Wuhan Virus Watch: Trump angry that infected Americans were flown back to U.S. with healthy passengers
Italy quarantines ten towns. Chinese general with bioweapons background takes leading role in coronavirus fight.
The number of Wuhan Coronavirus cases reported now stands at 78,773, located in 33 separate countries and territories. The death toll is now reported at 2,462.
Today’s report contains some disturbing updates to news we previously reported.
Trump furious Americans infected with coronavirus flown back to U.S. with healthy passengers
A new report indicates that President Trump was angry that 14 Americans infected with the coronavirus returned to the United States rather than remain in quarantine overseas.
Trump had been briefed that the healthy U.S. passengers who spent weeks quarantined aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan would be allowed to fly home on two chartered planes — while those who were sick or infected would stay in Japan to prevent the spread of the deadly virus.
The president became “furious” with senior advisers after learning the 14 Americans who tested positive had been put on a plane with healthy passengers, according to The Washington Post. One official told the paper that the failure to inform Trump of the decision in advance of the plane’s departure was a “big operational mistake.”
As we previously noted, the State Department ignored the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control on this matter.
Italy puts ten towns on lockdown after two Italians die of coronavirus
Yesterday, I noted that a town in northern Italy had a significant outbreak of COVID-19. Now it is being reported that ten Italian towns are under quarantine after the death of two of Italian citizens.
Italy has become the first country in Europe to have its own nationals die from COVID-19 coronavirus.
Authorities have put ten towns on lockdown in the north of the country after a cluster of cases emerged on Friday.
The latest victim was announced as a 75-year-old woman from Lombardy, which follows the death of man, 78, from Veneto.
The total number of cases nationwide is 59, with 46 patients in Lombardy, 11 in Veneto, one each in Piemonte and Umbria.
Many of the new cases represented the first infections in Italy acquired through secondary contagion.
New Chinese study indicates novel coronavirus did not originate in Huanan seafood market
The Global Times is an English version of a pro-Communist Party of China outlet. Therefore, it is interesting that it reported on a new Chinese study indicating the Wuhan coronavirus did not originate in Huanan seafood market.
The study published on ChinaXiv, a Chinese open repository for scientific researchers, reveals the new coronavirus was introduced to the seafood market from another location, and then spread rapidly from market to market. The findings were the result of analyses of genome-wide data, sources of infection and the route of spread of 93 samples of the novel coronavirus collected from 12 countries across four continents.
The study believes that patient zero transmitted the virus to workers or sellers at the Huanan seafood market. The crowded market facilitated the further transmission of the virus to buyers, which caused a wider spread in early December 2019.
According to the researchers, the new coronavirus experienced two sudden population expansions, including one on January 6, 2020, which was related to the Chinese New Year’s Day holiday.
An earlier expansion occurred on December 8, implying human-to-human transmission may have started in early December or late November, and then accelerated when it reached the Huanan seafood market.
This article corresponds to a report that we covered last week on the possible laboratory origins of the coronavirus.
Chinese general with bioweapons background takes leading role in coronavirus fight
Also supporting the notion that COVID-19 may not be a naturally occurring virus is the news that the individual leading the fight in China has a background in bioweapons.
People’s Liberation Army Maj. Gen. Chen Wei joined the effort to contain the outbreak in Wuhan, the state-run Pengbai news outlet reported Jan. 31, describing the general as “our nation’s ultimate expert” in biological and chemical weapon defenses.
Gen. Chen was credited with working on the fight against the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak in 2003, and the Ebola virus outbreak a decade later. According to the Pengbai report, Gen. Chen also is the leader of a team of experts at China’s Biological Hazards Prevention and Control Program.
The expanded role for China’s military in the epidemic fight comes as Chinese authorities drag their feet on repeated appeals from the World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to allow a full team on international experts to travel to Wuhan to study the virus and the efforts to contain it.
The Chinese are still not permitting World Health Organization (WHO) or CDC scientists in the country to assist in battling the epidemic.
South Korea, Singapore, and Iran report ‘untraceable’ new infection clusters
We noted that South Korea is on the brink of an epidemic, and the fact that the source of many infections cannot be tracked down is worrying public health officials.
…[A]larm bells were sounding as three countries reported clusters of infected patients with no traceable source vector from China, the first sign that the virus is spreading uncontrollably and could reach pandemic levels.
Doctors are unable to identify the source of coronavirus clusters in South Korea, Singapore and Iran, the World Health Organization said Saturday.
WHO officials said China’s crackdown on parts of the country bought time for the rest of the world to prepare for the new virus. But as hot spots emerge around the globe, trouble finding each source – the first patient who sparks every new cluster – might signal the disease has begun spreading too widely for tried-and-true public health steps to stamp it out.
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