Watch: 1 Kilometer Line For Face Masks In Taiwan

Wednesday, January 29, 2020
By Paul Martin

by Tyler Durden
Wed, 01/29/2020

Update (1130ET): The Global Times has confirmed another death, bringing the death toll to 133, and another ~30 cases have been confirmed on the mainland.

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Update (0950ET): Germany’s Lufthansa and American Airlines are the latest airlines to suspend flights to China. American is cancelling flights from LAX to Shanghai and Beijing beginning Feb. 9 through late March. Other airlines that have cancelled some or all flights to China since earlier this morning include Air Canada, Lion Air, Seoul Air and a handful of others around the world.

Asiana Airlines Jeju Air Jin Air Co Finnair Oyj Lion Air Jetstar Airways’ Singapore Ops and Air Macau have also cancelled flights.

Representatives for Lufthansa are reportedly denying reports that it plans to suspend flights. It seems only time will tell. BBC reports that Britons who have been evacuated from Wuhan will be kept in quarantine for two weeks. Japan and the US have also evacuated citizens from Wuhan via chartered plane. Australia and New Zealand are also planning evacuations.

Mark Woolhouse, a professor of infectious disease epidemiology at the University of Edinburgh, told the AP the UK’s steps are justified.

“There’s always a balance between the draconian measures of public health and what people might want to do, and obviously it’s regrettable if people who turn out not to have the virus are quarantined unnecessarily,” he said.

We’re still waiting on confirmation regarding whether the White House will ban flights into and out of China. And just like that, an already dismal outlook for the airline industry is getting worse.

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Update (0910ET): You had to know it was coming.

As more local governments on the mainland (including Beijing and Wuhan) mandate that facemasks be worn at all times, price gouging throughout Asia and even in certain parts of the US has become extremely common. Locals say Chinese everywhere are snapping up masks and mailing them to family in the mianland.

Of course, stores around China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau can’t get their hands on more facemasks fast enough (Japan is reportedly preparing a shipment to assist the Chinese government). As a result, lines outside shops and factories are growing to a staggering degree.

One line outside a factory in in Changhua City reportedly stretched for more than a kilometer (0.62 miles).

Lines were everywhere across China – Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau – as well as Australia, New Zealand and the US.

One video from Sichuan depicts an angry mob crowding the home of a family that allegedly ignored a case of the virus, allowing it to spread. The scene was reminiscent of something out of ‘Lord of the Flies’, a book that we imagine is probably banned in China.

In Hong Kong, where SARS killed roughly 300 people back in 2003, public-transit workers are threatening to strike if the city government doesn’t widen its closures.

The New York Times Beijing bureau chief shared photos from across China and Hong Kong, depicting empty public transit stations and barren streets.

In other news, after the White House denied weighing a complete shutdown of all passenger air traffic between the US and China, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has confirmed that a complete ban is, in fact, one of several options being considered.

Different governments have been throwing out estimates for the timeline of developing a usable vaccine for the virus. According to CNBC, the latest estimate comes from Swiss drug giant Novartis, which said finding a vaccine will take “over a year” – much longer than the timeline for developing a vaccine for SARS, 17 years ago. But clearly, the market isn’t worried, even as SocGen recommended to clients that they wait until the virus situation has “stabilized” before taking on more risk.

Back in China, health officials in Guangdong confirmed that two Australians and one Pakistan student have contracted the virus – making them the first confirmed foreigners to contract the virus in China. Another report claims four other Pakistanis have been diagnosed in Wuhan.

In the UK, a gathering of regional leaders from the UK and China that was set to take place in Birmingham in February has been cancelled, according to the SCMP. Following British Airways decision to close all flights to China, Germany’s Focus Magazine has reported that Lufthansa plans to follow suit.

A few more cases have been confirmed, as the global total approaches 6,200.

More cases are gradually being announced as airlines and governments around the world tighten travel restrictions in response to the virus. The WHO is expected to hold a press conference shortly.

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