Coronavirus: Not Looking Good

The aggressive and increasingly stringent measures taken in China to contain the “novel coronavirus” sure look like the officialdom is worried, if not panicked about the disease.

Although we and they are suffering from bad data (for instance, shortages of tests and even in places personnel to confirm that suspected cases are the coronavirus and not something else), the facts at hand are not pretty.

This coronavirus is very contagious. The estimates of the reproduction are between 2.6 and 2.9. By contrast, from a 2014 paper in BMC Infectious Diseases:

We conducted a systematic review to summarize published estimates of R for pandemic or seasonal influenza and for novel influenza viruses (e.g. H5N1). We retained and summarized papers that estimated R for pandemic or seasonal influenza or for human infections with novel influenza viruses.

The search yielded 567 papers. Ninety-one papers were retained, and an additional twenty papers were identified from the references of the retained papers. Twenty-four studies reported 51 R values for the 1918 pandemic. The median R value for 1918 was 1.80 (interquartile range [IQR]: 1.47–2.27). Six studies reported seven 1957 pandemic R values. The median R value for 1957 was 1.65 (IQR: 1.53–1.70). Four studies reported seven 1968 pandemic R values. The median R value for 1968 was 1.80 (IQR: 1.56–1.85). Fifty-seven studies reported 78 2009 pandemic R values. The median R value for 2009 was 1.46 (IQR: 1.30–1.70) and was similar across the two waves of illness: 1.46 for the first wave and 1.48 for the second wave. Twenty-four studies reported 47 seasonal epidemic R values. The median R value for seasonal influenza was 1.28 (IQR: 1.19–1.37). Four studies reported six novel influenza R values. Four out of six R values were <1.

In other words, the reproduction rate is now reported to be meaningfully worse than for the Spanish flu and later flus deemed to reach pandemic levels. This is the reason for the freakout.

The reproduction rate is, however, lower than for measles, as the Wall Street Journal cheerily points out. The reason is that this is a big pathogen. From Foreign Policy two days ago:

The coronavirus is a physically large virus—in relative terms, at just 125 nanometers with a surface of spike projections, too big to survive or stay suspended in the air for hours or travel more than a few feet. Like influenza, this coronavirus spreads through both direct and indirect contact. Direct contact occurs through the physical transfer of the microorganism among friends and family through close contact with oral secretions. Indirect contact results when an infected person coughs or sneezes, spreading coronavirus droplets on nearby surfaces, including knobs, bedrails, and smartphones.

As with SARS, droplets generated during medical procedures such as bronchoscopy and respiratory treatment may be aerosolized, infecting multiple medical staff and enabling super-spreading. Hand hygiene and personal protective barriers—gowns, gloves, masks, and goggles—reduce droplet transmission. The incubation period, however, is unknown but currently very roughly estimated as between one and 14 days.

Note the potential for contagion from surfaces….just as gyms are disease vectors by virtue of patrons putting their hands on weights and exercise machines. So frequent hand washing, and/or use of gloves, and/or using alcohol wipes on things you touch in high risk settings (check in touchscreens at airport kiosks and those horrible iPad restaurant ordering systems are high risk if you are in an area with cases) are all good precautions.

More bad news on the contagion front….China’s health minister has said he believes the disease can be transmitted during the incubation period and has reaffirmed the one to fourteen day estimate. That means screening people for fever would only be partially effective in containing its spread. The Hill confirms our concerns:

A longtime adviser to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. William Schaffner, told CNN the new development means “the infection is much more contagious than we originally thought.”

Schaffner called it a game changer and warned current preventative methods won’t be enough to fight off the outbreak since tracking down the contacts a patient had before experience symptoms complicates the situation.

So far, this coronavirus looks pretty lethal. The latest data is 4524 confirmed cases, with 106 deaths, for a mortality rate of 2.2% But according to the Financial Times:

Researchers at the University of Hong Kong, however, said the number of infections could be much higher. On Monday, the university estimated that at least 25,630 people in Wuhan were showing symptoms of the disease and around 44,000 were infected with the disease but not yet showing symptoms.

However, some of those “showing signs of the disease” might have some other bug, and if they do have the coronavirus, it has not yet run its course.

Earlier estimates put the mortality rate even higher, but the 2.2% observed level is not at all good. While it is lower than for SARS (9.6%), it is similar to that of the Spanish flu, which was 2.5%. By contrast, a study published at the Lancet on global mortality from the seasonal flu, which came up with higher figures than other efforts, put the total at 4·0–8·8 per 100,000 for 1999 to 2015 seasonal flus. The mortality rate for the 1957 and 1968 flu pandemics were both about 0.1%.

Will containment work? We don’t know. The disease has already reached all provinces of China. Thailand has the most confirmed cases outside China, now at 14. Germany has identified its first case. The US has 5 confirmed cases and 110 more in 26 states under observation. Japan has identified a victim who had not visited Wuhan.

However, officials are trying to keep the disease within China and limit its spread in China. Some of many examples:

Smaller cities in Hubei are taking matter into their own hands:

Even Shanghai is starting to look vacant:

This may be web evidence, but I’ve seen panicked buying in Manhattan before blizzards that would only shut the city down for only two days (when Manhattan is full of food), so it’s plausible:

Macau deported visitors from Hubei, the afflicted province. Starbucks in Hubei have closed. Chinese package tours have been canceled, as have cruises with stops in China. Public events such as movies screenings have also been halted, albeit not universally. The State Department has urged Americans to cancel non-essential travel to China.

Yet it isn’t clear that these efforts will do much. From the Financial Times:

Ian Mackay, a virologist at Queensland University in Australia, said it was possible the travel restrictions would simply be a “Band-Aid” solution. “It has never been done before, there is no evidence this will do anything by shutting these people in. There is still the virus there,” he said.

Mr. Market is rattled, as are foreign businesses and governments, most of whom have started evacuating staff from Wuhan. The logic escapes me, since this is a great way to spread the disease, unless they are quarantined for the maximum 14 day incubation period (note several medical journals have estimates shorter incubation period, but it’s not clear they have a better basis for making an assessment than Chinese doctors and scientists who have the most direct experience). From CNN:

As coronavirus cases continue to rise in Wuhan and wider Hubei province, several countries are taking action to repatriate their citizens in the affected areas.

Here are the countries planning or preparing to evacuate citizens:

The US: About 240 Americans being evacuated from Wuhan Wednesday morning local time will arrive in Anchorage, Alaska, before arriving in Ontario, California. About three dozen Wuhan-based US diplomats and their families are also expected to be on board, a US official with knowledge of the matter told CNN.

Japan: Japan is sending a charter flight to Wuhan tonight to retrieve about 200 citizens on Tuesday night local. It will leave Wuhan Wednesday morning and will arrive in Tokyo by midday local time. Roughly 650 Japanese citizens have requested to return to Japan, and the government will send more flights from Wednesday onwards.

Australia: Australia’s health minister said yesterday he was working with the Chinese Foreign Minister to repatriate Australian citizens in Wuhan, including 100 “young Australians.”

India: The Indian government is looking for “possible travel options out of Hubei province” for citizens in Wuhan, said a government spokesperson on Sunday. This comes after reports of 56 Indian students at the Wuhan University School Of Medicine who had been trapped in Wuhan since the lockdown.

South Korea: Four charter planes will evacuate South Korean citizens from Wuhan, said a government spokesperson today. Almost 700 South Korean citizens have applied to take the flight out.

France: A plane will fly French citizens back from Wuhan to France sometime this week, said the French Health Minister on said Sunday. There are around 800 French citizens in Wuhan.

United Kingdom: The UK is “looking at all the options” to help Britons trapped in Wuhan, said the UK Home Secretary after being asked about the possibility of evacuation flights

India, which is not famed for organized official responses, is being impressively transparent about its new measure and has even created a help line. Update: Apologies, I cannot find the official tweet again, and Twitter makes it far too easy to get false positives on efforts to copy embed code, so I had a duplicate of another tweet in this spot. However, I see as of this hour (4:30 PM EST) that India has one confirmed case and over 400 people under observation.

Even later update. I found the tweet after all:

Back to the original post.

The coronavirus will hit all sorts of industries that benefit from Chinese travel, from oil to airlines to hotels, and a hit to Chinese growth and business activity will have knock-on effects. For instance:

And finally, the practical advice for staying healthy, aside from hiding at home and ordering in. Bear in mind the risk of infection in the US right now is effectively nada, but this is worth keeping in mind if that changes:

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  1. Jos Oskam

    I found this a good moment to re-read my copy of Stephen King’s “The Stand”, especially the part where he describes the first stages of the propagation of the disease.

    To me, King’s fiction with regard to the (lack of) effectiveness of containment and similar measures sounds a lot more realistic than the narratives currently being spouted by the various authorities and mass media.

    As far as I can see it all depends on what the virus is going to do. If it is going to mutate to something more deadly we are fscked. As simple as that.

    On the other hand, a serious reduction of the world’s population is probably the only effective therapy for saving the planet. So there’s that too.

    We’ll see.

    1. JohnnyGL

      “On the other hand, a serious reduction of the world’s population is probably the only effective therapy for saving the planet. So there’s that too” —

      Nothing personal, as a lot of people casually throw remarks like this around, but this is really flawed thinking, and dangerous.

      If you cut the world population down to 1bn people, living at current energy consumption levels in the rich world, you would STILL COOK THE PLANET.

      Population control only turns the ship in the next 50-100 years and it’s already slowing rapidly.

      What we need is a massive program of conservation combined with a green new deal style program to rebuild.

      1. Sue Madden

        +++++++ also “the planet” doesn`t need “saving” it will continue long after we`re gone – what needs saving as far as we humans are concerned is a stable biosphere in the range of temps compatible with human life……. that miraculous situation is on the verge of being lost (irrevocably)……. what got us here was mass consumption using fossil fuel energy sources and not absolute population levels. The population argument always frightens me as it lets us consumers off the hook and throws the blame on the unwashed/brown-coloured masses who in fact had zilch role in getting us to this point. Sorry but it`s hard to take sloppy reasoning which also seems to demonise relatively “innocent” people

      2. Aumua

        Yeah and besides, population control is what the evil Illuminati do. We should be looking at solutions that don’t involve mass casualties.

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            Especially if mass casualties start with billionaires and corrupt politicians FIRST and then pause to see if the rest of us can correct the situation with further mass casualties not being necessary.

        1. Tony Wright

          If we humans do not curb our overpopulating habit voluntarily, nature will do it for us via the natural ecological constraints that apply to any overpopulating species:
          Intraspecific conflict,
          Yes, we can kick the can down the road some distance via technology and human ingenuity, but to assume that we can continue to do so indefinitely and continue to overpopulate the planet like a bunch of rabbits is both ignorant and arrogant.
          And in the meantime we are causing the extinction of many of the other species with which we share our life support system by competitive exclusion – habitat destruction, pollution, overexploitation etc. According to WWF forty percent of species were made extinct between 1970 and 2010.
          Both our overpopulation and our profligate use of fossil fuels are destructive and immoral, and until such time that these problems are recognised, acknowledged and addressed, the state of the planet will continue to deteriorate, to the detriment of all people and what remain of other species.

          1. Aumua

            I believe there is more than enough for everyone, if the world’s natural resources were utilized and distributed correctly. What we don’t have is a system that can do that.

            1. Tony Wright

              Whilst I agree that our economic systems are part of the problem because they are utterly addicted to growth, aka “The Fairytale of Endless Economic Growth” as per Greta Thunberg, as an ecologist I vehemently disagree that there is “more than enough for everyone.”
              Ongoing mass extinctions of other species, desolated and polluted landscapes ,wars, disease pandemics, anthropogenic climate change are all clear evidence that ever increasing human overpopulation is destructive and unsustainable.

      3. richard

        i always wonder what “saving the planet” is supposed to mean anyway
        the planet is in trouble at all and will get along just fine without us
        so what does it mean?
        does it mean save all the other animals who aren’t us?
        i.e. we need to seriously reduce the number of humans
        so we can save the animals who aren’t humans?
        or does “saving the planet” mean saving human civilization?
        anyway, you tell me

      1. Aumua

        The planet is fine, but the mass extinction of ours and many other species is still a trajedy and not OK.

    2. rd

      Tried that twice in the last century (WW I/Spanish Flu + Stalin/Hitler/Japan/Mao) and didn’t do much to slow population growth down. The two most effective attempts at this were the bubonic plague in the Middle Ages that suppressed population growth and quality of life in Europe for several hundred years and the introduction of Old World diseases into the Americas which effectively wiped out most Native Americans. Old World people just filled that void quickly.

      Its not clear to me how any of these were particularly beneficial to anybody or anything.

  2. cnchal

    Better get that virus under control. Otherwise the investments in farcical recognition will go poof when it becomes fashionable to wear surgical masks in public.

    1. JTMcPhee

      The thing about masks is that they aren’t that effective in keeping microdroplets and dust particles out of the wearer’s bodies (or keep the wearers from shedding viruses by coughing and breathing and spitting, either.) And even with good discipline in the use of personal protective gear, medical personnel always have little spots where the barriers have gaps and where the efforts to wash off bacteria and viruses are ineffective. Plus, a lot of infection occurs when the pathogens get into the eyes.

      So those masks at least are going to have to incorporate a full face shield. And then you have to have a “safe” place to dispose of the mask and gloves and Tyvek oversuits, to keep the dust bins/trash handling from becoming another “fomite” and vector.

      How to deal with all this? Here’s another bit for Lambert to recall from Frank Herbert’s “Dune:”

      Jessica felt the dry pulling of skin on her cheeks and forehead relaxing in the presence of moisture. The water pool was deep; she could sense its deepness, and resisted a desire to dip her hands into it.

      A splashing sounded on her left. She looked down the shadowy line of Fremen, saw Stilgar with Paul standing beside him and the watermasters emptying their load into the pool through a flowmeter. The meter was a round gray eye above the pool’s rim. She saw its glowing pointer move as the water flowed through it, saw the pointer stop at thirty-three liters, seven and three-thirty-seconds drachms.

      Superb accuracy in water measurement , Jessica thought. And she noted that the walls of the meter trough held no trace of moisture after the water’s passage. The water flowed off those walls without binding tension. She saw a profound clue to Fremen technology in the simple fact: they were perfectionists.

      How to get almost 8 billion people to be perfectionists, eh? Given the apparent inevitability of crapification? Especially given the weird views of “freedom” some of us have? , and how about this notion? “What has gay culture become if men are choosing to become infected with HIV?”

      Murphy and the Second Law of Thermodynamics we have always with us…

      1. cnchal

        > The thing about masks is that they aren’t that effective . . .

        They are effective at making facial recognition a farce. Cameras everywhere with everyone running around with masks on. Social score this!

        Expect masks with fancy patterns, or grim reaper jaw and teeth printed on them, or an erect middle finger where the tongue should be. For the kiddies, a sreaming mouth mask ought to get the point across.

          1. California Bob

            Dang. I get a slight limp when I’m tired (possible youthful bout with polio). I’m dead meat.

    2. Basil Pesto

      it was surgical masks à go-go in the melbourne cbd (or ‘downtown’, if you prefer) on Sunday. Mind you they’re not uncommon in general, as the CBD has a large Chinese expat population, and some of said masks go beyond the utilitarian surgical type and do approach fashion accessory status. They have certainly become more prevalent in the last week or so though. Indeed, walking through the ground floor of a department store, where all the luxury-brand concessions are, I noticed a number of staff were wearing their own (again, rather deluxe) masks, which I haven’t seen before.

    3. Jack Parsons

      Surgical masks are intended to keep the operating room personnel from infecting the patient. They provide some protection for the wearer, but that is not their primary goal.

      1. Merf56

        To have even slight protection you need a proper N95 mask. And most people wear and handle them incorrectLy. Spouse is involved in infection transmission research and is laughing ( not a happy laugh) at the things being said in much of the media…

  3. thoughtfulperson

    I’ve been tracking the fatality rate the past week or so. It has been in the 2.8 vicinity most days. Big drop today to 2.2 (at this time, am in east usa) with many new cases.

    Hopefully it’s good sign, but could be it takes some time for death to occur. Thus, maybe we’d expect the rate to drop, with 25% of the cases bran new, then catch back up. Maybe some epidemiologist will comment.

    1. Frenchguy

      My guess is that cases with mild symptoms are the most likely to be underreported. Probably some deaths are not diagnosed but that seems much less likely. If there are tens of thousands of non-reported cases, doesn’t that mean the fatality rate is actually an order of magnitude below the one reported ?

      I’m just spitballing here but it seems to me that you can’t panic both ways: either the virus has spread much more than reported or it is very dangerous. It would be difficult to have both.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        Its been reported that in the early days of the outbreak there was significant misreporting of deaths (i.e. probably CV deaths were ascribed to other respiratory diseases), so I wouldn’t be surprised if the stated death rates are found to be underestimates.

        1. Frenchguy

          Misreporting of deaths and cases would go both ways. I wouldn’t be surprised if death rates are underestimated but my point is that it’s easy to make the argument they could be overestimated too.

          I’m a bit peeved by the glee with which some people are welcoming a deathly disease. I know they really want to finally get to use their NZ bunkers…

          And sidenote: the Spanish flu was very bad especially because young adults were dying from it. It doesn’t seem to be the case here so far.

          1. Carlito Riego

            To add to your comment on Spanish flu affecting young adults:
            “It is believed that cytokine storms were responsible for the disproportionate number of healthy young adult deaths during the 1918 influenza pandemic, which killed 50 to 100 million people. In this case, a healthy immune system may have been a liability rather than an asset. Preliminary research results from Hong Kong also indicated this as the probable reason for many deaths during the SARS epidemic in 2003.”

            1. drumlin woodchuckles

              One wonders whether very short-term immune-system downregulation therapy might be indicated for those diseases which kill by getting the young healthy body to kill its own self in an effort to Kill The Bug.

      2. BrianM

        The mild symptom issue applies in all the historical estimates too, but is more accentuated in a live situation. There is also the danger of false positives too, so I’d doubt the estimates are out by an order of magnitude.

        You’d also expect death rates to rise over time. In simple terms, if there were no new infections from today then some of those currently infected would die. The crude death rate just now is probably a floor.

        A virus could both spread more than reported and be dangerous. The one plus of ebola is that the incubation period is quite short – it becomes clear quickly whether someone is infected and so it cannot spread easily. A pathogen could have a long incubation period, which would allow it to spread, and still be dangerous, high mortality rate. However, we haven’t seen many of those (fortunately). Maybe someone with biological knowledge can cast more light, but in principle I don’t see why both aren’t possible.

        1. vlade

          The historical situation is somewhat different – in 1918 they knew something about viruses, but weren’t really able to test it on any scale (if at all).

          Now, the question is whether the authorities in China can test anyone who even sneezes, or whether it’s “sick with flu-like symptoms = CV”. Likely few weeks back it was “died after beign sick with flu-like symptoms” = flu.

          TBH, it’s actually pretty hard to get any reasonable sort of estimates in a situation that is this fluid. In reality, the lock-down is really mostly a PR exercise IMO, as it was slow in coming, not enforced (i.e. people were able to leave in cars even if not on a plane) etc. etc.

          Unfortunately, the only thing we can do is to prepare and wait. I think this will give some money shots to the real-time vaccines which are needed for a pandemics.

          1. Brian (another one they call)

            Much of what I have seen goes along with your premise Vlade. As of yesterday morning, there were still hundreds of flights leaving Wuhan, so not so much of a travel ban as opposed to a state dictat that no one has to follow, yet. The idea of bringing this virus home with your citizens living in China doesn’t seem logical or well thought out. That sounds more like a chicken pox party where parents would get all the kids in the neigborhood exposed so they could get it over with. I would guess that every passenger on the plane will be infected by flights end, because it is very likely that someone is already infected among the group and they have a near perfect transmission system in the airline environment. What about every one of the planes leaving Wuhan for say the last 2 weeks being conservative. Do we have a virologist in the commentariat?

          2. Yves Smith Post author

            To your point about testing, I saw reports on Twitter days about the inability to test….even in hospitals…due to shortages of testing materials and personnel.

      3. Lee

        either the virus has spread much more than reported or it is very dangerous. It would be difficult to have both.

        The faster a pathogen can pass from one host to another, the more likely that a highly lethal mutation can survive. High host availability may not necessarily select for greater virulence but it certainly raises the probability of such a development.

        Given this virus is assumed to have jumped from bats to humans, I keep wondering about places like Gomantong caves in Borneo.

        Each year thousands of people from around the world tour the Gomantong Cave in Borneo. Although scientists have found a potentially dangerous virus in bats that roost in the cave, no one has ever gotten sick from a trip here.

    2. Kevin C. Smith

      It sounds like the panic and overcrowding in some hospitals is so bad that the dead are just being disposed of after lying in hallways sometimes for days, so [speaking as a doc] I imagine that filling out paperwork is a zero priority for the staff.

      Quite apart from that, the CCP may have its own reasons for massaging the data before releasing “numbers”.

      1. The Historian

        The mortality rate of this disease is at about 2.8%. If there have been about 4500 cases of coronavirus in Wuhan, that means that only about 126 people have died in an area that has about 12 Million people. I think Wuhan has the capability to handle those deaths without stacking them up in hallways. Your scenario is not reasonable.

        As with all news stories, don’t let the panic and emotion outweigh your brain’s critical thinking abilities.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          You miss the point that this level of mortality for a highly communicable virus is off the charts. It’s significantly more contagious than the Spanish flu, and 2.8% is more lethal.

          1. Tony Wright

            And there are a lot more humans than there were in 1918, and a lot more living closer together in cities which are much bigger. There is also the factor of widespread pathogen dissemination rapidly over long distances via mass air travel.

  4. PlutoniumKun

    Its perhaps a little early to speculate, but I think the impacts of this can go well beyond just the public health hazard. It will be a devastating blow to the HK economy, already suffering badly due to the protests – I know people with flights booked to go through HK over the next few months who are busy rescheduling. It will severely affect Chinese economic output and probably those of its neighbours. Airlines (Cathay Pacific in particular) could fail – which may or may not be a bad thing for the planet.

    I also wonder about its impact on xenophobia – there are already reports of increasing hostility to east Asians in the UK (ok, I know its a the usual Guardian whinging, but anecdotally I think this is a real thing). These things have a habit of feeding into broader trade and geopolitical realities. It might even weaken Xi (or conversely, he could decide to use a crisis as a means of accelerating his project of tightening his grip on power).

    1. David Carl Grimes

      If the cases start numbering in the hundreds of thousands (which is possible next week), globalization will take a severe hit, to say the least. Has anyone tried buying masks in the US? I can’t seem to find any and prices online are very high. Aren’t these masks all made in China? Are any manufactured here in the USA?

      1. WobblyTelomeres

        The flimsy 25 cent paper masks one sees everywhere are largely useless (other than, perhaps, helping to contain a sneeze). Suggest you try Sherwin Williams or Harbor Freight to find a industrial-grade respirator and replacement cartridges. I have some left over from a past delusion (I’ve awakened from quite a few) that involved sandblasting a very old truck.

        1. Boomka

          if nothing else, it’s an easy way to stop yourself from touching your nose and mouth, which is more likely to infect you than inhaling air

          1. WobblyTelomeres

            I was in Spokane when Mount St Helens erupted, covering the city with ash blown across the state. Those cheap paper surgical masks were selling for $5/each for a few days (if you could find one).

            Pick up a gross if you run across them… Trade ’em for krugerands or gold-pressed latinum.

              1. Shiloh1

                Hopefully 3M will use the windfall for sales of masks to clean up their PFAS at their locations / neighbors, customer locations, and waste sites.

            1. Polar Donkey

              Sunday, I went to last place in Memphis with n95 masks, home depot. It was noon. I walk up to bin that has the masks. While I am standing there deciding on which box to buy, four Chinese people come up and start picking up boxes. They must be shipping back to china or getting ready.

        2. tegnost

          Yes, I’ve often thought those paper masks of whatever caliber are more liability protection for my boss than particulate protection for me, and when necessary I always use the cartridge masks. Usually 30-40 bucks as I recall for mask and filters, then cheaper for the replacement filters.

          1. Wukchumni

            To put things in paper perspective, I just did a search on N-95 masks on eBay, and there’s only 1 seller who has a lot of 20 of them for $10.

            That’s it!

              1. Brian (another one they call)

                actually, they are good for stopping an incoming sneeze. Then there is a danger you breathe it in from the mask. One of the doctors has explained that he believes he got it from fluid to his eye. a 95 mask is good only as a temporary barrier and you can’t know if your mask has the virus on it. Avoiding contact is the only solid preventative measure.

                1. Tim

                  Reusing and accidentally trading those masks is asking for trouble. Label the on the outside with a sharpie as to owner.
                  A steamy, phlegmy layer of moisture on the inside is a perfect breeding ground for other things.
                  I take my used ones and put them on the dashboard of the car, inside up to let them dry out, and roast in a couple hours of sunlight, which should kill everything.

          1. JeffC

            Check out the N100 mask by 3M. Way better sealed around the edges than an N95, but less expensive than the cartridge setup.

            Even so, this is likely too much fear for anyone but a health-care worker or airplane passenger to/from China. The Wikipedia entry (I know, I know) on coronaviruses asserts that it’s a big, heavy virus that won’t stay airborne over long times and distances. This is mostly a droplet situation. Stay away from the sneezers.

        3. ambrit

          Similar story, but with old N95 painters type nose and mouth covers. I dug out the box yesterday. Still got a dozen left.
          Two weeks ago, I went in to see the doctors with Phyl. I was suffering through a weak flu. People actually laughed at me in the waiting room. When I went back with Phyl to see the doctor, the nurses had the opposite reaction. The initial question was; “Is that for you or for me?” When I answered that it was to stop spreading something I had, she visibly relaxed. Shoulders released tension, face muscles relaxed into neutral from a frown, she leaned back, out of her slightly forward posture, (subconscious dominance display to begin with?)
          Around here, not much mention of the virus yet in the public sphere.

          1. polecat

            I’m getting the sense that people in general are just starting to wet their lips … as they come within proximity of those rusted-open cemetary gates.

            1. ambrit

              This reminded me of the older Japanese horror film Jigoku (The Sinners of Hell.)
              An original and avant-garde film in the best meaning of the term. Light years ahead of it’s time. Also relevant to our times. Guilt and repentance are the main themes, mixed with and contrasting with the frailties of human beings.
              Anyway, NSFW.

    2. anon in so cal

      Among all the other people to feel sorry for are the pilots at CX. They’ve experienced shoddy treatment from management for so many years, and their recent multi-year contract compliance campaign did not appear to have the intended effect. Many of the older, most-experienced, pilots are trapped until retirement. CX had been the greatest airline with the most highly qualified pilots, and it’s still near or at the top. They suffered from the HK protests, and now this. Peeking in at the Fragrant Harbor blog, it is very sad to see them deliberating over how to respond. While in-flight air filtration systems are supposedly fairly robust, it is worrisome.

      Also wondering what is occurring with the orphans at the large state-run orphanage in Wuhan, or the many other state-run orphanages. So many kids in close contact….

  5. kimyo

    if the cdc had taken the time since ebola to prepare, hospitals would have uv disinfecting gear to spare, giant piles of masks, fluids and gowns, nearby residences ready for doctors, nurses and critical staff, and there would be a moderately sane plan in place which didn’t rely on screening passengers for elevated temps.

    ‘no one could have known’ is not an acceptable defense here.

    1. Anon

      …and who funds the CDC? Congress, with the input of your local elected representative.

      Local public health agencies are equally underfunded.

      1. kimyo

        if i held the purse strings i would hold back any new funding for the cdc until the top layer of management was replaced.

        i’d do the same with the faa, epa, and fda.

        back in 2015/16, when they should have been rolling out plans to support hospitals in the fight against infectious diseases, at least one member of the cdc’s management team was too busy shilling for coca-cola: CDC Official Exits Agency After Coca-Cola Connections Come to Light

        The Coca-Cola connections date back decades for Bowman, and tie her to former top Coca-Cola executive and strategist Alex Malaspina. Malaspina, with Coca-Cola’s help, founded the controversial industry group International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI). Bowman also worked early in her career as a senior nutritionist for Coca-Cola, according to sources, and she co-authored an edition of a book called Present Knowledge in Nutrition as “a publication of the International Life Sciences Institute.”

        ILSI’s reputation has been called into question several times for the strategies it has employed to try to sway public policy on health-related issues.

        Email communications obtained by U.S. Right to Know through state Freedom of Information requests revealed that Bowman appeared happy to help Malaspina, who formerly was Coca-Cola’s top scientific and regulatory affairs leader, and the beverage industry cultivate political sway with the World Health Organization.

        The email exchanges show that Bowman did more than simply respond to questions from Malaspina. She also initiated emails and forwarded information she received from other organizations.

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      Ebola isn’t a great example. It’s super lethal and a nasty death, hence all the attention, but perversely it is so lethal that it kills victims quickly enough that it doesn’t spread anywhere near as far or as fast as a less fatal pathogen. Ebola has repeatedly been successfully contained. There isn’t such a record for influenzas.

  6. Ignacio

    This is good reporting with most critical or important data covered. If I compare this with, for instance, the coverage by El Pais, NC is much better IMO. Regarding repatriations those won’t make sense if there is not a two week quarantine and special measures taken by those welcoming expats. Spain did not officially talked about repatriations until some public claims were made after US and other countries announced repatriation programs.

    Regarding containment, looks like impossible but at least it should be tried skipping this high season. Next year will be impossible unless it is possible to somehow act on summer viral reservoirs and this must be next to impossible. I feel here out of my depth. To my knowledge flu is also transmitted during summer though the incidence is highly reduced by heat and symptoms are also milder.

  7. someone else

    The WA state Dept of Health sure seems worried. They’ve opened two command centers to track the outbreak and have asked staff to step up and fulfill temporary vacancies.

  8. Kevin C. Smith

    The numbers coming out of China strike me as low and maybe artificial.
    Someone with access to the data series coming out of China should apply Benford’s Law's_law [the law of anomalous numbers, or the first-digit law] to see if the data is being made up.

    Could the CCP be goal-seeking in Excel? Wouldn’t be the first time!

  9. Toshiro_Mifune

    I manage the American office of an IT firm that does remote support of a number of different data centers. Even though there’s nothing confirmed yet here in NYC I’ve given everyone the go ahead to work from home. No need to be in the office. Should a confirmed case actually be seen in NYC I’m going to make that an order; don’t come into the office, work from home. It may sound panicky given the numbers of infections compared to the NY population but I’d rather not take a chance.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      I think thats very reasonable and sensible. Its not just a case of catching the disease in the office – the more people are moving, the easier a virus can travel around, especially where a high percentage use public transport.

      There is a lot to be said for taking a highly precautionary approach to any public emergency. The Irish government a few years ago decided on a no-nonsense ‘shut everything’ approach to storms or snowfalls – i.e. public offices/schools closed, private companies encouraged to follow suit, etc. Last year during a snowfall (quite rare here) it was common to hear Germans and Poles in Dublin mock this policy – “its just a few millimetres, this is normal at home!” But there were multiple deaths in the same snow front in Europe, while it passed without incident in Ireland. Ultimately, the disruption caused by a shutdown proved significantly less costly than trying to pretend it was just a spell of bad weather. Empty roads also made it much easier for the emergency services to deal with any problems.

  10. Mickey Hickey

    Albert Camus wrote The Plague which was published in 1947. It is described as a philosophical novel and is based in Oran, Algeria. In French which is the language it was written in it is titled La Peste. I found it quite informative.

    1. JeffC

      Awesome novel. The odd little passage that I always remember describes a rat in the street stopping, standing up on its hind legs, and doing a slow pirouette before toppling over dead.

  11. Larry Y

    Wonder if they’ll extend the Golden Week Holliday. Mainland China gets the week off for Spring Festival/ Lunar New Year.

    Factories are shut down, and they normally restart with significant workforce attrition as workers go home but many don’t return.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      I think this is highly probable, it makes perfect sense to do this and it looks like now that Beijing is in change the difficult decisions will be made (in contrast to the dithering of the Wuhan authorities). Beijing also would have an incentive to keep people at home to cut down on possible panic or disruptions.

    2. lyman alpha blob

      That could be a blessing in disguise. If there were suddenly a shortage of cheap junk nobody really needs anyway but the world didn’t end because of it, maybe we’d learn some kind of lesson. And if a few thousand Dollar Stores and Walmarts went under and Amazon took a big hit, so much the better. It would be a chance for President Sanders to show how some democratic socialism can work for the good of all of us. A guy can dream anyway…

      1. Louis Fyne


        The US-China symbiosis (they send nearly the entire inventory of Mega-Lo Mart or the local Amazon warehouse, we send USD, t-bills, some Boeing planes, and food) is bad for American wages, bad for the environment.

  12. Louis Fyne

    —but I’ve seen panicked buying in Manhattan before blizzards that would only shut the city down for only two days (when Manhattan is full of food), so it’s plausible:—-

    I’m the farthest from a prepper, but in the event the food supply chain stops in any developed country, local distribution centers absolutely do not have much food to last through a prolonged shutdown.

    Just saying. It doesn’t hurt to have a cache of baby powdered formula/shelf-stable food for tots or medicines.

    But of course, most people can survive for days without food, a couple of uncomfortable weeks if need be. And me given my holiday overeating, I could probably last to Thanksgiving without any more food

  13. The Rev Kev

    The infection rate is high but the current strain does not have a high lethality – yet. The people on Wuhan may be isolated but I saw tonight how the people there were encouraging each other and shouting messages to each other from flats on up high-

    How would we cope with something similar in the west? As an example, I suspect that that barricade we saw in that tweet called “No outsiders allowed in” would be back up with rifles and jack-a**** in military style gear. And the homeless we read about in yesterday’s “Coastal Edition” would be faced with extreme hostility and demands that they be moved to FEMA Camps out of sight. Plus the elite would drop out of sight to their panic rooms but demand that their plebs show up to work together to keep on making them more money.

    If this sounds cynical, it is because I read a lot on the 1919 flu pandemic, especially in America. Did you know that you had mass burials of victims in American cities in mass graves? Unbelievable but it happened. When the flu was peaking, they shut down schools, theaters, restaurants, etc. but then came the need for more money for the war. So they arranged mass parades and massive crowds to come together in a patriotic show of force. And of course all those people being together set off further mass waves of flu infections.

    And before I forget, if it hits do not forget to stock up on disposable gloves. Just in case you need to touch those touch screens at ATMs, McDonalds, building door handles, etc.

    1. anon in so cal

      Maybe time to re-view some of South Korean film director Yeon-Sang-Ho’s films, especially “Train to Busan,” and “Seoul City.” Zombie apocalypse as a metaphor for massive economic inequality, anomie, etc.

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      I don’t know why you are so cheery about the reported death rate. As we’ve said, this pathogen is more virulent than the Spanish flu with a comparable death rate. This is alarming unless the Chinese data is distorted in the direction of underreporting of infections v. deaths. Plus as pointed out earlier, virulent infections have a greater potential to mutate into more deadly versions than less virulent ones.

      1. The Rev Kev

        I am not cheery about the reported death rate at all. It is bad enough as it is when you think of the possible number of infections. But the 1919 pandemic gives an idea of how bad it can get and to be frank I am hoping that they can stop this thing and let it burn out before it has a chance to mutate to a deadlier strain. So I watch the news on this development.
        When you read accounts like the Black Death and other such pandemics, it makes for some pretty grim reading. But what makes me really wary is how our modern society has a just-in-time supply chain and makes a bad situation even worse. Between that and air travel I can see what is possible but that may be just the pessimist in me. The optimist in me is hoping that this time next year we will be saying ‘Remember when we thought that Coronavisrus was going to be spectacularly bad?’

  14. Charles 2

    Ordering in from a restaurant which had a powerful mix of patrons, , dishwashers and cooks behind in the same place doesn’t seem to me to be a good idea.
    Well cooked food prepared at hoe seems more sensible.

  15. ex-PFC Chuck

    Two days ago there was a link at The Automatic Earth’s daily “Debt Rattle” post to the story “Coronavirus Bioweapon – How China Stole Coronavirus From Canada And Weaponized It” at the site Great Game India, but the link yielded only “Database Access Error” messages the rest of the day. It was plain from Ilargi’s excerpt the story could be explosive and perhaps GGI may have been leaned on to take it down. But today the link is alive and the apparently well-researched story is every bit as disturbing as the excerpt indicated.

    1. Samuel Conner

      That is indeed a disturbing story. Granting the supposition that research of this kind is being undertaken in even one country, the “maximal precautionary” stance suggested in Taleb’s article is even more essential.

    2. Massinissa

      Not sure there’s enough proof of this yet, seems a bit sketchy.

      On the other hand, it doesn’t sound impossible, either.

      1. WobblyTelomeres

        Bioweapons research is cheaper than nuclear weapons research. An acquaintance from Los Alamos, when I would ask, “Why, for God’s sake why, did you build those things?”, would invariably reply, “More bang for the buck”.

  16. Watt4Bob

    IIRC, the public health system in the USA was designed as a network of regional offices in order to preclude being left paralyzed by the loss of most, or all personnel in the event of pandemic illness wiping out a central office.

    IOW, a regional office decimated by the illness will not result in the whole system going down.

    I think this may have been a direct result of our experience with the 1918 flu epidemic?

    I bring this up because there is a never-ending attack being waged by the forces of privatization to take over and loot America’s public health system and turn it into a just another monopoly profit center.

    Concerned, principled opposition has so far held this aggression at bay, but it will never end, the lobbyists and the money just keep working away to convince the pols, and the public that among other things, the network system represents ‘waste’ and of course, there must be ‘fraud’.

    I’ve been informed of this situation by a close relative who is a sort of wonky on Public Health policy issues, and spends a lot of time sitting in legislative meeting rooms witnessing the siege.

    I can think of nothing as evil as the rapacious dismantling of the commons in the interests of creating more billionaires.

    1. tegnost

      I can think of nothing as evil as the rapacious dismantling of the commons in the interests of creating more billionaires.

      …that’s not very patriotic, Bob…./s

    2. Tony Wright

      Public Health suffers under a neoliberal paradigm because it has the broad aim of preventing diseases, not curing or manageing them. Hence it cannot raise money on a fee for service basis like clinicians and hospitals do. It is therefore at the mercy and whim of the government of the day for funding and therefore it’s ability to function in any way effectively.
      Also, it is difficult or impossible to collect meaningful data on the effectiveness or efficacy of many public health programs, so again it suffers in comparison to other funding demands on governments, both within the health system and elsewhere.

    1. urblintz

      thanks for the links!… but I gotta say… imnsho, Google is never your friend – learn French instead! It’s not so difficult.

    2. Brooklin Bridge

      It goes behind a paywall a few paragraphs in… :-(
      S’abonner pour lire la suite
      “You need a subscription to read on”

  17. allan

    Man in Germany contracts coronavirus in one of first cases of transmission outside China [Reuters]

    Germany has declared its first confirmed case of the coronavirus after a 33-year-old man contracted it from a colleague visiting his workplace from Shanghai, in one of the first cases of person-to-person transmission outside China. …

    German car parts supplier Webasto [WEBA.UL] on Tuesday said an employee at its headquarters in Stockdorf, Bavaria, had become infected following the visit of an employee from China. …

    I don’t understand – why would a German auto parts maker have an employee in China?

    1. josh

      I’m seeing reports of ~5k cases in China. This story and ~5k cases seem contradictory. It seems very likely that this is completely out of control and China’s confirmed case count increases as fast as they can run tests.

      1. thoughtful person

        It’s just increasing at the expected rate. See the twitter page linked to in Yves article.

        1. josh

          There are 66 confirmed cases in Shanghai, a city of 24 million people. One of these 66 people happened to travel to Germany while contagious and happened to transmit it to a colleague? With the recent news that symptoms are not required to be contagious, it seems far more likely that there are thousands of not-yet-symptomatic infected people in Shanghai than a tiny base of 66 people allowing the virus to jump to Germany.

          1. Tim

            Why isn’t there a worldwide blockade of all flights from China?
            Nobody with Chinese passports gets into the U.S. temporarily until the outbreak is over.

            1. polecat

              Because global commerce must be maintained at all costs ..

              So. I guess its Coronas for All those found biologically wanting by our little friends anyway. I have this nose-itching feeling that this thing is Way beyond regifting back to Mame Pandora. Reaction time, for the most part, has been mired in Idological/cultural bueaurcratic goo. ..exuded, and enhanced, by important poohbas ALL across the Planet.
              And so now, apparently .. to add insult to mutation, Governments, Multi-Corpse, and most assuredly .. the Rich/Glitterati .. with be NOW repatriated, as vectors mind you .. to likely spread some moar viral joy!

              I have some health issues that would likey make for a rough going, personally. Going out tomorrow for gloves and googles to match the masks ….. I’ll be sure to ask any snake, bats, civets, whathaveyou .. what they think of it all !!

              1. Anthony G Stegman

                I won’t be at all surprised if there is vast under-reporting of the virus in the US. The powers that be want us all to continue to work and spend, work and spend, and to keep on borrowing so we can spend even more. As an example I will cite San Francisco which today insists it has not a single confirmed case of the virus. That is preposterous as SF is a major destination for Chinese visitors to the US. Tens of thousands of cases in China, yet zero in San Francisco? No way!!

            2. Math is Your Friend

              Banning people with Chinese passports is likely counterproductive.

              Among other things it will encourage evasion of immigration checks, which means evading infection checks, and makes people much harder to trace due to misleading passports, etc.

              All round bad.

    2. Louis Fyne

      every German carmaker has a long presence in China.

      And where ever Merc-BMW-VW go, their entourage (the parts suppliers) follow.

      For all the lecturing that Europeans like to give Americans, they should point some of that to the Germans—-(in my opinion) Germans ignited the Chinese love of the automobile.

      1. allan

        I see that my feeble attempt at humor has failed. As is often the case.

        On a more serious note, the failure of the cheerleaders for globalization
        to have taken into consideration its interactions with the other life forms
        with whom we share the planet should not go unmentioned.

        Globalization lifts everyone’s standard of living – even microbes.

    3. VietnamVet

      This article confirms transmission in three countries outside of China. Wuhan Coronavirus is now a global pandemic. China’s response shows that this is a national crisis. China is now effectively been removed from the global market. I’ve got a TOS cable switcher coming by China Post. Most goods come from the coast but Wuhan is the last navigable port on the Yangtze River. Wall Street Journal says Chinese goods are safe from the virus. Despite the low risk if Informed Delivery says it is in the mail box, I’ve decided to suit up, bag it and throw it in the trash. I won’t knowingly buy anything from China again.

      Economically this is equivalent to the cut off of oil from the Middle East.

      I have a bad feeling (despite the Ebola Scare) to keep the facade of a great economy going, travelers from the infected nations will be allowed to enter without being quarantined for two week or until a blood test is negative. Once the virus starts spreading here the decimation of public health system and lack of preparedness by for-profit hospitals will shut down North America. There is no way the USA can build 100,000 bed hospitals to treat the ill in every major city.

      1. Massinissa

        On the other hand, a major catastrophic shock to the healthcare system may make it prime for Bernie to rebuild it if he gets into office next year. But honestly I hope it doesn’t come to that.

  18. Matthew G. Saroff

    It should be noted that there are likely at least a few cases where the symptoms were mild, and so there was no medical intervention, so the lethality rate is likely to drop.

    1. anon in so cal

      Looking at photos of hospitals scenes in China, it is striking that the infrastructure looks decrepit and it also appears that their sterility protocols are not robust. Attesting to this, also, is that 14 medics became infected when treating a neurosurgery patient last week. Otherwise, there are suggestions that someone in Cote D’Ivoire, Africa may have the disease. It has spread to another continent, if so.
      Apparently, Chinese villagers in small rural villages are taking a very strong approach by barring entry of anyone into their villages.

      More on the German case:

      “2. A thing to note about this German case: The man was infected by a colleague who came from #Wuhan. She was reportedly not symptomatic at the time; began to feel unwell on her flight home. If that’s true & if this is a feature of this infection, spread would be hard to stop.”

  19. curlydan

    From an economic perspective, this should be an interesting test of China’s economic statistics. No way can GDP grow a predictable 6% YOY in this type of environment. Mr. Market is right to be very concerned.

    1. Observer

      Thank you!
      It has been posted (I have it but forgot from where).

      It’s always important to RE-POST LINKS … believed to contain information considered important … for so many reasons.

  20. Kurt Sperry

    What is the likelihood that the 97% who contract and survive this infection will develop immunity? How long do pandemics typically last before the danger subsides?

  21. rjs

    the death count is doubling every two days… (based on news articles)

    3 dead last Monday, 17 by Wednesday, 56 by the weekend, 80 on Sunday and 106 Monday…

    1. Anthony G Stegman

      If you believe the doom porn purveyors the death count will reach 1 million by the end of February.

  22. Expat2uruguay

    Here’s the latest data on the virus statistics for China. They had a big jump yesterday in confirmed cases (1771 additional for a revised total of 4515), but I think that most of that had to do with some bookkeeping that’s getting caught up after they referred a bunch of people, almost 32,000, to be observed in “Hot Clinics”. (I noticed that the number of people released from observation in the Hubei Province was the same as the number of newly diagnosed cases recorded, 1291, which kind of makes sense. Usually the number of people released from observation is much larger than the number of new cases.)
    Also, I expect there will be another large jump in confirmed cases tomorrow, since the report today included almost 7,000 suspected cases. (They haven’t tabulated suspected cases before, it’s a new category.) It looks like they have really been able to ramp up their facilities and personnel to strengthen their response, and I think in the short term is going to show up as higher numbers for new cases. (Typically, 25% of cases they have in treatment are either critical or severe, but they usually manage to get most of them back to health in the end. I really am impressed with what a communist country can do when it comes to responding to a health emergency!)

    Also, I’ve noticed a distressingly small number being reported for people cured and discharged, but I saw in the details of another report that when a person is cured they still want to observe them for 12 more days, so that’s why those numbers are so low, 12 days ago they didn’t have many cases to have cured. So the number reported as cured is going to have a large lag.

    Finally, on a personal note, thanks for the link in yesterday’s Links post about the seasonal flu, as it really helped me put things in perspective.

  23. Susan the other

    I’d think in addition to taking extra D3, if you find there are no surgical masks to be had you can cut up an old fleece sweatshirt and use it like a bandana, cowboy style – tucking it down your shirt. Fleece is prolly fuzzy enough to block sneezes. The stat above that startled me was a suspected 110 cases incubating in the US with 240 on the way home from Wuhan. It will be interesting too to see the aftermath of this epidemic – should we be so lucky. The Spanish Flu left people half dead and in some it lingered, looking like a disease of the nervous system (Woodrow Wilson). I remember reading speculation back c. 2012 about Fukushima – that the residual pollution had the potential to “change epidemiology”. I’m wondering exactly how?

    1. Louis Fyne

      SARS was about 0.1 micron in size. don’t recall off the top of my head, but this virus is definitely < 0.3 microns. (1 micron = 1/1,000,000 meter)

      Just saying.

        1. Susan the other

          yes, double down and also wear turtle necks as you can sneeze down your own neck if you pull it up over your mouth/nose. And there are always paper bags ;-) – also too, I just read a badly translated article on Dr. Peng Zhou of the Wuhan Virology Lab… in the coverage it seemed to be saying that he was studying how a virus is attacked by the human immune system and in conjunction with this line of study his lab was also studying the opposite – how to make a virus invincible to immune responses. Anyone read or know about this stuff?

  24. Expat2uruguay

    The flutrackers website is great for getting all of the details about what’s going on in China. It’s not so good for finding out about South America. The timestamps of the post are Eastern Standard Time. Of particular note is the nearly 7,000 suspected cases that they don’t have test results on yet. I suspect the next update of confirmed cases to be quite large. Also notice the number of severe cases relative to the number of total cases. Finally notice that they are currently monitoring 44000 contacts.
    Go to post number 147 on page 10:

  25. thoughtful person

    I recall seeing something about human vaccines trials, might have been at CDC, expected in April. Seems that is why attempting to slow spread is a good thing, the longer it can be delayed the more time to get a vaccine widely available.

    Also I believe most of the fatalities, correct if this is wrong, have been either people with other complications, or elderly who are often more at risk for flu. Thus the response for healty middled aged people might be different than for an assisted living complex for example.

  26. Expat2uruguay

    Also, the idea of ordering takeout I don’t think is good advice. Consider the availability of sick leave for Food Service workers. According to Wikipedia, during The 1918 Spanish flu outbreak in Kansas, a mess hall cook was diagnosed. A few days later they had 522 new cases. Stock up on food at home and cook at home.
    Also, the masks that are being recommended by the people on the ground in China are surgical masks, the kinds with the folds in them. They’re not recommending the N 958 or whatever it is because that mask is not comfortable to wear on a long-term basis as it doesn’t allow it enough Air flow.
    I’m super glad I don’t live in the US anymore, and I’m worried about my children in California and my son in Vietnam. At least Vietnam a communist country, firm government control it’s beneficial during an epidemic.!

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Please tell me how cooked food is a transmission vector. The mess hall cook was working by definition in a mess hall, full of soldiers and other kitchen staff. Crowded setting perfect for transmission.

      If you are really worried, open the box with the food in it with latex gloves and throw them out. The only transmission vector would be the surface of the box.

      You are at way more risk going into any store and touching items on the shelf or at the checkout counter than you are handling the delivery of prepared food packaged in (intended for) single use containers.

      1. Expat2uruguay

        People who prepare and pack food in your to-go container touch it with their hands. Their hands might touch their eyes their nose or their mouth, even if they are wearing gloves. God forbid they sneeze or cough. Remember these people don’t have sick leave for healthcare

        1. Expat2uruguay

          I spent a few years working in food service, and I guess I was thinking more about food that is served in the restaurant. You’re right that there would be a lot less touching of food that was scooped into a to-go box

  27. phichibe

    This YT vid is several days old but extremely insightful. The two Westerners each lived in China for over a decade and are married to Chinese women. They had to relocate to the US last year after the CCP authorities started putting heat on them for their hundreds of “This is CHina” style videos that they put out, which they made by taking motorcycle trips all over the country and documenting all manner of things good and bad. Some of the most interesting were about the ghost cities built in the last decade and the shockingly bad quality of recent construction. They both speak fluent Mandarin and have extensive networks of friends and contributors still in CHina, and this video contains much info they obtained from these using VPNs to escape the Great Firewall of China.

    Here’s the URL

    BTW, at about 35″ they bring up the CHinese predilection for spitting that i mentioned in a post on NK’s thread on the Corona virus last week. They also mention something I didn’t know because during my trips to China in the 90s I really stayed in Western hotels, boats, etc. That is, outside these confines the Chinese don’t believe in the utility of hand washing and that most don’t even use soap. That’s a pretty scary thought at times like this.


    1. Tim

      I can second that here in the U.S. Along with positive qualities that are socially beneficial, it’s been my observation that Cantonese descendants and recent arrivals in California, seem to have an inordinate fear of mucous in their head.
      Hawking Phlegm and spitting and blocking one nostril and blowing boogers out onto the curb is as common as smoking. San Francisco’s Chinatown is infamous for snot pools on the sidewalk, and even on the floor of buses like the 30 Stockton.
      I used to eat there. After observing live birds like pheasant, pigeons and chickens jammed into filthy cages being unloaded, along with catfish in murky muddy water, so densely packed, they can’t breathe or move, you couldn’t pay me enough now to do that. Don’t even mention pollution and contaminants in imported Chinese foodstuff.

  28. Synoia

    Luckily for us, our leaders (Trump st al) are immune the Corona-virus infections.

    It appears from the comments above that many diseases are transmitted through the head (eyes, nose and mouth).

    Our leaders generally have their heads up their a… Consequently, for our leaders, there is no transmission path for such pathogens.

    However, if a disease is transmitted like venereal diseases, than our leaders are all at very high risk, because of their daily proclivity towards their fellow citizens.

  29. Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg

    These panics always amount to nothing. Nothing will happen. Two hundred people will die. A lot of pharmaceuticals will be sold. A lot of people will get their nads off beating on China.
    This is like the 8 years we’ve had of people waiting for the next debt bubble to implode, yet the Masters of the Universe strut on from strength to strength while regular people get ground into the pavement.
    Same as it ever was despite millenarian fantasies of human extinction or a return to 19th century small town simplicity.

    1. Massinissa

      You predict 200 people will die total? If things continue as it is that number will be passed in about 2 days.

      1. Harold

        The fact that it is so highly contagious – not so much as measles, but more than flu — combined with relatively- new-in-history factor of high-speed mass travel is what makes it dangerous. It is a pneumonia virus for which there is no treatment, and pneumonia of any kind, even “mild”, is a serious concern. Most colds and flu stop at bronchitis and don’t affect the lungs. A “small” rate of fatalities affecting a lot of people is a lot of people.

  30. Wukchumni

    In regular old flu virus news, a friend came down with the A variant, which landed him in a hospital for an overnight stay about a week ago. He required 3x IV bags, he was so dehydrated.

    I asked how he was faring, and he told me he’s lost 12 pounds from the ordeal in 10 days.

    He didn’t appreciate my get rich quick scheme to take his diet plan nationwide.

  31. Nat

    “So frequent hand washing, and/or use of gloves, and/or using alcohol wipes …” (and I would add, “hand sanitizer” which is usually alcohol based.)

    That is the real blessing here, that the corona virus is actually sensitive to alcohol and other common mild disinfection techniques. This is not always the case, viruses were originally discovered because biologists at the time discovered an infectious agent that could not be killed by alcohol (or other mild disinfectants), so they instantly knew that whatever the agent was it had to be something new and couldn’t be bacteria which were all susceptible to these common mild disinfection means.

  32. katiebird

    There is a possible case of this coronavirus in Lawrence, Ks…. about 30 miles from Kansas City. The person is in isolation in the Lawrence Memorial hospital. They say that it will be the end of the week for confirmation to come from the CDC. Local TV just cut off the press conference so I don’t know more.

  33. polecat

    As a deplorable, I take proper precautions by partaking in bleachwater power soaks ! Alcohol is for sanitizing the mind.

  34. Anthony G Stegman

    With ecocide well underway a silver lining to the novel coronavirus will be the reduction in demand for a variety of goods and services. It will be be disappointing if there is not a substantial reduction in global GDP. Economists will be besides themselves with grief, but on the whole the planet will be better off.

      1. JTMcPhee

        …and that is why what’s happening is happening. Unofficial Chicago city motto: “Ubi Est Mea?” (Faux Latin for “Where’s Mine?”)

  35. kareninca

    What I don’t understand is why the Chinese government wasn’t better prepared for this. I googled “Wuhan bioweapons lab” and got an article from the Journal of Nature (a reputable source, I think) from 2017. Sorry if it has already been posted:

    > Inside the Chinese lab poised to study world’s most dangerous pathogens
    > Maximum-security biolab is part of plan to build network of BSL-4 facilities across China.
    > • David Cyranoski
    > 22 February 2017 Updated:
    > • 23 February 2017
    > A laboratory in Wuhan is on the cusp of being cleared to work with the world’s most dangerous pathogens. The move is part of a plan to build between five and seven biosafety level-4 (BSL-4) labs across the Chinese mainland by 2025, and has generated much excitement, as well as some concerns.Some scientists outside China worry about pathogens escaping, and the addition of a biological dimension to geopolitical tensions between China and other nations. But Chinese microbiologists are celebrating their entrance to the elite cadre empowered to wrestle with the world’s greatest biological threats. (

    It’s an interesting article. So, there are people in that part of the country with a lot of expertise in dangerous organisms. Why weren’t they on top of this?

      1. Altandmain

        As bad as China is, I think there might be a case for that.

        The other is that it has been argued that the Chinese government may be more responsive to public needs than a democracy.

        Another even more provocative explanation of the above finding is that the Chinese authoritarian government is actually more responsive to the public than a democratically elected government such as in Taiwan. Leaders of a democratic government may be hyper-responsive to public opinion only during the election season, and only to their own supporters, but less so once they get elected, between elections, and to those who do not vote for them. In contrast, leaders in authoritarian China do not have the luxury of electoral cycles. The CCP claims to represent the interests of the highest number of people in China, yet it does not have elections as a simple but effective yardstick to measure such representativeness. The CCP becomes paranoid and compelled to respond even when it sees a single protestor on the street. Researchers such as Tong and Lei in their 2014 study of protests in China23 show that the CCP spends a large amount of time and resources to calm and compensate protestors and petitioners, as an effort to maintain social stability.24 Perhaps that explains the perception that the CCP spends more on maintaining social stability than on defense.

        Another take on this situation:

        So yes, I think that a case could be made that in some regards, the Chinese government does some things (the key word being “some” like high speed rail for example) better than a Western government could. Of course, the Chinese government does a lot of other things a lot worse too.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      China works on a highly decentralised basis, its nowhere near the rigidly structured top down state it appears to be from the outside. Multiple layers of local governments have a lot of freedom to interpret rules from the top in whatever way they want – they are given general objectives, not strict rulebooks. This can have significant advantages in lots of things – especially in economic development. But issues like disease control shows its weakness in that there are strong built in incentives for local authorities to turn a blind eye to anything that could make it look bad.

      For a local governor or mayor, given a choice between actions which will make it hard to reach growth targets, but will reduce a theoretical risk of a nasty disease arising in his patch, its not a difficult decision. Its the annual growth target that always wins. Think of them as being like the CEO of a public company.

  36. George Phillies

    “for a mortality rate of 2.2%” That’s not a valid analysis. The thousands of people who have the disease have mostly not had a chance to die yet. They are not a proper denominator to compare with the number of dead people. It takes a while, the better part of two weeks, it seems. You need to follow a fixed group of people through until they have all either recovered or croaked. The one report I have seen of this was a tiny group, but implied a 20% mortality rate. That was a tiny group of people; I would not put much weight on it. There are counts of died vs. released, but those are only the people who were seriously ill.

    There is also the question of whether having had the disease protects you from having it again.

    1. Observer

      Thanks for the link.
      Opening that link, which is to that one speaker, then took me to a Canadian tv station, and (non-stop) series of programs & discussions on the novel coronavirus, as well as other videos of Wuhan — you can see what it’s like to shop for food (nothing fresh). People use large wheeled suitcases to transfer food from the shop to home, also avoiding any transportation…

    1. Expat2uruguay

      It includes a time series on the number of cases suspected, confirmed, and severe. The time series includes deaths and recoveries and number of people quarantined and released from quarantine. Numbers are for mainland China only

  37. Shonde

    I am old enough to remember the 1950’s Asian flu and the 1960’s Hong Kong flu. Any idea how this new flu compares to those? I haven’t been able to find anything that compares the strains.

  38. Expat2uruguay

    I have assembled a time series of the data out of the Hubei province and I’ve noticed something really interesting, eventhough roughly half of confirmed cases for all of mainland China occur in Hubei province, only 1/3 of the total number of people currently under quarantine are in Hubei province. I honestly don’t know what to make of it. Hubei province is where Wuhan is

    1. rfdawn

      It might be something like this where Indians evacuated from Wuhan are to be held in quarantine for fourteen days on arrival in India. The Chinese government may be attempting something similar to limit spread outside Hubei province.

      Expect more like this worldwide. I have no idea whether it will work but something must be done and this is something, therefore…

    2. thoughtfulperson

      The source must not be counting the 40 million people in Wuhan and environs, whuch is currently under quarantine?

  39. RBHoughton

    Humanity has known for decades that the replacement of brass/steel/plastic door-handles, hand-rails, gym equipment and the like with copper fixtures will reduce the spread of diseases through contact. I believe no-one wants to do it because copper is expensive so there is a financial reason for increased contagion on public transport and in shops and clubs.

    Secondly, we are approaching the 2026 prediction of a new influenza epidemic that Maurice Hilleman made long ago based on the recurrence of the various types (see Paul Offit’s biography “Vaccination”). I suppose that event will be preceded by a gradual increase in the severity of the annual flu.

    Thank you for the sensible observation that USA, Japan, Germany etc. are being foolish in taking their nationals out of Wuhan and spreading them elsewhere. Its surprising that the WHO which costs a fortune to operate has no comment in this. International bodies need regulating just as much as national ones.

  40. Dirk77

    Any recommendations about air travel in the USA in the coming days? I’m wondering if I should postpone for a few months.

  41. rjs

    Lancet on the first 41 patients:

    By Jan 2, 2020, 41 admitted hospital patients had been identified as having laboratory-confirmed 2019-nCoV infection. Most of the infected patients were men (30 [73%] of 41); less than half had underlying diseases (13 [32%]), including diabetes (eight [20%]), hypertension (six [15%]), and cardiovascular disease (six [15%]). Median age was 49·0 years (IQR 41·0–58·0). 27 (66%) of 41 patients had been exposed to Huanan seafood market. One family cluster was found. Common symptoms at onset of illness were fever (40 [98%] of 41 patients), cough (31 [76%]), and myalgia or fatigue (18 [44%]); less common symptoms were sputum production (11 [28%] of 39), headache (three [8%] of 38), haemoptysis (two [5%] of 39), and diarrhoea (one [3%] of 38). Dyspnoea developed in 22 (55%) of 40 patients (median time from illness onset to dyspnoea 8·0 days [IQR 5·0–13·0]). 26 (63%) of 41 patients had lymphopenia. All 41 patients had pneumonia with abnormal findings on chest CT. Complications included acute respiratory distress syndrome (12 [29%]), RNAaemia (six [15%]), acute cardiac injury (five [12%]) and secondary infection (four [10%]). 13 (32%) patients were admitted to an ICU and six (15%) died. Compared with non-ICU patients, ICU patients had higher plasma levels of IL2, IL7, IL10, GSCF, IP10, MCP1, MIP1A, and TNFα.

  42. JTMcPhee

    For those who are hoping to rely on masks and other Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to keep them a little more safe from, and less likely to spread, contagion, here is some news you can use:

    The Proper Fit for PPE,

    Not a long piece. Pay special attention to the donning and fitting of masks, and reminders that “viruses get in your eyes and open wounds, too.”

    Given what a lot of people have been posting about home-made masks and stuff, this is what nurses and doctors and techs who actually have to provide care to people who are shedding viruses and other pathogens have to know, AND PRACTICE AS RELIGIOUSLY, to REDUCE, not ELIMINATE, the chances of acquiring an infection.

    And remember, those “surgical masks” and gloves, and gowns, are SINGLE-USE, and have to be properly segregated and disposed of so as not to become vectors of transmission in their own right. Most disease-exposed hospital waste is supposed to be incinerated (though the medical-use syringes with needles and other stuff routinely found just dumped especially in waterways shows that humans will cheat on anything to save a buck or serve personal convenience.

    These are the times that try men’s (and women’s, give full credit where it is due) souls…

  43. Cosmo Art

    Urantia wise if we had more garden genes this would not have happened! This is a decimal planet for experimental changes to improve the life plasma for future planets in the minor universe of Nebadon under Christ Michael, Joshua Ben Josef (Jesus.) Three deferent life implantations were made here being 1. Egg layers. 2. Placenta. 3. Marsupial, the evidences of the experimentation! Unfortunately, the non calorific life forms of bacterium and viruses which rang from 90 hertz to about 440 hertz is where these mutating germs live. An oscillating 9 volt Hulga Clark electronic Zapper passes through the frequency in which these pathogens live, resulting in their dislodgment attachment! Some how once entered and stationarity detached by the oscillating electronic waves of the pulsating zapper, the pathogen is then discharged like taking the garbage out. The pathogen is not able to reattach itself by the pulsating frequency, and dies!

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