China, Russia See Distressing Jump In New Cases As Outbreak Slows In Europe, US: Live Updates

Monday, April 13, 2020
By Paul Martin

by Tyler Durden
Mon, 04/13/2020


Smithfield foods closes world’s largest pork plant
US, Europe see decline in new cases
China, Russia report concerning increases in new cases
China ends Gilead drug trial hailed as ‘highly successful’ a few days ago
South America, Africa see acceleration in new cases
George Stephanopoulos tests positive for COVID-19
Senior Israeli rabbi succumbs to virus
EU competition regulator warns about risk of corporate takeovers from China
In Ecuador, police move to collect 800 bodies from a hard hit village
Trump likely to cut money for WHO
Iran reports 1,600+ new cases, 100+ deaths
Putin warns outbreak getting worse
Australia, New Zealand keep restrictions in place despite drop in new cases
* * *

Update (0940ET): ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos revealed during Monday’s episode of “Good Morning America” that he had tested positive for COVID-19 after his wife, Ali Wentworth, contracted the infection.

He said he is asymptomatic.

“I actually feel great,” he said. “I’ve never had a fever, never had cough, never had shortness of breath, never had chills, any of the classic symptoms you’ve been reading about.”

Stephanopoulos is an anchor at ABC News, and a former press secretary for the Clinton Administration.

* * *

Update (0940ET): Britain’s Department of Health and Social Care has just released the latest round of figures, showing a slight drop in deaths after UK for two days in a row reported the most deaths for any country outside the US. 717 new deaths and 88,621 new positive tests emerged.

* * *

Update (0830ET): Iran reported 1,617 new COVID-19 cases and 111 new deaths, for a total of 73,303 cases and 4,585 deaths.

* * *

After reporting another promising slowdown in the rate of COVID-19-linked deaths yesterday, Spain reported only 517 deaths on Sunday, the lowest number since the country’s lockdown began. Now, with much of Western Europe observing a holiday on Monday, the Spanish government is beginning the process of reopening in the economy, despite still being roughly around the ‘peak of the curve’.

Spain wasn’t the only embattled European country to report some encouraging progress on Sunday: Italy reported its lowest number of new deaths since March 19, as the number of people in intensive care continues to decline.

Yesterday was the first day in weeks that Spaniards were allowed to leave their homes and travel to see family for the Easter holiday. Now, on Monday, construction workers in Spain are returning to work after a two-week pause on their activities, though the government has warned that it could reimpose the lockdown if the spread starts to accelerate once again.

Globally, the number of confirmed infections rose by 72,523 on Sunday, the lowest number of additional cases in seven days. According to Johns Hopkins, roughly 1,859,011 have been confirmed worldwide as of Monday morning. Additionally, the daily death toll on Sunday also dropped to 5,417, as the rate of growth slowed to just 5%, its slowest rate since March 9. The US also saw a significant slowdown in deaths on Sunday, with just 1,528 Americans losing their lives. This is down sharply from a peak of more than 2,000 just two days earlier, and represents a daily growth rate of just 7%, the slowest since March.

The FT

But more concerning, as the lockdown drags on in the US, are situations like the closure of the world’s largest pork producing plant, which is owned by Smithfield Foods, and is situation in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Slaughterhouse shutdowns are disrupting the supply of US food, and harshly undermine governors’ assurances that the food supply is safe and consumers shouldn’t hoard supplies. The plant was closed for a few days last week for a deep clean after several employees tested positive for the virus. But worries about the outbreak have prompted management to close the plant ‘indefinitely’. That one plant supplies roughly 5% of America’s pork.

Europe and the US weren’t the only places to report slowdowns in new cases and deaths. Australia and New Zealand plan to keep coronavirus-inspired restrictions on movement in place despite the two countries reporting roughly 50 new cases combined over the weekend.

However, outbreaks in certain regions are only just beginning to accelerate.

As China abruptly ends a Gilead drug trial that had been hailed as ‘extremely promising’ just days ago, the Indian Council for Medical Research is stepping its own race for a cure after announcing plans for a clinical trial using plasma from recovered coronavirus patients to treat those who are still critically ill, as the country’s caseload continues to rise steadily.

Last night, we reported that China reported its largest number of new cases in weeks, as Beijing’s claimed that practically all of the 108 new cases involve foreigners or traveling Chinese nationals returning home ring particularly hollow when one considers that China has reduced the number of people crossing its borders by 90% as part of its efforts to contain the virus. According to Al Jazeera, Liu Haitao, an official with the National Immigration Administration, said the number of cases was still on the rise in the countries along China’s borders, per Al Jazeera.

The world’s wariness of China has continued to intensify, as EU competition regulator Margrethe Vestager urged EU member-states to prevent China from taking advantage of low valuations to launch takeovers of critical companies during an interview with the FT.

The BBC’s Robin Brant had some more thoughts on China’s ‘imported’ case problem.

Imported cases have been China’s focus for several weeks now. It believes the main threat now to be people bringing the virus back to the country.

Most of these people are Chinese returning home. The arc of China’s efforts to tackle, contain and end the outbreak went like this: local officials knew about an emerging outbreak but didn’t act; the national government imposed a draconian lockdown of Wuhan; China imposed domestic travel restrictions but insisted that international travel to and from China should not be cut; the virus spread abroad; China believed it had successfully contained the outbreak then switched its focus to people bringing it back here from abroad.

Something like a cat and mouse chase has emerged – despite drastically reducing international flights into China, barring any direct arrivals into Beijing and insisting that passengers now undergo strict quarantine, people found a weak point.

The usually obscure land crossing between Russia and China in the northern province of Heilongjiang has seen a persistent cluster of travellers bringing the virus with them. New ‘imported’ cases there are almost all Chinese coming home. And they appear to be spreading it. The latest official figures reveal 10 new domestic cases, seven of which are in Heilongjiang, home to that land crossing.

After the total number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Russia doubled last week, Russia reported 2,558 new cases of the novel coronavirus on Monday, representing a 16% acceleration over the previous day, a record daily rise, bringing its overall nationwide tally to 18,328. 18 new deaths brought the death toll to 148. In a rare move, Vladimir Putin warned Monday that the outbreak is getting worse.

A former chief rabbi of Israel has died of COVID-19 – the highest profile death from the disease in Israel. The rabbi, Eliyahu Bakshi-Doron, 79, was chief rabbi of the Sephardi community, which includes Jews or their descendants from the Iberian Peninsula, North Africa and the Middle East, from 1993 to 2003.

In Ecuador, one of the worst-hit countries in South America, police removed almost 800 bodies in recent weeks from homes in Guayaquil, the epicenter of the country’s coronavirus outbreak, which has completely overwhelmed its meager health system, per Al Jazeera.

And finally, the Washington Post reports that President Trump is likely to announce restrictions on US funding for the WHO later this week over its handling of the coronavirus pandemic and its persistent kowtowing to Beijing, which Trump argued has jeopardized global health.

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