are closing even if just to avoid the risks posed by tourists who have not self isolated.”

Domestic tourism made up about 40 per cent of visitors to Wanaka and Helmore said they were pinning their hopes on the ski season going ahead.

The ski season won’t start for three months, if there’s enough snow and Covid border restrictions are lifted (and if we are allowed to travel internally by then).

And there’s a real chance it could be worse here already than we know – Man who tested positive for Covid-19 could not get through to helpline for four days

Tūwharetoa Trust Board has confirmed one of its staff members, Te Mahau Kingi, tested positive for the virus after returning to Auckland from London via Dubai on 12 March.

He then flew to Taupō on 14 March, self-isolated and was tested on Tuesday. His results came back positive on Friday evening.

That’s a flight into the country and an internal flight before self-isolating. And then four days wait, then another two days before tested positive before contact tracking would have begun.

I know a nurse who works in an elderly care hospital who was off work last week with flu-like symptoms. She tried to get tested but they said it wasn’t required as she had not had contact with anyone who had been travelling recently. She was allowed to go back to work.

 

Italy data shows elderly and those already ill at most risk

An analysis of deaths on Italy adds weight to what was already known – the elderly (especially over 70) and people with existing illnesses are most at risk from of dying from the Covid-19 coronavirus.

The average age of victims was 80.5 in the group being studied and 79.5 overall.

One specific problem I’ve been told about (from a health source) is that there are cases where people put on ventilators have appeared to recover, are taken off the ventilator and then die due to stress on their heart.

MSN/Bloomberg: 99% of Those Who Died From Virus Had Other Illness, Italy Says

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte’s government is evaluating whether to extend a nationwide lockdown beyond the beginning of April, daily La Stampa reported Wednesday. Italy has more than 31,500 confirmed cases of the illness.

a close up of a logo: Italy Coronavirus Deaths

The Rome-based institute has examined medical records of about 18% of the country’s coronavirus fatalities, finding that just three victims, or 0.8% of the total, had no previous pathology. Almost half of the victims suffered from at least three prior illnesses and about a fourth had either one or two previous conditions.

More than 75% had high blood pressure, about 35% had diabetes and a third suffered from heart disease.

The average age of those who’ve died from the virus in Italy is 79.5.

But the biggest risk appears to be age (as people get older they tend to acquire illnesses) – especially to the 70+ age group.

a screenshot of a cell phone: Threat to the Elderly

 

As of March 17, 17 people under 50 had died from the disease.

So a very low number of younger people.

All of Italy’s victims under 40 have been males with serious existing medical conditions.

While data released Tuesday point to a slowdown in the increase of cases, with a 12.6% rise, a separate study shows Italy could be underestimating the real number of cases by testing only patients presenting symptoms.

According to the GIMBE Foundation, about 100,000 Italians have contracted the virus, daily Il Sole 24 Ore reported. That would bring back the country’s death rate closer to the global average of about 2%.

So it looks like if you are healthy and under about 70 then the risks are low.

But people with existing illnesses, especially if they are over 70, are high risk.

This means that those people in particular should be especially cautious about what they do to help ensure that don’t catch the virus. Many people are self isolating to protect themselves.

Italy locked down to limit spread of Covid-19 but deaths increase

Italy is in near total lockdown to try to reduce the spread of the Covid-19 virus, with businesses and restaurants shut and streets virtually deserted. Italians have been barred from travelling to Austria.

A New Zealander in Rome has just been interviewed on RNZ, they have to stay in their hotel except for emergencies, and have no idea how long they will have to stay there.

The impact of the virus in New Zealand is much less drastic but still significant.

Reuters: Streets deserted as Italy imposes unprecedented coronavirus lockdown

Shops and restaurants closed, hundreds of flights were canceled and streets emptied across Italy on Tuesday, the first day of an unprecedented, nationwide lockdown imposed to slow Europe’s worst outbreak of coronavirus.

The government has told all Italians to stay at home and avoid all non-essential travel until April 3, dramatically widening steps already taken in much of the wealthy north, which is the epicenter of the spreading contagion.

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte unexpectedly expanded the so-called red zone to the entire country on Monday night, introducing the most severe controls on a Western nation since World War Two.

The move shocked many small businesses, which feared for their future.

“It looks like an apocalypse has struck, there is no one around,” said Mario Monfreda, who runs Larys restaurant in a smart Rome residential area. Under the government order, all bars and restaurants will now have to close at 6.00 p.m.

However, the prosperous northern region of Lombardy, centered on Italy’s financial capital Milan, called on the government to introduce even more stringent measures.

This must have a massive effect on the Italian economy, as well as on the lives of Italians and anyone else stuck in the country.

The total number of coronavirus cases in Italy has officially gone from 9,172 to 10,149.

Of that number, 1,004 have fully recovered.

Italy’s death toll of 631 is the largest outside China, and the latest increase in deaths – 168 – is the biggest recorded in a single day.

So it looks like things are getting worse. It is reported that Italian hospitals are under severe pressure.

BBC: Italians barred from Austria to stop spread

Austria has announced a ban on people entering the country from Italy unless they carry a medical certificate, in an attempt to stop coronavirus spreading.

Speaking after the Italian government imposed travel restrictions across the country, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said Austrians returning from Italy would have to self-isolate for two weeks.

Austria has seen 158 cases of coronavirus so far.

Austria and Italy share a border north of Italy’s South Tyrol region. On Tuesday, South Tyrol, in common with the rest of Italy, closed all cultural centres and restricted access to bars and cafes to daytime hours.

Italy’s nationwide lockdown limits travel to those with “verifiable work requirements or situations of necessity”. All sporting events have been suspended, and schools and universities have been shut until 3 April. Employees have been urged either to work from home or take annual leave.

In other parts of Europe:

  • Spain has reported 1,622 cases, almost half in the Madrid area, and all Spanish sport is to be played behind closed doors until April, including La Liga matches
  • Several German states are imposing restrictions. Bavaria will ban events involving more than 1,000 people
  • Denmark has recommended avoiding public transport during the rush hour and banned planes from landing from Northern Italy, part of Austria, Iran and areas of South Korea and China
  • Czech schools will shut from Wednesday and authorities are looking for dozens of customers of a Czech Uber driver who tested positive for the virus

After a big drop Tuesday the US sharemarket has recovered slightly (0.41%) so far on their Wednesday, but the virus is still a problem there.

Reuters: ‘This is likely to get worse’: U.S. public health official

The U.S. coronavirus outbreak is likely to get worse, the country’s top public health official said, and Americans should assess their personal circumstances when deciding whether to cancel travel plans or avoid public gatherings.

The number of cases of the highly contagious respiratory illness caused by the virus has risen steadily in the United States this week, stoking concerns of a health and economic crisis that could pummel workers and companies.

And the number of cases may be under-detected.

Health officials in New York state and other parts of the country hard hit by the coronavirus have complained about a shortage of testing capacity.

Trump was heading to Capitol Hill on Tuesday afternoon to discuss what action should be taken. During the White House meeting he said the administration intended to also help airlines and the cruise line industry.

After reaching some of his best poll results approval of Trump is taking a bit of a hit.

This sort of communication is typical of trump, but facing a serious health crisis people may not be as forgiving as they have been.

In New Zealand things seem under control as far as the virus goes, but there are concerns about business, employment and the economy.

Newsroom: Covid-19 the crisis that could allow debt rule breach

Finance Minister Grant Robertson said for the first time today that the global Covid-19 economic drama that worsened substantially overnight could be the crisis situation that could trigger the exemption clause in the Government’s much-discussed Budget Responsibility Rules. He suggested today that Covid-19, which crashed stock markets overnight, could have passed that threshold to be the ‘out clause’ in the BRRs.

That would be justified.

Newsroom: Govt locks down travel amid Covid-19 fears

A wave of ministries and DHBs are scrambling to put in place travel policies that have been vetted by health experts and approved by staff and unions as the global Covid-19 crisis worsens. While some say they are sticking to advice from the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, others have struck out on their own with unique policies.

A Ministry of Health spokesperson told Newsroom that “Ministry of Health employees have been advised that any non-essential international business travel to or through Covid-19 countries of concern should be postponed or cancelled”.

Auckland DHB told staff in a memo on Thursday that it would be restricting overseas travel. Now, Canterbury has joined Auckland, Counties Manukau and Waitematā in slapping a ban on “non-essential international [business] travel” and recommending that staff “consider carefully any private international travel”.

Newsroom: Businesses fear late and weak response

As the Government touts a “targeted approach” to a worsening economy, businesses and economists are starting to say the Government just needs to spend. Sometimes a broad brush approach that slops around plenty of cash is better at helping everyone than targeting and means-testing those with the most obvious and provable problems.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced yesterday the Government was working on a business continuity package that would include a wage subsidy for affected businesses with possible working capital support.

survey of Retail NZ members showed 60 percent of their members have already been negatively affected by Covid-19. It noted an average 15 percent decrease in sales through its members’ outlets.

Most of those affected retailers (70 percent) expected to have cashflow difficulties as a result of the Covid-19 situation.

While the flow-on effects for the tourism sector have been well-documented, Covid-19 has also changed the behaviour of consumers in unpredictable ways.

Auckland Business Chamber Chief Executive Michael Barnett said the Government needed to get its hands dirty, not be afraid to make mistakes, and start pushing money into businesses to prevent them from folding up or shedding staff.

Infometrics economist Brad Olsen argued there was a growing case for a “supercharged” policy response that overshot the mark.

“At the moment we’ve been quite a long time without having inflation return to its 2 percent band that we normally target,” Olsen said.

First Retail group managing director Chris Wilkinson said indicators from clients were that Covid-19 had changed retail spending patterns and that there had been a “significant” growth in online spending.

He said there was a lack of strong leadership around Covid-19 that had left businesses to make their own decisions which, while in their own interests, might not be in the interests of the wider economy.

Stuff: Recession plans under way

It’s “now certain” that the economic impact of coronavirus will ripple through NZ’s economy for the rest of the year, says government.

The Government is designing a stimulus package in case the economic shock spurred by Coronavirus turns into a recession.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson, in a sit down interview with Stuff, said that while he isn’t forecasting a recession, the nation’s top bureaucrats have been tasked with preparing a macroeconomic package in case it is required.

“We’re not predicting it still, but we directed officials yesterday [Monday] to pull together a macro-economic package that would recognise that we were moving into a sustained global downturn,” Robertson said.

Robertson keeps playing it down some have predicted a recession seems inevitable in New Zealand and world-wide, for obvious reasons.

It’s hard to predict what impact all this will have on us as individuals. The virus seems contained, but the effects of the virus could be significant and for some time.

There were no new Beehive announcements on the virus yesterday, after saying on Tuesday that the details of a Business Continuity Package are ” now being worked through”.

Covid-19 up, markets down, down, down

The Covid-19 virus is getting worse in some places, especially Italy but it is also getting a hold in Spain.

And following a bad week on sharemarkets in the last two weeks there are even bigger drops this week, with the Dow Jones slumping.

At the same time oil prices have crashed by more than 20%.

The spread of the virus seems under control in New Zealand for now, but the economic effects are significant with Air New Zealand scaling back operations and many businesses under stress.

We may benefit from plunging oil prices, but our stock market (and Kiwisaver investments) is suffering, and it is likely to follow \world markets down and get worse today.

And problems around the world are much worse, especially currently in Italy where they are shutting down a lot of the country to try and stop the virus spreading.

Reuters: EU seeks to tackle coronavirus as Italy locks down north, prisoners riot

EU leaders will seek a coordinated response to the coronavirus after global markets plunged on Monday and Italy sealed off much of its industrial north, where six prisoners were killed in a riot over curbs on visits.

Joining the global rout, triggered by a 22% slump in oil prices, Wall Street’s main share indexes dropped 7% and the Dow Jones Industrials crashed 2,000 points – which would be its biggest ever one-day ever if there is no recovery by the close.

More than 110,000 people have been infected in 105 countries and territories, and 3,800 have died, the vast majority in mainland China, according to a Reuters tally.

With Italy’s economy already on the brink of recession, bars and restaurants in Lombardy were ordered to close or to restrict entry and maintain a distance of at least a meter between people on their premises.

Major sporting events in Italy, including top-flight Serie A football, will be played without spectators for a month.

This must have a major impact in the Italian economy. And the virus is spreading in Spain.

In Spain, schools were closed in the town of Labastida near Vitoria in the Basque country after nearly 150 cases of coronavirus were identified in the region.

Spain has reported 999 cases in all, most of them in two areas around Madrid and around Vitoria in the north. Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said it had prepared an emergency plan to deal with the economic consequences of the virus.

It is improving in regions that were first hit.

China and South Korea, Asia’s second-worst-hit country, both reported a slowdown in new infections.

Mainland China, outside Hubei province, center of the outbreak, reported no new locally transmitted coronavirus cases for the second day on Monday, but a top Communist Party official warned people against dropping their guard.

South Korea reported 165 new coronavirus cases, bringing the national tally to 7,478, while the death toll rose by one to 51.

The New Zealand Government is rolling out economic measures.

Beehive: Cabinet approves Business Continuity Package in response to COVID-19

Cabinet today approved the development of a Business Continuity Package to help support the economy through the disruption caused by COVID-19.

The Business Continuity Package includes:

  • a targeted wage subsidy scheme for workers in the most adversely affected sectors.
  • training and re-deployment options for affected employees; and
  • working with banks on the potential for future working capital support for companies that face temporary credit constraints;

As part of the package:

  • The Treasury and IRD have been directed to develop tax policy options in line with the goal of reducing the impact for affected businesses, to support businesses to maintain operational continuity.
  • The Treasury and MSD have been directed to develop policy options to support households to maintain incomes and labour market attachment.

The detail of this package is now being worked through. It will be discussed again at the Cabinet COVID-19 committee on Wednesday, and the Government expects to be in a position to make further detailed announcements next week.

So a bit of dabbling so far.

“New Zealand is well-placed to respond to COVID-19. We have been running surpluses and our net debt position at 19.5% of GDP is well below what we inherited, and well below other countries,” Finance Minister Grant Robertson says.

But if world markets crash they will drag us down, and that could have a major impact.

Newshub: BNZ becomes first major New Zealand bank to predict a recession

BNZ is now using the much-dreaded R-word, saying it’s more than likely there’ll be a recession this year.

“Everyone sort of panics when they hear the word recession,” BNZ head of research Stephen Toplis said. “It’s like the whole world’s going to fall in.

That may be happening now.

CNBC: Oil nosedives as Saudi Arabia and Russia set off ‘scorched earth’ price war

Oil prices fell through the floor in early trading Monday, tanking as much as 30% after Saudi Arabia slashed its crude prices for buyers. The kingdom is reportedly preparing to open the taps in an apparent retaliation for Russia’s unwillingness to cut its own output.

  • Oil prices are down nearly 50% for the year after OPEC+ talks collapsed and Saudi Arabia announced slashed prices in an apparent price war with Russia.
  • With previously agreed OPEC+ production cuts expiring at the end of March, Saudi Arabia and Russia can theoretically pump as much crude as they want.
  • An oil price war will have massive geopolitical consequences, pummeling markets already shaken by the new coronavirus, COVID-19.

Reuters: Wall Street pounded by oil crash, virus fears

Wall Street’s main stock indexes plummeted about 5% on Monday, as a slump in oil prices and the rapid spread of the coronavirus amplified fears of a global recession on the anniversary of the U.S. stock market’s longest bull run.

The energy .SPNY index plunged 18.2% to its lowest level since August 2004 and crude prices were on track for their worst day in three decades as Saudi Arabia and Russia moved to significantly ramp up production after the collapse of a supply cut agreement. [O/R]

Companies listed on the S&P 500 have now lost more than $5 trillion in value in a sell-off sparked by fears that the coronavirus epidemic could tip the global economy into recession.

That report is out of date, Wall Street has got progressively worse through the day, with several trading haalts to try to pause the slide.

At 2:15 pm Monday in New York the Dow Jones is down 7.3% for the day.

The NZX already dropped 2.94% in Monday trading and will be affected by international markets today. All we can do is wait and see what happens.

And all the New Zealand Government can do is try to limit the damage here, but the may be chasing a bear.

 

Covid-19 concerns but so far seems under control in NZ

There are obvious concerns about the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus (I don’t think I heard of a ‘coronavirus’ until about a month ago) around the world, but so far at least it seems largely contained here in New Zealand.

It started and surged in China, got a hold in South Korea, Iran and Italy, and is getting worse in the United States, but so far there are only two confirmed cases here, both imported by New Zealand citizens. One was someone returning from Iran via Bali (now in hospital), the other returning from Italy via Singapore (now in isolation at home).

There’s a chance that these two may have spread the virus after returning, but that is being checked out and precautions are being taken.

One problem is that most people who get the virus only experience mild to meduim flu-like symptoms and may not get checked for Covid-19, so it could be quietly spreading. Or it may be limited and under control.

There has been an impact on businesses in New Zealand and will impact on finances for some time regardless of how many get the virus here.

However international risks increase, especially from the US.

Reuters: Coronavirus hits New York family, U.S. cases rise; lawmakers near emergency funds deal

Three family members and a neighbor of a New York man infected with the new coronavirus have also tested positive, officials said on Wednesday, and the number of cases increased across the United States.

The latest data here from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) listed 129 confirmed and presumed cases in the United States from the previous 108.

The cases were 80 reported by public health authorities in 13 states plus 49 among people repatriated from abroad, according to the CDC website. North Carolina became the 13th state to report a case on Tuesday.

Nine people have died in the Seattle area, health officials said. Of the 27 cases documented as of Tuesday in Washington state in the Pacific Northwest, nine were connected to a long-term nursing-care facility in a Seattle suburb.

Reuters: Fragile safety net leaves U.S. economy vulnerable to coronavirus hit

Economists worry that a large number of quarantined workers could sharply curb consumer spending, the pillar of the U.S. economy, and further widen the gap between the affluent and a working class that already struggles to pay the bills.

I know someone who has had a business trip to the US delayed due to concerns about the virus.

US sharemarkets plummeted last week, but recovered a bit at thee start of this week and now Wall Street surges after Biden’s surprise Super Tuesday lead

I wonder who Trump will blame that on, or maybe he will claim the credit.

Trump has been busy on twitter jeering at Democrat candidates who are dropping out (and also past allies like Jeff Sessions: “This is what happens to someone who loyally gets appointed Attorney General of the United States & then doesn’t have the wisdom or courage to stare down & end the phony Russia Witch Hunt. Recuses himself on FIRST DAY in office, and the Mueller Scam begins!”

Sport around the world has been impacted by the virus, with doubts about the Olympics.

Reuters: Japan coronavirus cases hit 1,000 mark as Tokyo insists Olympics on track

Japan’s confirmed coronavirus infections rose above 1,000 on Wednesday, most of them from a quarantined cruise liner, as Olympics organizers dismissed speculation that the Tokyo Summer Games could be canceled.

The virus is spreading worldwide, with South Korea, Europe and Iran hit hard, and several countries have reported their first confirmed cases, taking the total to some 80 nations hit with the flu-like illness that can lead to pneumonia.

The number of cases in mainland China, where the outbreak originated in December, has reached 80,270, while the death toll had risen by 38 to 2,981 by March 3.

There have been more than 125 deaths outside China.

The new cases in Japan pushed the total over 1,000, according to Reuters calculations – 706 are from the Diamond Princess cruise liner, which has been quarantined for weeks off Yokohama.

World Health Organisation: Coronavirus disease (COVID-2019) situation reports

SITUATION IN NUMBERS
total and new cases in last 24 hours

Globally
90 870 confirmed (1922 new)

China
80 304 confirmed (130 new)
2946 deaths (31 new)

Outside of China
10 566 confirmed (1792 new)
72 countries (8 new)
166 deaths (38 new)

WHO RISK ASSESSMENT
China Very High
Regional Level Very High
Global Level Very High

All we can do here is hope that the virus is contained here, which will be a challenge given how interconnected the world is now.


UPDATE:

That person seems likely to be connected to one of the two already confirmed to have the virus.