[News] Coronavirus

A place to discuss the now-global coronavirus outbreak.

Well, once it gets the WHO's attention like this, it deserves its own thread.

The new coronavirus has been declared a global emergency by the World Health Organization, as the outbreak continues to spread outside China.

"The main reason for this declaration is not what is happening in China but what is happening in other countries," said WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

The concern is that it could spread to countries with weaker health systems.

The death toll now stands at 170 people in China.

The WHO said there had been 98 cases in 18 countries outside of the country, but no deaths.

Most cases have emerged in people who have travelled from the Chinese city of Wuhan, where the outbreak began.

However, there have been eight cases of human-to-human infection - in Germany, Japan, Vietnam and the United States.

Dr Tedros, speaking at the press conference in Geneva, described the virus as an "unprecedented outbreak" that has been met with an "unprecedented response".

He praised the "extraordinary measures" Chinese authorities had taken to prevent it from spreading.

"Let me be clear, this declaration is not a vote of no confidence in China," he added.

Coronavirus: US reports first person-to-person transmission

Chicago health officials have reported the first US case of human-to-human transmission of the deadly coronavirus.

The new patient is the spouse of a Chicago woman who carried the infection back from Wuhan, China, the US Centers for Disease Control said on Thursday.

The discovery marks the second report of the virus in Illinois and the sixth confirmed case in the US.

More than 130 people have died in China - the epicentre of the outbreak - and nearly 6,000 have been infected.

The virus has spread to every region in China and to at least 16 countries globally, including Thailand, France, the US and Australia, with the global death toll rising to 170.

There is no specific cure or vaccine, though a number of people have recovered following treatment.

Chicago health officials said the new patient, a 60-year-old male, had "some underlying medical conditions" but was in good condition. His wife, who he apparently contracted the virus from, was also stable but remained in isolation at a local hospital, officials said.

As with the Ebola outbreak of years past, the sheer amount of misinformation floating around about it is already staggering.

How Bad Will the Coronavirus Outbreak Get?

While the virus is a serious public health concern, the risk to most people outside China remains very low, and seasonal flu is a more immediate threat. To avoid any viral illness, experts advise washing your hands frequently and avoiding your office or school when you’re sick. Most healthy people don’t need masks, and hoarding them may contribute to shortages for health workers who do need them, experts say.

A man lies dead in the street: the image that captures the Wuhan coronavirus crisis

It is an image that captures the chilling reality of the coronavirus outbreak in the Chinese city of Wuhan: a grey-haired man wearing a face mask lies dead on the pavement, a plastic shopping bag in one hand, as police and medical staff in full protective suits and masks prepare to take him away.

On what would typically be a crowded street in Wuhan, an industrial city of 11 million people under quarantine, there are only a few passersby – but they dare not go near him.

Journalists from Agence France-Presse saw the body on Thursday morning, not long before a vehicle arrived carrying emergency workers. AFP could not determine how the man, who appeared to be aged in his 60s, had died.

But the reaction of the police and medical staff in hazmat suits, as well as some of the bystanders, highlighted the fear pervading the city.

Probably a heart attack, I'd reckon. Not an unusual outcome for elderly people to have heart attacks when sick.

Honestly people should be far more worried about Dengue fever.

Compared to just 9 countries reporting severe dengue epidemics prior to 1970, dengue is endemic today in more than 100 countries globally. Consequently, nearly half of the world’s population is at risk of infection. The incidence of the disease has increased in the past few decades, and disease burden is likely underestimated because cases may be underreported or misdiagnosed as other illnesses. Additionally, of the 284-528 million people per year estimated to have dengue infections globally, only a small fraction, approximately 67-136 million, exhibit clinical symptoms of infection.
Chairman_Mao wrote:

Honestly people should be far more worried about Dengue fever.

Compared to just 9 countries reporting severe dengue epidemics prior to 1970, dengue is endemic today in more than 100 countries globally. Consequently, nearly half of the world’s population is at risk of infection. The incidence of the disease has increased in the past few decades, and disease burden is likely underestimated because cases may be underreported or misdiagnosed as other illnesses. Additionally, of the 284-528 million people per year estimated to have dengue infections globally, only a small fraction, approximately 67-136 million, exhibit clinical symptoms of infection.

Particularly as climate change is opening up a lot more habitat for mosquitos.

My view remains that it makes good sense to keep a close eye on this new outbreak, and to take reasonable measures to limit spread. If it becomes evident that the virus has become more infectious or more lethal, then stronger measures can be taken.

My frustration is that if the general population channeled half of their anxious energy that they have over this novel coronavirus into the infectious agents that are already demonstrably infecting and killing far more people, we'd save far more lives.

I mean, people are wringing their hands over a virus that has infected about 6000 people and killed a couple hundred. Total. In contrast, infectious diarrhea kills nearly 2,200 children every single week. It is responsible for 1 in every 9 childhood deaths worldwide and is both preventable and treatable with minimal funding and effort.

Where is the news coverage of that? If the media and sports organizations had donated just 1% of the cost of all the Kobe Bryant mourning ceremonies to the cause of actually fighting simple diarrhea, we'd leave him a legacy of saved lives vastly beyond what could be accomplished by a couple of days of people waving basketball jerseys around.

So...er, yeah, keep an eye on coronavirus. But maybe also keep it in perspective, and donate the cost of that probably ineffectual N-95 mask to a charitable organisation working on public hygiene efforts.

Coldstream wrote:

I mean, people are wringing their hands over a virus that has infected about 6000 people and killed a couple hundred. Total. In contrast, infectious diarrhea kills nearly 2,200 children every single week. It is responsible for 1 in every 9 childhood deaths worldwide and is both preventable and treatable with minimal funding and effort.

Well yes, but those are brown people, you see.

LobsterMobster (RIP) in 2008 wrote:

IMAGE(http://i286.photobucket.com/albums/ll100/CaptainFailcon/SHUTDOWNEVERYTHING.jpg)

Prederick wrote:
Coldstream wrote:

I mean, people are wringing their hands over a virus that has infected about 6000 people and killed a couple hundred. Total. In contrast, infectious diarrhea kills nearly 2,200 children every single week. It is responsible for 1 in every 9 childhood deaths worldwide and is both preventable and treatable with minimal funding and effort.

Well yes, but those are brown people, you see.

I fear that there may be element of that, but I hope and believe that it's more a case of far away people. When people imagine an epidemic, they imagine it impacting familiar faces and familiar places. The same thing happening far away, while intellectually identical, simply doesn't have the same emotional impact. This is a human thing, and understandable, although we might wish otherwise. I don't think I've met anyone so lost to decency that they don't agree that children dying from preventable disease is a terrible thing regardless of location, but it's still hard to convince someone to spend that dollar on prevention rather than a shiny new mask for themselves.

This is a little off-topic, but the emotion-over-logic stuff in healthcare makes me crazy. Especially difficult is when people take trips overseas to "help" people. They come back with some wonderful photos of smiling foreigners and the small hut where they nailed up a blackboard, and they did it all with the best will in the world. What's so tragic about it is what a staggering waste of money and resources it is. The money, effort, and supplies (not to mention carbon cost) of flying someone from Europe or the USA to a remote location overseas adds up to a sum that could pay for a well for an entire village. That money could pay for tons of vaccines, the salary of a full-time teacher, construction of a new building, clothes for kids, or a mountain of school supplies. But we spent it on getting one person there, perhaps without any real skills, to spend a few weeks there before merrily flying away.

It's why I had really mixed feelings about all the hoopla surrounding Andrich's trips to Tibet. I have no doubt that he went with love in his heart and a genuine desire to help, but it made me want to throw my phone a little bit. Because as far as I could tell he was going as unskilled labour, essentially handing out stuff. This is something that in my opinion could have been far more easily done by someone already there. If we were crowd-funding a spot on that trip, wouldn't it have been better to put a physician, nurse, optometrist, physical therapist, nutritionist, teacher, or indeed anyone else with specialist skills on that trip? Or better yet, if there are sufficient specialists, couldn't we have bought supplies? Funded the purchase of local resources that would exist long after the team had left? Funded training for some of the people who live there to have some of those skills for themselves? I'm sure the cost of going was several thousands of dollars. It grieves me that the money wasn't better spent.

I don't mean to be mean about Andrich's trip. I really don't. I just wish people were a little more intellectually honest about what they do, and think a bit more deeply about the impact of healthcare (or lack thereof) in the less-developed areas of the world. In my opinion, if you genuinely want to help people overseas, then help the people already living there rather than going yourself unless you have very specific skills that they lack. Otherwise it's just a working vacation that makes you feel good about yourself.

To get back to coronavirus, I'm seeing more fear than I am logical caution. I'm hoping that the CDC and others can pivot this to make people more aware of the infectious diseases that genuinely cause suffering throughout the world. Hopefully we'll see this novel coronavirus run its course soon (I'll feel like a silly ass if half the planet ends up dying from it).

The company I work for is mildly freaking out, setting up work from home on all laptops, frantically updating old policies to allow further VPN access, ordering pallets of hand sanitizer and otherwise acting like the WHO increasing a threat level and some medical checks at the airport means we have the plague upon us.

More sad for me is seeing the office gossip around this flare up, with all the usual vague racism, not-so-vague racism, and cockamamie ways to keep oneself safe. God forbid you travel anywhere in Asia soon.

Coldstream wrote:

My view remains that it makes good sense to keep a close eye on this new outbreak, and to take reasonable measures to limit spread. If it becomes evident that the virus has become more infectious or more lethal, then stronger measures can be taken.

My frustration is that if the general population channeled half of their anxious energy that they have over this novel coronavirus into the infectious agents that are already demonstrably infecting and killing far more people, we'd save far more lives.

Given that in the US we're currently at the height of flu season and have deadly outbreaks of measles, and people aren't taking basic precautions like getting vaccinated for those, panicking over a new deadly maybe-pandemic from overseas does seem a bit premature.

bnpederson wrote:

The company I work for is mildly freaking out, setting up work from home on all laptops, frantically updating old policies to allow further VPN access, ordering pallets of hand sanitizer and otherwise acting like the WHO increasing a threat level and some medical checks at the airport means we have the plague upon us.

More sad for me is seeing the office gossip around this flare up, with all the usual vague racism, not-so-vague racism, and cockamamie ways to keep oneself safe. God forbid you travel anywhere in Asia soon.

I work for a university, which means that we regularly have people travel all over the world (which especially includes China, given that they're involved in a lot of research) but that we also have actual doctors and a health department in charge of our health issues, rather than HR. So there hasn't been any official panic.

I haven't been in too many conversations about the coronavirus, so there hasn't been much in the way of office gossip that I've overheard. I'd hope that there's less racism here locally than in the ridiculous panic I've seen circulating online, but who knows.

bnpederson wrote:

The company I work for is mildly freaking out, setting up work from home on all laptops, frantically updating old policies to allow further VPN access, ordering pallets of hand sanitizer and otherwise acting like the WHO increasing a threat level and some medical checks at the airport means we have the plague upon us.

More sad for me is seeing the office gossip around this flare up, with all the usual vague racism, not-so-vague racism, and cockamamie ways to keep oneself safe. God forbid you travel anywhere in Asia soon.

I feel like everybody has already forgotten when Ebola was going to wipe out humanity. Remember that? It's the reason why we're all posting from the afterlife now.

As New Virus Spread, China’s Old Habits Delayed Fight

A reconstruction of the crucial seven weeks between the appearance of the first symptoms in early December and the government’s decision to lock down the city, based on two dozen interviews with Wuhan residents, doctors and officials, on government statements and on Chinese media reports, points to decisions that delayed a concerted public health offensive.

In those weeks, the authorities silenced doctors and others for raising red flags. They played down the dangers to the public, leaving the city’s 11 million residents unaware they should protect themselves. They closed a food market where the virus was believed to have started, but told the public it was for renovations.

I am only tangentially familiar with "Tankie Twitter", but it is still jarring to come across completely earnest Stalinists and Maoists online arguing that no, actually, the Chinese government is handling this perfectly and any reports that perhaps the authoritarian state has done a sub-par job are racist Western imperialism.

Fury in China as footage appears to show officials taking doctors' face masks

Footage of government officials in Wuhan appearing to take face masks intended for health workers battling the highly infectious coronavirus has fuelled a growing wave of anger over how Chinese authorities have handled the outbreak.

Images of medical staff making protective equipment out of rubbish bags, sleeping in hospitals, and crying in frustration and exhaustion have dominated Chinese social media over the last two weeks, inspiring an outpouring of sympathy and donations of supplies.

A video posted by Beijing News on Sunday appeared to show government workers taking some of those donated supplies. A statement from the Wuhan government said that personnel attending a meeting on emergency supplies on Saturday had “received masks and other related protective supplies” from China’s Red Cross, which is overseeing donations.

“We will further standardise the collection, storage, and distribution of protective gear for frontline workers … Thank you to the media for their attention and supervision,” the statement said, according to images of it posted by Beijing News.

Other photos showed officials wearing specialised N95 respirator masks in a meeting with doctors who wore surgical masks.

Coronavirus: How Facebook, TikTok and other apps tackle fake claims

Social media networks are taking steps to address false information about the coronavirus on their sites.

Facebook, Twitter and TikTok are among the firms working to provide links to accurate information.

The number of posts containing misinformation about the spread and alleged cures for the coronavirus has soared.

So far more than 250 people have died as a result of the outbreak and cases have been reported in 22 countries.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the coronavirus a public health emergency.

Most social media networks have rules banning the posting of hateful or defamatory information. But following a backlash against firms such as Facebook and Twitter for allowing fake news to spread during the 2016 US presidential election, networks began taking action.

False information on social media has led to mob violence in several counties and has also helped spread unfounded fears about the safety of vaccines.

Social networks are now facing pressure to ensure their platforms don't incite panic or cause harm as authorities try to address the coronavirus outbreak.

So what are they doing?

Prederick wrote:

I am only tangentially familiar with "Tankie Twitter", but it is still jarring to come across completely earnest Stalinists and Maoists online arguing that no, actually, the Chinese government is handling this perfectly and any reports that perhaps the authoritarian state has done a sub-par job are racist Western imperialism.

One of my friends dated a Chinese girl while we were both in Japan. Talking to her was absolutely fascinating. She had never heard of the Tianamen Square massacre, and basically said that we were making it up. When I asked how she felt about the government restricting people's internet access to only government-approved sites and services, she responded that the USA government does that to American citizens too. She was intelligent, well-educated, and thoughtful, but her shrugging acceptance of what most of the rest of the world would consider to be unreasonable restrictions was eye-opening as a window into modern Chinese culture.

Infections are growing by 20% each day which doesn't seem promising. Someone said we are overdue for another Spanish Flu level epidemic and this seems to be trending that way.. With Fatality rates at 2-3% compared to 0.1% from various Flues it does seem like its setting up that way.

I don't know what % Fatality rate was the Spanish Flu but I would imagine it was much higher mostly because of limits in modern medicine, etc.

TheGameguru wrote:

Infections are growing by 20% each day which doesn't seem promising. Someone said we are overdue for another Spanish Flu level epidemic and this seems to be trending that way.. With Fatality rates at 2-3% compared to 0.1% from various Flues it does seem like its setting up that way.

I don't know what % Fatality rate was the Spanish Flu but I would imagine it was much higher mostly because of limits in modern medicine, etc.

estimates say 10-20% who got it died. It killed 3-6% of the global population.

Chairman_Mao wrote:
TheGameguru wrote:

Infections are growing by 20% each day which doesn't seem promising. Someone said we are overdue for another Spanish Flu level epidemic and this seems to be trending that way.. With Fatality rates at 2-3% compared to 0.1% from various Flues it does seem like its setting up that way.

I don't know what % Fatality rate was the Spanish Flu but I would imagine it was much higher mostly because of limits in modern medicine, etc.

estimates say 10-20% who got it died. It killed 3-6% of the global population.

The mind boggles what might happen if we see 10-20% of the worlds population getting this.

TheGameguru wrote:
Chairman_Mao wrote:
TheGameguru wrote:

Infections are growing by 20% each day which doesn't seem promising. Someone said we are overdue for another Spanish Flu level epidemic and this seems to be trending that way.. With Fatality rates at 2-3% compared to 0.1% from various Flues it does seem like its setting up that way.

I don't know what % Fatality rate was the Spanish Flu but I would imagine it was much higher mostly because of limits in modern medicine, etc.

estimates say 10-20% who got it died. It killed 3-6% of the global population.

The mind boggles what might happen if we see 10-20% of the worlds population getting this.

Thanos Shrugged

It's suspected that the Spanish Flu may have killed many people with healthy immune systems via cytokine storm, in which the immune system essentially goes haywire in a feedback loop. This was also a complication with SARS, which had a fatality rate around 10% as well.

I'm not aware of this being a complication with the Wuhan coronavirus. From what I've read, most of the fatalities have been in cases with compromised immune systems.

You can view Johns Hopkins CSSE's tracking of confirmed cases here.

TheGameguru wrote:

Infections are growing by 20% each day which doesn't seem promising. Someone said we are overdue for another Spanish Flu level epidemic and this seems to be trending that way.. With Fatality rates at 2-3% compared to 0.1% from various Flues it does seem like its setting up that way.

From what I've read, while the fatality rate is 2% of the reported cases, it's believed that a large number of people haven't exhibited severe symptoms (i.e., they assumed they had a bad cold) and thus never went to the hospital to be counted, so the actual number of infected people is probably much larger. This would mean that the fatality rate is probably a lot lower than 2%.

Yes, this virus is still emphatically in the "discovery" phase, so at the moment, I still side with health professionals who are reminding everyone that the regular flu is still out there and can ruin your weekend quite easily.

The Thing with Spanish Flu was also the timing. Right after WWI, people were malnourished, immune systems weakened, dirty stuff everywhere etc.

Not saying that this cant turn out bad, just that Spanish Flu had rather specific environment to thrive in.

I just don't like the unknown factor of the disease. That's why I'm worried. Once we know more about it, i'll reassess it, but as someone with a compromised immune system, this kind of easily spread, unknown disease just scares me. That being said I am more afraid of the flu and other illnesses we -know- are dangerous, and I am of course taking the proper precautions (the biggest of which is limiting my trips out of the house to essential ones), but still the unknown factor is my biggest reason for fearing it. Once it becomes a known quantity, that changes.

Dr.Incurable wrote:

as someone with a compromised immune system, this kind of easily spread, unknown disease just scares me.

My own health conditions leave me with particular vulnerability to lung infections. If you have a similar vulnerability and haven't previously done so, investigate getting a pneumonia vaccine. From what I've read, that seems to be one of the biggest risks, and honestly should already be a consideration as an extra line of defense against influenza anyway. My doctor first recommended it for me a few years ago due to flu risks so I got it then.

I think anyone with a compromised immune system is automatically justified to be worried.

In slightly uplifting news, an experimental ebola vaccine to be effective at preventing infection from the coronavirus. So far just shows signs of efficacy in animals against related viruses, but it's something at least.

edit: fixed URL

Most wrote:

The Thing with Spanish Flu was also the timing. Right after WWI, people were malnourished, immune systems weakened, dirty stuff everywhere etc.

Not saying that this cant turn out bad, just that Spanish Flu had rather specific environment to thrive in.

That's not quite true. People far, far away from the deprivations of the front lines or even Europe got sick and died. About 18 million Indians died from the Spanish Influenza. The isolated Pacific island of Samoa (then Western Samoa) lost nearly a quarter of its population.

Heck, it's called the Spanish Influenza because Spain was neutral during WWI and their newspaper's openly reported the impact the disease was causing. The Spanish economy was booming then and their population certainly wasn't malnourished and living in filth. The European powers, on the other hand, clamped down on their press and forbade reporting about the disease. That lead to everyone thinking the disease came from Spain when it probably first started in a US Army camp in Kansas.

That two waves of the Spanish Influenza managed to spread worldwide in just a few shorts months back in the days when railroads and boats were the fastest transportation should give people pause.

Sawbones did their deep dive.

https://maximumfun.org/episodes/sawb...

Coronavirus: Chinese media confusion over doctor's death

Chinese media have changed a report that a doctor who blew the whistle on the coronavirus outbreak has died of the infection.

The state-run Global Times said Li Wenliang had died in Wuhan but later reported he was instead critically ill.

The People's Daily had earlier sent out a tweet saying Dr Li's death had sparked "national grief".

Dr Li warned fellow medics about the virus on 30 December but was told by police to stop making "false comments".

The coronavirus has now killed more than 560 people and infected 28,000 in China.