COVID-19: Deadly coronavirus continues its race across the globe

Asymptomatic

Europe reports first death: A Chinese tourist died in France, the first death outside Asia from the coronavirus, the health ministry said, as the global toll now exceeds 1,500. U.S. citizens and their families on a quarantined cruise ship off the Japan coast, the largest infection cluster outside China, will be evacuated. The U.K. discharged all but one infected patient.

China confirmed 2,641 new confirmed as the virus showed no signs of abating outside the country. Japan, Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia on Saturday confirmed new cases. An 80-year-old Chinese tourist died in Paris, becoming the first fatality of the coronavirus in Europe, France’s health ministry said. The man’s daughter, 50, was also infected and remains in a hospital in Paris. There are now 10 remaining cases in France and four of those have been released from hospital after recovering from the virus, Health Minister Agnes Buzyn said on Saturday. –Yahoo

Map Feb 15 COVID 19

                     As of February 15, 2020 – map depicts the regions where the COVID-19 virus has spread to

Asymptomatic Carrier Hawaii — A man in his 60s tested positive for the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) shortly after returning from a trip to Hawaii. He has not visited China recently. The man is from the Aichi Prefecture in central Japan, and visited Maui and Oahu from January 28th to February 7th. Health officials say the man visited Maui from January 28 through February 3. He showed no symptoms at the time. He took Hawaiian Airlines flight HA265 from Kahului to Honolulu on Feb. 3, the same day he reported having cold-like symptoms. While on Oahu, the man stayed at the Grand Waikikian by Hilton Grand Vacations. Officials say he did not have a fever. Shortly after returning home on February 8th, he was hospitalized with a high fever. He was then diagnosed with pneumonia, and ultimately tested positive for COVID-19.

The governor’s exact words during the news conference were “This is a serious concern.” He adds that the state is prepared for this. Health officials say they believe the man contracted the virus before he got here or on his way here from Japan. “The best evidence we have suggests he was infected while he was in Japan before he came to Hawaii,” said Dr. Bruce Anderson, health department director. The incubation period for Coronavirus is up to 14 days. So, the timeline fits that he could have been infected before leaving Japan. Officials also stress that since the man did not have a fever while he was on either island, he was less likely to spread the infection here.

“That’s somewhat reassuring to us because we know when you have fever, you’re more likely to be more infectious,” said state epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Park. “However, as a precaution we are working with partners to identify potential close contacts.” Officials say close contact means actually sitting down and having a conversation with the man, as opposed to just walking by him. Once those people are found, they will likely be quarantined. –KTSM

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COVID-19: ‘It’s spreading through the eyes,’ Chinese doctor’s warning falling on deaf ears.

Eyes 1

COVID-19 is highly contagious: Criticism over inadequate protection for medical personnel followed reports Wednesday that a quarantine officer who screened people aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship off Yokohama tested positive for COVID-19. Experts are also speculating that the protective gear worn by the officer was insufficient. Officials from the health ministry have said it was essential to check whether protective measures by medical personnel against the virus are sufficient. “We’d like to promptly evaluate whether (the infected officer) was adequately protected or not but at this point I can’t give further comments,” a senior official told reporters Wednesday.

According to the health ministry, the officer was dispatched to collect health questionnaires from passengers on Feb. 3 and Feb. 4 and to check their temperature. The officer spent the next two days working at a quarantine station and started to feel ill Sunday. He went to a clinic the following day and tested positive Tuesday. (article continuesJapan Times)

Eyes JP

Dr Wang
On January 24, 2020 – Dr. Wang Guanga warned Chinese health officials that he had been infected with the COVID-19 coronavirus through his eyes but his dire warning fell on deaf ears.

Chinese doctor Wang Guangfa fears he may have contracted the SARS-like infection because he wasn’t wearing protective goggles. Leading experts confirmed it is ‘absolutely possible,’ saying the virus can enter the eyes by touching them – if it is on a patient’s hands. And they even warned the virus – thought to be spread through sneezes and coughs – can roam through the body to reach the eye. –Daily Mail

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COVID-19: CDC urges local U.S. hospitals to develop a pandemic plan

Get Ready

MILWAUKEE, WINew data from China shows the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus is on the rise. More than 60,000 people have been infected, and 1,370 have died. As those numbers continue to climb, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now urging local hospitals to get out their pandemic plans and start preparing. Doctors across the United States are using a novel coronavirus tracker created by Johns Hopkins University to prepare for a possible pandemic or outbreak. Firefighters, ambulance crews and clinic workers are on the front lines of trying to prevent an outbreak of the new coronavirus in southeast Wisconsin by isolating those who are sick.

CDC spokesman, Dr. Anne Schuchat, asked about underestimated cases, proper quarantine procedures, and the mass burning of the bodies of coronavirus victims in China (File Date: Feb 12, 2020) 

“To know what sort of exposure, what sort of travel history, what sort of symptoms we would expect,” said Dr. Ben Weston, medical director for Milwaukee County’s Office of Emergency Management, which will oversee some 3,000 ambulance workers and medical providers if there’s a pandemic. “We’re working with the airport, with the Sheriff’s Department. We work with the Milwaukee Department of Public Health for preparedness, for training, for continuity of services should there be a pandemic,” Weston said. “So what’s the next step that we should be concerned about with coronavirus?” WISN 12 News reporter Terry Sater asked. “That’s a great question. So I would say, right now, it’s really monitoring. We work with a lot of different agencies. I personally talk with medical directors throughout the country and even some internationally through a group of the larger cities that discuss these sorts of things,” Weston said.  –WISN

Taking a toll on healthcare professionals – Funeral homes swamped: – As cases of the COVID-19 coronavirus continue to climb, China has announced over 1,700 health workers have been infected with the virus and 6 have died. At home, a 15th case has been confirmed in the U.S. at a Texas military base housing evacuees from China. –Cleveland

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COVID-19: Vietnam quarantines area with 10,000 residents for 20 days over coronavirus

Vietnam

BINH XUYEN, Vietnam: Villages in Vietnam with 10,000 people close to the nation’s capital were placed under quarantine on Thursday after six cases of the deadly new coronavirus were discovered there, authorities said. The locking down of the commune of Son Loi, about 40 kilometres from Hanoi, is the first mass quarantine outside of China since the virus emerged from a central Chinese city late last year. “As of February 13, 2020, we will urgently implement the task of isolation and quarantine of the epidemic area in Son Loi commune,” said a health ministry statement. “The timeline… is for 20 days.”

The health ministry previously said five people in Son Loi had been infected with the virus, and on Thursday reported a sixth case. On Thursday, checkpoints were set up around the commune, according to AFP reporters in Binh Xuyen, a district on the outskirts of Son Loi. Health officials wearing protective suits sprayed disinfectant on vehicles by the checkpoints. Villager Tran Van Minh told AFP that authorities had already advised residents to avoid large gatherings.

More than 1,350 people have died in China from the virus, and nearly 60,000 others have been infected, since it was first detected in the Hubei province in early January. China has imposed unprecedented quarantines across Hubei, locking in about 56 million people, in a bid to stop it spreading. Tens of millions of others cities far from the epicenter are also enduring travel restrictions. The virus has also had massive ramifications globally, with many countries banning travelers from China in a bid to stop people spreading the disease. Vietnam, which shares a porous border with China, has 16 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, including those in Son Loi. Vietnam had banned all flights to and from mainland China in a bid to stop the virus from spreading. It also suspended new tourist visas for Chinese nationals or foreigners who had been in China over the past two weeks. – Bangkok Post

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COVID-19: US military prepping for coronavirus pandemic

Army

Preparation for the inevitable: U.S. Northern Command is executing plans to prepare for a potential pandemic of the novel coronavirus, now called COVID19, according to Navy and Marine Corps service-wide messages issued this week. An executive order issued by the Joint Staff and approved by Defense Secretary Mark Esper this month directed Northern Command and geographic combatant commanders to initiate pandemic plans, which include ordering commanders to prepare for widespread outbreaks and confining service members with a history of travel to China. The Navy and Marine Corps messages, issued Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively, reference an executive order directing U.S. Northern Command to implement the Department of Defense Global Campaign plan for Pandemic Influenza and Infectious Diseases 3551-13.

The document serves as the Pentagon’s blueprint for planning and preparing for widespread dispersion of influenza and previously unknown diseases. U.S. Northern Command said Wednesday it was directed the Joint Staff Feb. 1 to commence “prudent planning” in their assigned role synchronizing the department’s plans for pandemic flu and disease. But in no way “does the planning indicate a greater likelihood of an event developing. As military professionals, planning for a range of contingencies is something we owe the American people,” Navy Lt. Cmdr. Mike Hatfield said. “We coordinate with other combatant commands to assess potential impacts in the event of a pandemic and we ensure the U.S. military is poised to respond as required,” Hatfield said in a statement. “The military profession fosters a culture of planning, and the fact that we are coordinating planning efforts across the geographical combatant commands is consistent with how we prepare to respond, if directed.”  –Military Times

The numbers keep rising: The coronavirus death toll has risen to 1486 with a total of 65,213 confirmed cases, making an increase on yesterday’s whopping jump. China’s Hubei province reported an extra 4823 coronavirus infection cases and 116 new deaths, in the second day after the region at the centre of the outbreak changed its method for counting infections. This was lower than the 14,840 cases that Hubei added when it first started counting patients with the new method. Yesterday the coronavirus broke a tragic record with the deadly illness killing 242 people in China in a single day.

 The 242 deaths from Hubei were more than double the announcement of the previous day. The commission said that it had begun including cases diagnosed through new clinical methods from Thursday.  WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned any apparent slowdown in the spread of the epidemic should be viewed with “extreme caution.” “This outbreak could still go in any direction,” he told a briefing in Geneva. –News.com.au

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COVID-19: Experts warn coronavirus likely gathering steam – could hit the U.S. hard in 2 to 4 weeks

Storm

“There’s likely to be a period of widespread transmission in the U.S., and I hope we will avert the kind of chaos that some other places are seeing.” -Mark Lipsitch PhD, Professor of epidemiology – Harvard

GAZETTE: Is it significant that there are so few cases internationally compared with the number in China? Is that an indication that control measures are working or is it just gathering steam internationally?

LIPSITCH: Unfortunately, I think it’s more likely to be that it’s gathering steam. We’ve released a pre-print that we’ve been discussing publicly — and trying to get peer reviewed in the meantime — that looks at the numbers internationally, based on how many cases you would expect from normal travel volumes. And a couple of things are striking. One is that there are countries that really should be finding cases and haven’t yet, like Indonesia and maybe Cambodia. They are outside the range of uncertainty you would expect even given variability between countries. So our best guess is that there are undetected cases in those countries. Indonesia said a couple of days ago that it had done 50 tests, but it has a lot of air travel with Wuhan, let alone the rest of China. So 50 tests is not enough to be confident you’re catching all the cases. That’s one bit of evidence that to me was really striking. Second, I was reading The Wall Street Journal that Singapore had three cases so far that were not traced to any other case. Singapore is the opposite of Indonesia, in that they have more cases than you would expect based on their travel volume, probably because they’re better at detection. And even they are finding cases that they don’t have a source for. That makes me think that many other places do as well. Of course, we’re making guesses from limited information, but I think they’re pretty likely to be correct guesses, given the totality of information.

GAZETTE: But what is most important for the public to know about this?

LIPSITCH: There’s likely to be a period of widespread transmission in the U.S., and I hope we will avert the kind of chaos that some other places are seeing. That’s likely if we continue to be prepared, but I think it’s going to be a new virus that we have to deal with. That won’t be because the United States government has failed to contain it, it will mean that this is an uncontainable virus. If we’re dealing with it, it’s because everybody’s going to be dealing with it. I think that’s a likely scenario.  –The Harvard Gazette [interview excerpts]

U.S. could get hit hard in coming weeks: Leading health officials expect to see a significant uptick in coronavirus cases nationwide. “We’re going to start to see those outbreaks emerge sometime in the next two to four weeks,” said Scott Gottlieb, former Food and Drug Administration commissioner. “We should be leaning in very aggressively to try to broaden diagnostic screening right now, particularly in communities where there is a lot of immigration where these efforts could emerge to identify them early enough that they’ll be small enough that we can intervene to prevent — prevent more epidemic spread in this country.” Gottlieb, one of five panelists who briefed the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on Wednesday, said although U.S. customs officials blocked some travel and are screening travelers returning from the Chinese city of Wuhan, where the virus is believed to have originated, they could not have stopped every person with coronavirus from getting into the United States.

“I don’t think we should be planning for the onesie-twosie cases that we’ve been seeing thus far in the United States,” said Asha George, executive director of the Bipartisan Commission on Bio-defense. “We have to plan for the possibility that we have thousands of cases, you know.” Hundreds of thousands of coronavirus cases could break out globally, George said, adding federal, state, and local governments should start planning for an outbreak on a massive scale. “We’re going to see a lot more cases here, and I really worry about the helpers in the parasite patients,” said Luciana Borio, former director of medical and bio-defense preparedness at the National Security Council.

Julie Gerberding, a former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said the U.S. would begin to see more cases among people who did not visit China but were exposed to the virus by people who returned from China either before the travel ban or who were not flagged in health screenings upon their return. –Washington Examiner

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COVID-19: China’s large-scale Disinfectant Wars would raise anxiety levels in the West

DisInfect

BEIJINGA company in the southwestern Chinese city of Chongqing has built a tunnel to spray employees at an industrial complex with disinfectant before they begin work, according to a local media report, as the country battles a coronavirus outbreak. The tunnel is equipped with infrared detectors that activate a spray from misters when a person enters, the report by China News Service said.

Businesses in China are slowly returning to work this week after the coronavirus outbreak forced an extension of the Lunar New Year break, transportation curbs and other measures aimed at containing the virus. The measures have hobbled the restart of industry following the annual holiday. The coronavirus has killed more than 1,100 people in China, with confirmed infections of nearly 45,000.  –Reuters

Such draconian preventative measures are likely to find little success in the U.S., where most Americans, who are leery of taking flu shots and vaccines, would be even less likely to walk through showers of chemicals without knowing what’s in them. 

Decom 2

COVID-19 is a very sinister bug: If you need any more reason to make it a habit to wash your hands after touching public surfaces, then you will probably want to take note of this report from Forbes magazine. In a worrying development, it is suggested that the Corvid-19 coronavirus may actually be more resistant and difficult to kill as compared to other viruses. This was discovered after Professor Günter Kampf of Greifswald University Hospital’s Institute of Hygiene and Environmental Medicine ran a study into the Covid-19 novel coronavirus and found out that with comparisons of 22 historical studies of other coronaviruses such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), it is revealed that these family of viruses can survive for up to 9 days on inanimate surfaces. This includes particularly steel and plastic surfaces such as elevator buttons, bed frames, and especially grab handles on public transport, among others. Remember, Covid-19 is known to be a droplet-based infection that can be spread by human-to-human contact or contact with contaminated surfaces. – World of Buzz

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COVID-19: Coronavirus could spread through pipes in a building officials fear

Building Pipes

Mystery intensifies over how virus spreading: Over 100 residents have been evacuated from an apartment building in Hong Kong after two people fell ill with the deadly new coronavirus, stoking fears 2019-nCoV could be spread through pipes. Hong Kong’s Centre for Health Protection said the two sick people lived on separate floors at Hong Mei House on the Cheung Hong Estate in the New Territories area of Hong Kong, The New York Times reported.  Residents were removed from the building after an unsealed pipe was found in the bathroom of one of the patients. The unnamed 62-year-old woman lives 10 floors below an occupant who fell ill before her.

Sophia Chan, Hong Kong’s health secretary, said four additional tenants living in three separate units had developed coronavirus symptoms. The symptoms of 2019-nCoV include a fever, dry cough, shortness of breath, and trouble breathing. Residents were removed from a total of 23 units.

Airborne

According to the AFP news agency, health officials dressed in masks and white overalls arrived at the 35-story apartment block, home to 3,000 people, in the early hours of Tuesday morning. The 35 flats were linked by the same drainage system. The residents were relocated as a precautionary measure, AFP reported officials saying. Wong Ka-hing of the Centre for Health Protection told journalists: “We are not sure what was the exact route of transmission. “It could still be through the usual method of droplets or contact.” –Newsweek

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