(LONDON) — Organizers of the world’s biggest mobile technology fair are pulling the plug over worries about the viral outbreak from China.
The annual Mobile World Congress show will no longer be held as planned in Barcelona, Spain, on Feb. 24-27.
“Global concern regarding the coronavirus outbreak, travel concern and other circumstances, make it impossible for the GSMA to hold the event,” John Hoffman, head of the organizing body, said in a statement Wednesday.
The decision comes after dozens of tech companies and wireless carriers dropped out, with the latest cancelations by Nokia, Vodafone, Deutsche Telekom and Britain’s BT on Wednesday. Other big names that have already dropped out include Ericsson, Nokia, Sony, Amazon, Intel and LG. The companies cited concerns for the safety of staff and visitors.
Organizers had sought to hold out against growing pressure to cancel the annual tech extravaganza, which had been expected to draw more than 100,000 visitors from about 200 countries, including 5,000 to 6,000 from China.
Tim Bajarin, president of consultancy Creative Strategies, said that with all the unknowns surrounding how the new virus is spread, and the fact that many companies had already pulled out, the decision to cancel was the most prudent decision for show organizers.
“They had the ability to protect 100,000 people in one general fairground atmosphere,” he said.
These days, most big companies hold their own product launch events anyway, as Samsung did Tuesday in San Francisco. But Bajarin said Mobile World Congress was still an opportunity for many people in the mobile industry to meet in one place.
“It allowed for a lot of networking and business dealings, so in that context, it was a significant loss,” he said.
The GSMA, the wireless trade body that organizes the fair, had said it was meeting regularly with global and Spanish health experts and its partners to ensure the well-being of attendees. It had already urged participants to avoid handshakes and planned to step up cleaning and disinfecting and make sure speakers don’t use the same microphone.
Earlier Wednesday, Nokia said it had decided to withdraw “after a full assessment of the risks related to a fast-moving situation.” The company said “the health and well-being of employees was a primary focus” and that canceling its involvement was a “prudent decision.”
The departures of Nokia and Ericsson had left China’s Huawei, a major sponsor of the fair, as the only remaining major network gear maker still planning to attend.
Organizers were caught between risking potential backlash over public health concerns if they went ahead or facing big financial losses if they canceled, said Stephen Mears, a research analyst at Futuresource Consulting.
Even before the cancellation, Mears said his five-person team was considering dropping out or shortening the trip as many participants they wanted to meet wouldn’t be there, including those from China, which accounts for an increasing share of the global smartphone and mobile network industry.
“It’s becoming less and less valuable for people like us to attend if we’re not able to get meetings with the high-level executives,” he said.
Spanish authorities tried to promote a message of calm as they scrambled to keep alive the trade show, which they say generates 473 million euros ($516 million) and more than 14,000 part-time jobs for the local economy.
The Catalan regional health chief, Alba Vergés, said there was a “very low risk of the coronavirus” in the region of Catalonia, where Barcelona is located, and that authorities are “completely prepared to detect any cases.” Four suspected cases have all have proven negative, she said at a press briefing earlier.
“There is no public health reason to cancel any event in Catalonia or Barcelona, including the Mobile World Congress,” Vergés said. “If the companies make their own decision, we have to respect that, but we are here to explain this from a public health perspective.”
Dr. Mike Ryan, the World Health Organization’s emergencies chief, said before the cancellation that the show could have gone on.
“There’s no zero risk with any mass gathering,” he said. “There’s a risk of food poisoning, injuries, buildings have collapsed. All meeting organizers have to put in place a risk-management strategy. Many of the risks can be reduced through simple measures and if an event occurs, those can also be managed.”
Ryan added that most events “can continue if the proper measures can be applied.”
Joseph Wilson in Barcelona, Spain, AP Technology Writer Mae Anderson in New York and AP Medical Writer Maria Cheng in London contributed to this report.
Topline: A cruise ship that was turned away from several ports in Asia over coronavirus fears—despite no cases onboard—will now dock in Cambodia after days of uncertainty and mounting anxiety among passengers.
The Holland America Line’s MS Westerdam was banned from docking by Thailand earlier this week, over concerns about coronavirus on the ship. Holland America Line, which is owned by Carnival Cruise, says nobody onboard has reported symptoms.
It will now dock in Sihanoukville in Cambodia on Thursday, where passengers will disembark over a few day and will be transported to the capital, Phnom Penh, and flown home. Holland America Line says it will pay for the flight sand refund passengers their entire trip.
The MS Westerdam had planned to disembark its passengers in Thailand after Japan, The Philippines and Guam turned away the cruise ship. The Thai government on Tuesday offered fuel, food, and medicine to the cruise ship.
Stephen Hansen and his wife are two of the 1,500 passengers stuck on the vessel, which sailed from Hong Kong on February 1st and had been scheduled to end its cruise in Japan on February 15.
Hansen told Forbes: “While I can understand that countries want to protect their own citizens first before helping us their decisions to turn us away are based more on misinformation and fear than facts.”
Holland America said in a statement on Wednesday: “All approvals have been received and we are extremely grateful to the Cambodian authorities for their support…All guests on board are healthy and despite erroneous reports there are no known or suspected cases of coronavirus on board, nor have their ever been.”
Passengers had been calling for political intervention, with Hansen saying that the countries’ decision to reject the vessel was down to “misinformation and fear,” rather than facts.
Key background: Cruise ships have become an unlikely flashpoint in the battle to stop the international spread of the coronavirus. The British-owned Diamond Princess cruise was quarantined in Tokyo last Monday, with 174 out of the 3,700 passengers on board now ill with the pneumonia-like illness. Around 3,600 passengers and crew were held aboard the World Dream cruise ship for four days in Hong Kong over concerns the ship staff had contracted the virus from infected passengers on an earlier cruise. Cruise Lines International Association, the industry’s trade organization, announced last week its members would bar passengers who had visited China, Hong Kong, or Macau, 14 days before their cruise, from boarding.
News peg: Coronavirus, this week renamed Covid-19, has now killed more than 1,000 people and infected at least 42,000 more. The outbreak is concentrated in mainland China, after the virus was first detected in patients who are thought to have visited a Wuhan market in December. Airlines have also been badly disrupted, with some international carriers suspended their flights to and from China, and a number of international companies and manufacturers have been impacted by the Chinese government’s move to extend the Lunar new year holiday in a bid to restrict the spread of the virus. Tens of millions were placed under lockdown by Chinese health authorities in cities like Wuhan that have seen the highest number of reported cases.
I am a breaking news reporter for Forbes in London, covering Europe and the U.S. Previously I was a news reporter for HuffPost UK, the Press Association and a night reporter at the Guardian. I studied Social Anthropology at the London School of Economics, where I was a writer and editor for one of the university’s global affairs magazines, the London Globalist. That led me to Goldsmiths, University of London, where I completed my M.A. in Journalism. Got a story? Get in touch at email@example.com, or follow me on Twitter @bissieness. I look forward to hearing from you.
Zhou Yuxiang was not in the mood for festivities during China’s Lunar New Year holiday this year. The 30-year-old CEO of Shanghai-based software startup Black Lake Technologies had to figure out how to manage his company amid the country’s deadly coronavirus outbreak. Working from home to comply with local quarantine rules has lowered productivity, while expenses remained high as he still needs to pay rent even when no one is using the office.
What’s more, Zhou says, clients are slower to take on new contracts as factories remain shut and production is delayed, hurting his otherwise fast growth.
“This epidemic caused production suspension for a considerable number of factory clients,” he says, who counts 300 factory owners as customers of his cloud-based management software. “Unpredictability on when factories could resume production has increased uncertainty for our first quarter growth.”
As the deadly virus, temporarily called 2019-nCoV, shows no sign of slowing, China’s vast business scene is taking a hit. While some companies, including Zhou’s, hope to recoup any losses before the year’s end, others are suffering a much more devastating blow.
This is because the epidemic’s economic damage is far and wide. It is believed to be more contagious than the 2003 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) epidemic, causing the Chinese government to impose nationwide mall closures, movie cancellations and factory shutdowns to prevent the disease’s further spread. As manufacturing and business activities cease, first quarter GDP growth will plummet to 3.8%—which equals to $62 billion in lost growth—and drag full-year GDP growth below 6% to 5.4%, according to UBS economist Wang Tao.
Sectors that are hardest hit include catering, entertainment, hospitality, retail and transportation. These businesses tend to have heavy inventory or a lot of expenses, but they can’t generate any meaningful revenue when people stay indoors.
Jia Guolong, founder of popular restaurant chain Xi Bei, told local media this week that his company only had enough cash for the next three months. He still needs to pay rent and salary to more than 20,000 employees, even when his restaurants are largely empty. To preserve cash, Hong Kong’s flag carrier, Cathay Pacific has asked its 27,000 employees to take three weeks of unpaid leave, warning that the condition is as grave as the 2009 global financial crisis. And fast-food operator Yum China is expecting negative impact on 2020 full-year sales and profit, after temporarily shutting down 30% of its stores in China.
While these larger businesses may eventually have the resources to weather through, smaller startups could experience a life-and-death moment. Zhang Yi, founder of Guangzhou-based consultancy iiMedia Research, says he won’t be surprised if a wave of bankruptcies occur. And Wang Ran, founder of Beijing-based investment firm CEC Capital, urged startups to do whatever they can to survive.
“Downsize if you need to, relocate if you need to and lay off people if you need to,” Wang wrote in a recent blog post. “Only those who lived through this can see spring, and have a future.”
Beijing has put out rescue measures. The country’s central bank, the People’s Bank of China, announced on February 2 that it would pump $174 billion worth of liquidity into the markets to help cushion the impact. Local governments have called for rent deductions and more flexible salary arrangements, with the Shanghai municipal government promising tax and insurance refunds to employers who don’t engage in layoffs.
But analysts say business survival may ultimately depend on whether the virus can be contained. Since originating in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in December, it has spread across the country, infecting more than 28,000 people and killing over 500. There are now coronavirus cases around the world, including Japan, Thailand, Germany, the United States and the United Arab Emirates. The World Health Organization declared the outbreak a global health emergency and dozens of nations, including Italy, Singapore and the U.S., have placed travel restrictions from China.
“The longer this drags on, the bigger the damage,” iiMedia Research’s Zhang says. “If it lasts for another month, then it would be unbearable for any business.”
Startups are doing what they can to minimize damage. Black Lake’s Zhou is offering discounted services, especially to clients who are based in the most affected areas. Zhou Wenyu (not related to Zhou Yuxiang), founder of Shaoxing-based software startup Youshupai, is slowing down marketing activities and transferring its first quarter sales goal to the second quarter. And Joanne Tang, founder of travel and marketing agency Infinite Luxury, says she is diversifying to other Asian markets while reminding overseas-based clients not to reduce efforts in China.
“For sure, we are in a challenging time,” Tang says. “We have to monitor how it goes, but we won’t be standing still and just wait until this is over.”
I am a Beijing-based writer covering China’s technology sector. I contribute to Forbes, and previously I freelanced for SCMP and Nikkei. Prior to Beijing, I spent six months as an intern at TIME magazine’s Hong Kong office. I am a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism, Northwestern University. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @yueyueyuewang
CNBC’s Eunice Yoon reports on how the coronavirus outbreak is expected to take a serious toll on China’s economy. Expect supply disruptions as China takes measures to contain an ongoing coronavirus outbreak, says REYL Singapore’s Daryl Liew. “The sharp action taken by the Chinese government to basically delay workers going back to work is definitely going to cause some supply disruptions,” Liew, who is chief investment officer at REYL Singapore, told CNBC’s “Street Signs” on Thursday. With the virus infecting at least 7,700 and killing 170 in China, authorities have taken measures to curb the disease’s spread. At least three provinces have declared that businesses, other than some essential industries, are barred from resuming work before Feb. 10. In Hubei province, where the majority of cases have been found, resumption of local business has been delayed till at least Feb. 14. A “big question mark” remains over how long the disruptions could last, Liew said, as it depends on whether the situation can be contained. That comes as manufacturing numbers were showing “some normalization,” he added. “It’s a bit of a lagging indicator but the December ISM numbers have all been broadly positive, especially for Asian economies … which suggest essentially that global trade is normalizing. It’s not bouncing back significantly but it is rebounding,” Liew said, adding that that has translated to better manufacturing numbers. “The current virus … and the extended shutdown in China will definitely put a crimp to that,” Liew said. Potential impact on US businesses The outbreak has sent tremors across markets in Asia and beyond in recent days, as investor concerns about the potential economic impact grow. “We’re concerned that there could start to be … some overall impact on the Chinese economy which could lend itself, from a sentiment perspective, to greater concerns … for the global economy,” Shannon Saccocia, chief investment officer at Boston Private, told CNBC on Thursday. That could spillover into the performance of U.S. businesses at a time when the “strain of lower production” is being felt stateside, Saccocia said. “If we start to see that upended by the fact that factories aren’t opening and … we’re not able to get the components that we need from the Chinese economy, you know, that could … certainly slow any sort of manufacturing reacceleration that we were hoping for in the first two quarters of 2020,” she said. The Chinese city of Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province, is the epicenter of the outbreak, and authorities have placed multiple cities in the province under partial or complete lockdown. Wuhan and the surrounding region of Hefei and Jiangsu are major manufacturing hubs that work with American firms. But they have also been shut down due to the virus outbreak. “As an investor, you need to understand … where the supply chain starts and ends and factor in to your expectations … for those companies,” Saccocia said, though she acknowledged that it’s “a little early” to “paint the picture that half of the year is going to be meaningfully lower from a growth standpoint due to this virus.” For access to live and exclusive video from CNBC subscribe to CNBC PRO: https://www.cnbc.com/pro/?__source=yo… » Subscribe to CNBC TV: https://cnb.cx/SubscribeCNBCtelevision » Subscribe to CNBC: https://cnb.cx/SubscribeCNBC » Subscribe to CNBC Classic: https://cnb.cx/SubscribeCNBCclassic Turn to CNBC TV for the latest stock market news and analysis. From market futures to live price updates CNBC is the leader in business news worldwide. Connect with CNBC News Online Get the latest news: http://www.cnbc.com/ Follow CNBC on LinkedIn: https://cnb.cx/LinkedInCNBC Follow CNBC News on Facebook: https://cnb.cx/LikeCNBC Follow CNBC News on Twitter: https://cnb.cx/FollowCNBC Follow CNBC News on Instagram: https://cnb.cx/InstagramCNBC#CNBC#CNBC TV
The deadly coronavirus discovered in China has traveled by air to some 25 other countries. It’s no wonder a lot of those countries are restricting flights and handing airlines their worst event-driven financial hit since 2003.
More than 25,000 flights were canceled in the first full week of February, according to data from air travel intelligence firm OAG. Thirty airlines have suspended services to China, reaching a combined 8,000 seats per week, OAG says. The virus, discovered in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in December, has sickened more than 40,000 people and killed over 900 as of February 10.
Airlines will feel a financial pinch that reminds them of the deadly outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) that started in China in 2003, aviation experts predict. They say today’s suspensions are already as bad as the SARS peak from March through June 2003. They attribute that to the coronavirus’s quick, widely-reported spread and the equally fast moves around the world to ban travel-related activity—a result of everyone learning from the SARS crisis.
“The levels of cancelations that we are seeing are unprecedented and exceed any other pandemic event that we can recall,” says Mayur Patel, head of Asia at OAG. He attributes the pileup of cancelations to “swift action from regulators and airlines.”
The SARS epidemic hollowed out 8% of annual revenue per kilometer for Asia Pacific airlines and cost them $6 billion in revenues due to lost business, Singapore’s Business Times reports. That epidemic hit Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore as well as major mainland Chinese cities.
Losses expected from the coronavirus-linked cancelations are “broadly consistent with the SARS level” when China-headquartered airlines alone slashed at least 50% of flights, says Eric Lin, aviation analyst in Hong Kong with the investment bank UBS. He anticipates industry losses at least in the first quarter this year.
Mainland Chinese airlines have felt most of the impact this year to date, Lin says. Among those are state-owned carriers such as Air China and China Southern Airlines. Privately-owned peers including Hainan Airlines have cut back, too.
Taiwan’s airlines and Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific will be especially hit hard because of their dependence on China flights, Lin forecasts. Going farther out, United Airlines and British Airways have both reduced China flights.
A spokesperson for Taiwan-based EVA Airways said Friday the carrier planned to scale back China flights through April and that it was “monitoring the development of coronavirus outbreak and passengers’ travel demand to adjust route network and flight frequency.” Taiwanese peer China Airlines set up a Q&A website for worried passengers on February 4 and said it would refund fares booked directly through the company.
Losses this year could add up further if the virus spreads more outside China, Moody’s Investors Service said in a January 31 research note, though a dip in oil prices might offset that. “Carriers with weaker business models or liquidity profiles are likely to be hit harder and take longer to recover,” Moody’s said in the note.
Airlines will probably cope with losses by cutting costs, including non-paid leave for employees, Lin says. But some diversified routes to avoid depending on China, he adds. On whether or not airfares will rise, “do not expect a lot of bargains,” he says.
Civil aviation will bounce back fast once the virus recedes, if the SARS progression repeats this year, analysts believe. The main airport in Beijing, a SARS outbreak area, reported peak passenger flows a month after SARS passed, while the country’s airlines were selling 90% of their seats, China Daily reported back then.
Lin expects a V-shaped recovery from the coronavirus slump that’s now addling airlines. That’s because passengers who spiked travel during the disease outbreak suddenly jump back into it with extra demand, Lin says.
“Our experience of such events is that air services will return quickly after the virus has been contained and demand will rapidly follow,” Patel says.
As a news reporter I have covered some of everything since 1988, from my alma mater U.C. Berkeley to the Great Hall of the People in Beijing where I followed Communist officials for the Japanese news agency Kyodo. Stationed in Taipei since 2006, I track Taiwanese companies and local economic trends that resonate offshore. At Reuters through 2010, I looked intensely at the island’s awkward relations with China. More recently, I’ve studied high-tech trends in greater China and expanded my overall news coverage to surrounding Asia.
A typical room has a ceiling fan, striped wallpaper and floral curtains. Above a neatly made bed is a chintzy print showcasing a cobblestone alley. In communal areas, residents have space to watch big-screen TVs or throw around a football or read a book under a tree, and the U.S. Marshals Service is providing security.
Such are the conditions at the March Air Reserve Base in Riverside County, Calif., where 195 people are subject to the first mandatory quarantine orders issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in more than 50 years. Like more than 600 other people assigned to five other military bases around the country, these Americans were recently evacuated from China’s Hubei province, the site of the novel coronavirus outbreak that has now claimed more than 600 lives.
All but two of those deaths have occurred in mainland China, where more than 31,000 cases have been confirmed. The crisis is now creeping around the world, with cases reported in more than 24 other countries, including 12 in the U.S.
There is widespread anxiety about sickness, and much is still unknown about the virus, including whether people without symptoms are capable of spreading it. Facing such uncertainty, the CDC took the extraordinary measure on January 31 of drawing on legal authority that the department hasn’t used since the 1960s — when officials were combatting smallpox — to impose a mandatory, 14-day quarantine on recently repatriated Americans who had been in Hubei. Two weeks is the likely incubation period for the virus.
“We are taking measures to minimize any contact. We expect confirmed infections among these and other returning travelers from Hubei province,” Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said in a briefing on Feb. 5. “Now is the time to act so that we can slow the introduction and impact of this virus in the U.S.”
A few days earlier, when the federal government announced the quarantine, Messonnier called the action “unprecedented.”
There are several good reasons that ordering a quarantine is something that U.S. public health officials rarely do.
Finding quarters can be a challenge
For starters, the government does not have dedicated quarantine facilities just waiting to be used, explains Arthur Reingold, professor of epidemiology at the University of California, Berkeley’s School of Public Health.
Quarantine refers to the containment of apparently healthy people who may be incubating a virus they’ve come in contact with. (Isolation is the term for confining someone who is already sick.) In previous eras, this was often done on sea-going vessels. Passengers who might have a sickness like the plague would wait out the likely incubation period on a ship before being allowed to land. “But quarantine vessels went out of business a long time ago,” Reingold says.
Faced with a need to suddenly house hundreds of people, the Department of Health and Human Services turned to the Department of Defense, and six military bases were made available. The main criteria in choosing them, a DoD spokesman says, was their ability to comfortably house approximately 250 people in one or two buildings, like an on-base motel where everyone has their own bathroom, and close proximity to a hospital. Locations in the West, given the shorter flight distance from China, were also preferable, which is why half of the bases are in California, with one more in each of Colorado, Texas and Nebraska.
Quarantines are expensive
Even with locations secured, executing humane quarantines involves a lot of logistics, and that doesn’t come cheap. There are transportation and ongoing housing costs. Individuals need to be fed and regularly checked for symptoms. It requires medical care on-demand. And there’s security and maintenance to consider.
The CDC and HHS have not responded to requests from TIME asking about cost estimates for the current quarantines or whether the department will cover all costs. The HHS, which oversees the CDC, announced on Feb. 3 that it was making $250 million in emergency funds available to generally cover response, including screening and monitoring of U.S. citizens returning from various parts of China.
Tabulating the bills may also be a messy business. The DoD, for example, tells TIME that it expects full reimbursement for all costs from HHS. So does the state of California. A spokesman for Riverside County, meanwhile, says that while they hope to get reimbursed, it’s not been made clear if it will be.
With five county departments supporting the quarantine at March Air Reserve Base, including the provision of staff that includes doctors, nurses, behavioral health specialists and epidemiologists, as well a mobile health clinic that is at the base in case individuals get a migraine or scrape a knee, the estimated costs for the county alone are an estimated $115,000 per day.
The Coronavirus Outbreak Could Derail Xi Jinping’s Dreams of a Chinese Century
The virus looms over the President’s national rejuvenation project and his rigid, top-down rule is being tested
“Clearly the cost element of it is not a factor when we’re asked to provide services on an urgent basis. Our first priority is to figure out how to do it and then do it,” Riverside County spokesman Jose Arballo, Jr., says. That said, he adds, “The county isn’t in a situation where it’s flush.”
Putting aside the incalculable value of preventing an outbreak of the coronavirus, quarantines can potentially be cost-saving in the long run. “While expensive it’s more than worth it,” Larry Gostin, an expert in public health law and professor at Georgetown University, writes in an email. “It prevents spread of disease and serious illnesses. And it’s far less costly than having to hospitalize many patients who could contract the coronavirus infection.”
People’s freedom must be limited carefully
Another reason mandatory quarantines are uncommon in America is that they are, of course, coercive. Though federal and state governments have the legal ability to impose quarantines in the name of public safety, the ACLU has raised concerns about the government controlling people’s freedom of movement and noted that individuals’ livelihoods can be put at risk if they’re unable to work for weeks at a time. (The CDC has not responded to a request from TIME about whether the department will cover lost wages for individuals under quarantine orders.) It can also cause disruptions in childcare.
Soon after the 195 people arrived at March Air Reserve Base, one individual did attempt to leave and was ordered back. Otherwise, Arballo says, the individuals in quarantine have been cooperative and “appreciative of the work being done.” Attitudes may have been tempered by gratitude that the U.S. government helped them escape the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, as well as knowledge that spread of the disease would be harmful. The U.S. Marshals Service says that agents have not had to stop anyone from leaving — that no one is revolting — but in the unlikely event that someone did, they would intervene.
Georgetown’s Gostin has noted that there is a world of difference between today’s relatively small quarantines at American military bases, where people are housed in the equivalent of a modest hotel room, and what is happening in China, where the government has essentially put 56 million people on lockdown in an attempt to stop the spread of the coronavirus. Such extreme actions can cause panic, drive the epidemic underground and potentially make it worse, leading to cross-infection and social isolation, he explains. People may have difficulty accessing basic necessities, much less sufficient medical care.
The Americans quarantined at the March Air Reserve Base, in contrast, requested and were brought beer to enjoy while watching the Super Bowl.
The efficacy is unclear
Even when quarantines are imposed on narrow populations and rolled out compassionately, it’s not clear how effective it is to limit the movement of people who aren’t showing symptoms, Berkeley’s Reingold says. “For many infectious diseases, transmission basically is limited entirely or almost entirely to people who are symptomatic,” he explains. “Quarantining asymptomatic individuals has generally been viewed as a low priority.”
Yet, in the case of the new coronavirus, there has been conflicting evidence about whether asymptomatic people are contagious. “Until we know more, given the concerns, given the anxiety, this is a reasonable measure to take,” Reingold adds.
W. Ian Lipkin, director of the Center for Infection and Immunity at Columbia University, recently traveled to Beijing and Guangzhou. Upon returning to the U.S., he was mandated by the government to self-quarantine for 14 days because the CDC views those areas of China as medium risk, he says. He is currently in his cabin in upstate New York, writing in to the government with temperature and status reports.
When asked for his thoughts on the quarantines, he responded with concerns about being objective given that he has been personally affected. “The new coronavirus is highly transmissible,” he wrote in an email. “Thus, I appreciate the concern underlying the decision to impose quarantines. I’m not sure that we need 14 days.”
While mandating quarantines could be an expensive and cumbersome overreaction, CDC’s Messonier suggested the department would rather be remembered for doing too much rather than doing too little as scientists race to learn more about the virus. And experts say Americans should feel reassured that they live in a wealthy country where expensive overreactions are an option. Populations who live in poor countries in Asia or Africa, where officials have more limited capabilities of response, are at higher risk if the coronavirus starts to spread.
At the March Air Reserve Base, two individuals — both children — have been found to have fevers. One was transported to a nearby hospital on Feb. 3, with a parent, and was transported back to the base when tests for the virus came back negative. A second was transported on Feb. 5. As of Friday morning, they remained in isolation at the hospital awaiting test results.
195 Americans are under quarantine as blood samples and throat cultures get tested by the CDC after the group was evacuated to California from the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in China. 6,000 passengers stuck on cruise ship over coronavirus fears READ MORE: https://abcn.ws/392BsP1#ABCNews#Coronavirus#China
The coronavirus is endangering South Korea’s automotive industry—its biggest and most visible export after semiconductors.
The reason is simple. Hyundai Motor and its sister company Kia Motors, as well as three smaller competitors, are not getting wiring that’s made in China by the Korean subsidiary of Leoni, a German car-parts maker. Leoni, like many other companies, has shut down operations in China at least until next week.
The first Hyundai vehicle to suffer was the top-of-the-line Genesis, a luxury sedan that’s manufactured at the company’s historic plant in Ulsan, on the southeastern coast of South Korea, about 190 miles southeast of Seoul.
Hyundai said its plants in Ulsan and two other cities would be slowing down and possibly halting operations until early next week or unless wiring production resumed in China or domestic Korean companies could begin to fill the need. The company asked workers not to report for normal overtime shifts producing its Palisade sports utility vehicle.
There were also concerns that other components might soon be in short supply. Bosch, the German manufacturer, has had to close its two plants in Wuhan until next week. Volkmar Denner, Bosch’s CEO, told reporters in Stuttgart there had been “no disruptions” so far. But “if this situation continues, supply chains will be disrupted,” he added.
Similarly, Kia, which manufactures a number of vehicles on similar platforms as Hyundai vehicles, has had to cut down production at its plants in Korea while suspending work in China.
Together, Hyundai and Kia theoretically produce more than 9 million vehicles a year at plants in Korea and abroad—5.5 million produced by Hyundai and 3.8 million by Kia, according to Yonhap. Their goal this year has been 7.5 million, up from 7.2 million last year, but the coronavirus is already cutting into production and sales in China and may lower expectations elsewhere.
Hyundai Motor, South Korea’s second-largest conglomerate after the Samsung empire, revealed the problems as South Korea counted 16 people so far stricken by the coronavirus, which has claimed more than 400 lives in China. The latest case here was that of a 42-year-old woman who had returned from a trip to Thailand, where 25 people have been diagnosed with the disease, the most outside China.
Besides Hyundai and Kia, Ssangyong Motor, already troubled by severe losses, had to suspend production at its plant at Pyeongtaek, 40 miles southwest of Seoul. GM Korea, Korea’s third-largest motor-vehicle maker, and Renault Samsung Motors both said they were watching to see what to do next, though the latter said it could obtain wiring from its Japanese partners, Nissan and Mitsubishi, reported Yonhap.
The virus is also hitting Korea’s tourism industry. The government stopped granting visa-free entry to foreign travelers wishing to visit the highly popular tourist destination of Jeju, a scenic island province off Korea’s southern coast that’s connected directly by air to major Chinese cities; Chinese nationals accounted for almost all the foreign visitors to the island without visas last year. Lotte Duty Free and Shilla Duty Free, immense attractions for Chinese tourists, have both had to suspend operations on Jeju.
Just as devastating, Samsung Electronics has had to suspend its newly opened flagship store in Shanghai after rival Apple already closed most of its operations in China. Yonhap quoted a Samsung official as saying the store, which opened in October, had closed “for safety.”
I have reported from Asia since covering the “Year of Living Dangerously” in Indonesia, 1965-66, and the war in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos in the late 1960s-early 1970s for newspapers and magazines, including the Chicago Tribune and the old Washington (DC) Star. I also wrote two books from that period, “Wider War: the Struggle for Cambodia, Thailand and Laos” and “Tell it to the Dead.” In recent years I’ve reported from Korea for the Christian Science Monitor, International Herald Tribune, Forbes Asia, etc. while writing “Korean Dynasty: Hyundai and Chung Ju-yung,” “Korea Betrayed: Kim Dae-jung and Sunshine” and, in 2013, “Okinawa and Jeju: Bases of Discontent.” I’ve also reported a lot from Japan, the Philippines and Iraq and spent much of 2013 as a Fulbright-Nehru senior research scholar in India.
China has kick-started a clinical trial to speedily test a drug for the novel coronavirus infection as the nation rushes therapies for those afflicted and scours for vaccines to protect the rest.
Remdesivir, a new antiviral drug by Gilead Sciences Inc. aimed at infectious diseases such Ebola and SARS, will be tested by a medical team from Beijing-based China-Japan Friendship Hospital for efficacy in treating the deadly new strain of coronavirus, a hospital spokeswoman told Bloomberg News Monday.
Trial for the drug will be conducted in the central Chinese city of Wuhan — ground zero of the viral outbreak that has so far killed more than 360 people, sickened over 17,000 in China and spread to more than a dozen nations. As many as 270 patients with mild and moderate pneumonia caused by the virus will be recruited in a randomized, double-blinded and placebo-controlled study, Chinese news outlet The Paper reported on Sunday.
Drugmakers such as GlaxoSmithKline Plc. as well as Chinese authorities are racing to crash develop vaccines and therapies to combat the new virus that’s more contagious than SARS and could cost the global economy four times more than the $40 billion sapped by the 2003 SARS outbreak. The decision to hold human trials for remdesivir shows it’s among the most promising therapies against the virus that so far has no specific treatments or vaccines.
The experimental drug has not yet been approved for use by any drug regulator in the world but is being used on patients battling the new virus in the absence of approved treatment options, Gilead said in a statement last week.
China’s health regulator has also recommended AbbVie Inc’s HIV medicine Kaletra as an ad-hoc antiviral drug for coronovirus. Kaletra is also set to undergo human trials, according to The Paper.
Meanwhile, a global search continues for therapies to contain the infection that can spread undetected.
Johnson & Johnson has initiated work on a preventive coronavirus vaccine and has “dozens of scientists” working on it, its Chief Scientific Officer Paul Stoffels said last month. GlaxoSmithKline and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations said Monday they will work to accelerate the creation of a vaccine and then provide the doses rapidly.
The Coalition, set up in 2017 to spur the development of shots for known diseases and to respond to new viruses, has also signed contracts with drugmakers including Moderna Inc. and Inovio Pharmaceuticals Inc. as early as Jan. 22 to expedite work on vaccines. Novavax Inc. was among the first ones to announce it was working on a candidate too.
Racing To Make A Coronavirus Vaccine
Scientists at Moderna Theraputics and the NIH are racing to create the world’s first coronavirus vaccine in record time.
Health officials, however, say a vaccine version may take three months to be available for the first stages of human testing while developing an effective vaccine generally takes years.
That puts remdesivir on the front lines of combating the infection.
The first patient in the U.S. infected with the virus, a 35-year-old man, has seen his pneumonia improve after he was given remdesivir, doctors treating him said in a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine last week.
The trial in China could lead to a fast-track approval of remdesivir by the Chinese drug regulator, which in some cases has been the fastest in the world. China’s drug law now allows conditional approval for drugs with clinical data demonstrating efficacy against aliments that are life-threatening and have no existing therapies.
The spread of a deadly new virus is accelerating, Chinese President Xi Jinping warned, after holding a special government meeting on the Lunar New Year public holiday.
The country is facing a “grave situation” Mr Xi told senior officials.
The coronavirus has killed at least 56 people and infected almost 2,000 since its discovery in the city of Wuhan.
The US has announced that staff at the Wuhan consulate will be evacuated on a special flight on Tuesday.
The State Department said that private Americans most at risk will also be able to board the flight to San Francisco.
Meanwhile, UK-based researchers have warned of a real possibility that China will not be able to contain the virus.
Travel restrictions have come in place in several affected cities. From Sunday, private vehicles will be banned from central districts of Wuhan, the source of the outbreak.
A second emergency hospital is to be built there within weeks to handle 1,300 new patients, and will be finished in half a month, state newspaper the People’s Daily said. It is the second such rapid construction project: work on another 1,000-bed hospital has already begun.
Specialist military medical teams have also been flown into Hubei province, where Wuhan is located.
The urgency reflects concern both within China and elsewhere about the virus which first appeared in December.
Based on early information, it is believed that only a quarter of infected cases are “severe”, and the dead are mostly – though not exclusively – older people, some of whom have pre-existing conditions.
The Chinese authorities suspect a seafood market that “conducted illegal transactions of wild animals” was the source of the outbreak.
Why is there concern about containing the virus?
Scientists at the respected MRC Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis in the UK have warned that it may not be possible to contain the virus to China.
They say self-sustaining human-to-human transmission of the coronavirus is the “only plausible explanation” for the scale of the epidemic.
Their calculations estimate each infected person is passing it onto, on average, 2.5 other people.
The centre praised the efforts of the Chinese authorities, but said transmission of the virus needed to be cut by 60% in order to get on top of the outbreak.
This is a massive challenge, the scientists suggest, which will require finding and isolating even patients with only mild symptoms that could easily be confused with other diseases.
Elsewhere, a team at Lancaster University have published their estimates of the number of cases suggesting 11,000 have been infected this year. If true, that would be more than Sars.
Where has it spread?
There are now 1,372 confirmed cases across China, though most are concentrated in those provinces closest to Hubei.
But it has also spread abroad – in isolated cases affecting small numbers of patients.
On Saturday, Australia confirmed its first four cases – first in Melbourne, and then three more in Sydney.
The cases largely involve people who had recently travelled from the affected region in China.
China’s neighbours in the Asia region are on high alert, however, with cases reported in Thailand, Singapore, Japan, Taiwan, Malaysia, Vietnam, South Korea and Nepal.
There are also two cases in the United States, including a woman in her 60s who had returned home to Chicago from Wuhan on 13 January.
Canada has a “presumptive case” of the virus, but the condition of the person suffering from it is deemed stable, according to a government statement.
What’s happening at the source?
The city of Wuhan is effectively on lockdown, with heavy restrictions on travel in and out, and public transport options from buses to planes cancelled.
It is a major population centre with up to 11 million inhabitants – comparable in size to London.
Pharmacies in the city have begun to run out of supplies and hospitals have been filled with nervous members of the public.
Officials have urged people to avoid crowds and gatherings.
“The whole transport system has been shut down,” Kathleen Bell, who is is originally from the UK and works in Wuhan, told the BBC. “From midnight tonight private cars are not allowed on the road. And taxis aren’t running.”