by Michael Snyder, The Economic Collapse Blog:
This is already becoming the worst public health scare that we have seen in many years, and experts are warning that we are still in the very early chapters of this crisis. Officials are fairly certain that the spread of this mysterious new coronavirus began in the Chinese city of Wuhan, and as you will see below, measures are now being implemented to try to isolate that city from the rest of China. But it is already too late, because cases have already been reported in other major Chinese cities, and the virus has also already traveled to a whole bunch of foreign countries via airplane. Cases have been reported in Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Taiwan, the Philippines, Australia and now there has even been one case in the United States. It is being estimated that this virus has an incubation period of about a week, and so the truth is that countless others could be spreading it around right now without even realizing it.
There is so much that we still don’t know about this disease, but what we do know is that there were 48 confirmed cases on January 17th and now there are 440…
Chinese officials have just held a press conference that was anything but the usual CDC “everything’s ok” statement. The particularly ominous warning that the virus is mutating and spreading is perhaps due to the poor handling of the SARS breakout in 2002/3 which was marked by cover-ups and official reluctance to share information.
Li Bin, vice head of China’s National Health Commission, confirmed there are 440 confirmed coronavirus cases in this new outbreak and there have been 9 deaths. Some 1,394 patients are under medical observation.
What this means is that the number of confirmed cases has gotten nine times higher in just four days.
Needless to say, this is creating a tremendous amount of panic. In China, a lot of people are completely shying away from public places at this point…
“I don’t really dare to go to the airport right now, or even to the movie theater,” said Xie Jing, 33, who works in advertising in Shanghai, where there have been two confirmed cases of coronavirus. She canceled her planned trip home to Sichuan, where two cases are suspected.
“Everyone is being very careful at the moment in Shanghai. Everyone is wearing masks on the streets,” Xie said.
Sadly, the demand for masks is far greater than the supply, and some sellers have decided to make a quick profit by selling them “for more than 10 times their original price”…
Several unscrupulous sellers who bought up masks en bulk are now managing to sell them for more than 10 times their original price. Some retailers were selling the masks for as much as 40 yuan ($7), a more than 10-fold mark-up. Users of Weibo, a Chinese social network similar to Twitter, warned anybody planning to travel to instead consider staying home, and repeatedly washing their hands.
According to certain sites that track prices of Chinese goods, the masks typically sell for 53 cents.
We haven’t seen this sort of panic since the days of the bird flu scare, and Chinese citizens are demanding action.
Unfortunately, there isn’t that much that can be done at this point. Chinese officials are taking some steps to try to isolate Wuhan from the rest of the country, but many are skeptical that these measures will really make that much of a difference…
Wuhan, the central Chinese city where the coronavirus was first detected, announced a series of new measures Tuesday, including the cancellation of upcoming Lunar New Year celebrations, which had been expected to attract hundreds of thousands of people.
Tour agencies have been banned from taking groups out of Wuhan and the number of thermal monitors and screening areas in public spaces will be increased. Traffic police will also conduct spot checks on private vehicles coming in and out of the city to look for live poultry or wild animals, after the virus was linked to a seafood and live animal market, according to a report by state media outlet the People’s Daily, citing Wuhan’s Municipal Health Commission.
There are about 11 million people living in and around Wuhan. Cancelling a few events and performing sporadic “spot checks” is not going to keep this virus from spreading.
And of course the fact that this virus has already spread to a bunch of other countries is really alarming officials all over the globe. North Korea has already “closed its borders to foreign tourists”, and other nations may soon follow suit.
In addition, airports all over the world are stepping up their screening efforts…
Authorities in several countries, including Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Japan have stepped up screening of air passengers from Wuhan. US authorities last week announced similar measures at airports in San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York. They have now announced plans to introduce similar measures at airports in Chicago and Atlanta this week.
Unfortunately, this virus has already arrived in the United States via airplane. A resident of Washington state brought it back from China on January 15th, and he didn’t contact a health professional until January 19th…
U.S. officials said the man, a resident of Snohomish County, Wash., returned Jan. 15 from a trip to the region around Wuhan. Shortly after arriving at Seattle’s international airport, he began feeling ill and reached out to his health-care provider on Sunday.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed Monday the man had the coronavirus – which has sickened more than 400 people in China and others in Thailand, Japan, Taiwan and South Korea.
During the intervening days, how many others caught this virus from that particular individual?