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.

4 million Covid-19 cases and still climbing

World wide confirmed cases of Covid-19 are now over four million, and while the rate of increase has leveled off the number of new cases each day remains mostly at at 80-90-,000 a day, although yesterday it was higher at 97,128.

About a third of cases are in the United States, currently at 1.3 million.

There are now over 275 thousand deaths attributed to Covid-19, with more than a fifth in the US, currently 78,615 – the rate of increase in the US has leveled or perhaps slowed a little but are still averaging nearly 2,000 a day (about 13,000 in the last week).

Some of the worst affected countries, Italy, Spain and Belgium, seem to be over the worst with declining rates of cases and deaths, but that’s from high totals.

The UK has the highest number of deaths in Europe and is  the second behind the US but trends appear to be declining a bit there.

Covid-19 seems to have been slower to spread in Brazil but their death rates are increasing. Yesterday they had the second highest increase at 804 and are now the sixth country to have more than 10,000 deaths.

But the problems are far from over.

Reuters: Coronavirus inflicts huge U.S. job losses as pandemic breaches White House walls

The U.S. government reported more catastrophic economic fallout from the coronavirus crisis on Friday as the pandemic pierced the very walls of the White House and California gave the green light for its factories to restart after a seven-week lockdown.

A day after the White House confirmed that President Donald Trump’s personal valet had tested positive for the virus, Trump told reporters that Katie Miller, press secretary to Vice President Mike Pence, had also been infected. She is married to senior Trump aide and immigration policy hard-liner Stephen Miller and travels frequently with Pence.

The back-to-back diagnoses of individuals close to Trump, Pence and the White House inner circle raised questions about whether the highest levels of government are adequately safeguarded from infection.

Earlier in the day, the Labor Department reported the U.S. unemployment rate rose to 14.7% last month, up from 3.5% in February, demonstrating the speed with which the workforce collapsed after stay-at-home orders meant to curb the outbreak were imposed across most of the country.

Worse economic news may be yet to come. White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett said the unemployment rate was likely to climb to around 20% this month. The jobless rate for April already shattered the post-World War Two record of 10.8% set in November 1982.

But Trump seems increasingly turning his attention to the election campaign in the US, endorsing Republicans and criticising and blaming Democrats.

For Trump it’s mostly about ‘me’, When calling other people crazy it appears to be projection.

Another leader seemingly at odds with reality is President Bolsonaro.

The Lancet – COVID-19 in Brazil: “So what?”

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic reached Latin America later than other continents. The first case recorded in Brazil was on Feb 25, 2020. But now, Brazil has the most cases and deaths in Latin America (105 222 cases and 7288 deaths as of May 4), and these are probably substantial underestimates.

Even more worryingly, the doubling of the rate of deaths is estimated at only 5 days and a recent study by Imperial College (London, UK), which analysed the active transmission rate of COVID-19 in 48 countries, showed that Brazil is the country with the highest rate of transmission (R0 of 2·81).

Yet, perhaps the biggest threat to Brazil’s COVID-19 response is its president, Jair Bolsonaro.

When asked by journalists last week about the rapidly increasing numbers of COVID-19 cases, he responded: “So what? What do you want me to do?” He not only continues to sow confusion by openly flouting and discouraging the sensible measures of physical distancing and lockdown brought in by state governors and city mayors but has also lost two important and influential ministers in the past 3 weeks.

Time will tell how bad things get in Brazil but current trends look bad, and their testing rate is very low at 1,597 per million (the US is 25k per million, New Zealand is 37k, Spain is 52k).

Covid-19 is dominating news all around the world.

https://www.bbc.com/news/live/world-52597437

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 virus and effects spread around the world

Yesterday the Dow Jones dropped 1000 points (over 3%) and early Tuesday it is down another 1%, The NZX50 dropped a further 1.18% on Tuesday.other markets around the world are also down.

Fears and effects of the Covid-19n coronavirus are cited as drivers of the drops. Airlines and tourism in particular have already been significantly affected.

RNZ: Counting the cost of Covid-19s local impact

Hundreds of millions of dollars is likely to be shaved off the value of the economy for the first quarter, with estimates currently between 0.3 and 0.6 percentage points less than pre-virus forecasts.

The International Monetary Fund sees the virus as the biggest threat to the global economy.

Nearly every part of New Zealand’s economy is affected by the outbreak – but particularly exporters and importers who are largely dependent on the Chinese market.

About 50,000 Chinese visitors came through New Zealand’s arrivals gate in February last year, but that traffic has all but disappeared with New Zealand’s border closed to the travellers.

Retail NZ have reported about a third of its members say they are putting up to 30 percent less through their tills, cutting back on forward orders and dropping back staff hours.

Tertiary institutes stand to lose more than $100 million if students from China could not make it to class.

The list goes on, Millennium & Copthorne Hotels New Zealand Limited said it expected to lose up to $3 million in last minute cancellations.

Auckland Airport was in the same boat, with 45 return services to Mainland China reduced to eight, almost overnight. It downgraded its earnings by $5 million.

And to top it off, the primary sector was also dealing with a significant drought.

Silver Fern Farms chief executive Simon Limmer said it was the perfect storm.

The virus is not the only problem but is adding to other problems.

The virus increases it’s spread around the world.

RNZ – Coronavirus: Iran’s deputy health minister tests positive as outbreak worsens

Iran’s deputy health minister and an MP have both tested positive for the new coronavirus disease, as it struggles to contain an outbreak that has killed 15.

They have reported 95 cases, but the actual number is thought to be higher.

The director general of the World Health Organization (WHO) has said the sudden increase in cases in the country is “deeply concerning”.

More people have died in Iran from the virus than anywhere else outside China.

It is one of three global hot-spots causing great concern among health experts that the virus could be developing into a pandemic. The others are South Korea and northern Italy, where cases have surged in recent days.

On Tuesday an MP from the Iranian capital Tehran, Mahmoud Sadeghi, also said he had tested positive for the virus.

More than 80,000 cases of the Covid-19 respiratory disease have been reported worldwide since it emerged last year. About 2,700 patients have died – the vast majority in China.

Reuters: Coronavirus isolates Iran, strains South Korea, Italy

Iran’s coronavirus death toll rose to 16, the most outside China, heightening its international isolation as dozens of nations from South Korea to Italy accelerated emergency measures to curb the epidemic’s global spread.

Beyond mainland China, however, it has jumped to about 29 countries and territories, with some three dozen deaths, according to a Reuters tally. Growing outbreaks in Iran, Italy and South Korea are of particular concern.

A minor local impact – I was in a Dunedin pharmacy yesterday and they had a sign on their counter saying ‘We are out of stock of face masks, try again next week’.

The Antipodes, and having the feet opposite

I sort of find this interesting but it’s not really relevant to anything. A bit of geographical and language trivia.

New Zealand (and Australia) have been referred to as The Antipodes, because we are roughly on the opposite side of the world to Britain. The word antipodes actually means ‘direct opposite’. Origin (Oxford):

Late Middle English: via French or late Latin from Greek antipodes ‘having the feet opposite’, from anti ‘against, opposite’ + pous, pod- ‘foot’. The term originally denoted the inhabitants of opposite sides of the earth

No part of New Zealand nor Australia are directly opposite Britain.

Ten years ago I wrote:

If you sail out into Biscay Bay
And anchor on the edge
Drill like crazy finding maybe
Biscay Bay Antipodes

The Bay of Biscay is to the north of Spain, and some point there happens to be the opposite side of the planet to Dunedin. The antipodes of most of New Zealand lies across Spain. None of Australia lines up with an opposite land mass.

What I find most interesting about this is how little of the Earth’s land mass lies opposite to land. Not that this means a lot in the whole scheme of things.

If you dug a hole straight down and ended up in China you would have to be in the southern half of South America, in Argentina or Chile, which seems odd as they all border the Pacific Ocean. But the Pacific covers about a third of Earth’s surface, is nearly a half (46%) of the total sea area and is larger than the whole of the planet’s land mass

General details here: https://www.antipodesmap.com/

Neanderthal art pre-dates humans in Europe

Scientific analysis of cave paintings in Spain suggests that the artists must have been Neanderthals as they are dated prior to when ‘modern humans’ are thought to have arrived in Europe.

The researchers said their work suggested that Neanderthals were“cognitively indistinguishable” from early modern humans.

Reuters – Primitive art: Neanderthals were Europe’s first painters

A high-tech analysis of cave art at three Spanish sites, published on Thursday, dates the paintings to at least 64,800 years ago, or 20,000 years before modern humans arrived in Europe from Africa.

That makes the cave art much older than previously thought and provides the strongest evidence yet that Neanderthals had the cognitive capacity to understand symbolic representation, a central pillar of human culture.

“What we’ve got here is a smoking gun that really overturns the notion that Neanderthals were knuckle-dragging cavemen,” said Alistair Pike, professor of archaeological sciences at the University of Southampton, who co-led the study.

“Painting is something that has always been seen as a very human activity, so if Neanderthals are doing it they are being just like us,” he told Reuters.

While some archaeologists already viewed Neanderthals as more sophisticated than their commonplace caricature, the evidence until now has been inconclusive. With the data from the three Spanish cave sites described in the journal Science, Pike and colleagues believe they finally have rock-solid proof.

The early cave art at La Pasiega, Maltravieso and Ardales includes lines, dots, discs and hand stencils – and creating them would have involved specific skills, such as mixing pigments and selecting appropriate display locations.

Cave painting from Pasiega, Spain

My Neanderthal artist genes must not be dominant.

Scientists used a precise dating system based on the radioactive decay of uranium isotopes into thorium to assess the age of the paintings. This involved scraping a few milligrams of calcium carbonate deposit from the paintings for analysis.

A second related study published in Science Advances found that dyed and decorated marine shells from a different Spanish cave also dated back to pre-human times.

Joao Zilhao of the University of Barcelona said the new findings meant the search for the origins of human cognition needed to go back to the common ancestor of both Neanderthals and modern humans more than 500,000 years ago.

Neanderthals died out about 40,000 years ago, soon after direct ancestors arrived in Europe. It is unclear what killed them off, although theories include an inability to adapt to climate change and increased competition from modern humans.

According to the dates given here:

  • Paintings dated to at least 64,800 years ago
  • ‘Modern humans’ arrived in Europe about 20,000 years later ie about 45,000 years ago
  • Neanderthals ‘died out’ about 40,000 years ago

The genome connection between Neanderthals and modern humans was proved in 2013: The Mating Habits of Early Hominins

A high-quality genome sequence obtained from a female Neanderthal toe bone reveals that the individual’s parents were close relatives and that such inbreeding was prevalent among her recent ancestors, according to a paper published today (December 18) in Nature. But the sequence also reveals that interbreeding occurred between Neanderthals and other hominin groups, including early modern humans.

Despite the high degree of inbreeding that took place in the family of this particular Neanderthal—named the Altai Neanderthal—there was also evidence that Neanderthals in general interbred with other hominin groups. The team compared the genomes of the Altai Neanderthal, a Denisovan, a number of modern humans, and Neanderthals from Croatia and the Caucasus mountains, and confirmed earlier indications that modern humans contain both Neanderthal and Denisovan DNA.

They also showed that Denisovans contained both Neanderthal DNA sequences—most similar to that from the Altai Neanderthal—and sequences absent from Neanderthals and modern humans, which thus appear to have come from an unknown archaic hominin group.

This is very interesting, but there is something that puzzles me – humans are thought to have only arrived in Europe about 45,000 years ago, and interbred with Neanderthals, but:

In a 2011 genetic study by Ramussen et al., researchers took a DNA sample from an early 20th century lock of an Aboriginal person’s hair with low European admixture. They found that the ancestors of the Aboriginal population split off from the Eurasian population between 62,000 and 75,000 BP, whereas the European and Asian populations split only 25,000 to 38,000 years BP, indicating an extended period of Aboriginal genetic isolation.

The same genetic study of 2011 found evidence that Aboriginal peoples carry some of the genes associated with the Denisovan (a species of human related to but distinct from Neanderthals) peoples of Asia; the study suggests that there is an increase in allele sharing between the Denisovans and the Aboriginal Australians genome compared to other Eurasians and Africans.

The data suggest that modern and archaic humans interbred in Asia before the migration to Australia.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aboriginal_Australians

Before humans moved into Europe and interbred with Neanderthals.

Dating Aborigine art is difficult but:

“We don’t have the [dated] art itself, but we’ve found the tools that were used to make the art. For that reason, we rightfully assume that Australia has pigment art going back to when people first came here which is close to 50,000 years ago.”

http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2014/10/09/4102916.htm

That is before modern humans are thought to have arrived in Europe, which is much closer to Africa than Australia.

Barcelona van attack

Another attack by vehicle in Europe, this time in Barcelona, Spain.

Guardian: Full report: van hits crowd in city centre

Guardian live updates: Barcelona attack: multiple deaths reported after van hits Las Ramblas crowds – latest updates

Police confirm fatalities and say they are treating incident in Spanish city as terror attack, amid local reports that armed men have entered restaurant

Local media is reporting that one person has been arrested in relation to the attack.

Separate reports said the Guardia Civil have identified the suspect thought to have hired the white Fiat van used in the attack. According to those reports, he is understood to be from north Africa but to possess a NIE, the identity document issued to foreigners who are resident in Spain.

It is not clear whether the reports referred to the same person.

A second van linked to the attack – assumed to have been used as getaway car – has been found in the small town of Vic in Catalonia.

UPDATED summary  from the Guardian:

What we know so far about the Las Ramblas terror attack