Coronavirus Special Coverage

A collection of news posted throughout the week for those that want signal, not noise.

  • Previous coverage - all of our posts in this ongoing series.
  • Coronavirus status page - learn how to prepare for possible spread to your area. Scenarios, shopping lists, background info and everything else you need, all in one place.

COVID-19: key developments for Wednesday, February 19, 2020

A collection of key developments in the fight against COVID-19 (the actual virus is SARS-COV-2), posted throughout the week for those who just want the signal and not the noise. If there’s something you think we should include, sound off in the comments thread attached to the post.

Visit our Wuhan coronavirus status page and learn how to prepare for possible spread to your area. Scenarios, shopping lists, background info, and everything else you need, all in one place.

Previously: The previous day’s key developments post is here.

Editor’s note: I’ve been getting these up late because I’ve been sick, myself. But am on the mend, so will return to more timely updates during the day, soon.

[11:04 pm] China has not released their case numbers yet for the day — they’re behind and nobody knows why. They’ve also recently changed the case definition for this (again), so maybe that’s related. Anyway, here’s the latest numbers we do have:

[11:03 pm] Studies show COVID-19 likely has multiple infection routes.

“These data suggested a shift from more oral positive during early period (as indicated by antibody titres) to more anal positive during later period might happen,” the authors said.

The results of the study are the first to show COVID-19 could be transmitted via respiratory, fecal-oral, or body fluid routes, the authors say. They also warn that a patient with negative oral swabs after several days of illness may still be capable of transmitting the virus.

[10:58 pm] Yikes. S. Korea reports 31 new cases of coronavirus, total now at 82. That’s a total 51 new cases in the past 24 hours. I’m seeing elsewhere that these are community-acquired infections.

This tweet has a chart in it that shows what’s happening:

[10:54 pm] This is from a Chinese Communist Party propaganda organ, but still worth a look: Coronavirus may turn into a chronic disease. There’s definitely a lot of worry out there about it becoming endemic.

[10:53 pm] If you’re wondering why we’re not seeing more infections outside of China and the Diamond Princess, this thread tries to think through the options:

[10:52 pm] San Diego County supervisors affirm coronavirus-driven emergency declaration. “As the number of people under self-supervised home quarantine across Southern California continued to grow, and the federal quarantine at Miramar air base neared an end, San Diego County supervisors Wednesday unanimously approved a local emergency declaration, shifting gears in a public health response that experts say may grind on for months.”

[10:49 pm] NPR on the attempts to get some of China’s factories open, again. One expert quoted in the piece thinks that if this goes on past March it’s going to do lasting economic damage. It’s interesting to me that he thinks this way, because it helps make a bit of sense of the US equity market’s general indifference to what’s happening — perhaps the feeling is that this disruption is still looking temporary and unlikely to do permanent harm, but that would change if the factories don’t re-open, soon.

[10:45 pm] Iran has had two deaths now from coronavirus, and they are not playing around. They’re shutting down schools tomorrow in Qom, their seventh largest city where the deaths occurred.

That’s twelve confirmed cases in the Middle East, now: the two in Iran, nine in UAE, and one in Egypt.

[10:42 pm] There is no Oscar for security theater (as the saying goes): No US coronavirus cases were caught by airport temperature checks. Here’s what has worked

[10:36 pm] Senators Call on Trump Administration to Immediately Fill Global Health Security Position. “For Almost Two Years, No Permanent Senior Public Health Expert Has Been in Place as Head of Global Health Security at the National Security Council.”

[10:34 pm] The 1,600-bed Wuhan coronavirus hospital that China panic-built in a few days is less than half full 11 days after it opened. This is per the official figures. A reminder: the WHO has not been allowed anywhere near this hospital, or Wuhan in general, so we just have to take China’s word for this.

[10:24 pm] The latest on the Diamond Princes cruise ship is that there are now 620 confirmed infections (out of 3,700 passengers), two deaths (both in their 80’s), and 29 people serious condition. So that’s about 5 percent of infections there with a bad outcome (i.e. dead or serious illness), so far. Over half the cases are asymptomatic right now, so they’re probably pretty new.

We are only three and a half weeks out from when the original infected person left the ship (on January 25th), and just over two weeks since the first ten infections were confirmed. The illness typically takes about three weeks to run its course, so I’d imagine that the fatality rate and the rate of severely ill in this cohort will only go up from here.

The relatively rapid spread on-board the ship (from ten to 620 confirmed cases in two weeks!) is most likely due to extremely poor infection control efforts onboard, say experts.

TIME has a look at what life has been like for the crew onboard the ship.

[10:19 pm] This is a really good but short exchange with the health and science reporter for the New York Times about the challenges of covering this outbreak. He talks a lot of sense, here, which makes me want to follow him on Twitter, but he’s not on Twitter. (Good for him, bad for us.)

[10:15 pm] There’s an upcoming YouTube livestreamed event from the University of Maryland’s School of Public Health that covers a number of aspects of the current coronavirus situation. I’m going to try to watch it, tomorrow.

[10:10 pm] Anderson Horowitz’s latest podcast episode features a biotech VC and some discussion of the current state of play with the virus. I’ve not had a chance to listen to it, yet, but I hear it’s quite good, so go check it out.

There’s also a YouTube video on the state of play that’s good:

There’s not really anything in here I hadn’t already read on Twitter, but if you like getting an overview via audio/video, this is solid.

Hat tip to @DanielleFong for both links.

    The Prepared