PANDEMIC: WHO DECLARES

The World Health Organization on Wednesday declared the coronavirus outbreak as a pandemic.

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

“We have therefore made the assessment that COVID-19 can be characterized as a pandemic.”

The coronavirus, which emerged in China in December, has spread around the world, halting industry, bringing flights to a standstill, closing schools and forcing the postponement of sporting events and concerts. Even the Tokyo Summer Olympics are in question.

A pandemic is an epidemic on a far greater geographic scale that affects a much large number of people.

Before the WHO’s comments, Britain and Italy announced multi-billion-dollar war chests to fight the disease and the United States said it was considering new steps.

The Bank of England joined many other countries in cutting interest rates, by half a percentage point, and announced support for bank lending.

The United States, where the S&P 500 stock index was down almost 4%, said its steps could include tax relief, to combat the virus that could put hundreds of billions of dollars into the U.S. economy.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said up to 70% of the population was likely to be infected as the virus spreads around the world in the absence of a cure.

“When the virus is out there, the population has no immunity and no therapy exists, then 60 to 70% of the population will be infected,” she told a news conference in Berlin.

A rebound in stocks ran out of steam on Wednesday despite the Bank of England move. Money markets are fully pricing in a further 10 basis-point cut by the European Central Bank when it meets on Thursday.

As of Tuesday’s close, $8.1 trillion in value has been erased from global stock markets in the recent rout.

More than 119,100 people have been infected by the coronavirus across the world and 4,298 have died, the vast majority in China, according to a Reuters tally. Italy has had 10,149 cases and 631 deaths. Iran has had 9,000 cases and 354 deaths. The United States has 975 cases and 30 deaths.

© 2020 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

South Korea Sees New Cluster

(Epoch Times)

In South Korea, the capital of Seoul has recorded at least 64 new cases of the novel coronavirus in a major cluster outbreak outside of Daegu and the broader North Gyeongsang province.

The infection cluster happened at a call center in the neighborhood of Sindorim in Seoul, local outlet Yonhap News Agency reported on March 10. The municipal government of Seoul stated that at least 64 people in connection with the call center were infected with the virus as of 1 p.m. local time on Tuesday.

Among those, 40 employees of the call center and their family members live in Seoul. Additionally, 13 employees live in Incheon and 11 employees live in Gyeonggi province.

The call center is located on the 11th floor of a high-rise building, which is 19 floors above the ground and 6 floors underground. There are 207 other employees of the call center waiting to be tested for the virus.

“All 207 workers have been quarantined and inspections are taking place. This is the biggest infection reported in Seoul so far,” Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon said in a press briefing on Tuesday, according to Yonhap.

The mayor added, “We are looking at this in a serious and grave manner and striving to prevent additional cases.”

In response to the outbreak at the call center, local health officials have sealed off the first floor to the 12th floor, which are home to office units and stores, according to Yonhap. People living on the 13th floor to the 19th floor, which house only residential units, have been asked to quarantine themselves in their homes.

Local health officials have also announced that they plan to test 550 other people, who work at other call centers on the seventh to ninth floors of the same building.

Also on Tuesday, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) announced that there were 131 new cases on Monday, bringing the national tally of infected to 7,513.

Of the 7,513 known cases, 5,663 are in Daegu and 1,117 are in North Gyeongsang province.

Meanwhile, Gyeonggi province has 163 confirmed cases, Seoul has 141 cases, and Busan 96 cases.

It is unclear how many of the 64 cases connected to the call center have been included in the KCDC’s total tally of 7,513.

Many of the cases in Daegu and North Gyeongsang province have been connected to a branch of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus in Daegu, after a 61-year-old female follower of the church tested positive for the virus on Feb. 18.

Also on March 10, U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) announced that a Korean national employee has tested positive for COVID-19, marking the ninth USFK-related case of the virus in South Korea.

The employee, who has been isolated at her residence off-base, was working at Camp Walker in Daegu.

“Korea’s CDC and USFK health professionals are actively conducting contact tracing to determine whether anyone else may have been exposed,” the force said in a statement.

So far, only one U.S. service member has tested positive.

Gilead’s Remdesivir May Be Effective Against Coronavirus, WHO Says

(CNBC/TheStreet)

World Health Organization said the drugmaker’s antiviral remdesivir may be effective against the coronavirus.

The comments, which were reported by CNBC, came in a press conference at which the organization lauded the Chinese government for the measures it took to stem the spread of the virus. When identifying any drugs that could potentially combat the disease, WHO named the drug from Gilead Sciences.

Remdesivir is an investigational antiviral that hasn’t yet been approved anywhere globally for any use.

However, Gilead Sciences has been working with global health officials in responding to the coronavirus outbreak and officials have been experimenting with remdesivir. Numerous health organizations have participated in the trials including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Department of Health and Human Services, National Institute of Allergies and Infection Diseases, Department of Defense, the China CDC and the World Health Organization.

Working with health authorities in China, Gilead Sciences has initiated two clinical trials of coronavirus.

SPECIAL REPORT: Download Jim Cramer’s 25 Rules for Investing Whitepaper and become a smarter investor.

One of the studies is evaluating remdesivir in patients with confirmed disease who have developed more severe clinical complications like a requirement for supplemental oxygen. The other study is evaluating the drug in coronavirus patients who have been hospitalized but are not displaying significant manifestations of the disease.

The drug is available to patients through compassionate use requests that must be submitted by the patient’s treating physician.

Gilead Sciences shares were rising 4.8% to $73.05 in trading on Monday. 

To Stem Spread of Coronavirus Countries Limiting Travel

By KIM TONG-HYUNG and MATT SEDENSKY

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Police manned checkpoints in quarantined towns, governments issued travel warnings and more flights were suspended Tuesday as officials desperately sought to stop the seemingly inevitable spread of a new virus.

Clusters of the illness continued to balloon outside mainland China, fueling apprehension across the globe that was reflected in sagging financial markets.

The crisis pushed into areas seen as among the worst-equipped to deal with an outbreak as well as some of the world’s richest nations, including South Korea and Italy. As it proliferates, the virus is bringing a sense of urgency for local officials determined to contain it but often unsure how.

“It’s a matter of speed and time: We must create a clear turning point within this week,” said President Moon Jae-in of South Korea, where the caseload grew by 144, with a total of 977 people sickened.

Cases of people who could have infected many others spurred fears.

Korean Air said one of its crew members tested positive, but the airline didn’t disclose the flights the employee had worked on. On a U.S. military base in Daegu, the center of infections in South Korea, officials said a servicemember’s spouse had also been infected. And in the tiny Persian Gulf nation of Bahrain, one of those infected was a school bus driver who had transported students as recently as Sunday.

Also testing positive was the head of Iran’s virus task force, who just a day earlier gave a news conference in Tehran in which he tried to minimize the danger posed by the outbreak.

In Italy’s north, where more than 200 people were sickened, a dozen towns were sealed off and police wearing face masks patrolled.

Two neighbors of Italy — Croatia and Austria — reported their first cases of the virus.

Croatia, Hungary and Ireland advised against traveling to Italy’s affected area, one of a number of governmental moves seeking to limit further exposure. Bahrain suspended flights to Dubai while the United States’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued its highest travel alert on South Korea, advising citizens to avoid nonessential trips. Japan urged citizens to avoid unessential trips to South Korea’s hardest-hit areas.

A culture of long days at the office in Japan came to terms with the outbreak, with the government urging employers to allow workers to telecommute and have more flexible hours, simple moves Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expressed hope could help control the spread.

“We are at an extremely important time in ending the spread of infection at an early stage,” Abe said at a meeting of a task force on the outbreak.

Even in places where no cases have sprouted up, leaders kept a wary eye, such as Denmark, where two former military barracks were being prepared as quarantine centers. Still, uncertainty remained about how to effectively limit the epidemic.

Italy had taken Europe’s most stringent preventative measures against COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, and yet became home to the biggest outbreak outside Asia. Experts in Japan, with one of the world’s most sophisticated health systems, acknowledged the country’s handling of the virus-stricken Diamond Princess cruise ship was flawed and could have allowed the problem to magnify.

In comments reflecting both defiance and dubiousness over what measures work, French health minister Olivier Veran said the country would not shut its border or call off mass gatherings.

“We don’t close borders because we would not be able to, we don’t do it because it would be meaningless,” he said on French radio RTL. “Should we ban gatherings? Should we stop the Fashion Week? Should we suspend matches? Should we close universities? The answer is no.”Full Coverage: Virus Outbreak

China reported 508 new cases and another 71 deaths, 68 of them in the central city of Wuhan, where the epidemic was first detected in December. The updates bring mainland China’s totals to 77,658 cases and 2,663 deaths.

But while China remained home to the vast majority of the world’s cases, the world’s attention increasingly moved to where the outbreak would spread next. Iran was eyed as a source for new transmissions in the Middle East, including in Iraq, Kuwait and Oman, which were grappling with the spread past their borders.

In South Korea’s southeastern city of Daegu and surrounding areas, panic over the virus has brought towns to an eerie standstill. The country reported its 11th fatality from COVID-19 amid signs, big and small, of the problem that has magnified nearly 15-fold in a week.

Health officials said they were working to finish testing hundreds of members of a church that has the country’s biggest cluster of infections. The church agreed to hand over a list of 200,000 members nationwide so screenings could widen.

“We are creating and refining our system as we go along,” said Dr. Kim Jin-hwan of Keimyung University Dongsan Medical Center in Daegu.

South Korea’s professional basketball league said it will ban spectators until the outbreak is under control, while Busan City said the world team table tennis championships it planned to host in March would be postponed until June.

South Korea’s military confirmed 13 troops had contracted the virus, resulting in quarantines for many others and the halting of field training.

___

Sedensky reported from Bangkok. Associated Press writer Mari Yamaguchi in Tokyo contributed to this report.

DID CHINA WEAPONIZE COVID-19?

by Jim Watkins

Did China develop and accidently allow a weaponized virus to escape in Wuhan?

The story really begins in 2009 in Winnipeg, Canada at a bio-weapons research lab, and as reported in the Winnipeg Free Press,  two Chinese nationals were able to steal 22 vials containing an unknown strain of a new virus and escaped back to China. These vials contained the coronavirus strain taken from a Saudi nationals’ lung who been infected with SARS.

Back to the future. 

It is worth noting, due to its suspicious timing, that the very doctor behind the discovery and extraction of the unknown virus strain in Winnipeg, and who also reported the theft, was set to give a speech on January 23, 2020 in Kenya at the University of Nairobi, except that Dr Frank Plummer died suddenly. He had been working on a vaccine for HIV, and was expected to share some of his research which reportedly could have applications to helping find a vaccine for COVID-19.

The BBC says Dr. Plummer died from a heart attack at the age of 67.

What we know is that the coronavirus was stolen from Plummers’ lab by two Chinese nationals, Xiangguo Qiq and her colleague, smuggled the virus samples and took them to Wuhan where they have China’s only bio-weapons lab, and have since, held it in their possession for over a decade.

What we also know from reports inside the facility is that bats were used for testing of the new coronavirus, 605 of them. One staff researcher is on record stating blood from one of the infected bats got on his skin, and that also, ticks were discovered on the bats. We know that ticks can be a common carrier of disease (i.e., the Bubonic plague).

We also, suspect, though it is not confirmed, that some laboratories will sell dead or live animals to local food markets to avoid the higher costs of incinerating or properly disposing of animal carcass used in testing. The fact that the Wuhan Lab is only 3 and a half miles from the seafood market makes it seem likely the virus made its way to the fish market from the lab, though this has never been proven.  But, as biowar expert Dr. Frank Boyles states, “the virus came into the food market before it came out,” meaning an infected person had come into the fish market and infected others. It probably was not, contradictory to earlier reports, emanating from an animal sold at the market.

Many now believe earlier infections occurred at a nearby hospital or, most likely coming from an infected person at the Wuhan BSL-4 lab, who may have unknowingly became a superspreader since a person infected can also be asymptomatic for up to 24 days.

We will probably never know the exact circumstances that led to the initial spread of COVID-19. But we do know the CCP knew about the lab, knew about the virus ,and were in fact, probably working on either a vaccine, or trying to weaponize the virus, or both.

We suspect, based on the further testimony from lab personnel in Wuhan, someone was treated at a local hospital who had shown signs of the coronavirus as early as November. It is likely the patient, what we might term patient Zero, infected the doctor who then spread the virus to other staff, and consequently, other patients as well.

We believe it is this scenario that prompted Chinese health officials to, at first, deny the outbreak (and even the virus itself), arresting anyone who discussed the virus in December and early January, and denying the outbreak until as late as January 21, 2020 – three weeks after the first case was reported at Union Hospital in Wuhan.

DID BEIJING KNOW? ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS

We believe Beijing knews it was the coronavirus they had stolen that had spread, because they: 

1) Still will not allow U.S. CDC health officials in to Wuhan

2) They denied the problem for over 8 weeks, then jumped zealously as if they had a pandemic on their hands (because they probably knew how dangerous the virus was) AND

3) Once it became apparent that the virus could not be contained,  China started taking severe containment action that reflects they were very well aware of the danger of this virus because of:

The mass arrests of suspected asymptomatic citizens

The sealing of apartment complexes and large dwelling areas to prevent people from leaving their residences

Large forces have been mobilized to sterilize entire neighborhoods without restraint in an almost desperate action

The underreporting of crematoriums who are working fully-staffed, 12 hour shifts throughout Wuhan disposing of dead bodies of both humans and animals.

The uncanny statistic showing there is always about the same percentage of deaths to infections at 2.1 percent. It has not wavered since reporting first began, which indicates almost a quota-like policy in reporting fatalities, or a specific mandate was issued to never let the mortality rate get too high, which would reveal the real impact of the virus, or spread panic.

THE GENIE IS OUT OF THE BOTTLE

So the question becomes: If the Chinese were working on weaponizing this virus, who were they planning on using it on?

To believe this virus came from a bat during hibernation season when there are no bats within 600 miles of Wuhan (except at Wuhan Labs being used as testing animals) is to believe in propaganda.

There is a clear link between the Wuhan BSL-4, Coronavirus and the Winnipeg laboratory where Dr. Frank Plummer had worked on the virus going back to 2009, and we have limited testimony from Wuhan Lab workers who talk about using bats to test the virus on, and that some personnel might have become infected.

We also know that one of the first victim of the virus, Li Wenliang, a local doctor at Wuhan Central Hospital hospital, had alerted his staff via email to prepare for an outbreak. He was subsequently placed under house arrest for causing unrest, where he cared for his wife who had contracted the disease within weeks of its first appearance, which indicates the coronavirus was released into the general public as far back as early December OR there might have been a controlled test of exposing COVID-19 to a few people, but that things got out of control because Chinese researchers had underestimated the infection rate, and how easy to was to spread. 

Early reports say the corona virus can be spread just by breathing on someone. In recent days this report has completely vanished. But if it is true that COVID-19 is airborne, it woudl also explain why so many passengers on board the Diamond Princess  got infected even though no one showed signs of sickness until just a few days ago. The ship had left port 14 days ago.

Still, there are many unanswered question. The geopolitical ramifications of this virus being the product of bio-chemical warfare are immense. When you have the 2nd major world power producing bio-weapons, the world will be forced to respond and China will be forced to answer for it.

We will continue to follow this story where it leads. It is not for the purposes of providing conspiracy to confuse or to create unnecessary fear, but rather to determine the real global threat of this virus, and to learn if China is in fact, deliberately responsible, actually liable, for the damage now being done around the world.


COVID-19 AND THE WEST COAST HOMELESS – A PERFECT RECIPE FOR A DISASTER

LISTEN TO RECENT PODCASTS


Coronavirus and the U.S. homeless. Not a very good combination. It is what horror movie-plots sound like, except this script hasn’t been written, even though the writing is on the wall, smeared in covid-19 infected feces.

The thought had occurred to me that the real threat of the Corona Virus in America may be exacerbated by another social ill, homelessness in 4 of the largest cities on the West coast, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle and Portland, 3 of which are major destinations for Chinese travelers.

Consider the following threats:


1) The homeless can act as a carrier for two to three weeks without showing any signs of the the flu, meanwhile acting as a “super-spreader,” infecting other homeless and the general public in highly populated areas.


2) There is no cure and the mortality rate is probably above 3%. Infection rate is 20%, meaning for every ten people you have contact with, 2 of them will get the virus from you if you touch them, share an object (like cash or food), or they breathe your air and are within 2-3 feet of you.


3) There is no cure, detection is extremely difficult, costly and not easily accessible.


4) WHO and the CDC say a vaccination is at least a year away.


Many of us who are watching the virus spread assume that with only 15 cases in the U.S, as of today (2/24), China clearly is more vulnerable because of condensed living conditions. But how do you contain a virus if you don’t know you have it, can easily give it to anyone and there is no easy access to testing?


Let’s look again at how the homeless in LA, SF and Seattle could exacerbate the problem.
According to Acton Institute, which collects homeless population data from across the country, about 200,000 homeless live in California alone (47% of all U.S. homeless live in the Golden State). Most of these homeless are undernourished, have little access to proper health care, and if suffering from severe substance abuse, would not fair well if they contracted COVID-19.


San Francisco already has a feces problem. What if COVID-19 is spread by feces-laced streets of downtown San Francisco, Oakland, or San Jose?


One of the virus’ symptoms is diarrhea, the other is pneumonia. Most homeless smoke cigarettes and probably suffer from COPD-related health issues.


All of this makes for a nasty combination of social diseases spreading a mysterious virus to the general population of several million people. Add to this we are supposed to have an especially longer and wetter winter. For the West Coast, we may not see warm and sunny weather until late March, still six weeks away.


This is a wake up call to ALL civic leaders throughout California, and also Seattle and Portland, and even to New York. Any metro where there is a high concentration of homelessness as well as travelers who have returned from China (or the Hubei province) since mid-December. We should prepare for a worst case scenario and start coordinating quarantine centers NOW or face an epidemic that could do to California and elsewhere what COVID-19 is now doing to China.

Wuhan has 11-million people. 6, 000 have died in less than two months from COVID-19. What impact would this kind of mortality rate have on the U.S.? And these deaths have occured in spite of a massive lockdown (there were even videos showing apartment building residents in Wuhan being locked in with workers welding exit doors shut, and in other cases suspected infectious patients being dragged out of their home by local authorities.).

Americans aren’t Chinese, and we don’t take kindly to being rounded up by force as we now see occurring throughout China to stem the outbreak of COVID-19.

According to HUD here is a breakdown of homelessness and those “unsheltered” in major hotspots of homelessness:

Total U.S. Homeless in January 2018: 372,417

California: 194,381

Washington: 26,329

Oregon: 18,251

New York: 39, 827

Once COVID-19 breaches the homeless population, all bets are off.