Wake up to reality

AXIOS: not encouraging news

Yes of course many will dismiss it all but people need to wake up to reality. Good luck to those who ignore the pandemic. And continue not wearing masks when you need. Oh yes because the governments were totally clueless and did not react in time to the shortage (except increasing more red tape). See here part of their newsletter (edited).

Tens of thousands of Americans die, we have double-digit unemployment for months, countless businesses die, retirements are wiped out, and the nation is saddled with once unimaginable debt.
That, folks, is the best case scenario we’re facing.
That’s if we’re lucky — and doesn’t even mention the lost graduations, honeymoons, weddings, and other important missed milestones.

A survey of epidemiology experts, posted by a scholar at UMass Amherst and reported by FiveThirtyEight, predicted that the number of cases reported by the end of this month would most likely fall somewhere between 10,500 and 81,500.
We’re already right around 20,000 cases, so the lower end of those estimates is out the window.
The same survey anticipates about 200,000 deaths in the U.S. this year, but experts have established a range that stretches from as few as 19,000 deaths to as many as 1.2 million.

A true best-case scenario would look a lot like the response in places like Singapore and South Korea, which were able to quickly “flatten the curve” and bring the number of new cases under control.
But the U.S. simply has not been doing the things that worked in those countries, so whatever our best-case scenario may be, it’s not that good.

Containing the virus requires us to know where and how bad outbreaks are. The only way to get that information is through widespread testing, which the U.S. can’t do right now. The U.S. has been playing catch-up on testing this whole time, largely because of early decisions from the Trump administration that severely limited the number of available tests.

The coronavirus seems increasingly likely to plunge the world into economic times worse than anything we’ve seen in decades. In the U.S., layoffs have already started. As many as 2 million people could file for unemployment aid next week— and we’re barely two weeks into a widespread societal shutdown that could stretch on for weeks or months.


China 10 days for (big) hospital. France 5 days for a tent.

Humor, maybe, heavy dose of sarcasm, sure

Taking it easy.
A voice told me Horus and Thoth are admonishing to repent as they have unleashed the virus and locust plagues.

Oh yes, churches. mosques and all are closed. As all non-essential services are banned.

Meanwhile spring has arrived on my Beijing balcony. Have a nice Sunday. I might have a steak tartare this evening in my favorite restaurant. I’ll ask Horus first.

The Coronavirus pandemic

World recession is at the door

The Coronavirus pandemic will cause a recession deeper and more severe than the Great Recession. The question is how fast we bounce back from it.

There is no room for optimism. My dark predictions that nobody listened to about a month ago, today look overly optimistic. This year 2020 is wasted and as a vaccine is not in reach, we could see a new wave of infections in autumn. The key pharmaceutical companies promise a vaccine. In 12 to 18 months from now. We cannot yet say there is a real medication coming soon to treat the virus.

With nearly all borders closed and travel, local as well as international, tourism, food and beverage, hospitality, seminars, trade fairs, sports, entertainment, – name it – all dead, huge sections of the economy are paralyzed and so many people are facing financial hardship. I call it the deadly chain reaction. Consumer demand will implode. Sections of industry stopping production because parts are unavailable, people can’t work nor meet. The governments can’t distribute money to solve this simply because they will lack resources and will indebt for decades their country.

China has prescribed some good instructions but unfortunately many fail to obey: don’t fire workers who can’t work, companies must pay a minimum wage, reduce the rentals for shops and other, grace periods to repay loans, grace periods and reduction of some taxes, etc. Sadly bureaucracy has hampered the implementation and many Chinese companies fire staff and don’t pay any salary, unlike most foreign-owned businesses. Still their ideas are better than some of the American ideas of mostly reducing taxes and giving handouts.

Many point at the increase in online orders and e-commerce, and food delivery. They overlook that restaurants offer heavy discounts on those orders and hardly make any money on it, if any. It does not compare to their normal income.

Restrictions in France and Belgium are starting to be much more severe and not always justified than they were/are in Beijing. Why one cannot walk on the beach? Why one cannot walk around? Recommended for health reasons. But oh yes no masks. Total lack of logic. In Beijing nobody ever stopped me on my bicycle. Of course using mask, face protection and gloves. The anti-mask attitude in the West is as stupid as the mask paranoia in China.
I expect infection numbers to go sky-high in USA, Africa, and South America unless countries take stringent measures. Most countries including USA are ill-prepared. They will suffer the consequences.

As I mentioned in my interview on INDUS News  on 19 March, economic prospects for China are not great. Yes, the country is managing the outbreak but most overlook the fundamentals.

1. Some hundreds of millions of workers can’t restart working and are running out of money to survive as they cannot reach their place of work or their business is not allowed to resume normal operations. Yesterday driving on some major avenues in Beijing I saw 80% of the small shops were shuttered. Restaurants, bars, KTV, entertainment, sports and cultural events: closed or cancelled. So many people lose income. They will not be buying stuff and will be unable to repay debt.

CER also reports the same:
Almost half of China’s listed consumer companies don’t have enough cash to survive another six months, underscoring the urgent task Beijing has to re-start its economy and get shoppers spending again, reported Bloomberg. Restaurants are in the worst shape as the coronavirus outbreak has kept consumers at home, with about 60% unable to cover labor and rental costs, according to data compiled by Bloomberg and company reports covering 50 listed firms. Among jewelry and apparel companies, almost half don’t have the cash to last the six months unless demand rebounds sharply, the data show.
While some retailers have reopened more of their stores in low-risk areas, demand looks unlikely to rebound quickly as consumers remain hesitant to leave their houses after weeks of government warnings about the dangers of mingling with others.
Many of China’s small and medium businesses are already collapsing as they run out of cash, but the vulnerability of the publicly listed consumer companies points to greater economic danger, as some of these employ thousands of workers across the country. Store closures and layoffs are expected, said analysts.

2. The USA-China trade war had damaged Chinese exports and industry. When the situation was starting to improve, the virus hit. Exports were blocked in ports, manufacturing stopped. Now that Chinese industry restarts, its export markets are devastated and orders will dwindle.

3. The supply chain of components and parts is in chaos. Industries in the West start feeling it and stop production. Export from China of key ingredients for medicine and related is disrupted and the West, in urgent need of more medicine, starts feeling the disruption.

As long as travel cannot restart, tourism and business events resume, the economy will be in recession.
As many say, this is the worst to happen since WWII. How bad the recession will be, nobody can predict. But it will be Armageddon.

Tokyo Olympics? Impossible. Even if Japan is virus-free, athletes and spectators from all over the world will unleash a new wave of infections as many countries are still waiting to be massively hit.

School closures do not receive due attention. Many parents cannot abandon their work. Many poorer families do not have access to equipment and suitable Internet for online classes. Children should not stay with grandparents. Who will take care? The lockdowns also are often a strain on families, not used to face each other every day.

It will be interesting to watch the impact on the foreign community in China. Xenophobia and racism against foreigners, unequal treatment, difficulties to navigate the mobile health codes and the many restrictions result in a dwindling community. Many foreigners don’t feel welcome anymore and decide to return to their home country. China already has the world’s lowest percentage of foreigners and it will get worse. What will be the impact on the industry and business in China?
The discrimination against foreign establishments (restaurants and alike) is getting worse and many throw in the towel. A loss for China, not sure they realize and understand.
China always attacks the anti-Chinese bias in Western countries but NEVER addresses xenophobic attitudes and blatant racism in China. I mentioned that in earlier posts.

Medical supplies

“Chinese testing kit exports soar as COVID-19 spreads”
17 March 2020 China Daily
Chinese firms are ramping up efforts to export and donate novel coronavirus testing kits to meet increasing overseas demand, amid the surge of COVID-19 cases outside China.
Among the more than 10 companies China has approved for the launch of COVID-19 detection products, about half have received CE (French for European Conformity) marking for product sales within countries and regions recognizing the designation.

The mess with masks and other material also continues in Europe. Governments have been in chaos and mismanaged to deal with supplies. People sending masks and other from China to countries like Belgium complain about crazy red tape. Embassies and other government entities are most inefficient and inactive.
Of course the shortage is also caused worldwide because weeks ago Chinese bought everything and shipped it to China. Why did the EU not react to this? Incompetence.

Trump, master of lies and fake news

The SCMP has looked closely at what Trump has been declaring. No, this is not the voice of the Democratic Party. For those who have been following the news, nothing new. Except for many blind Americans.

“Coronavirus: misinformation and false claims in Donald Trump’s responses to pandemic. A week in which the US president’s attitude shifted publicly about the coronavirus still contained a disregard for detail and a series of dubious statements. FDA approval of a coronavirus treatment and Asian-Americans’ support of the term ‘Chinese virus’ were just two topics where Trump’s statements were challenged.”
SCMP 21 March 2020
I recommend to read the full article.

Compare Trump’s lies and rambling with the NYC governor Andrew Cuomo. I wish he could replace Trump. He gives a clear and convincing message.

Obviously he also complains about the shortages of equipment and everything related. A different reality than the one from Trump.

Humor helps

Some good ones:

Loved the Brazilian one, “sweet memories of the time when Corona was just a shower of happiness in a world of hot water”. I indeed remember that electric shower head, popular and pretty efficient. And the new outfit for chef Renaat?

Happy COVID-19 weekend

Scary findings

I could wish you all a Happy COVID-19 weekend but maybe that is a bit sarcastic.
Today short post. Tomorrow about the looming recession.

Coronavirus infects faster and lasts longer than SARS, raising new containment challenges, Chinese studies suggest. Researchers found that on average, infected people expel virus particles from their bodies for a relatively long period of 20 days, even before symptoms appear. Findings indicate longer quarantine periods may be needed for patients, according to researchers from the China-Japan Friendship Hospital.
It may explain why transmission rates are so high…
SCMP 20 May 2020

This also illustrates well the differences…
Medical specialists mostly agree the virus is indeed very scary. More contagious, higher mortality,  no existing immunity in the population. And one can carry it for two weeks without showing any symptoms and most probably transmitting it to others.
It is a worst-case scenario.

To prepare for it, we recommend buying tons of toilet paper. Because you will all be shitting in your pants being scared like hell.

U.S. Virus Plan Anticipates 18-Month Pandemic and Widespread Shortages

The New York Times – 19 March 2020
and: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/17/us/politics/trump-coronavirus-plan.html

A federal government plan to combat the coronavirus warned policymakers last week that a pandemic “will last 18 months or longer” and could include “multiple waves,” resulting in widespread shortages that would strain consumers and the nation’s health care system.

And yes, people will die who did not die before.

Conspiracy theories of all kinds

One circulating in Beijing is from Nathan Rich.
“The Coronavirus CONSPIRACY – Did COVID-19 Come from America?” (by Nathan Rich)
Watch it on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3J6zm6zgah0

My take: a mix of small stories without much real proof.
Chinese government must LOVE the guy.
It circulates here: https://mp.weixin.qq.com/s/bGWO62NlqfWdrobY3WH-TA

The history of COVID-19

Fighting bureaucracy

Today the focus is on AXIOS and their article on the history of COVID-19. They have an excellent China Newsletter.
As Chinese officials have a very accurate selective memory loss, good to be aware of this.

I don’t write much otherwise as the whole day I have battled horrible Chinese bureaucracy. I have not yet reached the end but at least made big progress.
We could not enter the Beijing administration as we needed that dreaded 100086 stuff we can’t use, see my earlier post. After two trips back to our compound we managed to solve it with a letter from the compound management stating we were in Beijing in the past two weeks.

Other food news: TRB is coming back. And use chilis against the virus.
I also want to evaluate a bit the reaction and impact of my daily briefings.

Belgium to fine people using masks in public.

Really. This is not 1 April joke.
I think Chinese must be shocked, Americans may applaud.
You chose.

See the details here:
‘Wie rondloopt met mondmasker, moet GAS-boete krijgen’
Redacteur Knack 18/03/20

Volgens ere-vrederechter Jan Nolf kan het systeem van GAS-boetes worden ingezet om onnodig gebruik van mondmaskers tegen te gaan. ‘Enkel tijdens carnaval mag je gemaskerd de straat op.’

The early days of China’s coronavirus outbreak and cover-up

In earlier posts I already detailed many aspects of this but the following overview is very complete and points the finger in the right direction.

Axios has compiled a timeline of the earliest weeks of the coronavirus outbreak in China, highlighting when the cover-up started and ended — and showing how, during that time, the virus already started spreading around the world, including to the United States.
Why it matters: A study published in March indicated that if Chinese authorities had acted three weeks earlier than they did, the number of coronavirus cases could have been reduced by 95% and its geographic spread limited.

Here’s an abbreviated timeline, compiled from information reported by the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, the South China Morning Post, and other sources.
It shows that China’s cover-up and the delay in serious measures to contain the virus lasted about three weeks.

Dec. 10: Wei Guixian, one of the earliest known coronavirus patients, starts feeling ill.

Dec. 16: Patient admitted to Wuhan Central Hospital with an infection in both lungs but resistant to anti-flu drugs. Staff later learned he worked at a wildlife market connected to the outbreak.

Dec. 30: Ai Fen, a top director at Wuhan Central Hospital, posts information on WeChat about the new virus. She was reprimanded for doing so and told not to spread information about it.

Dec. 31: China tells the World Health Organization’s China office about the cases of an unknown illness.

Jan. 1: Wuhan Public Security Bureau brings in for questioning eight doctors who had posted information about the illness on WeChat.

Jan. 2: Chinese researchers map the new coronavirus’ complete genetic information. This information is not made public until Jan. 9.

Jan. 7: Xi Jinping becomes involved in the response.

Jan. 11–17: Important prescheduled CCP meeting held in Wuhan. During that time, Wuhan health commission insists there are no new cases.

Jan. 13: First coronavirus case reported in Thailand, the first known case outside China.

Jan. 15: The patient who becomes the first confirmed U.S. case leaves Wuhan and arrives in the U. S., carrying the coronavirus.

Jan. 18: Annual Wuhan lunar new year banquet. Tens of thousands of people gathered for a potluck.

Jan. 19: Beijing sends epidemiologists to Wuhan.

Jan. 20: The first case announced in South Korea. Zhong Nanshan, a top Chinese doctor who is helping to coordinate the coronavirus response, announces the virus can be passed between people.

Jan. 21: The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirms first coronavirus case in the United States. China’s top political commission in charge of law and order warns that “anyone who deliberately delays and hides the reporting of [virus] cases out of his or her own self-interest will be nailed on the pillar of shame for eternity.”

Jan. 23: Wuhan and three other cities are put on lockdown. Right around this time, approximately 5 million people leave the city without being screened for the illness.

Jan. 24–30: China celebrates the Lunar New Year holiday. Hundreds of millions of people are in transit around the country as they visit relatives.

Jan. 24: China extends the lockdown to cover 36 million people and starts to rapidly build a new hospital in Wuhan. From this point, very strict measures continue to be implemented around the country for the rest of the epidemic

The bottom line: China is now widely claiming that its actions to combat the coronavirus bought the world time to prepare. In January, the opposite was true.

Go deeper:
Read the full timeline:

China’s coronavirus cover-up was among worst in history:

A court action

Axios also mentions:
Suing China: Class action filed against China over COVID-19 outbreak (Law.com).
A plaintiff has filed a nationwide class-action lawsuit in a U.S. district court in Florida against the People’s Republic of China for its failure to contain the coronavirus epidemic.
Read the court document here.

Why the USA is fu###d

Loved this as I saw most of the statements myself.

Of course some will say this is all lies and witch hunting, blabla. Now guess who’s talking. Actually some Americans have the same selective memory loss as the Chinese authoritarian regime. They start looking very much alike.
I could not located the link to that video, This came close:
Trump spent weeks downplaying the coronavirus. He’s now pretending that never happened. Trump’s claim that he’s always taken the coronavirus “very seriously,” refuted by Donald Trump.

COVID-19 newsletter

Shanghai quarantine (always subject to change!)

A mix of news flashes, worthwhile ones, in my COVID-19 newsletter of today.
Quarantine requirements change by the day, so one needs to doublecheck at the last minute.
17 March 2020 – Everyone who travel from (pass by) Korea, Italy, Iran, Japan, France, German, Spain, USA, UK, Switzerland, Sweden, Belgium, Norway, Netherlands, Denmark, Austria during the past 14 days, as soon as you enter Shanghai, you need to keep in quarantine for 14 days. If you have home in Shanghai, then you need to stay at home for 14 days. If you don’t have home in shanghai, then the government will send you to an official quarantine place to stay for 14 days

New coronavirus stable for hours on surfaces

SARS-CoV-2 stability similar to original SARS virus.

The virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is stable for several hours to days in aerosols and on surfaces, according to a new study from National Institutes of Health, CDC, UCLA and Princeton University scientists in The New England Journal of Medicine. The scientists found that severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) was detectable in aerosols for up to three hours, up to four hours on copper, up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to two to three days on plastic and stainless steel. The results provide key information about the stability of SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19 disease, and suggests that people may acquire the virus through the air and after touching contaminated objects. The study information was widely shared during the past two weeks after the researchers placed the contents on a preprint server to quickly share their data with colleagues.

See the original article for more.

Dutch article mentions criticism on the research; the danger from the air could be exaggerated and the virus transmitted in the air would survive only a short time. But other studies also confirm the virus can survive for a long time on surfaces. See also earlier posts on the subject.
Amerikaans onderzoek: ‘Coronavirus kan uren overleven in de lucht en op oppervlaktes’
18/03/20 – Belga

China helping EU countries

At a press conference in Beijing on Tuesday, Lei Chaozi, a director of the science and technology department at the Ministry of Education, confirmed that China has begun supplying Italy, Britain and the Netherlands with coronavirus test kits and said “the country is very willing to enhance cooperation with other countries” in the preventive effort.

Damn I am blood type A

People with blood type A may be more vulnerable to coronavirus.
Research in Wuhan and Shenzhen indicates patients with the blood group had higher rate of infection and tended to get more severe symptoms.
SCMP 17 Mar, 2020

People with blood type A may be more vulnerable to infection by the new coronavirus, while those with type O seem more resistant, according to a preliminary study of patients in China who contracted the disease known as COVID-19.
Medical researchers in China took blood group patterns of more than 2,000 patients infected with the virus in Wuhan and Shenzhen and compared them to local healthy populations. They found that blood type A patients showed a higher rate of infection and they tended to develop more severe symptoms.

Now this is bad news

Bangkok closes bars, schools amid surge in cases and public rumors of a lockdown. Kick boxing stadiums, cinemas and bars in Bangkok and its surrounding areas will be closed for 14 days from Wednesday.

But obviously worse is this ticking time bomb.
Hubei’s migrant workers ‘living in fear’ as debts mount under lockdown. Sweeping coronavirus containment measures, including transport restrictions, have trapped nearly 60 million people in Hubei province. Among them are scores of rural migrant workers who are struggling to pay debts because they have been unable to return to their jobs.
My take is, that is not only a problem for Hubei migrant workers…

Why overseas Chinese return to China

(SCMP 18 March 2020, edited)
Chinese overseas head home to safe haven under Beijing’s tough quarantine regime. Some Chinese abroad feel comfort of close family, health care, masks, social control, quarantines and government surveillance is best combination to beat pandemic.

Some became very alarmed still seeing crowds of people abroad going to sports and other events, not taking any precautions. They also cannot understand why foreigners don’t use masks.
While China’s initial cover-up of the epidemic led to widespread discontent, many Chinese have given credit to the authorities for successfully slowing the transmission of the virus since drastic quarantine measures were put in place at the end of January.

Beijing has enforced mass quarantines with a powerful propaganda apparatus, surveillance technology and a large network of community watchers.
As health experts in Europe and America have struggled to convince everyone to stay at home and practice social distancing, many Chinese said the draconian measures in their country have made them feel safer.

Many of them are debating if they should “escape” back home, to a place perceived by some as a safe haven in a global crisis.
The tipping point for many overseas Chinese was a loss of trust in the health care systems of their countries of residence.
“If something happens to me, I would rather be in China,” Liu said, citing the scarcity of testing kits in the US. “The health care services [in China] are better. The medical system has already handled tens of thousands of cases.”
Despite the mandatory quarantine at home, many overseas Chinese, especially students, said they were desperate to return because of school closures, a desire to be with close family and a greater trust in China’s epidemic control mechanism.

Visit to the bank

This morning went to the bank. It took some 20 minutes to pass security and to fill out Chinese list of questions, Twice we had to do this scan QR stuff. Worse, need to do it every day. Impossible for someone who is not fluent in Chinese. Once in the bank another scan.

So this is inside the bank. Must be incredible for Americans (and other Westerners) to see a meeting with masks INSIDE the bank. And the scan stuff.

A stark warning to USA (and other countries)

Coronavirus: Unconfirmed cases may be behind rapid spread in China, researchers say.
(SCMP 17 March 2020)
Study estimates that 86% of infections went undiagnosed in the two weeks before Wuhan was locked down on January 23. Those people, who probably didn’t have severe symptoms, thought to have infected 79% of documented cases.
A joint study by experts in China, the US, Britain and Hong Kong found that undocumented infections of the new coronavirus, likely those without severe symptoms, were largely responsible for its spread across China in January.
The modelling research was published in Science magazine – run by the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Couldn’t express it better!

In other words, tests kits must be used from the very start on anybody who is not feeling well or has suspicious symptoms or has met infected people.
Much unlike in USA and other countries.