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Man in Mexico Now Ill After Visiting Coronavirus Ground Zero
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Singapore Reports Virus Case as China Limits Some Travel
(Bloomberg) -- The outbreak of a SARS-like virus that’s killed at least 17 people appeared in the Asian financial hub of Singapore, as Chinese health officials scrambled to halt its spread.Travel was halted in Wuhan, China, where the virus was first detected, nearby municipalities restricted the use of transport and public sites, and schools in surrounding Hubei province delayed the opening of spring terms. Chinese stores were stripped of masks and hand sanitizers as fearful customers sought protection.Pressure to contain the virus is growing as the World Health Organization extended deliberations on whether to declare the virus an international public health emergency. With hundreds of millions of Chinese people traveling for the Lunar New Year this week, the epidemic could widen even further. Hong Kong and Beijing are canceling planned holiday activities, according to local officials and state media.The U.S. State Department on Thursday told travelers to China to take increased caution while in the country, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended that travelers avoid non-essential travel to Wuhan. Both agencies said that older travelers could be at particular risk from the pneumonia-like illness.World Health Organization to resume deliberations Thursday on whether to declare international public health emergency; is sending team to China571 cases and 17 deaths reported in ChinaFearful residents strip Chinese stores of face masks and hand sanitizersConcern rises with approach of Lunar New Year travelTwo cases identified in Vietnam, Xinhua says, citing Vietnam news agencyAfter mishandling the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome 17 years ago, China wants to show the world it’s dealing with the current crisis transparently and effectively. When the SARS epidemic broke out, China was slow to share information, and initially denied the extent of the crisis.The new coronavirus, which first appeared last month in the central city of Wuhan, has already spread from the mainland to locations from Hong Kong to Thailand to the U.S., coloring what is usually a period of celebration and reunion for Chinese people across the world with tension and anxiety.China’s National Health Commission said there were 571 confirmed coronavirus cases as of Jan. 22. The number of infections may ultimately exceed 6,000, Chinese media Caixin reported, citing estimates from unidentified doctors working at key hospitals in Wuhan.Asian stocks and oil prices slid and haven assets rose as concerns about the widening outbreak resurfaced. Chinese shares bore the brunt of losses, with the CSI 300 index dropping 3.1%, the most since May 2019.On Wednesday, the World Health Organization delayed a decision on whether to declare the outbreak a public health emergency of international concern, a designation used for complex epidemics that can cross borders. The United Nations agency said it would meet again Thursday to determine a strategy.“This is an evolving and complex situation,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the WHO, in a briefing with reporters in Geneva. “To proceed, we need more information.”In Wuhan, a city of 11 million, chaos erupted as residents woke up to news of the travel restrictions. Long lines quickly formed at transport links as people tried to leave the city in the middle of the night before the ban took effect. Hundreds of flights were canceled. Nearby Huanggang, Ezhou, Xiantao and Chibi cities also imposed curbs.Across China, social media postings questioned the blockade, asking why officials had waited until now to implement it, and whether it would be effective.Jeremy Konyndyk, a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development and a former Obama administration official, said that such involuntary quarantines “have a questionable track record and can often be counterproductive.”“A quarantine around a city larger than New York will be challenging to enforce, and past precedents suggest it could lead to more hiding of cases and less voluntary compliance with public health measures,” he said.Efforts to quarantine cities can also result in social disorder, according to University of Sydney associate professor Adam Kamradt-Scott. “There’s a delicate balance to be struck here between wanting to avoid the spread of the virus and at the same time maintaining social order and preventing unrest,” he said.What Bloomberg’s Economists Say:“Lessons learned from SARS should also equip both mainland China and Hong Kong to manage risks more effectively. SARS fixer Wang Qishan is now one of the most senior leaders in China. Vigilance is warranted. Panic is not.”Tom Orlik and Chang Shu, Bloomberg EconomicsFor the full note click hereDisruptions are also taking place outside of Wuhan. Macau canceled Lunar New Year festivities, according to Cable TV. Some schools in Beijing banned visitors -- including parents -- from spending extended periods of time on campus, while some public buildings in the city are testing the temperatures of anyone entering. Officials elsewhere are stepping up readiness.“While there’s an increased likelihood that cases may arise in this country we are well prepared and well equipped to deal with them,” U.K. Health Secretary Matt Hancock told the House of Commons.Global companies operating in China are altering their plans, limiting travel or forgoing long-held traditions around Lunar New Year to protect employees. Tencent Holdings Ltd., the Chinese social media giant, called off a longstanding annual tradition in which top executives hand out Lunar New Year red envelopes in person to employees.WHO’s HelpAt the briefing in Geneva, the WHO’s Tedros commended China’s response to the outbreak but said the agency nevertheless has a team in the Asian nation working with authorities.China was criticized during the SARS crisis for initially providing limited information and denying the scope of the problem. With this new virus, health experts have generally praised the speed at which China identified and shared the genetic sequencing of the new coronavirus, allowing other countries to spot cases quickly.Health officials have been taking important steps in tracing the virus through communities, finding earlier cases of people with pneumonia who may have escaped identification and following their close contacts to see whether they’ve become ill, said Maria van Kerkhove, an epidemiologist serving on the WHO emergency committee.Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the U.S. National Institutes of Health, said SARS was eventually stopped by good public health standards, including identification, isolation and quarantine.“I think that’s a lesson we need to have learned from SARS, and apply those same principles right here with this new coronavirus that is causing this disease,” he told Bloomberg Television.There hasn’t been any secondary transmission among patients who left China and all the human-to-human transmission has been among very close contacts or health-care workers, WHO officials said at the briefing. There has been little mutation within the virus, suggesting it’s stable, they said.Symptoms include fever, cough or chest tightness, and difficulty breathing. At least nine of the victims had pre-existing conditions, and eight wereaged 80 or over. However, several didn’t display signs of fever, potentially complicating efforts to check for infected travelers as they arrive at airports and other travel hubs.(Updates with U.S. travel notice in the fourth paragraph. An earlier version of this report corrected the number of deaths in the bullet-point section.)\--With assistance from Hugo Miller, James Paton and Michelle Fay Cortez.To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Dong Lyu in Beijing at dlyu3@bloomberg.net;Sybilla Gross in Sydney at sgross61@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Drew Armstrong at darmstrong17@bloomberg.net, Eric Pfanner, John LauermanFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
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China Bans Travel From City at Center of Virus Outbreak
(Bloomberg) -- Chinese officials halted travel from Wuhan, essentially locking down a city of 11 million people, as they try to stop the spread of a new SARS-like virus that’s already killed 17 and infected hundreds around the world.The dramatic step to seal off the city, which has more people than New York, came as pressure grows on China to contain the outbreak. With hundreds of millions of Chinese citizens traveling for the annual Lunar New Year holiday this week, the virus’s spread looks set to accelerate.LATEST: Stocks and oil prices drop while haven assets rise on virus concernsWHO says it needs more time to make decision on emergency statusDeath toll at 17, with 571 confirmed cases in ChinaUnder the shadow of its previous mishandling of the SARS crisis 17 years ago, China is trying to show the world that it is dealing with the crisis transparently and effectively, while still struggling to understand a pathogen that is difficult to detect. When the SARS epidemic first broke out, China was slow to share information, and initially denied the extent of the outbreak.The coronavirus, which first appeared last month in the city in central China, has already spread from the mainland to locations from Hong Kong to the U.S., coloring what is usually a period of celebration and reunion for Chinese people across the world with tension and anxiety.China confirmed 571 coronavirus cases with 17 deaths as of Jan. 22, according to the National Health Commission. Infection cases may ultimately exceed 6,000, Chinese media Caixin reported, citing estimates from unidentified doctors working at key hospitals in Wuhan.The virus has shown up in locations throughout Asia, from South Korea to Thailand, including two “preliminary positive” reports of the pneumonia-causing virus in Hong Kong. Outside of Asia, the U.S. has confirmed one case.Stocks and oil prices slid and haven assets rose as concerns about the widening outbreak resurfaced. Chinese shares bore the brunt of losses, with the CSI 300 index dropping 3.1%, the most since May 2019.On Wednesday, the World Health Organization delayed a decision on whether to declare the outbreak a public health emergency of international concern, a designation used for complex epidemics that can cross borders. The United Nations agency said it would meet again Thursday to determine a strategy.“This is an evolving and complex situation,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the WHO, in a briefing with reporters in Geneva. “To proceed, we need more information.”In Wuhan, chaos erupted as residents woke up to the news of the travel ban, which started at 10 a.m. Thursday. Long lines quickly formed at transport links as people tried to leave the city in the middle of the night before the ban took effect. Hundreds of flights were canceled.Across China, social media postings questioned the blockade, asking why officials had waited until now to implement it, and if it would be effective.Jeremy Konyndyk, a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development and a former Obama administration official, said that such involuntary quarantines “have a questionable track record and can often be counterproductive.”“A quarantine around a city larger than New York will be challenging to enforce, and past precedents suggest it could lead to more hiding of cases and less voluntary compliance with public health measures,” he said.Efforts to quarantine cities can also result in social disorder, according to University of Sydney associate professor Adam Kamradt-Scott. “There’s a delicate balance to be struck here between wanting to avoid the spread of the virus and at the same time maintaining social order and preventing unrest,” he said.What Bloomberg’s Economists Say...“Lessons learned from SARS should also equip both mainland China and Hong Kong to manage risks more effectively. SARS fixer Wang Qishan is now one of the most senior leaders in China. Vigilance is warranted. Panic is not.”Tom Orlik and Chang Shu, Bloomberg EconomicsFor the full note click hereDisruptions are also taking place outside of Wuhan. Macau canceled all of its Lunar New Year festivities, according to Cable TV. Some schools in Beijing banned visitors -- including parents -- from spending extended periods of time on campus, while some public buildings in the city are testing the temperatures of anyone entering.Global companies operating in China are altering their plans, limiting travel or forgoing long-held traditions around Lunar New Year to protect employees. Tencent Holdings Ltd., the Chinese social media giant, called off a longstanding annual tradition where top executives hand out Lunar New Year red envelopes in person to employees.WHO’s HelpAt the briefing in Geneva, the WHO’s Tedros commended China’s response to the outbreak but said the agency nevertheless has a team in the Asian nation working with authorities.China was criticized during the SARS crisis for initially providing limited information and denying the scope of the problem. With this new virus, health experts have generally praised the speed at which China identified and shared the genetic sequencing of the new coronavirus, allowing other countries to spot cases quickly.Health officials have been taking important steps in tracing the virus through communities, finding earlier cases of people with pneumonia who may have escaped identification and following their close contacts to see whether they’ve become ill, said Maria van Kerkhove, an epidemiologist serving on the WHO emergency committee.Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the U.S. National Institutes of Health, said SARS was eventually stopped by good public health standards, including identification, isolation and quarantine.“I think that’s a lesson we need to have learned from SARS, and apply those same principles right here with this new coronavirus that is causing this disease,” he told Bloomberg Television.There hasn’t been any secondary transmission among patients who left China and all the human-to-human transmission has been among very close contacts or health-care workers, WHO officials said at the briefing. There has been little mutation within the virus, suggesting it’s stable, they said.Symptoms include fever, cough or chest tightness, and difficulty breathing. At least nine of the victims had pre-existing conditions, and eight were aged 80 or over. However, several didn’t display signs of fever, potentially complicating global efforts to check for infected travelers as they arrive at airports and other travel hubs.Super SpreadersChina said it had seen no evidence yet of “super spreaders,” infected people who pass on the disease rapidly to many other people, but could not rule out that some would emerge. Super spreaders played a key role in the SARS pandemic. A scientific report that found a single SARS patient likely infected 22 of the 119 other travelers on his flight.About 4,000 people in Wuhan may be currently infected, based on the number of known cases and the estimated mean time between infection and detection, according to a study by Neil Ferguson, a researcher at Imperial College London.Both the Wuhan virus, known as 2019-nCoV, and SARS belong to the family of coronaviruses, so called because of their crown-like shape. Many such viruses cross the barrier between animals and humans. Some of the first group of patients in Wuhan worked or shopped at a seafood market where live animals and wildlife parts were reportedly sold.The virus outbreak comes as China also has struggled to contain African swine fever, the deadly pig disease that doesn’t harm humans but has devastated the pork industry. The government has come under criticism for failing to rein in that epidemic.(updates with market activity)\--With assistance from Hugo Miller, James Paton and Michelle Fay Cortez.To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Dong Lyu in Beijing at dlyu3@bloomberg.net;Sybilla Gross in Sydney at sgross61@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Drew Armstrong at darmstrong17@bloomberg.net, Jeff SutherlandFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
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China Expands Travel Restrictions as Virus Deaths Climb
(Bloomberg) -- Health officials expanded travel restrictions beyond the epicenter of a SARS-like virus outbreak that’s killed at least 17 and infected hundreds in China while spreading around the world.After travel from the central city of Wuhan was halted, nearby Huanggang suspended bus services and closed public sites including movie theaters, the local government said Thursday. Another city, Ezhou, also imposed restrictions, according to municipal officials.The dramatic steps came as pressure grows on China to contain the outbreak. With hundreds of millions of Chinese citizens traveling for the annual Lunar New Year holiday this week, the virus’s spread looks set to accelerate.LATEST: Second Chinese City Suspends Outbound Train, Bus ServicesStocks and oil prices drop while haven assets rise on virus concernsWHO says it needs more time to make decision on emergency statusDeath toll at 17, with 571 confirmed cases in ChinaUnder the shadow of its previous mishandling of the SARS crisis 17 years ago, China is trying to show the world that it is dealing with the crisis transparently and effectively, while still struggling to understand a pathogen that is difficult to detect. When the SARS epidemic first broke out, China was slow to share information, and initially denied the extent of the outbreak.The coronavirus, which first appeared last month in the city in central China, has already spread from the mainland to locations from Hong Kong to the U.S., coloring what is usually a period of celebration and reunion for Chinese people across the world with tension and anxiety.China confirmed 571 coronavirus cases with 17 deaths as of Jan. 22, according to the National Health Commission. Infection cases may ultimately exceed 6,000, Chinese media Caixin reported, citing estimates from unidentified doctors working at key hospitals in Wuhan.The virus has shown up in locations throughout Asia, from South Korea to Thailand, including reports of two “preliminary positive” cases of the pneumonia-causing virus in Hong Kong. Outside of Asia, the U.S. has confirmed one case.Stocks and oil prices slid and haven assets rose as concerns about the widening outbreak resurfaced. Chinese shares bore the brunt of losses, with the CSI 300 index dropping 3.1%, the most since May 2019.On Wednesday, the World Health Organization delayed a decision on whether to declare the outbreak a public health emergency of international concern, a designation used for complex epidemics that can cross borders. The United Nations agency said it would meet again Thursday to determine a strategy.“This is an evolving and complex situation,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the WHO, in a briefing with reporters in Geneva. “To proceed, we need more information.”In Wuhan, a city of 11 million, chaos erupted as residents woke up to the news of the travel restrictions, which started at 10 a.m. Thursday. Long lines quickly formed at transport links as people tried to leave the city in the middle of the night before the ban took effect. Hundreds of flights were canceled.Across China, social media postings questioned the blockade, asking why officials had waited until now to implement it, and if it would be effective.Jeremy Konyndyk, a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development and a former Obama administration official, said that such involuntary quarantines “have a questionable track record and can often be counterproductive.”“A quarantine around a city larger than New York will be challenging to enforce, and past precedents suggest it could lead to more hiding of cases and less voluntary compliance with public health measures,” he said.Efforts to quarantine cities can also result in social disorder, according to University of Sydney associate professor Adam Kamradt-Scott. “There’s a delicate balance to be struck here between wanting to avoid the spread of the virus and at the same time maintaining social order and preventing unrest,” he said.What Bloomberg’s Economists Say...“Lessons learned from SARS should also equip both mainland China and Hong Kong to manage risks more effectively. SARS fixer Wang Qishan is now one of the most senior leaders in China. Vigilance is warranted. Panic is not.”Tom Orlik and Chang Shu, Bloomberg EconomicsFor the full note click hereDisruptions are also taking place outside of Wuhan. Macau canceled all of its Lunar New Year festivities, according to Cable TV. Some schools in Beijing banned visitors -- including parents -- from spending extended periods of time on campus, while some public buildings in the city are testing the temperatures of anyone entering.Global companies operating in China are altering their plans, limiting travel or forgoing long-held traditions around Lunar New Year to protect employees. Tencent Holdings Ltd., the Chinese social media giant, called off a longstanding annual tradition where top executives hand out Lunar New Year red envelopes in person to employees.WHO’s HelpAt the briefing in Geneva, the WHO’s Tedros commended China’s response to the outbreak but said the agency nevertheless has a team in the Asian nation working with authorities.China was criticized during the SARS crisis for initially providing limited information and denying the scope of the problem. With this new virus, health experts have generally praised the speed at which China identified and shared the genetic sequencing of the new coronavirus, allowing other countries to spot cases quickly.Health officials have been taking important steps in tracing the virus through communities, finding earlier cases of people with pneumonia who may have escaped identification and following their close contacts to see whether they’ve become ill, said Maria van Kerkhove, an epidemiologist serving on the WHO emergency committee.Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the U.S. National Institutes of Health, said SARS was eventually stopped by good public health standards, including identification, isolation and quarantine.“I think that’s a lesson we need to have learned from SARS, and apply those same principles right here with this new coronavirus that is causing this disease,” he told Bloomberg Television.There hasn’t been any secondary transmission among patients who left China and all the human-to-human transmission has been among very close contacts or health-care workers, WHO officials said at the briefing. There has been little mutation within the virus, suggesting it’s stable, they said.Symptoms include fever, cough or chest tightness, and difficulty breathing. At least nine of the victims had pre-existing conditions, and eight were aged 80 or over. However, several didn’t display signs of fever, potentially complicating global efforts to check for infected travelers as they arrive at airports and other travel hubs.Super SpreadersChina said it had seen no evidence yet of “super spreaders,” infected people who pass on the disease rapidly to many other people, but could not rule out that some would emerge. Super spreaders played a key role in the SARS pandemic. A scientific report that found a single SARS patient likely infected 22 of the 119 other travelers on his flight.About 4,000 people in Wuhan may be currently infected, based on the number of known cases and the estimated mean time between infection and detection, according to a study by Neil Ferguson, a researcher at Imperial College London.Both the Wuhan virus, known as 2019-nCoV, and SARS belong to the family of coronaviruses, so called because of their crown-like shape. Many such viruses cross the barrier between animals and humans. Some of the first group of patients in Wuhan worked or shopped at a seafood market where live animals and wildlife parts were reportedly sold.The virus outbreak comes as China also has struggled to contain African swine fever, the deadly pig disease that doesn’t harm humans but has devastated the pork industry. The government has come under criticism for failing to rein in that epidemic.(Updates with confirmation of Ezhou’s restrictions in second paragraph)\--With assistance from Hugo Miller, James Paton and Michelle Fay Cortez.To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Dong Lyu in Beijing at dlyu3@bloomberg.net;Sybilla Gross in Sydney at sgross61@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Drew Armstrong at darmstrong17@bloomberg.net, Jeff SutherlandFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
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Man in Mexico Now Ill After Visiting Coronavirus Ground Zero
(Bloomberg) -- A man who fell ill in Mexico on Monday following a December trip to Wuhan, China, is under observation as a potential case of the coronavirus, the respiratory virus that has killed at least 17 people worldwide.The 57-year-old molecular biology professor works for the Instituto Politecnico Nacional university in the city of Reynosa, which borders with the U.S. The man returned to Mexico on Jan. 10 through a Mexico City airport and then flew to the state of Tamaulipas, Mexican authorities said.Tamaulipas State Health Minister Gloria Molina said in a radio interview that the man immediately reported his situation to authorities after feeling sick. He is now in his home under monitoring to prevent any potential spread. His test results are expected on Thursday, Mexico’s chief epidemiologist Jose Luis Alomia said in a press conference Wednesday afternoon.Molina said the man also had layovers at the border city of Tijuana when he left and returned to Mexico, according to journalist Joaquin Lopez Doriga’s news site.Link: China Seeks to Contain Virus as Death Toll Jumps to 17Earlier on Wednesday, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said that a second possible case in Mexico had been ruled out. “The coronavirus is being looked into. If we have more information we will release it later today,” he said.Mexico plans to inform daily on the latests developments of the virus around the world. A preventive travel recommendation is in place for the country and passengers arriving from international ports will be checked for any symptoms, Alomia said.Separately, Colombian authorities are also evaluating whether a Chinese man with a respiratory illness, who traveled to Colombia from Turkey, has the same virus, according to Blu, a Bogota-based radio station. The country’s health ministry declined to comment.The Director-General of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said he needs to consider all evidence before deciding if the coronavirus that emerged from Wuhan is an international health emergency.(Adds Alomia comments in paragraphs 3 and 6, and WHO comments in last paragraph)To contact the reporters on this story: Cyntia Barrera Diaz in Mexico City at cbarrerad@bloomberg.net;Lorena Rios in Mexico City at lriost@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Ney Hayashi at ncruz4@bloomberg.net, Dale QuinnFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
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