World News

GENEVA: The new novel coronavirus only causes mild disease for 80 per cent of infected patients, said the World Health Organization on Monday (Feb 17).

The COVID-19 virus death toll has surpassed 1,800 in China, where it has infected more than 70,500.

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READ: Coronavirus emergency 'holds a very grave threat' for world: WHO

Speaking to reporters, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that 14 per cent of patients would have severe diseases such as pneumonia.

"Around five percent of cases are considered critical with possible multi-organ failure, septic shock and respiratory failure and, in some cases, death," he added.

Tedros also said there were "relatively few cases" among children and more research was needed to understand why.

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It … appears that COVID-19 is not as deadly as other coronaviruses including SARS and MERS.

WHO WARNS AGAINST "BLANKET MEASURES"

The WHO chief also warned against "blanket measures" over the novel coronavirus outbreak, pointing out the epidemic outside of China was only affecting a "tiny" proportion of the population.

WHO officials rejected the suggestion that all cruises should be halted to avoid risking a new nest of infection like the one on the coronavirus-hit Diamond Princess off Japan.

READ: Beijing to fast-track new mask factory in COVID-19 fight

"Measures should be taken proportional to the situation. Blanket measures may not help," Tedros stressed.

The outbreak has battered manufacturing and tourism across the region and led to multiple travel restrictions including for flights and cruises.

"If we are going to disrupt every cruise ship in the world on the off chance that there might be some potential contact with some potential pathogen then where do we stop?" said Michael Ryan, head of WHO's health emergencies programme.

Ryan said that even at the epicentre of the crisis in the city of Wuhan in central Hubei Province, the "attack rate" – a measure of the speed of spread of the virus – was four per 100,000.

"This is a very serious outbreak and it has the potential to grow, but we need to balance thatRead More – Source

World News

Health officials in China have published the first details of more than 70,000 cases of Covid-19, in the biggest study since the outbreak began.

Data from the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CCDC) found that more than 80% of the cases have been mild with the sick and elderly most at risk.

The research also points to the high risk for medical staff.

The findings put the overall death rate of the Covid-19 virus at 2.3%.

In Hubei, the worst affected province, the death rate is 2.9% compared with only 0.4% in the rest of the country.

China's latest official figures released on Tuesday put the overall death toll at 1,868 and 72,436 infections.

Officials said there were 98 new deaths and 1,886 new cases in the past day, 93 of those deaths and 1,807 of the infections were in Hubei province – the epicentre of the outbreak.

More than 12,000 people have recovered, according to Chinese authorities.

What does the study tell us?

The paper by the CCDC, released on Monday and published in the Chinese Journal of Epidemiology, looked at all 72,314 cases of Covid-19 diagnosed across China as of 11 February, including confirmed, suspected, and asymptomatic cases.

While the results largely confirm previous descriptions of the virus and patterns of infection, the study includes a detailed breakdown of the 44,672 confirmed cases across all of China.

Some of the conclusions reached include the following:

  • Some 80.9% of infections are classified as mild, 13.8% as severe and only 4.7% as critical.
  • The highest fatality rate is for people aged 80 and older, at 14.8%.
  • For children up to 9, there have been no fatalities and up to the age of 39, the death rate remains low at 0.2%.
  • For the next age groups, the fatality rates increase gradually: For people in their 40s it is 0.4%, in their 50s it is 1.3%, in their 60s it is 3.6% and their 70s it is 8%.
  • Looking at the sex ratio, men are more likely to die (2.8%) than women (1.7%).
  • Identifying which existing illnesses put patients at risk, the study finds cardiovascular disease at number one, followed by diabetes, chronic respiratory disease and hypertension

Pointing out the risk for medical staff, the paper says that a total of 3,019 health workers have been infected, 1,716 of which were confirmed cases and five had died by 11 February, which was the last day of data included in the research.

On 13 February, China broadened its definition of how to diagnose people, including "clinically diagnosed cases" which previously were counted separate from "confirmed cases".

What does it say about the future?

Looking forward, the paper found that "the epidemic curve of onset of symptoms" peaked around 23-26 January before declining up to 11 February.

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The study suggests that the downward trend in the overall epidemic curve could mean that "isolation of whole cities, broadcast of critical information (e.g., promoting hand washing, mask wearing, and care seeking) with high frequency through multiple channels, and mobilization of a multi-sector rapid response teams is helping to curb the epidemic".

But the authors also warn that with many people returning from a long holiday, the country "needs to prepare for the possible rebound of the epidemic".

China's response to the virus has seen the lockdown of Wuhan – the largest city in Hubei – and the rest of the province as well as severe travel restrictions on movements across the country.

What's happening with the cruise ships?

The virus has spread beyond mainland China to countries around the globe and two cruise ships Read More – Source

World News

Apple has warned that disruption in China from the coronavirus will mean revenues falling short of forecasts.

The tech giant said production and sales were affected, and that "worldwide iPhone supply will be temporarily constrained".

The iPhone maker is the first major US company to say that the epidemic will hit its finances.

Apple, which had forecast record revenues of up to $67bn in the current quarter, did not reveal the likely hit.

"We do not expect to meet the revenue guidance we provided for the March quarter," the company said in a statement, adding that it was "experiencing a slower return to normal conditions" than expected.

With most stores in China either closed or operating at reduced hours, sales of Apple products would be lower, the company said.

Apple said that "while our iPhone manufacturing partner sites are located outside the Hubei province – and while all of these facilities have reopened – they are ramping up more slowly than we had anticipated.

"All of our stores in China and many of our partner stores have been closed," it added. "Additionally, stores that are open have been operating at reduced hours and with very low customer traffic. We are gradually reopening our retail stores and will continue to do so as steadily and safely as we can."

Analysts have estimated that the virus may slash demand for smartphones by half in the first quarter in China, which is the world's biggest market for the devices. The car industry is another sector that has been affected by disruption to its supply chain. Last week, the heavy equipment manufacturer JCB said it was cutting production in the UK because of a shortage of components from China.

"While we have discussed a negative iPhone impact from the coronavirus over the past fewRead More – Source

World News

HSBC has said its profits for 2019 fell by 33%, mainly due to its investment and commercial banking operations in Europe.

The bank said it was targeting $4.5bn (£3.5bn) of cost cuts by 2022 and scaling back $100bn (£70bn) of assets.

Noel Quinn, acting interim chief executive, said restructuring was likely to lead to 35,000 job losses.

HSBC, which makes the bulk of its revenue in Asia, reported annual profit before tax of $13.35bn (£10.3bn).

The bank currently operates in more than 50 countries across North America, Europe, the Middle East and Asia. It employs more than 235,000 people around the world, with more than 40,000 based in the UK.

HSBC said the drop in profits was due to $7.3bn in write-offs related to its global banking and markets and commercial banking business units in Europe.

The strategy overhaul comes as economic growth is slowing in HSBC's major markets. It is also facing the impact of the coronavirus, Britain's protracted withdrawal from the European Union and historically low interest rates around the world. It will be the UK-based bank's third overhaul in a decade as it attempts to lift its profits.

Asia accounts for around half of HSBC's revenue and 90% of profits.

The division, which includes HSBC's investment bank, has continued to do less well than its commercial and retail banking businesses.

Mr Quinn told Reuters that the restructuring would mean "that our headcount is likely to go from 235,000 to closer to 200,000 over the next three yeaRead More – Source

World News

Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that the federal government is putting A$2 million into a grant fund for researchers to develop a vaccine for the new coronavirus, also known as the virus that causes COVID-19.

“Were going to put $2 million through the Medical Research Future Fund, and were going to be putting that money into a competitive program to find a vaccine,” Morrison told reporters at the Peter Doherty Institute in Melbourne on Tuesday.

“There are many research projects that are going on around the world to do this very task, and Australia is going to play its part in that process,” he added. “Already here at Doherty, there is much work going on in this area, and we continue to support that work, and we want to get as many of the brightest and smartest minds in Australia working on this task.”

Researchers from across the country can apply for money from the Medical Research Future Fund. The grant will add to the work being undertaken by the institute, CSIRO, and the University of Queensland.

The Medical Research Future Fund is set to finalize details of the grant process this week and will advise the government on the merit order of the research.

Australian Health Minister Greg Hunt said that the government is currently contributing $50 million through NHMRC grants to the institute. He said that the government is hoping the additional A$2 million in funding “will encourage even further work.”

“Were hoping that that funding will encourage even further work. Thats the key point,” Hunt told reporters on Tuesday.

Last month, researchers at the institute were first to develop a lab-grown version of coronavirus outside of China successfully. The institute said that the lab-grown virus sample could help generate an antibody test to help detect the virus in asymptomatic patients.

Feel Free to Move Around

The Prime Minister told reporters, in response to comments that he encountered in Melbournes Box Hill suburb on Monday, that Chinese Australians “should feel free to move around,” “dont need to stay at home” and “can go in and participate in the community.”

“There seemed to be some misunderstanding about that,” Morrison said. “Unless youre subject to self-isolation because youve been in mainland China for the last 14 days, then you should feel free to move around because Australia has been successfully containing the coronavirus to date.”

He added that of the cases presented, “many of them now [have] left hospital and theyre getting on with their lives and so we need to continue to deal with this issue very regularly.”

In and Out of Quarantine

The funding announcement comes as more than 200 Australians and their family members who had been quarantined on Christmas island have begun to return home.

Another group of 266 Australians quarantined at Howard Springs is also set to leave soon, Morrison said. This group, of the second evacuation flight for Australians out Read More – Source

World News

A hospital director in the novel coronavirus outbreak epicenter of Wuhan has died of the deadly disease.

Liu Zhiming, 50, was the head of Wuchang Hospital and a neurologist. State media have confirmed that he died on the morning of Feb. 18. He is the highest level health official to succumb to the virus, also known as COVID-19, so far.

The director and party secretary of the publicity center within the Health Commission of Hubei first reported that Liu had died around 10:00 p.m. local time on Feb. 17 through Weibo, a popular Twitter-like Chinese social media platform.

In the post, which was subsequently deleted, he described Liu as the first hospital director to have “sacrificed” his life to fight the virus and expressed “profound condolences.”

Red Star News, an affiliate of Chinese media Chengdu Economic Daily, confirmed the news through multiple sources from Wuchang Hospital.

Liu had been in good health over the years while working at the hospital and during his previous post as a vice director at the Wuhan Third Hospital, a doctor acquainted with Liu told the outlet.

State media announced his death on Feb. 18, saying that he died after emergency treatment proved futile.

Lius last public appearance was in mid-December during the high profile visit of a cardiovascular specialist when he made a speech to introduce the hospital.

Just three days earlier, a nurse from the same hospital named Liu Fan (no relation with Liu Zhiming) had also died of the virus aged 59. According to the hospitals Weibo account, Liu Fan had not been assigned to work on the frontlines like the fever ward because of her advanced age.

At least six other medical workers have died of the virus, according to the National Health Commission.

According to a Feb. 17 medical report, as many as 3,019 health workers contracted the virus from the period between Dec. 8 and Feb. 11, although only 1,716 of them were formally diagnosed.

Confusion

Confusion arose just hours after the party secretarys Weibo post when Lius wife reportedly told Pear Video, a leading Chinese short video platform, that he was in critical condition and was relying on an ECMO machine (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation) to support his breathing. She added that his illness had lingered for over 20 days. Liu was transferred to Wuhan Tongji Hospital on Feb. 14 and has been under intubation since, she said.

The voice in the video was electronically altered. The Epoch Times is unable to independently verify the videos authenticity. A staff member from the hospital confirmed that “he was being treated,” but did not provide more information. Another hospital employee said they were not aware of the issue beyond the online discussions.

China Daily and several other state run media had also run reports on Liu death, but subsequently deleted their articles and social media posts, in a fashion reminiscent of the death of Wuhan doctor and whistleblower Li Wenliang less than two weeks ago.

Lius time of death was 10:30 a.m., according to Chinese state media, citing a medical team dispatched from Beijing.

Death of Whistleblower

Li, one of the citys eight medical professionals who blew the whistle about a “SARS-like” outbreak in late December, had been reprimanded by Chinese police for “rumor-mongering” before is death from the virus.

An ophthalmologist, he became unwittingly infected while treating a patient who carried the virus. Soon, his parents also became sick. Li pRead More – Source

Arts

Yayoi Kusama, Where the Lights in My Heart Go, 2016 Courtesy of Ota Fine Arts and Victoria Miro; © Yayoi Kusama; Photo: Simon Klein

The Aspen Art Museum (AAM) will close the exhibition Yayoi Kusama: Where the Lights in My Heart Go—one of the artists immersive mirror room installations—11 weeks early due to an unresolved building code violation, which states that the work blocks access to the elevator on the second floor of the museum. The work was originally to run until 10 May but will close on 23 February because officials were unable to rectify the violation.

More than 5,000 people have visited the AAMs installation since it opened on 20 December. The museum has been using a freight elevator in lieu of the blocked elevator, but building codes mandate that the elevator must be available in case of emergencies and to allow access for the handicapped. The museum originally intended to install the work in its rooftop garden, but later withdrew that idea amid concerns about how it would survive the Colorado winter.

In a statement to The Art Newspaper, the museum says: “The AAM and the City of Aspen have reviewed the museums [Kusama] installation to ensure its compliance with municipal building codes. It is the determination of both parties that fulfilling the artwork's need for natural light and appropriate space and code requirements cannot be achieved equitably within the museums layout at this time.”

The museum has not been cited or fined for any violations. “The AAM is grateful to the city for their professionalism in working with us to reach this decision, and thankful to our visitors for their ongoing support,” a spokeswoman for the museum says. As for the reason to keep the installation open until the end of the week, the AAM says that both parties agreed to that date.

Kusamas so-called infinity rooms, an Instagram-faRead More – Source

Sports

LONDON • Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho believes Manchester City's two-season ban from the Champions League has opened the door for a host of Premier League teams to qualify for next season.

Thanks to Son Heung-min's stoppage-time effort in the 3-2 win at Aston Villa on Sunday, Spurs moved up to fifth, which could be enough to secure European football next season should City's appeal fail.

Mourinho's men, on 40 points, had closed in on fourth-placed Chelsea, who hosted Manchester United yesterday before Spurs visit on Saturday.

However, six other teams are within six points of Spurs and a possible Champions League place.

"A window opens for many teams," said Mourinho. "What seemed far, now the fifth place is not far. Arsenal, Everton, Sheffield United, Wolves. Everyone will feel they have the chance.

"But fourth or fifth, I just think about doing the best we can."

He was also asked if City's ban means they will be stripped of their 2018 Premier League title.

"If I go into that, I have to ask if the team that finished second in 2018 is going to be champions, yes or no?" said the Portuguese, who guided United to runners-up that year, 19 points behind City.

"That would be interesting. But joking apart, I just wait calmly. Until the appeal finishes, Manchester City have the benefit of the doubt."

He could afford to joke after overcoming a nightmare start at Villa Park where Toby Alderweireld sliced into his own goal. But the Belgian defender made amends by smashing a loose ball past Villa goalkeeper Pepe Reina to equalise.

Sports

LONDON • Mikel Arteta has said Pep Guardiola and Manchester City are "suffering" after Uefa handed the club a two-season ban from the Champions League.

The Arsenal manager, who worked as Guardiola's assistant for more than three years until December, said he was shocked at the severity of the sanctions that were imposed on the club for "serious" Financial Fair Play breaches.

He also said he had been in contact with his former boss, who according to The Times of London intends to see out his City contract, which expires next year.

"I was shocked and, being in contact with Pep and the people at the club, I feel for them because I know they are suffering," said Arteta on Sunday after Arsenal beat Newcastle 4-0 in the Premier League.

"The admiration and love that I have for Pep, I know how hard they work, and I hope a positive thing can come from this. I just want the best for Manchester City."

City have denied any wrongdoing and confirmed they will be appealing against the ruling to the Swiss-based Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

If the court in Lausanne upholds Uefa's ban, the club have the option of taking it to the Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland, the designated seat of appeal for CAS decisions, albeit one rarely used.

The Premier League, which is not commenting, opened a separate investigation into City's financial affairs last March. The timeframe under investigation is thought to concern 2012 to 2016, when Uefa said City misstated their sponsorship income.

If they are found guilty, the league's rule book can empower an independent commission to backdatedly deduct points, which may strip them of some of their titles.

City won the Premier League in 2012, 2014, 2018 and 2019.