1. #COVID19: China's Feb. 21 numbers are out.
397 new cases, 109 new deaths.
The official totals are now 76,288 confirmed & 2345 deaths. There are also 5365 suspect cases, and I don't know if that means results pending, never tested but probably Covid-19 or a mix of the 2. pic.twitter.com/t4PQUvREZ7
— Helen Branswell (@HelenBranswell) February 22, 2020
oh look, a day after officials were told that they would be punished if any hidden cases were found past that day the number of new infections has significantly dropped. what an amazing coincidence.
— James Palmer (@BeijingPalmer) February 20, 2020
The tweet below is snark, BUT… it’s just in the last day or so that I’m seeing coronavirus stories linked on the ‘Political Twitter’ threads I follow. The monster, it would seem, is inside the house.
The odd thing about the Chinese Death Plague is that the closer it gets to a global pandemic, the less coverage it gets in The Discourse.
— Starfish Who Should Be Told To Get Back To Work (@IRHotTakes) February 21, 2020
Starting to feel like the #COVID19 outbreak has gone next level. https://t.co/vT3EzfAh3R
— Helen Branswell (@HelenBranswell) February 21, 2020
Doesn’t mean that we’re all gonna die, of course — or even that it’s going to become widespread in the U.S. But it looks like it’s not going to ‘disappear’ the way SARS did, either.
Where the immune system is concerned, men are the weaker sex. In the coronavirus outbreak, that is making a difference. https://t.co/mc1RzFffcg
— NYT Health (@NYTHealth) February 21, 2020
China develops COVID-19 detection kit that delivers results in 15 minutes https://t.co/ifG5YCHui3 via @cgtnofficial
— ɪᴀɴ ᴍ ᴍᴀᴄᴋᴀʏ, ᴘʜᴅ ????? (@MackayIM) February 21, 2020
I know we have a lot of red alerts right now, but when you read coronavirus stories where everything went to hell when the Americans took over, maybe we need to knock this up ahead of a brokered convention on our doomsday list. https://t.co/DMAK4AbDIT
— Schooley (@Rschooley) February 21, 2020
Coronavirus patient re-hospitalized in China's Chengdu after testing positive again https://t.co/dT809iPWiy pic.twitter.com/V7GnPodcUl
— Reuters (@Reuters) February 22, 2020
… The patient tested positive during a check-up 10 days after being discharged, the center said in a statement. Similar cases have been reported in other regions.
The positive result after discharge was likely due to a discrepancy in samples, the state media People’s Daily reported late Friday, citing an expert.
Official guidelines say patients must test negative for the virus twice, with at least a day between tests, before being discharged.
Hospitals had used nose and throat swabs for such tests before discharging patients, but are now required to use samples from lungs, where the virus is most likely to be detected as it develops, Lei Xuezhong, a doctor working on a treatment for coronavirus-caused pneumonia in Sichuan province told People’s Daily…
Looks like everyone getting their bad news in before the weekend: This is not good https://t.co/4fRw8PwXem
— Prof Peter Hotez MD PhD (@PeterHotez) February 21, 2020
.@drtedros says while #COVID19 numbers outside China remain small, @WHO is "concerned about the number of cases with no clear epidemiological link”. Indeed! Also mentions Iran where he says there are now 18 cases and 4 deaths!
— Kai Kupferschmidt (@kakape) February 21, 2020
.@HelenBranswell asks what we are all wondering: Is this epidemic at a tipping point? @DrTedros: The window of opportunity to contain this outbreak is still there, but it is narrowing. That is why we asked the international community to act (and they haven’t really stepped up).
— Kai Kupferschmidt (@kakape) February 21, 2020
Useful thread on #COVID19 in #Iran and religious significance of Qom.
Ramadan starts April 23 this year….. https://t.co/Ydd0r7yIrA
— Laurie Garrett (@Laurie_Garrett) February 21, 2020
… Iran once relied heavily on China to buy its oil and some Chinese companies have continued doing business with Iran in the face of U.S. sanctions. Unlike other countries — such as Saudi Arabia, which barred its citizens and residents from traveling to China — Iran has not imposed such measures. But it has suspended all passenger flights with China for the past two weeks, allowing only cargo flights.
Iran’s civil aviation spokesman Reza Jafarzadeh said on Thursday that the “cargo flights, if necessary, are under supervision, and controls imposed by the health ministry are carried out.” …
7 of South Korea’s confirmed coronavirus cases had just returned from an 8 day trip to Israel. 77 people were on the holiday organised by their Catholic Church.
— Laura Bicker (@BBCLBicker) February 22, 2020
Another country people have worried about:
North Korean cancels marathon. Says the country is free of #coronavirus
Analysts of the isolated country have speculated that there could be cases after Pyongyang ordered schools closed for the next month and put foreigners under a month-long quarantine. https://t.co/AMSRTGaXQL
— COVID19 (@V2019N) February 21, 2020
Somebody brought the virus to the conference. Who?
(Some participants were from China, including Hubei province, Singapore health officials later learned.) This piece lays out the tracking happening behind the scenes. Incredible. https://t.co/ei22Pyafo5 pic.twitter.com/sezeOZgkxV
— COVID19 (@V2019N) February 21, 2020
White House officials are also concerned they won't have the capability to quarantine everyone in the case of the disease spreading. Dozens of meetings in recent weeks: https://t.co/tCFEgIxXTN
— Josh Dawsey (@jdawsey1) February 21, 2020
So they don’t. https://t.co/vHDxMGI16g https://t.co/sROYqesue4
— Schooley (@Rschooley) February 21, 2020
Some interesting responses to this tweet:
Academics, have your universities put in any travel policies/restrictions/cancellations of upcoming trips due to #SARSCoV2?
— Dr. Tara C. Smith (@aetiology) February 21, 2020
you know what's a good way to support Chinese students over the coronavirus? refunding them for the semester, organizing online classes, showing flexibility over exams and coursework. https://t.co/FM8Tn9TxLc
— James Palmer (@BeijingPalmer) February 21, 2020
Gee, if only we had a leader who could step forward and, I dunno, lead? (Cuz what WE have to offer ain’t gonna cut it.)
It’s not like we have a germophobe who’d welcome any excuse he could find to postpone/cancel an election for a president.
This news is ever more concerning — Iran, South Korea. Again, I appreciate these posts so much.
After the blips caused by the reports from the penitentiary system, data from China, Hubei and Wuhan reverted to their prior trend lines. The decline in active cases is accelerating everywhere, drops of 768 in Wuhan and over 2K in China yesterday. I read in a news report that there was even a slight decline in the number of active severe/critical cases. Really hope this represents the peak of such patients that occupy the vast majority of health care resources and had stressed the system past the breaking point in Wuhan and Hubei. For the first time, one of the temporary hospitals built for critical cases had empty beds waiting for patients. Thousands of medical personnel continue to be flown in from around the country to reinforce Wuhan and Hubei. Wuhan is continuing to convert public arenas and university dormitories into makeshift medical facilities to house mild cases, with 25K beds capacity to come online in the coming week or so, even though the existing 20K bed capacity is not fully utilized. Either the Wuhan government is lying about the current scale of the epidemic and actually expect a coming tidal wave of new cases, or they intend to capture the potentially large number of asymptomatic or very mild cases (not sure how they would actually accomplish that), or the new leadership team simply wants to be prepared for every possible contingency and not be caught with their pants down again.
Data from China ex-Hubei resumed their very promising trend. Only 33 new confirmed cases outside of Hubei (include a couple of newly confirmed cases from the prisons in Shandong and Zhejiang that had reported outbreaks), and 18 provinces (+ Hong Kong & Macau) posted 0 new cases.
I am not sure what point James Palmer is trying to make with the first tweet. If most of the “hidden cases” are indeed caught in the blanket survey from 2/16 – 2/19, then one would expect the pace of new cases to drop at the end of that effort. I have seen jumps in new cases from cities in Hubei ex-Wuhan over the past several days, when they had been posting single digit or low double digit increase before and since these jumps. That would actually make sense in the context of such blanket surveys to uncover “hidden inventory” of infected persons. I also don’t think it is a coincidence that the outbreaks in prisons were reported two days ago.
The blanket surveys have limitations. It is still reliant upon the infected persons to report themselves to the community clinics and neighborhood committees. The asymptomatic would not even know they are sick, and those with mild or very mild symptoms may think they have a cold, and do not want to be sent to quarantine for 14 days, or sent to hospital with risk of cross-infection. A key risk I can see is from the people infected with SARS-COV2 but had mild symptoms, and their immune systems fought off the virus, so they never reported themselves. When the symptoms subside, these people may think they have fully recovered, but case reports have shown that those who are symptom free could still be viral carriers and be contagious for up to 14 days! Right now, these people are contained by the lock downs, but what about when the lock downs end?
I do understand that people are predisposed to be skeptical of numbers produced by Chinese government, and I firmly believe one should analyze the details of the data as well as scrutinize the actions of the government to see if there are signs of inconsistency or obfuscation. However, at this point I do not believe the regional and local Chinese bureaucracy is actually incentivized to suppress or hide cases, given that the CCP regime has made this the national priority, and has staked its legitimacy on containing the epidemic. Hundreds, if not thousands, of officials and bureaucrats have already been disciplined or dismissed for incompetence, lack of initiative, or outright deception. Purposely suppressing cases now only result in worse outcomes later, the reality of an outbreak intrudes sooner or later, as Wuhan has found. CCP leaders are cold authoritarians, but also technocrats who understand mathematics and respect science.
Having said that, I fully expect the CCP regime to keep outbreaks among the military and paramilitary, and in the extra-judicial “re-education” facilities in Xinjiang and Tibet, under wraps and treat them as state secret.
Provinces and cities that have had relatively few confirmed cases to date, and very few new cases in the past week, are slowly relaxing the social controls and transportation shut downs. Where neighborhood and community lock down measured have eased, people are starting to venture out again, although mass gatherings are still prohibited and many businesses remain closed. Provinces other than Hubei are actively helping their local enterprises to resume production to full capacity, and even Hubei is starting to make preparations. The SARS epidemic gave e-commerce a big opening in China, it would be interesting to see if the COVID-19 epidemic give platforms that facilitate remote learning and work from home a similar opening. Alibaba’s DangDang social network APP was mostly used by enterprises before the epidemic, but is now used for online classes for 1 – 12. It had a 4.8 star rating, then a huge wave of elementary and middle school students giving 1 stars (on the false rumor that any APP with a 1 star rating would automatically be removed from the APP stores) drove the rating down to 1.3. Then an equally huge wave of parents giving 5 starts raised its rating back over 2.5. :-D
People across China stuck in their apartments are finding extraordinarily creative ways to fight the boredom. Hilarious videos can be found on TikTok and YouTube, and absolutely floods Chinese social media and video sharing APPs. Lots of people are cultivating their inner culinary talents, and my WeChat Moments feed is full of family/friends/colleagues/acquaintances showing off their triumphs (and tragedies) in the kitchen.
Back on a serious subject. Latest news out of Iran, Japan, South Korea, and Italy further reinforces just how tough the COVID-19 is to track, let alone contain. No new cases from Italy, and the 17 in one day in several towns across the northern part of the country? A cultish sect the bane of South Korea? Incompetence and nonchalance from the Japanese government? We are definitely just seeing the tip of the iceberg from Iran, and what about the rest of the Middle East closely linked to Iran? No cases (or no recent cases) from across Southeast Asia (other than Singapore) and Africa, despite their broad and deep linkages with China, is actually more concerning than reassuring…
Chinese netizens are already wondering if China successfully contains the COVID-19, only to have outbreaks resurface from foreign introduction.
@YY_Sima Qian: Your points are all very well taken. Thank you. TBH I am just as skeptical about the American count of cases as the Chinese. It is very telling that the Canadian who returned from Iran would NOT have been tested for COVID19 if she were an American.
Language Log has had some posts on the battle of words over COVID-19, Lu Wenliang, and related matters.
My reading about this yesterday indicated there were at least two new clusters that were not contained outside of China in South Korea & Italy. Realistically it just seems a matter of time before we are told the Coronavirus, whatever state it is in in China, is no longer controllable in the rest of the world.
Let’s hope they develop the vaccine for it without a lot of problems.
@Ken: I will note that Taiwanese government and MSM is pretty much alone in the world that still insists on calling it the “Wuhan Coronavirus”. I find that there is a very strong streak of anti-Mainland Chinese nativism in segments of Taiwanese society (and Hong Kong for that matter), that is as ugly as nativism elsewhere. However, because nativitism in Taiwan and Hong Kong march under the banners of anti-CCP, anti-China and pro-democracy, they are basically ignored in western MSM. The DPP government successfully leveraged the wave of anti-CCP/China sentiment triggered by the months long protests in Hong Kong, as well as this deep seated nativism, to win re-election in a land slide. That despite its poor performance across a most areas of governance since taking reins in 2016 (which is why the DPP badly lost the mid-terms at the end of 2018).
I sympathize with Taiwan’s urge for greater international space, but I see no evidence that not being in the WHO is adversely affecting its efforts to contain the epidemic. There are agreements and mechanisms in place to allow the WHO to share information with Taiwan during public health emergencies, and for medical experts from Taiwan to join global discussions concerning the epidemic. These mechanisms are being utilized. There are mechanisms between Mainland China and Taiwan to share information on public health emergencies, and they remain open and are being utilized. In fact, medical experts from Taiwan were on the ground in Wuhan in mid-Jan., long before anyone from the WHO. This despite cross-strait relations in deep freeze.
Thanks for the updates, really appreciate your insight on this.