A million new Covid cases in 5 days

In New Zealand we fret about each of a handful of people arriving in the country not staying in isolation for 14 days while life has returned more or less to normal for most of us.

But Covid-19 is causing a lot of concern with a surge in cases around the world.The World Health Organisation chief warns that it will continue to get worse unless many countries change how they are dealing with the virus.

There has been a million new Covid-19 cases in five days, with now over 13 million cases in total recorded.

The death toll has flattened (but is showing signs of rising again following the surge in cases), suggesting a number of possibilities – health care and prevention of deaths has been improved, infected populations are younger and less vulnerable, newer strains of virus are not as lethal – but still the current death toll is 573,000 and going up by thousands a day.

There is an obvious concern that the death rate will follow the case rate upwards, but the daily toll is bad enough as it is.

Reuters:  WHO sounds alarm as coronavirus cases rise by one million in five days

The number of coronavirus infections around the world hit 13 million on Monday, according to a Reuters tally, climbing by a million in just five days.

The pandemic has now killed more than half a million people in six-and-a-half months, and World Health Organization (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said there would be no return to the “old normal” for the foreseeable future, especially if preventive measures were neglected.

“Let me be blunt, too many countries are headed in the wrong direction, the virus remains public enemy number one,” he told a virtual briefing from WHO headquarters in Geneva.

“If basics are not followed, the only way this pandemic is going to go, it is going to get worse and worse and worse. But it does not have to be this way.”

Parts of the world, especially the United States with more than 3.3 million confirmed cases, are still seeing huge increases in a first wave of COVID-19 infections, while others “flatten the curve” and ease lockdowns.

Some places, such as the Australian city of Melbourne and Leicester in England, are implementing a second round of shutdowns.

The Melbourne surge means that trans-Tasman travel will remain off limits to Kiwis for some time, and reopening borders to the rest of the world looks to be months away at least.

The United States reported a daily global record of 69,070 new infections on July 10. In Brazil, 1.86 million people have tested positive, including President Jair Bolsonaro, and more than 72,000 people have died.

India, the country with the third highest number of infections, has been contending with an average of 23,000 new infections each day since the beginning of July.

In countries with limited testing capacity, case numbers reflect a smaller proportion of total infections. Experts say official data probably under-represents both infections and deaths.

Covid is affecting the United States more than most countries, with a third of the new cases there. And the health problems aren’t limited to Covid.

Reuters: New U.S. health crisis looms as patients without COVID-19 delay care

A Texas man who waited until his brain tumor was softball-sized; a baby who suffered an ear infection for six days; a heart patient who died: The resurgence of COVID-19 is creating another health crisis as hospitals fill and patients are fearful or unable to get non-emergency care.

With U.S. coronavirus infections reaching new heights, doctors and hospitals say they are also seeing sharp declines in patients seeking routine medical care and screenings – and a rise in those who have delayed care for so long they are far sicker than they otherwise would be.

After the pandemic was declared a national emergency in March, many states banned non-essential medical procedures, and the number of patients seeking care for other ailments took a nosedive. Hospitals and medical practices were hit hard financially.

Emergency department use dropped by 42% during the first 10 weeks of the pandemic despite a rise in patients presenting with symptoms of the coronavirus, data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show. In the same period, patients seeking care for heart attacks dropped by 23% and stroke care by 20%.

This is a real problem but with no easy solutions. If Covid was even less contained people with other health problems would be exposed more.

…the recent surge in cases has swamped hospitals in many states, including Texas, Arizona, Florida and parts of California.

But with new COVID-19 cases swamping the hospital, sickening nearly 30 staff members and forcing it to divert non-coronavirus cases to other facilities for several days, Wolcott fears that again patients with heart conditions and other illnesses will stay away.

“We won’t know for years how many people lost their lives or lost good years of their lives for fear of coronavirus,” he said.

While individual states are responsible for a lot of their handling of Covid it doesn’t help that the country’s leadership has been hopeless. Donald Trump remains intent on reopening businesses and schools and abusing those trying to deal with the pandemic.

Reuters: Trump swipes at Fauci, CDC as U.S. coronavirus cases rise

President Donald Trump on Monday took swipes at health experts in his government leading the U.S. response to the coronavirus outbreak, as his relationship further frayed with top infectious diseases doctor Anthony Fauci.

In the early morning, Trump retweeted to his 83 million followers the accusations of a former game show host that “everyone is lying,” including the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“The most outrageous lies are the ones about Covid 19. Everyone is lying. The CDC, Media, Democrats, our Doctors, not all but most, that we are told to trust,” Chuck Woolery wrote Sunday night without citing evidence.

The White House did not respond to questions on whether the president believed the CDC was lying.

Tensions with Fauci have risen with the decline of Trump’s popularity in the polls over the president’s handling of the outbreak. Fauci’s plain-spoken assessments during White House coronavirus briefings have made him a household name.

Trump told the Fox News Channel on Thursday that “Dr. Fauci is a nice man, but he’s made a lot of mistakes.” Fauci said in a Financial Times interview the following day he has not briefed Trump in two months.

Trump appears to be finally losing trust and support with the US people as he slides in the polls, with the highest disapproval levels for two and a half years. He is more concerned with his own re-election chances than people getting sick and dying, but poorly as he is lagging and slipping further behind an old, lacklustre Joe Biden.

He is even turning on his favoured Fox:

But that is a sad sideshow. Covid is a crisis that doesn’t look like going away, with major immediate effects and major longer term implications.

At least here in New Zealand Covid is well under control. We just have to hope the impact on business and jobs isn’t too harsh as we observe from a distance as many other countries struggling with far greater problems.

 

 

WHO promise review of handling of Covid-19 pandemic

The World Health Organisation says they will begin and independent review of the global coronavirus response “as soon as possible”.

This is being backed by China and most countries are suporting WHO, but the US are still sticking their boot in, continuing to blame WHO and China for the severity of the pandemic.

RNZ:  World Health Organisation promises Covid-19 response review

The World Health Organisation says an independent review of the global coronavirus response will begin as soon as possible, and it received backing and a hefty pledge of funds from China.

But the US administration of President Donald Trump decried an “apparent attempt to conceal this outbreak by at least one member state”.

Trump has already suspended US funding for the WHO after accusing it of being too China-centric.

Without mentioning China by name, US Health Secretary Alex Azar made clear Washington considered the WHO jointly responsible for the pandemic.

“We must be frank about one of the primary reasons this outbreak spun out of control,” he said on Monday.

“There was a failure by this organisation to obtain the information that the world needed, and that failure cost many lives.”

Chinese President Xi Jinping said China had acted with “openness and transparency and responsibility”.

WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus defended the organisation’s response.

“WHO sounded the alarm early, and we sounded it often,” he said.

Tedros, who has always promised a coronavirus review, told the forum it would come “at the earliest appropriate moment” and make recommendations for the future.

He received robust backing from the WHO’s independent oversight panel.

“Every country and every organisation must examine its response and learn from its experience,” Tedros said, adding that the review must cover “all actors in good faith”.

In its first report on the handling of the pandemic, the seven-member oversight committee said the WHO had “demonstrated leadership and made important progress in its Covid-19 response”.

It also said “an imperfect and evolving understanding” was not unusual when a new disease emerged.

In an apparent rejoinder to Trump, the panel said a “rising politicisation of pandemic response” was hindering the effort to defeat the virus.

Meanwhile  disagreement in the US over handling of the pandemic and related scapegoating has flared up in public, with Azar defending US efforts.

Fox News – HHS Secretary Azar hits back at Navarro’s criticism of CDC: ‘Inaccurate and inappropriate’

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar hit back Monday at White House trade adviser Peter Navarro for his coronavirus-related criticism of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in a striking public spat between two wings of the Trump administration.

“The comments regarding the CDC are inaccurate and inappropriate,” Azar said on Fox News’  “America’s Newsroom” Monday.

Azar’s comments come after Navarro slammed the CDC over the weekend, saying the agency “let the country down” in its early stages of testing for COVID-19.

“Early on in this crisis, the CDC, which really had the most trusted brand around the world in this space — really let the country down with the testing,” Navarro said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “Not only did they keep the testing within the bureaucracy, they had a bad test and that set us back.”

But Azar defended the agency Monday, saying they “had one error, which was in scaling up the manufacturing of the tests they had developed.”

Azar also defended the administration’s coronavirus testing methods, saying that President Trump “is delivering 300,000 tests per day” and that the U.S. has conducted over 10 million tests.

Trump claims US testing is the best in the world (it has now identified over one and a half million cases, but that’s the 39th best testing rate according to Worldometer).

No organisation or country could have handled the rapidly unfolding Covid crisis perfectly. It was impossible to know the best way to respond (that’s still debatable), and most countries were under prepared for any sort of pandemic.

Blaming others is just a way of trying to divert from one’s own inadequacies. The focus should be on learning from mistakes and doing better now and in future health emergencies.

Trump announces US will cut funding to WHO

Trump seems to have changed his mind again, just announcing that the US will at least temporarily cut funding to the World Health Organisation.

Fox News: Trump announces US will halt funding to World Health Organization over coronavirus response

President Trump announced at the White House coronavirus press briefing in the Rose Garden on Tuesday that the United States will immediately halt all funding for the World Health Organization (WHO), saying it had put “political correctness over lifesaving measures.”

“We have deep concerns over whether America’s generosity has been put to the best use possible,” Trump said, accusing the WHO of failing to adequately keep the international community apprised of the threat of the coronavirus.

“The WHO failed in this duty, and must be held accountable,” Trump said. He added that the WHO had ignored “credible information” in December 2019 that the virus could be transmitted from human to human.

If funding was cut to every organisation or Government agency that got something wrong about Covid-19 at some time there would be little money or much done about it.  It’s unlikely trump will cut funding to the White House.

And cutting funding to a health organisation during a health crisis seems an odd approach, even if mistakes had been made.

In the meantime, Trump declared that the United States would undertake a 60-to-90 day investigation into why the “China-centric” WHO had caused “so much death” by “severely mismanaging and covering up” the coronavirus’ spread.

Trump seems intent on blaming others, and throwing in a “political correctness” snipe seems more aiming at an audience in an effort to shore up falling poll support than anything.

Also at the briefing, the president said plans to ease the national economic shutdown were being finalized, and that he would be “authorizing governors to reopen their states to reopen as they see fit.” At the same time, Trump made clear that he was not going to put “any pressure” on governors to reopen.

“We have to get our sports back,” Trump remarked. “I’m tired of watching baseball games that are 14 years old.”

Trump has had time to watch old baseball games on TV in between changing his mind about funding WHO and blaming others for Covid problems?

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top infectious disease expert in the U.S. and a key member of Trump’s coronavirus task force, has said misinformation from China, repeated by the WHO, had affected U.S. response efforts.

Lack of good information from everywhere has been a problem, and countries are still learning as they go.

Trump may not be guilty of political correctness, but his PR has been poor at times. It’s not that long ago he was promoting business as usual by Easter and a ‘beautiful Easter Sunday’ – this spraying of ideas can’t help dealing with the virus.

Reuters: Trump’s May 1 target too optimistic for U.S. coronavirus reopening, adviser Fauci says

President Donald Trump’s May 1 target for restarting the economy is “overly optimistic,” his top infectious disease adviser said on Tuesday, after Trump and state governors clashed over who has the power to lift restrictions aimed at curbing the coronavirus pandemic.

Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, echoed many governors in saying that health officials must first be able to test for the virus quickly, isolate new cases and track down new infections before social-distancing restrictions can be eased safely.

Trump’s administration has recommended stay-at-home guidelines through the end of April, and the president has floated May 1 as a possible date to start reopening shuttered workplaces in some areas.

Fauci, who frequently appears with Trump at White House coronavirus briefings, has previously contradicted Trump on some issues, such as an unproven medical treatment promoted by the president. Trump on Sunday retweeted a message on Twitter from a conservative political figure calling for Fauci’s firing, but the president later denied plans to dismiss his adviser.

Trump, a Republican who before the pandemic had touted a vibrant U.S. economy as a pillar of his Nov. 3 re-election bid, lashed out at Democratic state governors, suggesting they were “mutineers,” after New York’s Andrew Cuomo said he would refuse any order by the president to reopen the economy too soon.

“If he ordered me to reopen in a way that would endanger the public health of the people of my state, I wouldn’t do it,” Cuomo told CNN early in the day.

At a news conference later, Cuomo said Trump was “clearly spoiling for a fight on this issue” and that he did not want a partisan battle, but added, “We don’t have a king in this country, we have a Constitution and we elect the president.”

Trump could cut funding to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and he could cut funding to states – and the worrying thing is he thinks he has the power to do this and may try to if people disagree with him.

A president obsessed with being seen as not wrong, and with a record of lashing out at anyone who suggests he may not be right or may have not done the best he could have, could do anything, especially if the polls and criticisms continue to work against him.

The White House versus WHO

It’s not surprising to see Donald Trump blaming others for their handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, that’s what he frequently does to divert from his own problems or mistakes. He has taken a swipe at the World Health Organisation and threatened to withdraw US funding, although as is also common with him, soon after that (in the same media conference) he contradicted himself.

Financial Times: Donald Trump threatens to freeze funding for WHO

President Donald Trump threatened to freeze funding for the World Health Organization as he accused the body of withholding information about coronavirus in Wuhan and being “wrong” about the outbreak in China.

Mr Trump said the WHO had “missed the call” when it came to the early detection of the virus in Wuhan and called the organisation very “China-centric”. He also blasted WHO for what he said was criticism of his decision in January to ban flights from China to the US.

“They could have called it months earlier,” Mr Trump said at a White House press briefing on Tuesday. “They would have known and they should have done. And they probably did know, so we’ll be looking into that very carefully. And we’re going to put a hold on money sent to the WHO.”

Mr Trump said he would put a “very powerful hold” on the funding. But when pressed on whether the US should withhold funds during the pandemic, the president softened his threat — one of the many examples of the president contradicting himself during the same press conference. “I’m not saying I’m going to do it, but we’ll have a look,” Mr Trump said. “You know what, they called it wrong. And if you look back over the years . . . everything seems to be very biased toward China. It’s not right.”

Mr Trump’s criticism reignited a debate about blame for the spread of the disease, which has been contracted by 1.43m people around the world and caused 82,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. The number of US cases has soared to 399,000, with almost 13,000 fatalities.

The WHO in mid-January said there was no evidence of human-to-human transmission, even after one of its experts said the opposite. Days later, it pointed to “some limited” direct transmission among humans, as China also confirmed the first cases of human-to-human transmission.

Later in January the WHO described the virus as a global emergency, but recommended that nations keep borders open to reduce the number of people crossing borders in irregular ways that would prevent health checks. Later that day Mr Trump banned most travel from China.

Mr Trump has been criticised for not taking the virus seriously early on, and particularly for saying it would disappear “like a miracle”. Each time he has come under attack, he has touted his move to ban flights from China, and sometimes his later step to expand restrictions to travel from Europe.

“They seem to come down the side of China,” said Mr Trump, who claimed that the WHO missed the early signs despite sending a team to Wuhan. “They didn’t see what was going on in Wuhan . . . How do you not see it?”

Trump’s deputy has also waded in: Pence vows US will ask WHO ‘tough questions’ over how ‘they could have been so wrong’ about coronavirus

Vice President Mike Pence told “Hannity” Wednesday night that the U.S. will ask “tough questions” of the World Health Organization (WHO) over its handling of the coronavirus pandemic after the global health agency’s director warned President Trump and other world leaders against “politicizing” the outbreak.

“This is a president who believes in accountability, and the American taxpayers provide tens of millions of dollars to the World Health Organization. And as the president said yesterday, I suspect we will continue to do that, but that doesn’t mean that at the right time in the future we aren’t going to ask the tough questions about how the World Health Organization could have been so wrong.

“Literally at the time President Trump stood up the coronavirus task force in January and suspended all travel from China, just days before that, the World Health Organization was continuing to diminish the threat of the coronavirus and its impact in China. We’ll get to the answers of that and we’ll create accountability, just like the American people would want us to do.”

Note that this is on the president friendly “Hannity” and will be playing to an audience.

WHO deserves some criticism of their handling of the pandemic, but it would have been impossible for them to handle it perfectly.

But the president spraying around blame is likely to be more about diverting from the growing Covid problems in the US (although the worst hot spot, New York, seems to be flattening off now), where things haven’t been handled perfectly either.

There are now over 450,000 confirmed cases in the US and 16,000+ deaths (increasing by close to 2,000 a day).

Over the past week or so about a third of the world increase of cases has been in the US, and about a quarter of deaths.

It is too serious to get distracted by bitching and blaming.

But due to major restrictions on borders and social distancing and a big effort to increase testing and healthcare supplies the modeled scenarios are looking a lot less grim.

NPR: Fauci Says U.S. Coronavirus Deaths May Be ‘More Like 60,000’; Antibody Tests On Way

The U.S. is enduring a “very bad week” during the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Anthony Fauci says. But he also says that the American public’s embrace of physical separation and other restrictions is sharply reducing projections of the death toll from the respiratory virus.

The final toll currently “looks more like 60,000 than the 100,000 to 200,000” that U.S. officials previously estimated, Fauci said.

Even earlier warnings were of potentially millions of deaths if nothing was done to limit the spread of the virus, so 60,000 doesn’t look so bad (but is still substantial).

Channel News Asia: WHO urges global unity, defends handling of pandemic after Trump’s criticism

The World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday (Apr 8) pleaded for global unity in fighting the coronavirus and gave a strident defence of his agency’s handling of the pandemic, in response to US President Donald Trump’s criticism.

As the WHO prepares to mark 100 days on Thursday since it was first notified of the outbreak in China, director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus hit back at accusations that it had been too close to Beijing.

Tedros urged the United States to join with China in combating the disease rather than indulging in a blame game, as he issued a stern defence of the WHO’s management of the pandemic.

“The United States and China should come together and fight this dangerous enemy,” Tedros told a virtual press briefing in Geneva.

“The focus of all political parties should be to save their people. Please don’t politicise this virus.

“If you want to have many more body bags – then you do it. If you don’t want many more body bags, then you refrain from politicising it.

Tedros also rejected Trump’s suggestion that the WHO was “China-centric”, saying: “We are close to every nation, we are colour-blind.”

Citing the death toll and number of infections, Tedros implored: “For God’s sake … is this not enough?”

WHO, Trump and many others are under extreme pressure trying to combat Covid. They all need to work together and cooperate as much as possible regardless of past mistakes or questionable decisions.

Covid-19 now designated a pandemic

The World Health Organisation has declared the Covid-19 coronavirus a pandemic.


Current WHO global phase of pandemic alert: Avian Influenza A(H5N1)

Current phase of global alert according to criteria described in the WHO Pandemic Influenza Risk Management Interim Guidance

The pandemic influenza phases reflect WHO’s risk assessment of the global situation regarding each influenza virus with pandemic potential that is infecting humans. These assessments are made initially when such viruses are identified and are updated based on evolving virological, epidemiological and clinical data. The phases provide a high-level, global view of the evolving picture.

As pandemic viruses emerge, countries and regions face different risks at different times. For that reason, countries are strongly advised to develop their own national risk assessments based on local circumstances, taking into consideration the information provided by the global assessments produced by WHO. Risk management decisions by countries are therefore expected to be informed by global risk assessments, but based on local risk assessments.

The current WHO phase of pandemic alert for avian influenza A(H5N1) is: ALERT

Alert phase: This is the phase when influenza caused by a new subtype1 has been identified in humans. Increased vigilance and careful risk assessment, at local, national and global levels, are characteristic of this phase. If the risk assessments indicate that the new virus is not developing into a pandemic strain, a de-escalation of activities towards those in the interpandemic phase may occur.

Please consult the interim guidance document for complete information on pandemic phases:

More information on avian influenza H5N1 in humans can be found at the:

1 The IHR (2005) Annex 2 includes “human influenza caused by a new subtype” among the four specified diseases for which a case is necessarily considered “unusual or unexpected and may have serious public health impact, and thus shall be notified” in all circumstances to WHO.


On Tuesday Wall Street partly recovered from Monday’s large decline, but so far Wednesday it is sliding again, so far down by 5%.

This is said to be partly in reaction to the announcement, and partly due to the muddled messages and slow reaction by the Trump administration.

MarketWatch: Dow tumbles 1,200 points, stocks extend slide after WHO declares coronavirus a pandemic

Stocks extended losses Wednesday after the World Health Organization designated the global spread of COVID-19 a pandemic, building on declines attributed partly to disappoint over prospects for a quick round of fiscal stimulus to cushion the U.S. economy from the effects of the outbreak.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Wednesday a robust economic stimulus won’t be able to pass Congress quickly and he threw his support behind a smaller measure designed to help small businesses and workers grappling with the coronavirus.

Meanwhile, policy makers abroad have begun to take action to ease the pressure on businesses, with the Bank of England delivering an emergency interest rate cut and the U.K. government pledging fiscal stimulus in its budget Wednesday, while German Chancellor Angela Merkel promised to do “whatever is necessary” and the European Central Bank’s president warned of an economic shock like the 2008 financial crisis.

Investors have called for more focused measures by the U.S. Congress and the White House to support businesses and corporations that could suffer a sharp decline in revenues if consumer spending drops. Until Wall Street gains clarity on what a spending package might look like, investor sentiment could remain shaky, analysts said.

Clarity is not one of Trump’s strengths. Of course tyhere is a tweet from Trump praising what he uis doiung.

That was in response to “HE’S DEFINITELY MELTING DOWN OVER THIS”: TRUMP, GERMAPHOBE IN CHIEF, STRUGGLES TO CONTROL THE COVID-19 STORY

Publicly, he sees it as yet another (“Fake News”) media war; privately, he worries about virus-carrying journalists on Air Force One. But cancel his rallies?

Ever since the coronavirus exploded outside of China at the end of January, Donald Trump has treated the public health crisis as a media war that he could win with the right messaging. But with cases now documented in 34 states and markets plunging, Republicans close to Trump fear his rosy assessments are fundamentally detached from reality in ways that will make the epidemic worse. “He is trying to control the narrative and he can’t,” a former West Wing official told me.

The problem is that the crisis fits into his preexisting and deeply held worldview—that the media is always searching for a story to bring him down. Covid-19 is merely the latest instance, and he’s reacting in familiar ways. “So much FAKE NEWS!” Trump tweeted this morning. “He wants Justice to open investigations of the media for market manipulation,” a source close to the White House told me. Trump is also frustrated with his West Wing for not getting a handle on the news cycle. “He’s very frustrated he doesn’t have a good team around him,” a former White House official said. On Friday he forced out acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and replaced him with former House Freedom Caucus chair Mark Meadows. Trump thought the virus was “getting beyond Mick,” a person briefed on the internal discussions said. Trump has also complained that economic adviser Larry Kudlow is not doing enough to calm jittery markets.

I don’t know if it can be called a meltdown, it looks like normal Trump – too easily distracted by petty attacks.

He shouldn’t be wasting time on stuff like that, but he is unlikely to stop obsessing about and ranting about the media.

Reuters: White House told federal health agency to classify coronavirus deliberations

The White House has ordered federal health officials to treat top-level coronavirus meetings as classified, an unusual step that has restricted information and hampered the government’s response to the contagion, according to four Trump administration officials.


After a rise the NZX ended up slightly down yesterday and will likely follow the US market down again today.

No official releases from the New Zealand Government (Beehive) on the virus yesterday.


Reuters: WHO calls coronavirus a pandemic as Britain, Italy shore up defenses

“We are deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity and by the alarming levels of inaction,” Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters in Geneva.

“We have therefore made the assessment that COVID-19 can be characterized as a pandemic,” he said, using the formal name of the coronavirus.

There are now more than 118,000 infections in 114 countries and 4,291 people have died of the virus, with the numbers expected to climb, Tedros said.

Before the WHO’s comments, Italy – the European country worst hit by the virus – and Britain announced they were setting aside large sums to fight the flu-like disease.

Britain launched a 30-billion-pound ($38.54 billion) economic stimulus plan as new finance minister Rishi Sunak said the economy faced a “significant impact” from the spread of the virus, even if it was likely to be temporary.

“Up to a fifth of the working-age population could need to be off work at any one time. And business supply chains are being disrupted around the globe,” Sunak said in an annual budget speech to parliament.

It looks to be a long way from over.

 

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.