My COVID-19 Newsletter

Looking back and evaluating

I started my COVID-19 Newsletter about two months ago, first article was “Virusland is back“, dated 30 January 2020.
Since then I have been posting nearly every day.
Preparing the newsletter has demanded lots of work, and was time-consuming.

My sources were international TV (I watch a lot every day), SCMP, China Daily, NYT, KNACK/TRENDS, De Standaard, Het Laatste Nieuws, Caixin, and many other such as daily newsletters from various sources such as AXION and Sinocism.
I did not intend to be a “news channel” covering everything. The idea was to focus on what has been affecting us in China, how we were dealing with quarantine and lockdown, and the impact of the virus worldwide.
I also tried to double-check sources and give a balanced view while avoiding some sensitive topics that might affect my residence status in Beijing.

I closely monitored the views I get on my different media platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook and others. I also closely followed the hits on this website, that also reveal how people reach my website. Many people on media such as LinkedIn don’t bother to read the article but start commenting. Oh well!
Overall I feel disappointed by the numbers. I don’t show them here but you can comment on how many hits would be nice in your opinion. (Nobody will give feedback anyway!)
One indication: the very few (valid) comments I receive.
It is also clear for me that the people close to me (and the ones I value) hardly ever visit this website.
Yes, quite frustrating.

Websites: a bygone era?

I feel that overall, people have become very superficial and have a very short attention span. Digging a bit deeper in issues is pretty rare. People seems to love very short news clips and rather love fake or sensational news. But you find a lot of “strong opinions”, based on hot air.

It is also very disturbing to see how world leaders such as Trump, Boris Johnson, Jair Bolsonaro and some others drag their countries deeper and deeper into the abyss. Worst, they have followers who remain blind for facts and with whom it is a waste of time to argue. For them, the earth is flat. It shows how our Western democracies are imploding.

Foreign governments and embassies

You can wonder, especially recently, what embassies and representatives of foreign governments bring to the community.
Many embassies seem oblivious to their nationals in the country, hardly ever send out notices except to refer to the websites of their home ministry. How many keep their nationals informed and show interest in solving their problems?
Many embassy staff have no access to external websites. You can wonder how they can stay well-informed. You also wonder what they are actually doing. Have a problem? Please register your case online. Anyway most of the worries of their nationals “are not their responsibility and not in their scope of work”.

All of course depends on the big boss – the ambassador. In my 40 years here I have seen very different attitudes. Creativity, flexibility and initiative are often absent. Of course there are always exceptions. More than often, their work is made more difficult by the instructions and limitations they receive from their foreign ministry. In the past I did receive invaluable assistance from my Belgian embassy (and others). I accept their job has become more difficult by the short-sighted governments, and budget cuts.

Why am I doing this?

A good question that I often asked myself. Those who read my newsletter can agree I have no commercial interests to promote. As for my consulting company, we do not look for clients and we are very choosy.

One aspect I can mention is the promotion of my two books. Here again I see my closest contacts being of little help, if any, to help promote my books, or buying them (kidding, right!). The e-books are actually pretty cheap.
As a reminder, here they are:
“LAUGH AND GET WISER! Jokes and witty wisdom for adults”
The Kindle version:
“Toxic Capitalism – The orgy of consumerism and waste: Are we the last generation on earth?”

The impact of my newsletter in this respect has been close to zero. Very disappointing. This is how you know who your friends are, while I am (or better, was) always too ready to help others.

Trying to help EU countries

Through one of my positions with the Chinese government I was asked to help donate 1,000 test kits to some European countries. The test kits are of a very advanced, we can say, revolutionary design. They offer a COVID-19 test in 5 minutes without using a laboratory. Done on the spot. The kits have all certificates including CE (from The Netherlands) and I have the detailed documentation.

The idea was to donate (officially) to the embassy who would then decide with their government to use it in hospitals, research centers or any health organization interested to test the technology.
Oh well, red tape, inaction, zero response. And oh! Gosh, politics with the Chinese government! Can we do this? (BUT! Welcome Jack Ma! He brings business!)
I have now canceled the offer. Time was the essence but as it stands EU governments have been turtle-like to react. Learn from China!
Anybody interested, contact me. I do not have any business interest in this. I thought I could help…

Too bad, not a surprise that EU countries are hopelessly behind in tackling the outbreak, don’t have masks while they were warned two months in advance. Then they find some millions of masks rotten in a military warehouse.
If one tries to mail masks to family in Europe, good luck. Red tape (WE NEED CE!!!!!) and total lack of cooperation from customs (not to mention embassies) make it virtually impossible.
Remember when Chinese bought ALL masks around the world and shipped them to China? Chinese customs had special procedures to let them in.
Poor EU.

In short, bye. No more COVID-19 stuff

And don’t bother to ask me how are things over here in Beijing. Ask your embassy.
We will watch from Beijing how you all cope (?) to put in place logistics, equipment, health care workers, fail to use masks when needed (= as we do over here for a good reason), implement lockdown, …

Yeah interesting to look how crazy/idiotic people are. Keep hoarding! Buy toilet paper (they shit a lot!!!). And if you ever come to Beijing, your zero star hotel welcomes you in Xiaotangshan (now refurbished after its operation for SARS). And behave in the lift (elevator for others).
Yep, my last little humor (much more in earlier posts).
Meanwhile I will enjoy more great Belgian cuisine in Morel’s Restaurant.

COVID-19 devastation

Not getting any better, on the contrary

The COVID-19 devastation is becoming more obvious, not by the day but by the hour.
Shocking to read that in Antwerp (Belgium) 5 older people in the same service flats building died in one week; 3 men and 2 women, ages between 65 and 80. It shows how this virus can be a ruthless killer.
With incompetent leaders like Trump and Boris, as well as in other EU countries, this is going to get worse. Good luck for Easter Holiday.

At least, slowly, the situation in China is getting better, but I don’t expect restrictions to be eased soon in Beijing. See what people arriving to Beijing will face. Those trying to fool the health people by taking fever medicine will end up in prison. Because a urine test will be used to detect that.

Meanwhile Beijing mentioned the wide application of TCM in the hospitals. Over 90% of the patients treated were given TCM treatment and 90% have shown improvement.

And read here the 6 effective TCM recipes for COVID-19:

Conspiracy story denied by … China

Interesting read:
22 March 2020 – Top Chinese official disowns U.S. military lab coronavirus conspiracy
No, Americans did not bring it to Wuhan.

On another note, memory being short in China (and USA), Xinhua had a name for the virus in the early stages. Needless to say, most cleaned up on the Internet. But the Internet has a memory…

Airborne, again again

WHO considers ‘airborne precautions’ for medical staff after study shows coronavirus can survive in air
16 March 2020

WHO reversed their earlier position that COVID virus is not air borne.
Copper, Steel – 2 hours
Paper, Plastic – 3-4 hours
Air – 8 hours or more depending on conditions.
Well, I mentioned this earlier already on 18 March 2020:
COVID-19 newsletter

Trump is married to the stock market

Trump is only concerned about the stock market (and his election). Screw the hospitals and the sick. He cut the budgets of CDC in the past(*), resulting in today’s mess. Does not mobilize manufacturing of the critically needed equipment. He wants to help companies and industry but never mind the workers. Oh yes otherwise he could be called a “socialist”.

Also, several months before the coronavirus pandemic began, the Trump administration eliminated a key American public health position in Beijing intended to help detect disease outbreaks in China, Reuters has learned.
The American disease expert, a medical epidemiologist embedded in China’s disease control agency, left her post in July, according to four sources with knowledge of the issue. The first cases of the new coronavirus may have emerged as early as November, and as cases exploded, the Trump administration in February chastised China for censoring information about the outbreak and keeping U.S. experts from entering the country to help.

Let’s guess and bet who will be right for USA by 1 May; see also further down:

  1. 300,000 infected 5,000 dead
  2. 1.5 million infected 20,000 dead
  3. Not close to any of the above, less or much more

(*) speech senator Sherrod Brown, see:

According to U.S. CDC projections:

– Between 160 million and 214 million people could be infected. That could last months or even over a year.
– As many as 200,000 to 1.7 million people could die.
– 2.4 million to 21 million people could require hospitalization, potentially crushing the nation’s medical system, which has only about 925,000 staffed hospital beds.

Next virus epicenter?

No comments. Read the article.
24 March 2020
U.S. could be next ‘virus epicenter’ as India locks down, global recession looms
GENEVA/NEW DELHI (Reuters) – The United States could become the global epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, the World Health Organization said on Tuesday, as India announced a full 24-hour, nationwide lockdown in the world’s second-most populous country.

Comments AXIOS (repeating what I said several times):
Millions of Americans are losing their jobs at the same time as their families face a once-in-a-century pandemic.
The lockdown is particularly devastating for service workers, blue-collar workers and small businesses, and Senate Democrats today blocked the Phase 3 stimulus bill for the second time in 24 hours. (They want more protections for workers and more strings attached.)
White-collar workers are obviously not immune from coronavirus hardships, but their jobs are the simplest to make remote.
Another short news flash: Las Vegas completely stopped. 200,000 people without work. Just one example of the many.

Bill Gates and other prophets of doom

Unfortunately they were right.
Bill Gates talked in 2015 of the impending catastrophe with a virus. What will kill is not nuclear missiles. It will be a coronavirus.
Could not be more clear.
“In his 2015 TED talk, Gates does not specifically call out the coronavirus but does predict the impact of a potential epidemic and lays out a path for preparing for it. Based on our research, we determine the claim that Bill Gates nominally predicted the coronavirus pandemic – and the world’s ability to respond to it – to be TRUE.”

Link to the TED talk:

More chilling even is the warning of the research team that worked on the SARS virus.
They published the paper in October 2007.
They wrote:
“The presence of a large reservoir of SARS=CoV-like viruses in horseshoe bats. together with the culture of eating exotic mammals in southern China, is a time bomb.”
The bomb exploded in November 2019 as far as we know.
And I immediately commented on it. Read my earlier post:
Virusland is back
Posted on 30 January 2020
Nothing was learned.

Japan July 2020 Olympics

As predicted, not this year. That was pretty obvious.

New Chinese publication in French

“La Chine au Présent” has a new magazine, well done, see:
And yes, focus on COVID-19!


More COVID-19

No more international flights

Lots to report, more COVID-19 (bad) news. More tomorrow.
Flights to Beijing Diverted to 12 Other Cities Over Imported Coronavirus Concerns – Caixin
The move comes after all arrivals to Beijing, one of China’s top international gateways, were initially required to undergo 14 day quarantines at designated local hotels. As those hotels filled up, the city rolled out a new policy last week requiring many inbound flights to stop first at a handful of other cities to relieve the pressure.
Under the latest policy, China’s aviation authority has designated the 12 airports in Tianjin, Hohhot, Taiyuan, Shanghai’s Pudong New Area, Shijiazhuang, Jinan, Qingdao, Nanjing, Shenyang, Dalian, Zhengzhou and Xi’an to act as first port of entry for all inbound flights destined for Beijing.

See here one hotel where fellow Rotarians are currently in quarantine. One unlucky lady landed in a room without WIFI and it cannot repaired because nobody can enter the room… Otherwise nice prison.

Lijingwan International Hotel Beijing
No. 28 North Shilipu, Dongsihuan Road, Beijing, China

Chinese economy

See the latest from China Economic Review, basically what I already wrote a few days ago.

Foreign orders at Chinese exporters plunge as pandemic widens.
As Chinese manufacturers return to work following a nearly two-month shutdown during the COVID-19 epidemic, many are finding they have no work because foreign clients cancelled or slashed orders as the pandemic spread globally, reported Caixin.
China’s Ministry of Commerce Monday warned that the foreign trade sector may face a decline in orders even though two-thirds of key manufacturers outside of Hubei, where the outbreak hit the hardest, have resumed more than 70% of operations. Several exporters told Caixin that their business is worse than after the financial crisis of 2008. “The whole world feels paralyzed,” said one.

In Yiwu, the world’s largest small-commodity wholesale market in East China’s Zhejiang Province, a jewelry exporter said 5% of its orders have been canceled since last week, and those that haven’t done so are considering scaling back or delaying shipments. “Last week, an Italian client suddenly told us they don’t need the goods anymore,” the jewelry exporter said. “Some clients are asking for a two-month delay in shipment.”
March is usually the business peak for jewelry exporters. Orders for the spring and summer collections are usually fulfilled at this time, and clients begin to place orders for their fall and winter collections. But this year the company hasn’t received any new orders and expects a 30%-40% decline in total orders for the year, the Yiwu jewelry exporter said.

The Tip of the Iceberg

Virologist David Ho (BS ’74) Speaks About COVID-19
20 March 2020
You are warned…

In New York, we know that we are in the exponential growth phase of the epidemic.
Looking back at what has transpired throughout the world, we saw the first wave hit China; the second wave hit South Korea, Italy, and Iran; and then, trailed by only about a week or so, France, Germany, Spain, and the U.S. We all know that China went through a period of great devastation. It has over 80,000 cases. Italy is rapidly catching up, with over 31,000 cases. We suspect that in the U.S. this will rapidly sweep from the coastal regions and it will hit middle America. It is already there, but we will see exponential growth very, very soon. Then of course we are all worried about what would happen when this epidemic strikes places like Africa and India where the health care system is less developed.

Silent carriers

A third of coronavirus cases may be ‘silent carriers’, classified Chinese data suggests
More than 43,000 people in China had tested positive without immediate symptoms by the end of February and were quarantined. It is still unclear what role asymptomatic transmission is playing in the global pandemic.
SCMP 22 March 2020

The number of “silent carriers” – people who are infected by the new coronavirus but show delayed or no symptoms – could be as high as one-third of those who test positive, according to classified Chinese government data seen by the South China Morning Post.
That could further complicate the strategies being used by countries to contain the virus, which has infected more than 300,000 people and killed more than 14,000 globally.
More than 43,000 people in China had tested positive for COVID-19 by the end of February but had no immediate symptoms, a condition typically known as asymptomatic, according to the data. They were placed in quarantine and monitored but were not included in the official tally of confirmed cases, which stood at about 80,000 at the time.
Scientists have been unable to agree on what role asymptomatic transmission plays in spreading the disease. A patient usually develops symptoms in five days, though the incubation period can be as long as three weeks in some rare cases.

The approach taken by China and South Korea of testing anyone who has had close contact with a patient — regardless of whether the person has symptoms — may explain why the two Asian countries seem to have checked the spread of the virus. Hong Kong is extending testing to airport arrivals in the city, even if travellers have no symptoms. Meanwhile in most European countries and the US, where only those with symptoms are tested, the number of infections continues to rapidly rise.

Coronavirus could linger in Europe for two years, Chinese expert says

SCMP 22 March 2020

Edited extract:
‘It would be perfectly normal if the virus comes and goes’ with the seasons, Zhang Wenhong, head of Shanghai’s COVID-19 clinical expert team, tells Chinese expats, students in Germany.
‘If only the whole world could stop moving for four weeks, the pandemic could be stopped,’ he says.

A Chinese expert on infectious diseases said Europe must give up on the idea that the COVID-19 pandemic will be over soon and instead prepare for a battle that could last for up to two years.
The warning – from Zhang Wenhong, head of Shanghai’s COVID-19 clinical expert team – came as European countries, including Italy, Spain and Germany, are experiencing sharp rises in the number of infections and deaths, while China is working to keep out imported cases after reporting only one new domestic case in the past four days.

 “It would be perfectly normal if the virus comes and goes, and lasts for one or two years,” Zhang said during a videoconference organised by the Chinese consulate in the German city of Düsseldorf.
“I can tell you now, forget the idea that the pandemic will come to an end in Europe in the near future.”
Zhang, who is also director of the infectious diseases department at Huashan Hospital of Fudan University in Shanghai, earlier predicted that the epidemic within China would peak between April and June, before falling back in summer, returning sporadically through autumn and winter, and peaking again, though probably on a smaller scale, next spring.
 “To resolve this outbreak in a short period of time, measures have to be extremely radical,” Zhang said, adding that China was able to impose widespread city lockdowns thanks to the fact that the initial outbreak coincided with the Lunar New Year holiday, when schools and businesses were set to close anyway.
“If only the whole world could stop moving for four weeks, the pandemic could be stopped,” he said.

The case of South Korea

As reported in NYT on 24 March:
How South Korea flattened the curve:
South Korea reported its lowest number of cases since last month on Sunday — a remarkable turnaround from the several thousand cases that exploded there in late February and early March.
Its strategy was not the full lockdown that China employed, or even the widespread restrictions that the U.S. and Europe have implemented. Instead, it focused on swift, widespread testing and contact tracing, our Interpreter columnist writes.
In the week after its first reported case, South Korea moved rapidly, eventually opening 600 testing centers and keeping health workers safe by minimizing contact. Once someone tested positive, officials meticulously traced their movements using security camera footage, credit card records, even GPS data from their cars and cellphones.
Reminder: South Korean officials caution that their successes are tentative. A risk of resurgence remains, particularly as epidemics continue raging beyond the country’s borders.

Other good examples (source: AXIOS)

But while small towns can spark big outbreaks, they can also provide clues for how to fight them.
The town of Vò, home to Italy’s first death from COVID-19, tested all 3,000 of its inhabitants, quarantining those infected even before they showed symptoms. 89 tested positive, and the disease was defeated there within two weeks, per the Guardian.
Wakayama, Japan, had similar success. Authorities there traced the contacts of two doctors who had the virus (470 people), tested them (10 were positive) and ended the outbreak there, per the Washington Post.

RIP Old China Hand

Our Beijing little club

Calm down folks. RIP Old China Hand applies to a Hong Kong bar, not our little club, Yes, our last lunch was in January, see the report.
Obviously February, March and probably April is cancelled in view of COVID-19.

RIP Old China Hand (now for real)

That applies to a bar in Hong Kong, I learned about it through one of little club members who sent me a pic of the closed bar.
So I did some research and found out it was a well-known bar in Hongkong, been there for decades, it had to move once (guess why, increase in rent, as always).

Read here:
In 2015 The Old China Hand, one of the most famous pubs in Wan Chai, has been suddenly cleared out and had its sign removed. A veteran 45-year tenant of Lockhart Road, the bar appears to have shut down.

It later moved but it seems to be closed again.
They even had a Facebook page, stopped now.

Last location would be: 1C Davis Street, Kennedy Town, Hong Kong
The pics: I tried to identify the two different locations, Lockhart Road and Kennedy Town. See the names.
Sad! did not know about it earlier – I also lived in Hong Kong, in 1989, for one year.

Back to Morel Restaurant

Making all Europeans (and others) jealous

Yesterday Sunday evening I headed again back to Morel Restaurant, to have dinner with friend and with the owners Renaat and Susan.
Was great to be “back to normal” a bit, after all those weeks.
As I had said: yes I went for the “steak tartare” (half portion) that is actually what we call in Belgium “filet américain”. It is indeed different because the mincemeat is chopped to perfection, the tartare has bigger pieces of meat.
Other dishes you see: veal sausage, gratinated mussels and the hearty soup.

And yes we had plenty of great French red wine. For lunch at home, another Keto diet friendly dish

Take away – home delivery

In Beijing there are a couple of websites where you can order any food you imagine. Swiftly delivered by the army of “kuaidis”, the delivery boys on their (mostly) electric bikes.
To help foreigners who cannot navigate the Chinese websites, the restaurant has now started a menu in English and clients can order by phone, best with WeChat that allows them to give the address and pay. You pay the delivery boy separately.

I tried the delivery service, The soup comes piping hot, all dishes at the right temperature and very well packed.
Prices are currently reduced, so,… Don’t wait!