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Saturday, February 22, 2020

Covid-19 outside mainland China: update

... while passing on the disease, of course:

According to the Johns Hopkins tracker the total number of confirmed cases now approaches 78,000 of which over 600 are outside the Chinese mainland. https://gisanddata.maps.arcgis.com/apps/opsdashboard/index.html#/bda7594740fd40299423467b48e9ecf6 . Of the latter, only 12 have died so far.

However, it is clear that the virus is lethal to more than East Asians. Two days ago, a couple of Iranians succumbed; and it seems they had not travelled outside their country. They died in Qom (90 miles from the capital, Tehran), and two other patients have been diagnosed there since, plus one in Arak (who happens to be a doctor from Qom), bringing the total cases to five. https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/world/iran-qom-coronavirus-covid19-religious-gatherings-cases-12455638

Qom is a magnet for pilgrims, so there is some question as to whether piety may outweigh prudence. 20 million visitors (both domestic and foreign) come annually because it is not only a holy city but ‘the largest centre for Shiʿa scholarship in the world’. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qom Conversely, millions of Shi’ite pilgrims travel from Iran to Iraq each year to see the holy cities of Najaf and Karbala; Iraq has now taken the precautions of suspending flights to Iran and closing their mutual border https://www.timesofisrael.com/iraq-closes-border-with-iran-over-coronavirus-fears/ but we shall see how effective and sustained these measures will be.

And today we hear of a fatality in Italy (see below).

Here is the toll to date, in sequence, for the world outside mainland China:

(1) 02 February: a 44-year-old Chinese tourist from Wuhan, Hubei province died in hospital in Manila, the Philippines; he was ‘thought to have had other pre-existing health conditions.’ https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-51345855

(2) 04 February: a 39-year-old Hong Kong man dies there of heart failure, having been diagnosed on 31 January with the virus. He is said to have had a ‘long-term illness.’ https://agbrief.com/headline/coronavirus-live-updates-2020/

(3) 13 February: a woman in her eighties died in a Japanese hospital where she had been kept since February 1; her son-in law is a taxi driver and has also been confirmed infected. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/feb/13/japan-reports-first-coronavirus-death-as-44-more-cases-confirmed-aboard-cruise-ship

(4) 15 February: an 80-year-old Chinese tourist from Hubei province died in Paris, France after weeks in hospital. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/15/world/europe/france-coronarivus-death.html

(5) 15 February: a 61-year-old male taxi driver from central Taiwan died in hospital there from Covid-19-related pneumonia and sepsis; he had a history of Hepatitis B and diabetes. Many of his fares had come from China, Macau and Hong Kong. 

(6, 7) 19 February: two Iranian citizens died in Qom, northern Iran; both were elderly and with underlying health conditions. They ‘were not known to have left Iran’ but as said above, Qom is a major religious destination for pilgrims and scholars. https://www.dw.com/en/coronavirus-first-deaths-reported-in-middle-east/a-52436966

(8) 19 February: a second Hong Kong victim dies there – a 70-year-old man with ‘underlying illnesses.’ He had previously visited mainland China on 22 January via the island’s border checkpoint at Lok Ma Chau. https://www.hongkongfp.com/2020/02/19/breaking-70-year-old-dies-bringing-hong-kong-coronavirus-death-toll-two/

(9) 19 February: a 63-year-old local man died in a hospital in South Korea and was diagnosed posthumously with the virus. Many new cases have been registered in the South Korean city of Daegu, where a South Korean woman is thought to have infected the congregation of a Christian sect; she is said to be in her early 60s and with no recent record of overseas travel. https://www.scmp.com/week-asia/health-environment/article/3050517/coronavirus-how-diamond-princess-cruise-ship-became

(10, 11) 20 February: two Japanese citizens died in a hospital in Japan, having been taken off the ‘Diamond Princess’ cruise ship (quarantined near Yokohama) the previous week. ‘Both were in their 80s with underlying health conditions.’ https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-51568496 The infection may have been spread by a Hong Kong resident who had briefly visited the Chinese mainland prior to boarding the ship at Yokohama on 20 January https://www.scmp.com/week-asia/health-environment/article/3050517/coronavirus-how-diamond-princess-cruise-ship-became ; he disembarked at Hong Kong on January 25, reporting to a hospital on the island, where he was diagnosed with coronavirus. The ship’s itinerary from 1 December 2019 on is here: http://crew-center.com/diamond-princess-itinerary - the latest cruise was to have been 29 days long, starting in Singapore. https://www.scmp.com/week-asia/health-environment/article/3050517/coronavirus-how-diamond-princess-cruise-ship-became

(12) 22 February: a 78-year-old man died in Padua, Italy. The first arrival of the virus in the country is traced to China: ‘The "index case" - or patient zero - was reported to be a 38-year-old man from Codogno who is believed to have caught the virus from a friend who had returned from China in January.’ https://news.sky.com/story/italy-reports-first-coronavirus-death-as-infections-worldwide-pass-77-000-11940004

The pattern of lethality is similar to that for ‘ordinary’ flu: Covid-19 hits the old and infirm disproportionately. That said, we also see how easily it seems to spread, and (thanks to modern communications and mass travel) how far – not only across the Far East but the Middle East, Australasia, Europe, North America, India, Egypt… So far, nothing reported from sub-Saharan Africa, or central and southern American states; but we are hardly three months into this outbreak and not all countries may as quick to diagnose cases correctly.

There is no room for complacency, as Charles Hugh Smith explains. http://charleshughsmith.blogspot.com/2020/02/covid-19-pandemic-complacent-are.html

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