WHO raises coronavirus threat assessment, now says virus poses a ‘very high’ risk at a global level / CNBC, February 28, 2020
World Health Organization officials said Friday they are increasing the risk assessment of the coronavirus, which has spread to at least 49 countries in a matter of weeks, to “very high” across the world.
“We have now increased our assessment of the risk of spread and the risk of impact of COVID-19 to very high at global level,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of WHO, said during a press briefing at the agency’s headquarters in Geneva.
The latest Coronavirus disease, called COVID-19, was first detected in Wuhan City in China and, and has now been detected in 37 locations internationally, including cases in the United States. Early on, many of the patients in the COVID-19 outbreak in Wuhan, China had some link to a large seafood and live animal market, suggesting animal-to-person spread. Later, a growing number of patients reportedly did not have exposure to animal markets, indicating person-to-person spread.
Person-to-person spread has been reported outside China, including in the United States and other locations. Chinese officials report that sustained person-to-person spread in the community is occurring in China. In addition, other destinations have apparent community spread, meaning some people have been infected who are not sure how or where they became infected.
No evidence suggests that the virus is man-made. SARS-CoV-2 closely resembles two other coronaviruses that have triggered outbreaks in recent decades, SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV, and all three viruses seem to have originated in bats.
The coronavirus has spread to at least other 30 other countries. The most badly affected include Japan, with 850 cases, including 691 from a cruise ship docked in Yokohama, and four deaths. Italy has recorded 229 cases and seven deaths, while South Korea has recorded 893 cases and eight deaths. There have also been deaths in Hong Kong, Taiwan, France, Iran and the Philippines.
The virus can cause pneumonia. Those who have fallen ill are reported to suffer coughs, fever and breathing difficulties. In severe cases there can be organ failure. As this is viral pneumonia, antibiotics are of no use. The antiviral drugs for flu will not work. Recovery depends on the strength of the immune system. Many of those who have died were already in poor health.
About 81% of people who are infected with the coronavirus have mild cases, but the disease hits the elderly the hardest. For the elderly or for people who have other diseases, it’s very serious. Overall, it appears to have a case fatality rate around 1.4 percent, which is certainly very serious. Seasonal flu, a serious threat in and of itself, has a case fatality rate around 0.01 percent in the United States.
Assuming there are many more cases with no or very mild symptoms, “the case fatality rate may be considerably less than 1%,” US health officials wrote in an editorial. That would make the new virus more like a severe seasonal flu than a disease similar to its genetic cousins SARS or MERS.
To get some perspective, with a world population of 7.8 billion people, about 3,400 have died of COVID-19 so far, with 100,000 cases worldwide. But, about 150,000 people die each day across the globe, and about two thirds of them die of age-related causes. Heart disease and stroke are still the world’s biggest killers. The last truly massive pandemic in recent history was the flu pandemic of 1918.
Between 1918 and 1920 a disturbingly deadly outbreak of influenza tore across the globe, infecting over a third of the world’s population and ending the lives of 20 – 50 million people. Of the 500 million people infected in the 1918 pandemic, the mortality rate was estimated at 10% to 20%, with up to 25 million deaths in the first 25 weeks alone.
So far, the biggest victim of this Coronavirus is the economy:
Coronavirus: The Black Swan / Forbes, February 25, 2020
We are just starting to see the impacts of “avoidance” behavior in China’s early February data. Passenger traffic on public conveyances is down 85% (some of this due to business shut-downs), and auto sales are off a mind numbing 92%. Both numbers are Y/Y comparisons. Factories remain closed or on part-time shifts (and many employees are simply not showing up). China, and especially Hubei province, is a hub in the world’s supply chains, especially for high tech parts. Apple, for example, recently guided lower for both revenue and profits, blaming supply chain issues. China, the world’s second largest economy, is surely in the throes of a significant recession.
Stocks In Free Fall: Dow Plummets More Than 1,000 Points As Coronavirus Tightens Grip / NPR, February 28, 2020
U.S. stocks plunged as soon as the market opened, deepening a multiday rout fueled by fears about the coronavirus’ impact on the global economy.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average, which fell by 1,190 points on Thursday, lost 1,000 points within the first 30 minutes of the market open. The S&P 500 stock index lost another 3% Friday morning and is now down 14% from the all-time high it reached only last week.
Around the world stocks also fell, with Asian stock indexes down more than 3%. Markets also finished significantly lower in London and Frankfurt, Germany.
The interest rate on U.S. government debt also fell further, with the 10-year Treasury bill dipping to a record low of 1.15%.
The past week has seen a sudden, dizzying drop in stock prices, as investors grapple with growing evidence that the deadly coronavirus epidemic is spreading well beyond China.
All three major stock indexes posted their largest ever point drops on Thursday.
Outbreak starts to look more like worldwide economic crisis / AP, February 29, 2020
NEW YORK (AP) — The coronavirus outbreak began to look more like a worldwide economic crisis Friday as anxiety about the infection emptied shops and amusement parks, canceled events, cut trade and travel and dragged already slumping financial markets even lower.
More employers told their workers to stay home, and officials locked down neighborhoods and closed schools. The wide-ranging efforts to halt the spread of the illness threatened jobs, paychecks and profits.
“This is a case where in economic terms the cure is almost worse than the disease,″ said Jacob Kirkegaard, senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. “When you quarantine cities … you lose economic activity that you’re not going to get back.′
Relax – it is not the zombie apocalypse:
Help is on the way:
Israeli scientists: ‘In a few weeks, we will have coronavirus vaccine’ / The Jerusalem Post, February 27, 2020
Israeli scientists are on the cusp of developing the first vaccine against the novel coronavirus, according to Science and Technology Minister Ofir Akunis. If all goes as planned, the vaccine could be ready within a few weeks and available in 90 days, according to a release.
“Congratulations to MIGAL [The Galilee Research Institute] on this exciting breakthrough,” Akunis said. “I am confident there will be further rapid progress, enabling us to provide a needed response to the grave global COVID-19 threat,” Akunis said, referring to the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
Common Sense Prevention of Sickness
If you are in an area where there is an outbreak of COVID-19 you need to take the risk of infection seriously. The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19. There are simple everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, including:
* Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
* Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
* Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
Common Sense Prevention of Fear
He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. (Deuteronomy 31:8)
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)
Don’t fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine. (Isaiah 43:1)
The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer. (Psalm 18:2)
Perfect Love Casts Out All Fear (1 John 4:18)
The one who lives under the protection of the Most High
dwells in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”
He Himself will deliver you from the hunter’s net,
from the destructive plague.
He will cover you with His feathers;
you will take refuge under His wings.
His faithfulness will be a protective shield.
You will not fear the terror of the night,
the arrow that flies by day,
the plague that stalks in darkness,
or the pestilence that ravages at noon.
Though a thousand fall at your side
and ten thousand at your right hand,
the pestilence will not reach you. (Psalm 91:1-7)
If you are not sure that you are saved, you can accept Christ into your life right now, by praying:
“Lord Jesus, I believe you are the Son of God. Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins. Please forgive my sins and give me the gift of eternal life. I ask you in to my life and heart to be my Lord and Savior.”