American Experts Warn Global Coronavirus Outbreak Now Inevitable As WHO Begs For More Money

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American Experts Warn Global Coronavirus Outbreak Now Inevitable As WHO Begs For More Money

Summary:

  • First babies born infected with coronavirus

  • Hong Kong closes borders with mainland

  • Doctors say death rate exaggerated by Wuhan fatalities

  • 24,628 cases, 492 deaths

  • President Xi says China ‘capable of suppressing outbreak

  • Cruise ship quarantined in Hong Kong

  • WHO asks for more money as it ‘confirms’ China’s numbers

* * *

Update (1100ET): At this point, most people who have been paying attention probably understand that the coronavirus pandemic probably won’t be ‘contained’ within China

But in case you had not yet been disabused of that notion, we’d like to turn things over to the WHO, which has repeatedly defended China’s response and transparency. In what looks like an attempt to shore up confidence in the numbers being released by Beijing, the WHO have “confirmed” that more than 3,100 new cases of the virus were discovered in China over the last 24 hours.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during a Wednesday afternoon news conference in Switzerland that the reported cases are “the most cases in a single day since the outbreak started.”

Now that nCoV has been declared a global pandemic, the WHO said it needs more resources to fight it: So Dr. Tedros announced a response plan and is requesting additional funding to the tune of more than half a billion dollars.

“We are requesting $675 million (in) U.S. dollars to fund the plan for the next 3 months,” he said on a call with reporters, explaining that only $60 million of that will fund WHO operations while the rest will go toward supporting countries fighting to contain. “Our message to the international community is invest today or pay more later.” The WHO has already tapped $9 million of funding from its contingency fund for emergencies, Tedros said.

Perhaps China wasn’t pleased with the WHO’s admission that the virus is a dangerous pandemic. They can’t simply turn to Beijing for money to clean up a global mess that China made?

In what might be a preview of a CDC presser expected early Wednesday afternoon, BBG reports that top American infectious disease experts now fully expect a major outbreak in the US.

“It is not a matter of if—it is a matter of when,” said Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security and a spokesman for the Infectious Diseases Society of America. “There is not a doubt this is going to end up in most countries eventually.”

At this point, the best-case scenario is mitigation: preventing every country from turning into Wuhan.

“This is about mitigation at this point, and keeping the global spread as minimal as possible,” said Rebecca Katz, a professor and director of the Center for Global Health Science and Security at Georgetown University.

Only 11 cases have been confirmed in the US so far, even as more Americans evacuated from Wuhan arrived in California early Wednesday.

Two planes carrying coronavirus evacuees landed at Travis Air Force Base in Solano County early Wednesday morning. The second plane arrived around 4:25 am, according to ABC News.

The second plane carrying remaining coronavirus evacuees departed from Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield for Southern California.

Both planes came from Wuhan, China filled with Americans evacuated from the country due to the growing outbreak.

One of these planes will refuel and fly to San Diego in Southern California to take some evacuees there.

In other news, millions of Africans were probably relieved to hear that five people in Botswana tested negative for the virus on Wednesday. But across the continent, African countries are rallying their “fragile” medical infrastructure to face the task of containing the virus. According to Reuters, isolation wards stand ready inside hospitals in Khartoum, labs in Senegal and Madagascar have stocked up on testing equipment and passengers arriving in Gambia, Cameroon and Guinea are being screened for fever and other symptoms.

The African CDCP has activated an emergency operation center to coordinate the response to the virus across more than 54 governments. They know early detection will be critical to preventing a full-blown outbreak.

John Nkengasong, Africa’s CDC director, told a briefing in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa this week that the activation of the emergency operation centre would create a single incident system to manage the outbreak across the continent.

The Africa CDC will also hold a training workshop in Senegal for 15 African countries on laboratory diagnosis, he said.

The continent has more than doubled the number of laboratories now equipped to diagnose the viral infection, this week adding facilities in Ghana, Madagascar and Nigeria and to established testing labs in South Africa and Sierra Leone.

“By the end of the week we expect that an additional 24 countries (in Africa) will receive the reagents needed to conduct the tests and will have the test running,” a spokeswoman for the WHO’s Africa Region told Reuters.

The Democratic Republic of Congo has barred its citizens from traveling to China, Burkina Faso has asked Chinese citizens to stay away for now, and Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda have all suspended flights to China. We’re surprised more of their neighbors haven’t followed suit.

* * *

Two days ago, Chinese health authorities breathed a sigh of relief as a newborn tested negative for the hyper-contagious virus, which bears suspicious similarities to HIV.

Unfortunately, another newborn hasn’t been so lucky: media reports claimed the first case of mother-to-child transmission has been confirmed in Wuhan.

Picking up on reports in Chinese media, the Daily Mail reported Wednesday that the newborn baby of a coronavirus patient in Wuhan had been diagnosed with the deadly disease just 30 hours after birth, prompting doctors to reckon with the possibility that the virus could be routinely passed from pregnant mother to child, in addition to feces and aerosol transfer. The gender of the infected child, who was born on Sunday, has not been released. The baby’s condition is said to be ‘stable’ and it is being closely monitored.

“This reminds us to pay attention to a potential new transmission route of the coronavirus – vertical transmission from mothers to babies,” said Dr Zeng Lingkong, chief physician from the hospital’s Department of Neonatal Medicine.

The newborn is one of the two babies at Wuhan Children’s Hospital that have been found to carry the coronavirus. The other baby was infected by a wet nurse after being born healthy. In Wuhan, babies are being delivered by doctors in hazmat suits.

Funny thing is…

Meanwhile, after reporting dozens of new deaths late Tuesday evening in New York, total coronavirus cases remained at 24,628 Wednesday morning after a few new cases were reported around the world overnight. The global death toll remains at 492, according to SCMP.

Now that Wuhan has finished the first of two new coronavirus hospitals adding 1,000 beds, the city has started setting up three modular hospitals to provide another 3,800 beds for patients with mild symptoms of infection. A second hospital under construction is expected to be finished in the coming days.

As Beijing struggles to battle anti-Chinese sentiment around the world, Bloomberg reports that “Indonesia’s scariest market” has just taken bat soup off the menu.

* * *

During an emergency meeting of China’s highest policy-setting body on Monday, President Xi reportedly called on all Communist Party officials to work together to fight the viral outbreak, which has grown into a serious threat to stability on the mainland. In addition to emphasizing the seriousness of the virus, Xi also threatened to punish any local officials caught slacking (hundreds have already been published as part of his scapegoating efforts). 

But after eight days of radio silence outside of the state-controlled media reports, Xi appeared in public on Wednesday for the first time since the outbreak caught the world’s attention.

During an appearance alongside Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen in Beijing, Xi said China had imposed strict measures to contain the outbreak, and promised to look after Cambodian students in Wuhan.

“China is confident and capable of containing the outbreak,” he said. He added that the Cambodian students stuck in Wuhan would be well taken care of by the Chinese government.

The president added that Chinese laws against eating wild animals (like…bats) must be fully enforced, along with all other strictures imposed to fight the virus (like all of those lockdowns requiring millions of terrified Chinese to stay inside).

“Currently we are at the critical moment of controlling the epidemic,” he said. “Offences jeopardising disease control, including resistance to control measures, violence towards medical staff, counterfeiting medical materials and the spreading of rumours must be severely curtailed.”

Despite Xi’s optimistic words, another Chinese official told state media that the situation in places like Wuhan is still “severe”, and that the city faces many “challenges and pressures.”

In other news, yet another cruise ship has been waylaid by the outbreak: After Japanese officials confirmed last night that nearly a dozen passengers aboard the “Diamond Princess”, a cruise ship presently being quarantined in Yokohama, had tested positive for the virus.