Good morning from the UK. Happy St Patricks day. It'll be a woeful one for many Irish people around the world with pubs and bars shut in multiple US states, several European countries, several Asian countries and worst of all, Ireland itself. Here in the UK you can still go to the pub, although as of late yesterday afternoon the UK government advised against it
says the BBC.
Several comments from redditors in past days complained the WHO stats I C&P'd did not come very close to reflecting stats being quoted by national media wherever they lived. As a result, I'm abandoning the WHO stats and going back to the John Hopkins University tracker stats for all countries. If it's good enough for the likes of Forbes, Business Insider, FT, USA Today to regularly cite it then it's good enough for me:-
|Region ||Today (John Hopkins Stats at time of writing) ||Yesterday (John Hopkins stats not the WHO's) ||% daily change |
|Global ||182,424 ||169,387 ||+7.7% |
|China ||81,053 ||81,020 ||+0.4% |
|Italy ||27,980 ||24,747 ||+13.1% |
|Iran ||14,991 ||13,938 ||+7.6% |
|Spain ||9,942 ||7,844 ||+26.7% |
|South Korea ||8,320 ||8,162 ||+1.9% |
|Germany ||7,272 ||5,813 ||+25.1% |
|France ||6,655 ||5,437 ||+22.4% |
|USA ||4,661 ||3,774 ||+23.5% |
|Switzerland ||2,330 ||2,200 ||+5.9% |
|UK ||1,553 ||1,395 ||+11.3% |
|Netherlands ||1,414 ||1,136 ||+24.5% |
|Norway ||1,347 ||1,256 ||+7.2% |
|Sweden ||1,121 ||1,032 ||+8.6% |
|Belgium ||1,058 ||886 ||+19.4% |
|Austria ||1,018 ||860 ||18.4% |
All other countries with under 1000
identified infections not listed (sorry Denmark), yesterday's threshold was 750. Total countries infected worldwide = 155, an increase from yesterday of 9. Source for all countries (as discussed above): the John Hopkins University dashboard (Link
). (Personal note: Western countries infection counts are increasing each day much faster than Asian countries but that may be due to cultural differences or it may be that they're doing my testing, if anyone can shed light on this please do)
Reminder, these are identified case counts and medical experts are reporting this virus has a long incubation period with people being infections despite displaying no symptoms; the true infection figures are likely to be much higher. Note that some countries are reporting shortages of test kits which further skews the data available; assume true cases are much higher.
Finally, no, I don't believe China's official statistics either.
Selected Virus news
Warnings of shortages of regeants (ingredients) to make test kits in the US
- the Fool (a high quality finance website despite the name) reports
that FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn stated last week in testimony before a U.S. House of Representatives appropriations subcommittee that there could be supply chain issues with reagents needed for novel coronavirus diagnostic kits. He noted that the supply issues specifically apply to RNA used in testing for coronavirus disease COVID-19.
Shortages in US supermarkets likely to continue until panic buying eases -
The LA Times says
that shortages will continue until people calm down in their shopping habits. The major chains usually get shipments overnight, or perhaps twice a day, to restock essentials such as paper towels, toilet paper and water, but “manufacturers in some cases are having trouble keeping up, and that’s where the void is, they’re not able to keep up with demand,” said Bob Reeves, vice president for the West at the Shelby Report, a research firm that tracks the grocery industry. “We’re seeing shipments coming into the stores sometimes without any of those products, and it will be like that until people calm down a little bit,” he said. In some cases, chains are sending their delivery trucks directly to manufacturers — bypassing warehouses and distributors — to get the items to the stores faster. (Personal note: the same applies for all supermarket supply chains globally
Pa. hospitals are rationing protective gear as the number of coronavirus cases grows - (Personal note, this is an example, there seems to be a general global shortage of medical PPE (personal protective equipment)
- The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that hospitals across Pennsylvania are drastically limiting the use of key protective gear out of fears that a dramatic increase in coronavirus cases could diminish reserves and cause a dangerous shortage. The rationing comes as the state Department of Health maintains that it has personal protective equipment available and is working with health systems to make sure they have what they need. The gear includes eye protection, gowns, and N95 respirators, which are essential in preventing a health care worker from breathing in infectious particles when in close contact with someone who has COVID-19. In Philadelphia, two doctors who work at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania said it’s barring the use of N95 respirators “except in extraordinarily limited situations.” Penn Medicine declined to comment. Another city doctor, Daphne Owen, said in a tweet
Thursday her clinic “for uninsured and undocumented patients” was out of masks. Two days later, the clinic, Puentes de Salud, said
it was closed due to the pandemic.
Other Virus news in brief -
The Scottish courts and tribunals announced today that no new criminal jury trials would be commenced or new juries empanelled until further notice.
- Iran has temporarily freed a total of 85,000 prisoners, including political prisoners, a spokesman for its judiciary said on Tuesday, adding that the prisons were responding to the threat of a coronavirus epidemic in jails.
- Britain had “no time to lose” in changing tactics
in order to prevent thousands of deaths and the NHS being overwhelmed, scientists providing guidance to the UK government have said. The Imperial College Covid-19 response team – which is one of several scientific teams advising UK ministers – published a paper (I've put it in the addendum below) showing that 250,000 people could die if efforts were focused only on delaying and slowing down the spread of Covid-19.Separately, England’s deputy chief medical officer, Prof Jonathan Van-Tam, could not rule out the strict measures having to last for a year but predicted they would last at least “several months“.
- Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs has advised Australians to return home as soon as possible by commercial means because overseas travel is becoming “more complex and difficult” as countries impose travel restrictions and close their borders.
- Leaders of EU states were expected on Tuesday to suspend all travel into the passport-free Schengen zone by non-EU nationals for at least 30 days in a bid to instil uniformity across the bloc after some member states, including Austria, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Poland, unilaterally began imposing border checks.
- China has issued an angry reaction (by diplomatic standards) to the US president Donald Trump’s characterisation of the disease as “the Chinese virus.”
(he tweeted late last night "The United States will be powerfully supporting those industries, like Airlines and others, that are particularly affected by the Chinese Virus. We will be stronger than ever before!"). China’s foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said the US president should take care of his own matters first and not seek to “stigmatise” China.
- The postponement of soccer’s Euro 2020 Championship may already have been decided after Uefa last week cancelled its hotel bookings in Copenhagen
- The UK just advised its citizens against all non essential travel worldwide in the past 10 minutes
- Mobile phone networks are struggling in some areas of the UK with significantly increased demands according to down detector
. For sure a lot of people seem to be home working, my commute in this morning was like it was the middle of August and everyone else was on holiday.
- Alitalia, the Italian airline flag carrier is to be renationalised by Italy
- Cinema chains are closing in multiple countries due to shutdowns
- Kazakhstan is closing down its two largest cities (despite only having 32 cases so far)
- A preliminary calculation by a US expert suggests that tens of thousands of premature deaths from air pollution may have been avoided by the cleaner air in China, far higher than the 3,208 coronavirus deaths.
- Jordan: the army has said it will deploy at entrances and exits of main cities in the kingdom in a move officials said was ahead of an imminent announcement of a state of emergency to combat the spread of coronavirus.
- In a joint statement
, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Reddit and YouTube said they would help ensure people could stay connected to each other during isolation as well as fight any misinformation and fraud linked to the outbreak. “We are working closely together on Covid-19 response efforts,” the statement said. “We’re helping millions of people stay connected while also jointly combating fraud and misinformation about the virus, elevating authoritative content on our platforms, and sharing critical updates in co-ordination with government healthcare agencies around the world.
- Almost all Germans shops are about to close by government decree; supermarkets, pharmacies will remain open (including on Sundays when they are usually closed). Separately, government press briefings there have gone online only.
- Olympic organisers in Japan are asking people not to create crowds along the route of the Olympic torch relay and not to gather near the route if they feel sick. A Boeing aircraft flew to Greece on 15 March to bring the torch to Japan.
- France: No movement allowed except for essential work or health reasons. “There can be no more outside meetings, no more seeing family or friends on the street or in the park. We must slow the spread of this virus by limiting the number of people we are in contact with each day to the strict minimum. If we do not, we endanger the lives of those we hold dear.” said the French President Macron.
- Israel’s government has approved emergency measures to track people suspected or confirmed to have been infected with the coronavirus by monitoring their mobile phones, immediately raising privacy concerns in the country. The cabinet unanimously approved the use of the technology, developed initially for counter-terrorism purposes, in the early hours of Tuesday morning. The Association for Civil Rights in Israel said providing the country’s internal security agency, the Shin Bet, with new secretive powers was a “dangerous precedent and a slippery slope that must be approached and resolved after much debate and not after a brief discussion”.
- Indonesian president Joko Widodo said on Saturday that he had withheld some information about cases to prevent the country from panicking, the Jakarta Post reported
. He has rejected calls for a lockdown to be imposed on hard hit areas.
- Malaysia has announced it's closing its borders prompting neighbouring Singapore's citizens to panic buy (90% of their food is imported from Malaysia).
- New Zealand on Tuesday deported its first unruly traveller flouting the country’s mandatory 14-day self-isolation rule for almost all arrivals, the health ministry said. The tourist, who had checked into a backpackers hostel in the city of Christchurch, was removed from the accommodation by the police after officials learned she did not have clear self-isolation plans.
Goldman Sachs doesn't think the stock market drops have finished -
that Goldman Sachs thinks that the S&P 500 might plunge as low as 2,000 before recovering through the rest of the year, the investment bank wrote Friday. The level is the benchmark index's lowest since early 2016 and implies a 20% decline from Monday's open. Such a tumble would also place the index more than 40% below its February 19 peak. The coronavirus outbreak is responsible for "unprecedented financial and societal disruption," the analysts said, and equities have so far served as accurate leading indicators before the release of relevant earnings or macroeconomic data. That said, the analysts pointed out that "The lesson of prior event-driven bear markets is that financial devastation ultimately allows a new bull market to be born,".
U.S. factories are likely to close because of the coronavirus’ supply-chain shock -
Marketwatch reports (link
) that there is a very real chance that companies from auto makers to electronics manufacturers will soon begin to cease or limit production. With a downed China as the headstream of global manufacturing, mercantile America simply can’t function as it’s accustomed to. We’re starting to see this happen in official reports: The New York Fed’s Empire State business conditions index, released Monday, plunged by a record 34.4 points to minus 21.5 in March. And Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said Sunday he expects a contraction in GDP in the second quarter. (Personal note: I expect similar problems across all G20 countries).
The article goes on to explain that many supply chain directors may understand their first tier suppliers but often do not have full visibility of the status of their 2nd or 3rd tier suppliers
Supply impact of the coronavirus outbreak is waning, but demand shock will linger, economist says -
that in January and February, industrial output fell by 13.5% from the same period a year earlier, the weakest reading since January 1990 — when Reuters' record began. China's industrial production is likely to improve in March over a slump in January and February due to the coronavirus outbreak, but consumer demand will take longer to recover both in the country and globally, an economist said Monday. "We will see some recovery, but this recovery, I think, is being undermined by the global spread as well," said Bo Zhuang, chief China economist at TS Lombard. Meanwhile, retail sales in January and February shrank 20.5% from a year ago, compared with a 8% growth in December as fearful consumers avoided crowded places like malls, restaurants and cinemas. "We were worried about supply-side issues, but now it's becoming a demand shock issue," said Zhuang. Smaller outfits like restaurants and service-oriented businesses have "resumed work but there are no customers," said Zhuang. "I think we are going to see a delayed V-shape (recovery), and this V may be a tilted V or W, or even U. We are not sure," he added.
Coronavirus Impacts Every Sector of the Supply Chain -
Supply and demand chain executive reports
that the global supply chain continues to experience disruption. "We have seen that in the way that it’s spreading across into different hubs where we see alternative routes to be overly burdened, such as the rail system,” says Koray Köse of Gartner. “Now with the crisis and the hubs being closed and product movements are still active to some extent, but not necessarily from those regions, will become crowded and impacted. This means that there’s an additional strain on the overall network to move material.” Some products have experienced significant upticks including Chicken noodle soup (+37%), Hand sanitizer (+65%), Disinfecting Wipes: (+353%) and Cold & Flu medications (+197%) amongst others.
Coronavirus pandemic worse than 1997 financial crisis, Malaysian ex-PM Mahathir warns
- The Strait times reports
on Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, the former premier who steered Malaysia's recovery from the 1997 Asian financial crisis, expects the current coronavirus pandemic to hit the global economy even harder. "This is worse than the financial crisis," he said in a Bloomberg Television interview. "This is really a terrible blow to the economies of the whole world." Dr Mahathir joins other world leaders in warning that the virus impact may be worse than past periods of upheaval (Personal note: I pointed out yesterday the NZ PM also saying this
Supply chain news relating to Covid-19
For Global Supply Chains the Worst Is Yet to Come -
Supply Chain Management review says (Link
) that most industrial companies have 30-60 days of parts and raw materials either on hand, in-transit, or obtainable on short notice. After these supplies run out, we will start to see shortages of finished products as well as parts needed to produce other goods. Shortages will start to become more evident toward the end of March and beginning of April. Production in some non-Chinese factories will have to be put on hold for lack of parts. Partially finished products will remain in suspension until all parts are available to build finished products. Some companies are pressing their engineers to redesign parts that can be sourced in the U.S., or at least outside of China. Other companies are giving 3D printing a serious try for the first time. The article goes on to point out delays in sea freight ex-Asia and extremely high airfreighting costs are exacerbating the situation.
U.S. Suspends Truck-Driving Limits to Speed Coronavirus Shipments -
The Wall Street Journal reports
as of 2 days ago that maximum working hours for truck drivers in the US have been suspended. This applies to truck drivers moving emergency supplies such as medical equipment, hand sanitizer and food in response to the nationwide coronavirus outbreak. It comes as hospitals report shortages of medical masks and as retailers and manufacturers are straining under surging demand for everything from hand sanitizer to staples such as toilet paper and rice. As anxious consumers stockpile goods, grocers have turned to rationing, imposing purchase limits on disinfectant wipes, cleaning supplies and other high-demand products. The move is the first time the FMCSA has issued nationwide-wide relief from hours-of-service regulations, although regional declarations have waived those rules in response to disasters such as hurricanes. Federal regulations limit most commercial truck drivers to 11 hours of driving time in a 14-hour workday, restrictions intended to reduce accidents caused by highway fatigue.
For supply chain companies, U.S.-Mexico border closures could be catastrophic -
Marketplace points out
that Mexico’s deputy health minister says he’s worried
about people coming into Mexico from the United States; currently the U.S. has far more cases of COVID-19
than Mexico. The Mexican government even said it might consider restricting access at its northern borders. For businesses that operate on both sides of the border, any shutdown could be catastrophic. The article gives a case study of a manfacturer employing 150 people in Texas. The company president says before anyone considers closing the border, President Donald Trump and Mexico’s president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, should discuss a coordinated response to the virus. As for now, he says all of his people can work from home, if the situation calls for it. Everyone here has a laptop, he said. But he says the independent truck drivers and contractors who work on the loading docks, they have to be on site to run things. Those people also only get paid if they show up for work. So, for now, they’re glad the COVID-19 hasn’t shut this part of Texas down, yet.
It won't be long before Coronavirus shuts down local African supply chains -
The major Kenyan newspaper daily nation reports
that there are imminent difficulties facing Kenyan pharma firms due to the industry importing 70% of its ingredients from India and China, both of whom have restricted exports. Studies show that the Kenyan pharmaceuticals market is worth Sh100 billion ($965m USD), 80 per cent of which is prescription drugs. Although Kenya exports 50 per cent to the COMESA region and 75 per cent to East African Community, most of these exports are re-exports from India and China.
European automotive factories shutting down -
Ferrari and Lamborghini have both suspended almost all production (says
the Express and Star) whilst Yahoo Finance reports
that Fiat Chrysler said in a statement on Monday 16 March that it would halt operations at most of its European plants, from now until 27 March because of an “interruption in market demand.” The Italian-American automotive group said the manufacturing stop includes six factories in Italy, the EU country worst hit by coronavirus. Italy has had over 24,700 infection cases so far, and more than 1,800 people have died from the virus. The PSA group, which includes Peugeot, Citroen, and Opel, said today it will close all its European plants, including in the UK, France and Germany for the remainder of the month too. German car giant Volkswagen is also suspending production at a number of manufacturing bases in Europe, including in Slovakia and Spain. VW-owned Seat has shuttered its main factory near Barcelona for at least the rest of the month. Meanwhile, according to the Financial Times
, Volkswagen may also be forced to curtail production at the main factory in its home town of Wolfsburg, because of running low on parts. Useful parcel courier current operational status links for anyone else in eCommerce:Canada Post
, DHL Express
. If anyone has any other major courier links for service status, please let us all know :)
Good news section
Amazon to hire 100,000 more workers and give raises to current staff to deal with coronavirus demands - CNBC says
that Amazon is hiring an additional 100,000 employees in the U.S. to meet the surge in demand from online shopping amid the coronavirus outbreak, the company said
Monday. The company is looking to add extra full-time and part-time positions for warehouse and delivery workers. Through the end of April, it will raise pay for these employees by $2 per hour in the U.S., £2 per hour in the UK, and approximately €2 per hour in many EU countries. Amazon currently pays $15 per hour or more in some areas of the U.S. for warehouse and delivery jobs. Amazon encouraged employees in other industries whose jobs were "lost or furloughed" as a result of the coronavirus to apply, including members of the hospitality, restaurant and travel industries. "We want those people to know we welcome them on our teams until things return to normal and their past employer is able to bring them back," the company added.
Educating in denial older relatives anecdote
Personal story time; my 69 year old Aunt is very grumpy because despite me telling her for well over a month, it is finally dawning on her that her dream guided coach bus tour of the West USA national parks in 10 weeks time is rapidly going up in smoke whilst my 75 year old Dad has realised his third cruise of the year (this time around the med) in 5 weeks time is also about to be toast. My Aunt complained on Facebook yesterday that nobody is mentioning the 46,000 people who have recovered from the illness and that "it's just a bit of flu". It isn't, otherwise governments around the world would not be reacting as they are.
If you have an elderly relative like mine who relies far too much on social media anecdotes rather than good quality fact based mainstream media, maybe point them at this businessinsider article here
where it points out that 1) flu mortality rates are 0.1% vs. Covid-19 is 3.4% and 2) for 70-79 the mortality rate is 8% and for over 80's it's 14.8%. Hopefully they might just realise the seriousness of the situation; my Aunt dismissed it as "a website I've never heard of and won't believe" despite the article clearly citing CDC figures.
Several asked if they can send me $/£/€ via Patreon (in some cases because I've saved them time or money, others for no reason at all). I don't need the cash (that's lovely though) but food bank charities are getting really hit hard with all this panic buying. Please consider giving whatever you'd have given me to a foodbank charity instead:
Thanks in advance for any donations you give. If there's foodbank charities in your country and it's not listed above, please suggest it and I will include it going forward.
EDIT: Missed out virus news in brief, added as of 12:45. EDIT 2: Added in the Dutch foodbank link (hat tip siliconfrontier