Summary:

  • Taiwan reports 1st coronavirus death
  • There are now at least 68,500 cases worldwide, and at least 1,665 deaths from the Covid-19 virus
  • Japan found 70 more cases aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship
  • Second African confirms suspected coronavirus case
  • Hubei province, the outbreak’s epicenter, reported fewer new infections for the second day
  • Bill Gates warns “10 million deaths” possible in Africa
  • China’s facemask shortage likely won’t be over anytime soon
  • WHO says Beijing’s actions bought the world time, but “we don’t know how much time”

* * *

As we move into the late evening hours of Sunday on mainland China, Taiwan has become the latest country or territory to report a virus-related fatality, the SCMP reports. They join Hong Kong, Japan and the Philippines in having reported virus-related deaths outside China.

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Here are the latest global totals from SCMP:

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Island says fatality was a 60-year-old unlicensed taxi driver with chronic health problems.

Meanwhile, in the latest statement from the WHO, the international health organization seemed to back away from its newly hostile tone toward China, saying Beijing’s actions bought the world time, but “we don’t know how much time.”

As the world’s greatest minds examine the epidemic, it’s worth remembering that Bill Gates has repeatedly  warned us that humanity isn’t ready for the next pandemic.

Now, he’s repeating those warnings to an even larger crowd – but this time, with far more gravitas.

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The Microsoft founder warned everyone during a speaking engagement at a conference on Friday that a Covid-19 outbreak in Africa could overwhelm the continent’s health services and trigger “10 million deaths,” reported The Telegraph.

Gates’ warning at the 2020 American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Annual Meeting in Seattle on Friday came hours before Egypt’s ministry of health confirmed that a 33-year-old male foreigner who flew into Cairo International Airport had tested positive for the virus. Authorities said the infected man had 17 contacts and many interactions at the airport before testing positive.

Gates said: “This is a huge challenge. We’ve always known the potential for a naturally caused, or intentionally caused, pandemic is one if the few things that could disrupt health systems and economies and cause more than 10 million excess deaths.”

“This could be particularly if it spreads in areas like sub-Saharan Africa and some Asia, it could be very, very dramatic.”

He added that Covid-19 is more concerning than Ebola because the rate of which the disease spreads is far faster.

“Ebola is terrible, but it’s not like a lightning flu,” he said.

“This coronavirus has a lot of similarities to a very bad flu, in terms of the death rate, so far more like the 1957 flu outbreak,” Gates said.

“This disease, if it’s in Africa it’s more dramatic than if it’s in China, even though I’m not trying to minimize what’s going on in China in any way,” he said.

The risk, as Gates points out, is that the virus could spread to Africa next, where governments, even governments that have been bracing for an outbreak by readying beds and quarantines while stockpiling supplies, might still risk a rapid transmission that could lead to a health crisis far worse than China.

On Saturday, Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (Africa CDC) director Dr. John Nkengasong said Africa CDC has been working with African countries “in preparedness and response to the disease.”

The Health Ministry in Eswatini, a tiny southern African country, identified its first suspected case of the deadly on Friday.

Director of Health Services in Eswatini, Dr. Vusi Magagula, said the person had been placed in quarantine, and blood samples have been taken for further analysis, reported SABC News.

“She presented with a fever and was at the hospital, then the rapid response team took over and took up the case. She came through the Ngwenya Port of Entry on February 6 having arrived from the Republic of South Africa. I don’t think she was presenting with any symptoms, we only picked her up on the 14th because she was already now in hospital, ill and had to be admitted to the isolation ward. So I guess when she passed through or even through Ngwenya border post, she didn’t have the symptoms.”

Meanwhile, the Chinese Ambassador to South Africa warned South African nationals in China to not return for fear the virus could spread.

The African continent does not need another crisis, already battling locust plagues and food shortages.

But still the close economic ties between China and Africa are difficult to ignore.

Africa is home to nearly one million Chinese, health officials across the continent are extremely worried that it’s only a matter of time before the breakout begins.

As we detailed previously, Ethiopia’s Bole International airport is the leading African gateway to and from China. On average, 1500 passengers per day arrive from China. Ethiopia scans all passengers from Asia for symptoms, which essentially means taking their temperature.

Many of those passengers then fly on to other parts of Africa, where Chinese companies are doing business, and inadvertently spreading the virus to nations along the BRI (the Belt & Road Initiative). These are 2018 figures courtesy of Brookings.

The question of why no infections have been reported in Africa was raised via twitter by Jim Bianco, of Bianco Research, earlier this month: “did anyone on the continent actually get a testing kits to look for infected people?” he asked.

ast forward one week: As we noted above, a case has already been confirmed in Egypt with a suspected case in Eswatini. With the understanding that Ethiopia international airport is a continental gateway for the Chinese.

This could mean super-spreaders, during the incubation period, undetected by temperature readings or showing no symptoms, have likely invaded Africa from China via Ethiopia’s main airport, as it’s only a matter of time before cases on the continent could start increasing.

1000 Genomes Project has published a list of various types of people with the highest risks of contracting the virus. Several countries in Africa are seen on the list:

And oddly enough, Gates has been warning about how the world needs to “prepare for pandemics in the same serious way it prepares for war.”

At the 2017 Munich Security Conference, Gates asked world leaders to “imagine that somewhere in the world a new weapon exists or could emerge that is capable of killing millions of people, bringing economies to a standstill, and casting nations into chaos. If it were a military weapon, the response would be to do everything possible to develop countermeasures,” he said at the 2017 event, adding that a “sense of urgency is lacking” when it comes to biologic threats.

The outbreak continues to worsen over the weekend, despite China’s National Health Commission’s optically pleasing phony statistics of how confirmed cases and deaths declined for the third straight day. There were 2,009 new cases in mainland China on Sunday, bringing the total to 68,500.

The government of Hubei province, the center of China’s virus outbreak, told residents on Sunday evening that a ban on vehicle traffic across the region will go into immediate effect to prevent further transmission of the virus.

According to the new conditions, only police cars, ambulances, military vehicles, and cars hauling essential goods are permitted on roads. Local authorities told companies not to resume work unless they have approval from officials, which will undoubtedly throw a wrench in the factories who were planning to open facilities last Monday. They could now be delayed even longer, which would start creating shortages of goods destined for the West for the spring and summer retail season.

Meanwhile, health officials on mainland China recently reported 2,009 new infections and 142 deaths from the coronavirus on Sunday. Hong Kong said it now had 57 cases of infection in the city after another man tested positive, while Hongkongers stranded on the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan learned they will face another 14 days quarantine when they arrive home.

On Sunday, the SCMP, one of the most reliable chroniclers of the outbreak, published a story that investors might want to take note of: The facemask shortage in China – a big component of the general shortage of medical supplies – likely won’t be over any time soon, and will likely spread to other countries.

Why? Because most of the big facemask makers are based in China, and their operations have been badly restricted by the outbreak.

China’s dominance in the global supply chain as a result of competitive pricing has come back to bite the country where it currently hurts the most – in the manufacturing of medical facial masks, a shortage of which is intensifying as the coronavirus continues to spread across the country and around the world.

Demand for masks has surged in recent weeks, exhausting not just China’s stockpile, but emptying shelves from Bangkok to Boston. In China, it is now mandatory to wear facial masks in public areas in many cities.

China, which accounts for about half of the world’s mask production, is scrambling to snap excess supply from overseas, both through official diplomatic channels, and buyers like Cai.

An update on the Diamond Princess, a virus- stricken cruise ship, held under quarantine in the Japanese port of Yokohama: Several countries with citizens aboard the ship have announced plans for an emergency evacuation following reports that passengers are literally going mad with paranoia.

Among them, the US is scheduling a charter plane for its 380 citizens aboard the ship. On Sunday, South Korea said it’s planning to evacuate 355 of its people from the vessel. It was noted by Japanese authorities that anyone testing positive for the virus would not be able to leave.

However, the Hong Kongers, Americans and others among them will likely be less-than-pleased to learn that the clocks will restart and they will face another 14 day quarantine when they return.

As for the cruise ship docked in Cambodia, an American passenger tested positive for the virus on Sunday. The 83-year-old woman has been aboard the MS Westerdam, operated by Carnival Corp. The ship is carrying 1,455 passengers and 802 crew.

In Taiwan, it was confirmed on Sunday night that the first death related to the virus was seen, Health Minister Chen Shih-Chung told reporters.

The island’s health minister said the deceased man was in his sixties, had not traveled to China, and had diabetes and hepatitis B. This is the first death in the country with at least 20 confirmed cases.

It appears the World Health Organization (WHO) finally admitting the COVID-19 outbreak is a global pandemic, along with the announcement last week that there’s no vaccine for at least 12-18 months, is more than enough to recognize their “contained” narrative is bullsh*t, with new risks emerging of an outbreak in Africa.

Simultaneously, China’s economy is disintegrating at the seams, producing one of the most massive economic shocks not seen since the 2008/09 financial crisis, as nearly two-thirds of its economy has ground to a halt. China was responsible for over half of the world’s credit creation in the last decade, and if China decelerates, so does the world.

Courtesy of Zero Hedge