CDC Confirms 2 New Coronavirus Cases In US, Raising Total To 62 As WHO Ups Risk Assessment To “Very High”

CDC Confirms 2 New Coronavirus Cases In US, Raising Total To 62 As WHO Ups Risk Assessment To “Very High”

Summary:

  • CDC raises US coronavirus total to 62
  • Google says employee who visited Zurich office has coronavirus
  • France confirms 57 cases
  • Italy reports 3 deaths in Lombardy; nat’l toll now 21; total cases 821
  • Google employee tests positive for coronavirus after visiting Zurich office
  • British man becomes 6th ‘Diamond Princess’ passenger to die
  • Two Japanese dogs tested positive for coronavirus
  • Mulvaney says school closures, transit disruptions may happen in US
  • Dr. Tedros said Friday that there’s no evidence of ‘community outbreak’
  • Mexico confirms 1st virus case
  • Fauci warns virus could take ‘two years’ to develop
  • Kudlow says “no higher priority” than the “health of the American people
  • Toronto confirms another case
  • WHO says 20 vaccines in development
  • St. Louis Fed’s Bullard pours cold water on market hopes
  • Netherlands confirms 2 more
  • United cuts flights to Japan
  • Advisor to CDC says shortage of tests in US creating a “bottleneck”
  • Nigeria confirms first case in sub-saharan africa
  • SK reports more than 1,000 new cases in under 48 hours
  • Italy cases surpass 700
  • WHO says virus will ‘soon be in all countries’

* * *

Update (1610ET): Another wild market session has ended, cementing the worst run for equities since the financial crisis.

As for virus-related news heading into the close, well, there really wasn’t a ton. CNN reports that Kenya’s High Court has ordered all 239 passengers who recently arrived in Nairobi on a flight from Guangzhou into a mandatory quarantine at a Kenya Defense Forces base, or a guarded medical facility.

Following the cancellation of joint military exercises between the US and South Korea, along with reports that an American serviceman was infected in South Korea, the Pentagon has warned that the coronavirus poses an “Increased threat” in certain areas where US troops are stationed around the world (but…mostly in South Korea). Notably, the warning breaks from the administration’s insistence that “everything is under control.”

The travel industry is the latest to be hit by cancellations as its largest trade group cancelled its annual trade show due to the virus. The event, called ITB Berlin, had been due to attract 160,000 attendees beginning on Wednesday. But it was canceled by city authorities in Berlin.

In other unfortunate news impacting the travel industry, the Global Business Travel Association estimated in a new report that the coronavirus outbreak could cost the industry as much as $46.6 billion per month, which translates to $559.7 billion annually, the Washington Post reports.

A couple of hours after BI revealed that a Google employee had been infected with the coronavirus, media reports are now claiming two employees at Intesa Sanpaolo, the Italian banking group, have also been stricken.

* * *

Update (1350ET): A Google employee who was recently in the company’s Zurich office has tested positive for the coronavirus, Business Insider reports.

In response, Google has instituted travel advisories for all employees. Google said it would take all necessary measures advised by public health officials. So far, all Google offices – including the office in Zurich – remain open.

  • GOOGLE IS PREVENTING EMPLOYEES FROM TRAVELING TO IRAN, AS WELL AS TO 2 ITALIAN REGIONS WHERE VIRUS IS SPREADING, LOMBARDY AND VENETO- BUSINESS INSIDER
  • GOOGLE WILL BAN EMPLOYEES FROM TRAVELING TO SOUTH KOREA AND JAPAN- BUSINESS INSIDER

It’s unclear whether this case was included in the US total, or where that employee is now – if they’ve left Zurich or traveled anywhere, like to the US, for example. Switzerland has fewer than 20 confirmed cases.

Meanwhile, France confirmed that it’s total confirmed cases just climbed to 57 as the French health minister says the virus is now “circulating” in French territory, and that some schools will be kept closed after holiday in the Oise region because of virus-related worries.

* * *

Update (1330ET): In a company-wide memo, Amazon instructed all of its employees to avoid ‘nonessential’ travel within the US. Though many companies have been cancelling events and conferences while issuing travel warnings, this is one of the more extreme warnings we’ve seen, CNBC reports.

Perhaps Jeff Bezos’ animosity toward Trump has something to do with it?

As President Trump insists that investors are more worried about Bernie Sanders’ and his ‘democratic’ Communist Revolution, here’s a chart that might offer some insights on what’s inspiring the market’s mentality.

* * *

Update (1240ET): The CDC’s Dr. Messonier announced two new cases of the coronavirusin the US on Friday afternoon, confirming that the number of Americans infected aboard the ‘Diamond Princess’ has climbed to 44.

It’s just the latest sign how bad the shortage of coronavirus tests has gotten. Addressing the issue, Dr. Messonier admitted that the situation with the tests has been suboptimal, but that the CDC hopes to have it cleared up by early next week.

Dr. Messonier

So expect the ‘official’ US total to shoot higher after that.

* * *

Update (1210ET): Italian health authorities just confirmed three more deaths in Lombardy, bringing the national death toll to 21, while the number of confirmed cases rises by nearly 200 to 821.

Italy now has the third-largest death toll, behind only Iran and mainland China.

* * *

Update (1145ET): Reports are claiming a vote on the emergency spending bill to combat the virus could come as soon as next week, which is earlier than the week of March 9, as was previously reported.

* * *

Update (1130ET): The People’s Daily reports that Beijing is tightening its “entrant management” – which we believe means it’s once again restricting who can and cannot enter the city – as the government continues to implement measures to suppress outbreaks even as Beijing insists the virus has finally been ‘contained’.

* * *

Update (1120ET): Infectious-disease expert Anthony Fauci, who has been one of the federal government’s main spokespeople on the timeline for developing a vaccine, said Friday that it could take “up to two years” for a vaccine to be market-ready, according to Rep. Jan Schakowsky, Dem of Illinois. Notably, that’s a longer timeline than the 1 year to 18 months that Fauci and HHS Secretary Alex Azar shared earlier in the week.

* * *

Update (1115ET): Ontario has confirmed another coronavirus case in Toronto, the first since an Iranian passenger aboard an Air Canada flight to Montreal tested positive earlier this week.

* * *

Update (1100ET): As the left attacks the Trump Administration’s virus response, Trump has dispatched one of his top TV defenders, top economic advisor Larry Kudlow, to drive home the message that the White House has “no higher priority” than “the health of the American people.”

Kudlow added that 6 of the 15 coronavirus patients in the US have been released.

His statement follows a barrage of criticism from Trump’s political opponents claiming his decision to task Mike Pence and Alex Azar with leading the containment effort suggests the president is m ore concerned about the economic fallout, and protecting his own image.

Speaking to the press corp., Kudlow sounded less like he was trying to jawbone the markets higher and more like he was trying to understand why the selloff has become so ‘overdone’, as he sees it.

The WHO said in a report published Friday morning that the global community “is not yet ready to implement measures that have contianed the coronavirus in China,” while Dr. Tedros reiterated his view that the “window of opportunity” for stopping a ‘pandemic’ is narrowing every day.

More importantly, Kudlow insisted that the outbreak wouldn’t have much of a long-term impact on the market.

“I just don’t think at this point that it’s going to have much of an impact,” Kudlow said.

Asked what advice he would give a friend planning a cruise, Kudlow responded “stay home.”

Questions about yesterday’s Trump news presser prompted Kudlow to praise the president – saying “the way he is handling this” will help his reelection. He also said he’s not expecting any “precipitous action” on China tariffs.

As for complaints about Pence asking all CDC officials to route all decisions and every through his office, Kudlow insisted that the administration wasn’t trying to “stifle” or cover up anyone.

“No one is being stifled, no one is being told what to say…we are all ears we want to hear what they have to say,” Kudlow said. “I think you have to coordinate.”

Countries need to understand that they must contain the virus, even if it requires seemingly draconian measures, and while coronavirus cases might increase in the US, it’s unlikely that they will “skyrocket.”

Finally, the WHO has raised its global alert rating to “Very High” from “High” as it continues to do and say everything that would suggest COVID-19 has become a global pandemic, if if the WHO refuses to acknowledge it (with reason). “Very high” is the last level of the WHO risk assessment short of “pandemic.”

* * *

Update (1030ET): WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, better known as Dr. Tedros, said Friday that the WHO has seen no evidence of the type of “community transmission” that the CDC warned about. There’s no evidence that the virus is spreading freely in communities, even though seven countries have reported their first cases over the last 24 hours. 

He added that there are more than 20 vaccines in development, and that several therapeutics are in clinical trials. The first results are expected in a few weeks, Dr. Tedros said. The spread from both Italy (which has spread cases across Europe) and Iran (which has leaked the virus to its Persian Gulf neighbors) is “concerning”. The WHO added that it has found “no evidence” that the virus will react differently in different climates.

CDC Director Redfield then added that risks from the virus across the US remain “low.”

As the market awaits some kind of coordinated central-bank response, perhaps Sunday evening around the time futures open, the Fed’s Jim Bullard said the adjustment to US GDP growth expectations “doesn’t look that severe”, but that he would be willing to act if he saw evidence of a “very severe” economic hit. In other words, Bullard is pouring cold water on the market’s only source of optimism with the Dow off by 1,000 points intraday for the third time this week.

Fortunately, Bullard won’t have a vote on the FOMC until 2022 (though it’s telling that even the doves at the Fed are skeptical of an ’emergency’ rate cut).

* * *

Update (1020ET): CNBC’s Eunice Yoon sent a handful of informative tweets, reminding the world that the outbreak in China isn’t over yet (while suggesting that two more patients reported re-infection in China).

Yoon has been reporting from Beijing this entire time, and her feed has been a source of some of the best reporting from the capital.

* * *

Update (1014ET): Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney acknowledged on Friday that the coronavirus outbreak is likely to disrupt everyday life in the US, with possible school closures and public transit disruptions included on the list of potential annoyances.

“Are you going to see some schools shut down? Probably. Maybe see impacts on public transportation? Sure, but we do this. We know how to handle this,” Mulvaney said Friday during an appearance at CPAC, which, notably, did not cancel for fear of the outbreak.

If you want to read more about how the US outbreak might impact schools, the New York Times wrote a story about what the outbreak might mean for US schools yesterday.

The CDC’s Dr. Nancy Messonnier stressed the need for companies and schools to develop strategies for keeping employees and students at home during a presser a few days ago.

* * *

Update (0950ET): Nigeria’s top public health official said Friday that the country is “more than capable” of dealing with the outbreak.

“Nigeria is ready,” Chikwe Ihekweazu said. “We successfully managed Ebola and we manage outbreaks all the time and are currently managing Lassa fever. We have a strong team that is used to doing this.”

United Airlines announced plans to change its flight schedule to Japan now that coronavirus fears are impacting travel and tourism to the world’s third-largest economy.

Here are the specific flights affected:

  • Los Angeles to Tokyo canceled March 8 until April 24
  • Chicago to Tokyo canceled March 8 to March 27, then switches to Chicago to Haneda on March 28
  • Haneda schedule is not affected
  • Newark to Tokyo reduction to 5 times weekly for April (from daily)
  • Honolulu to Tokyo down-gauged from 777-200 to 787-8 for April
  • San Francisco to Kansai reduction to 5 times weekly in April (from daily)
  • San Francisco to Singapore reduction to 1 time daily for March 8 until April 24 (from 2 times daily)
  • San Francisco- to Incheon reduction to 3 times weekly for March 8 until April 30 (from 1 time daily in March and 2 times daily in April)
  • San Francisco to Taiwan down-gauged from 777-300 to 787-9 for March and April.

In the US, a longtime advisor to the CDC told CNN that the shortage of COVID-19 tests in the US has created a “bottleneck.”

“We haven’t been able to test more broadly as many of my colleagues in infectious disease would like,” Dr. William Schaffner, medical director of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, told CNN on Friday.

* * *

Update (0925ET): Japanese TV news network NHK has reported that a British man has died after becoming infected with the coronavirus aboard the cruise ship “Diamond Princess”, which was home to the largest COVID-19 outbreak outside mainland China until this week, when South Korea assumed the mantle.

Moreover, CNN reported that the Japanese Health Ministry confirmed the death of a 79-year-old woman, who it said was the fifth passenger to die from a case of the virus contracted aboard the ‘Diamond Princess’. 10 have died from the virus in Japan.

The man is the first Brit to die from the virus, and the first foreign passenger to die from a case linked to the Diamond Princess, and the sixth death linked to the cruise ship.

A spokeswoman for Princess Cruises, which operates the Diamond Princess, issued a statement: “All of us at Princess Cruises, including the crew of the Diamond Princess, offer our sincere condolences to family members and friends for their loss. Our dedicated care team are on hand to provide support.”

Speaking on CNBC Friday morning, host Jim Cramer went on an interesting rant about China deliberately infecting people to test its vaccine, before slamming the WHO for kowtowing the China, a criticism that has been widely shared. A spokesperson for the giant NGO said Friday that the virus would likely make it to most, if not all, countries.

* * *

Update (0900ET): Spain reported 18 new cases Friday afternoon, bringing its total to 32, although 29 of them have direct links to ‘risk zones’ abroad (including Italy in particular). 

Still, Spanish doctors and epidemiologists haven’t been able to trace the origins of 3 cases, contributing to anxieties that the outbreak might be much larger than presently detected.

Some 130 guests at the H10 Costa Adeje Palace hotel in Tenerifem the largest of Spain’s Canary Islands, will be allowed to leave Friday after several days on lockdown. Four hotel guests have tested positive so far, as Spain’s Health Ministry tested every guest.

With China’s economy humming at less than 50% capacity, the Communist Party has decided to offer another 300 billion yuan (roughly $43 billion) in emergency loans to Chinese companies, particularly the SMEs who are in the most dire need of funding.

  • CHINA TO GUIDE ANOTHER 300B YUAN LOW-INTEREST LOANS AMONG AIDS

* * *

Update (0820ET): After several scares, Mexico has finally confirmed its first case of coronavirus, according to Mexico’s deputy health minister.

According to Reuters, the patient recently traveled to Italy and came up positive on the initial test. His case is only the second confirmed in Latin America, outside Brazil. The patient is said to be “not in a serious condition.”

In corporate news, following Facebook, Goldman Sachs and a host of other companies, Kraft Heinz has taken the precautionary step of postponing its March conference in Chicago. The conference was supposed to host 250 of the troubled packaged-food company’s best managers.

* * *

On Wednesday, the coronavirus outbreak reached a new milestone when the number of new cases confirmed in the world ex-China finally surpassed the number being confirmed on the mainland. Two days later, and we’re almost at the point where the number of Thursday new cases confirmed by Iran was roughly half the total coming out of Wuhan.

As of Friday morning, the number of confirmed cases worldwide had passed 83,000, while the number of deaths topped 2,800.

Since yesterday, we we first noted this chart, the number of cases outside China has soared, particularly in South Korea and across Europe, as the number of new cases in mainland China (but outside Wuhan) dropped into the single digits. Vietnam joined the group of countries restricting South Koreans from entry, announcing Friday that it would stop issuing visas for South Koreans, according to CNN.

Of course, China still had nearly two months of lead time over the rest of the world, and it has been home to the bulk of cases so far.

Here’s a rundown of deaths outside mainland China:

Iran: 34
Italy 17
South Korea: 14
Japan: 10 
Hong Kong and France: 2 each
The Philippines and Taiwan: 1 each

A WHO Spokesman said Friday that the coronavirus outbreak is ‘getting bigger’, and that the possibility of it reaching some ‘if not all countries’ is something that we have warned about for a while.

Every Brooklyn hipster who’s been living in blissful ignorance of the pandemic unfolding all around them – dismissing every new warning as ‘racist right-wing alarmism’ – is about to start paying attention: The dog of a coronavirus patient in Hong Kong has been found to carry a “low level” of the deadly virus, according to a statement from the region’s government.

Infographic: Where COVID-19 Has Been Confirmed in the U.S. | Statista You will find more infographics at Statista

According to the New York Post, researchers tested the dog’s nasal cavities and swabbed its mouth on Wednesday, and soon discovered that a test returned a “weak positive” for the samples.

“At present, the [Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department] does not have evidence that pet animals can be infected with COVID-19 virus or can be a source of infection to people,” Hong Kong’s government said in a press release.

Don’t worry, dog lovers: The animal is being quarantined in a animal shelter holding no other animals. The pooch will remain under quarantine until it tests negative. Fortunately, it doesn’t appear to be showing symptoms.

South Korea has confirmed an additional 571 cases of the novel coronavirus so far on Friday, bringing its total to 2,337, making it the largest outbreak outside of mainland China.

Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country with more than 200 million people, reported the first case in Sub-Saharan Africa late Thursday night (ET). On Friday, Nigerian Health Minister Osagie Ehanire told reporters in Lagos that his government has contacted the airline on which the country’s ‘patient zero’ traveled to try and trace people he came in contact with. Lagos Health Commissioner Akin Abayomi said the patient traveled to Nigeria on Turkish Airlines flight.

“We are not panicking,” Ehanire says. “We are not banning airlines. We have not seen the need. We are also not profiling and stigmatizing.”

Nigerian officials offered some more details about their first case on Friday, according to Al Jazeera.

The first confirmed case was not detected at the airport, allowing them to travel through densely populated Lagos before becoming ill and visiting a hospital, the country’s health minister said.

The Italian man, who authorities said arrived in Nigeria from Milan on the evening of Feb. 24, had no symptoms when their plane landed.

Authorities are now working to “meet and observe” all those who were on the flight with him, and are also identifying all the people he met and places he visited in Lagos, a giant city of 20 million.

Perhaps the most shocking development overnight was the surge of new cases in Germany, confirming the dire warnings of health officials. Europe’s largest economy has now quarantined about 1,000 people and affirmed “about 60” cases of coronavirus across the country.

Mexico’s streak of being the only country in North America to have rebuffed the coronavirus is about to end: The country just reported its first preliminary positive test on Friday morning, according to Bloomberg.

as the number of confirmed cases in Switzerland slowly grows, one of the most important events for the global auto industry, the Geneva International Motor Show, has been canceled now that Swiss authorities have banned major public events.

In Iran, authorities have nearly caught up to a lawmaker’s warning about 50 deaths  in the city of Qom earlier this week: The Islamic Republic reported 143 new cases overnight, raising the countrywide total to 388. It also reported 8 more deaths, bringing the death toll to 34.

“Iran expects an upward trajectory in confirmed coronavirus cases in the next few days,” the health minister said.

Singapore has become the latest country to crack down on the South Korean Christian cult at the center of that country’s outbreak.

Moving over the commonwealth of independent states, Azerbaijan confirmed its first case on Friday, while a second case was confirmed in Georgia. Another case has been confirmed in Thailand after a long period of calm, raising the total to 41.

 

German Bundesbank President Jens Weidmann said on Friday that the central bank’s official forecasts for 2020 growth were probably a little too optimistic, given the supply-side shock rocking Europe’s export powerhouse. Authorities in Germany’s Heinsberg, which is situated near the Dutch border, asked people who came into contact with a married couple with the disease to stay at home. Over in the UK, the first case was reported in Wales, following the first case in Northern Ireland last night. The tally for the four-country kingdom was 19 as of Friday morning in the US.

An update on the hotel in Tenerife where an Italian doctor was diagnosed with the virus and hundreds of guests have been quarantined: The first 9 guests of about 700 who have been isolated since Tuesday have been allowed to leave.

In Italy, cases soared to 650 on Thursday from 400 a day earlier, bringing the European total to more than 700. France has confirmed another 20 cases, according to the Washington Post, while Charles de Gaulle airport is suspected as a source.

Offering a picture of political unity to millions of terrified South Koreans, President Moon Jae-in joined with the leaders of rival parties to speak about the necessity for “bold and swift extraordinary measures,” including some deficit-widening fiscal stimulus, to combat the outbreak and revitalize economy, Yonhap News reported, citing a joint statement from South Korea’s parties. Meanwhile, in Japan, the Northern Island of Hokkaido has declared a “State of Emergency” following an outbreak.

Following the confirmation of the 60th case on US soil, the New York Times blasted the White House Task Force on Thursday for reportedly requiring that all statements and public appearances be coordinated through the office of the VP, a move that the NYT fretted might ‘rob’ Americans of sober, scientific advice. We suspect this isn’t really that major of a violation of norms (otherwise, what’s the point of having someone like Pence in charge of coordinating everything), and the NYT is joining its Democratic partners in slinging mud at the Trump Administration.

As if that weren’t enough, the NYT quickly pivoted to bashing Pence for selecting a trained scientist as the White House’s coronavirus response coordinator, a position that will report to him. The NYT blasted Pence, saying the appointment confused the public about who will be speaking for the administration.

Last night, President Trump bashed the press coverage of the outbreak in the US during an event celebrating Black History Month at the White House.

“15 people is almost, I would say, a miracle,” Trump bragged.

While PM Shinzo Abe tries to quell speculation about the possible cancellation of the Olympics, Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi and top Chinese diplomat Yang Jiechi said Friday that President Xi Jinping’s scheduled visit to Tokyo would go ahead as planned.

Heading into the weekend, stock futures in the US are in the red once again as virtually nobody seems to want to be caught holding risk moving into the weekend.

Dear reader, if you’re wondering why global equities are once again in the red on Friday, CNBC’s Eunice Yoon has got you covered:

What a relief to see China getting back to work!


Tyler Durden

Fri, 02/28/2020 – 16:25

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Author: Tyler Durden

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