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  1. “I have the Coronavirus”—two teens arrested for prank at a Walmart Police don't believe the teens were actually infected. Enlarge Alan Schein Photography / Getty A 19-year-old man named Tyler Wallace is in police custody after he entered a Walmart last Sunday in the Chicago suburb of Joliet. He walked through the store wearing a mask and sign that said "I have the coronavirus." He sprayed Lysol on produce, clothing, and other products. According to the Chicago Tribune, he faces charges of disorderly conduct, retail theft, and criminal trespass to property. A 17-year-old friend who accompanied Wallace in the store is also facing charges of disorderly conduct and criminal trespass. His case will be handled by juvenile courts. Police don't believe that either teen is actually infected with the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV). Walmart says it cost $7,300 to replace the produce and another $2,400 to clean up the store after the incident. People in the Chicago area are on high alert over the novel coronavirus since two residents, a wife and husband, have been identified as infected. The wife, who recently traveled to China, transmitted the infection to her husband upon her return. The husband’s case was the first documented instance of person-to-person spread of the virus in the US. There have been a total of 12 confirmed infections in the United States. Globally, more than 31,000 people have been infected with the virus, which has killed at least 630 people. The vast majority of these infections have occurred in China. There are also confirmed infections in neighboring countries—including Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Thailand, and Malaysia—as well as Western countries like the United States, Canada, France, and Germany. Source: “I have the Coronavirus”—two teens arrested for prank at a Walmart (Ars Technica)
  2. Bill Gates says countries will probably use interviews and databases to track the coronavirus Photo by Nicolas Liponne/NurPhoto via Getty Images Bill Gates thinks most countries will fight COVID-19 with interview-based contact tracing and a central database to track exposure. Gates posted a paper today outlining potential pandemic treatments, vaccines, and containment strategies. He calls contact tracing, which helps identify and isolate people who could spread the virus, an “ideal way” to stop the pandemic. But he downplayed the importance of decentralized tech-only options like those proposed by Apple and Google, focusing on more traditional methods combined with large-scale data analysis. Gates believes privacy concerns will stop many countries from adopting GPS tracking like that used in South Korea and China. He also seems lukewarm on Bluetooth-based contact tracing systems, especially ones that operate without experts getting access to the data. “If most people voluntarily installed this kind of application, it would probably help some,” Gates writes. But he points out that someone can leave the virus on a surface where it’s later picked up by another person, even if the two never come near each other. These systems also require large-scale adoption that can be difficult to get. “I think most countries will use the approach that Germany is using, which requires interviewing everyone who tests positive and using a database to make sure there is follow-up with all the contacts. The pattern of infections is studied to see where the risk is highest and policy might need to change,” writes Gates. This raises obvious privacy questions and would require huge numbers of interviewers, something Gates acknowledges. “Every health system will have to figure out how to staff up so that this work is done in a timely fashion,” he writes. “Everyone who does the work would have to be properly trained and required to keep all the information private. Researchers would be asked to study the database to find patterns of infection, again with privacy safeguards in place.” While Gates doesn’t mention it, Germany is one of the prime drivers of a Bluetooth-based contact tracing initiative called the Pan-European Privacy-Preserving Proximity Tracing project. The system is similar in some ways to Apple and Google’s plans for a tracking system built into iOS and Android. But the anonymized data would be held on a central server, while Apple and Google have favored a system that’s supposed to store as much data as possible on users’ devices. (There’s still a lot we don’t know about its process.) Meanwhile, a separate group of experts has proposed a system called Decentralized Privacy-Preserving Proximity Tracing. American health authorities are attempting to rapidly scale up a contact tracing interview system that may require an “army” of disease detectives. Massachusetts recently budgeted for 1,000 people to interview infected citizens over the phone and determine who they’ve been in contact with. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also sent contact tracing teams to eight states. Tracing efforts also depend heavily on having a robust testing system, which the country has been slow to roll out. Gates’ views on the pandemic are fairly mainstream, but he’s become a target of conspiracy theorists in recent weeks. Former Trump adviser Roger Stone made headlines for repeating a baseless claim that Gates wants to microchip people who receive a novel coronavirus vaccine, misinterpreting a comment the Microsoft co-founder made in a Reddit AMA. This week, right-wing extremists circulated a list of email addresses and passwords that included members of the Gates Foundation, prompting claims of a hack — but the credentials appeared to be cobbled together from past data breaches. Source: Bill Gates says countries will probably use interviews and databases to track the coronavirus (The Verge)
  3. When officers from Hungary's National Tax and Customs Administration raided a pirate IPTV provider they were unsurprised to discover large amounts of satellite and computer equipment for capturing and distributing live TV . However, what they also found was hundreds of pounds of food that had been stockpiled by the operator, who hadn't been outside for months due to fears of catching the coronavirus. 2020 has developed into one of the most memorable years in living memory for the entire planet but for mostly the wrong reasons. Not a day goes by without news of the coronavirus pandemic and its devastating effect on individuals, families, the economy, and health in general. In common with many industries, coronavirus has hit the entertainment sectors too, with few new films and TV shows coming out (with notable exceptions such as Mulan) as people are either forced or inclined to stay home and stay safe. Throughout all of this, however, pirate operations have remained mostly online, with notable spikes in interest reported earlier in the year. IPTV Raid and Arrest But Authorities Didn’t Expect This As part of European efforts to crack down on the supply of IPTV, a few weeks ago officers in the National Tax and Customs Administration raided a pirate IPTV provider. What they found was extraordinary to say the least. Situated in what appeared to be a fenced-off barbed wire compound with CCTV surveillance, the outside of the building was perhaps not much of a surprise. Adorned with a large number of satellite dishes used to source original programming from the skies, the walls of the structure gave away what may lie inside. Indeed, the main contents of the building were as expected, such as an office with desks, chairs and various computers, plus a separate area containing what appear to be rows of servers used for capturing TV content from official providers and redistributing it over the Internet. In total, the authorities seized 52 computers, several decoders, TV cards, plus six servers dedicated to redistribution. The image above suggests that the operation wasn’t set up on the large budgets usually witnessed in police footage from raids elsewhere in Europe but with at least 8,000 paying customers, it was clearly functional. However, in a video released by the authorities, it is apparent that on some of the server shelves also sit items of food, including dozens and dozens of packets of flour. A panning camera shot also reveals a large refrigerator and then a small mountain of stacked canned food. Another shot, possibly in another area, reveals little floor space due to yet more stacked cans, a significant area occupied by box upon box of dried pasta packets, plus additional shelves loaded with soft drinks, other foodstuffs, and the coronavirus pandemic staple – dozens of toilet rolls. An Operator of the Service Was Scared of the Coronavirus According to the National Tax and Customs Administration, the service was founded by a man from Nagykanizsa who first set out to “redirect” his mother’s paid TV package to his own home for free. He teamed up with a man from Budapest to create a service that was subsequently offered to close friends too. Over time, however, they realized they could make money from the operation and began offering it on an invitation-only basis to outsiders. The network of customers grew and ultimately became available worldwide via the Internet. However, earlier this year, when the coronavirus started to sweep across Europe, one of the people in charge of the operation reacted like many across the region. In fear of catching what could be a deadly virus, he stockpiled the mountains of food detailed Situated in what appeared to be a fenced-off barbed wire compound with CCTV surveillance, the outside of the building was perhaps not much of a surprise. Adorned with a large number of satellite dishes used to source original programming from the skies, the walls of the structure gave away what may lie inside.above – hundreds of pounds/kilos – so that he could keep the service running but without having to venture far outside. “In addition to IT equipment, durable food was in the Budapest property. The young man had accumulated hundreds of kilos of flour, canned food and pasta in fear of the coronavirus epidemic, and had not ventured into the streets for months,” the authorities explain. Damage to Copyright Holders But Also Paying No Taxes According to estimates provided by the tax authorities, the service is alleged to have generated around HUF 6 million (US$1.97m) for the pair but for reasons that aren’t explained, they “forgot” to pay the necessary duties to the state. This explains why the tax authorities were involved in the raid. “An illegal IPTV service that is provided without payment of royalties infringes copyright or copyright-related rights, which is a criminal offense. The offender can be sentenced to up to eight years in prison,” the National Tax and Customs Administration says. Whether the self-imposed prison sentence of a few months will now be extended to a forced sentence of a few years is currently unknown. Previous Post Source: TorrentFreak
  4. What World War II Can Teach Us About Fighting the Coronavirus Some manufacturers are racing to make ventilators, respirators, and face shields. But the situation is nothing like it was in the 1940s. During World War II, Ford's Willow Run plant near Detroit switched from making cars to B-24 bombers.Courtesy of Library of Congress Facing the continued spread of the novel coronavirus across the US, Ford announced Tuesday that it will not resume production, as initially planned, of trucks and SUVs next week. But while the automaker’s workers aren’t stamping metal, they’re not entirely idle either. They’ve started several projects aimed at helping fight the pandemic. That means collaborating with 3M on a new respirator design using stockpiled parts like the fans made to cool the fannies of F-150 drivers. The automaker is working with GE Healthcare to increase production of ventilators, a crucial tool for Covid-19 patients struggling to breathe. In addition, Ford designers are producing new sorts of transparent face shields to protect medical workers and first responders. It hopes to soon be making 100,000 a week at a subsidiary’s plant. Other automakers are working on similar efforts. Tesla bought more than 1,200 ventilators in China and donated them to the public health effort in California; CEO Elon Musk said his company is looking at how to build more. General Motors is helping Ventec Life Systems scale up its ventilator production and considering other ways to help, its CEO Mary Barra says. “We’re just going as fast as we can,” executive chairman Bill Ford said on CNBC Tuesday. “This is what very much our company does when we’re needed.” Indeed, Ford was a key part of the “arsenal of democracy” that helped power the US to victory in World War II. At its peak, the company was building a B-24 bomber every 63 minutes at its Willow Run plant west of Detroit. Efforts to combat Covid-19 fall far short of the contributions that Ford and other companies made to winning that war. In part, that’s because there’s no easy way to help: Just a few firms are set up for the complexity and precision of making the ventilators that patients need. But you could have said the same thing 80 years ago. To battle Germany and Japan, American manufacturers built new factories, trained massive workforces, and stopped what they were used to doing for what needed to be done. Frigidaire made machine guns. Lingerie factories churned out camouflage netting. Road-building companies made fighting ships. Parts designed for vacuum cleaners went into gas masks. Yes, the coronavirus calls for a different bill of munitions, on a different timescale. Health experts don’t need the same range of tools that the 1940s military demanded—ventilators and protective equipment top the list—but they need them desperately, immediately. World War II played out over years; the coronavirus has transformed life for billions in the past few weeks. American factories aren’t shut because the economy is already crippled, but because their workers must keep their distance. In 1941, most of the materials America needed to build its army lay within its borders. Today’s supply chains wrap around the globe. Still, the way American industry mobilized for war is remarkable for its scale, speed, and success—and offers lessons for anyone trying to help today. The first of these, sadly, isn’t much good now: Prepare well in advance. President Franklin D. Roosevelt got serious about stocking his armory (and drafting soldiers) more than a year before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, soon after France fell to Germany. By April 1941, the government had ordered $1.5 billion (that’s $26.4 billion today) worth of plane engines, tanks, machine guns, and other tools just from the auto industry—the country’s great manufacturing powerhouse. By the time Congress declared war eight months later, the auto industry was well into the process of realigning supply chains and preparing to arm America. “We weren’t ready to fight in December of 1941,” says Rob Citino, the senior historian at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, citing early losses like the fall of the Philippines. “But we were more prepared to fight than we would’ve been had Roosevelt not gotten us started early.” Ford workers are assembling plastic face shields for health care workers, aiming to make 100,000 a week. Photograph: Charlotte Smith/Ford This year, by contrast, US officials dithered for weeks while the virus approached, and it’s now too late to prepare. But in the past week, more companies have announced plans to join the fight. Beyond the automakers, Givenchy, Dior, and liquor giant Pernod Ricard, which use alcohol in their products, are making hand sanitizer in France and the US. Honeywell is hiring 500 workers to run an extra production line to crank out N95 masks. Prestige Ameritech has quadrupled its typical production to 1 million masks a day. Amazon is hiring 100,000 workers to meet demand for shipments to people stuck at home, and is now accepting only essential items at its warehouses. These efforts are worthy but scattershot. In his CNBC interview, Bill Ford said his company had no guidance from the White House, that it was figuring out how to help on its own. And so comes the second lesson from the war: Coordination is key, and should come from the federal government. Yet President Trump has left it to governors to acquire the supplies they need, saying of the federal government, “we’re not a shipping clerk.” That’s left states competing with each other—and with the feds—for supplies, New York governor Andrew Cuomo has said, driving up prices for everyone. That perverse result is reminiscent of the early days of the Civil War, says Mark Wilson, a historian at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, when states sent their own delegations to the same manufacturers for blankets, rifles, and so on. “That was a very inefficient and chaotic and, I think, wrong-headed process,” he adds. Unfortunately for the Nazis, by the 20th century the US opted for organizing things from the top. Coordination helped at lower levels too. While automakers today are each trumpeting their own, possibly overlapping initiatives, in 1941 they and their suppliers formed the Automotive Council for War Production, which put 192 manufacturing plants to work for the war effort. They created a shared list of every machine tool not being used to capacity, to squeeze out more productive power. They pledged to make their facilities available to other companies that might need them. In the five weeks after Pearl Harbor, the federal government let out contracts worth $3.5 billion ($61.6 billion today) to the automakers. Manufacturers were motivated by national unity and profits; a federal ban on the production of civilian cars all but ensured the auto industry would turn to munitions. The US government also pressured companies into sharing intellectual property, so production wasn’t limited by the capacity of a single company. When the military needed more B-17 bombers than Boeing could produce, it hired Lockheed to pick up the slack, requiring it to pay Boeing a modest licensing fee, according to Wilson. And during the war years, FDR’s government eased off antitrust enforcement. The same sort of moves now could help increase production of ventilators and other tools, but Trump has mostly abstained from directing private sector efforts, and resisted using the 1950 Defense Production Act. “We're a country not based on nationalizing our business,” Trump said Sunday. “Call a person over in Venezuela, ask them how did nationalization of their businesses work out? Not too well." The law wouldn’t nationalize anything, though. It would allow the government to make companies accept government contracts, and to protect companies from antitrust actions if they work together. During World War II, the US government paid to build plants, owned them, hired companies to use them, and bought all the output. That allowed companies to expand their footprint without worrying about a return on their investment, and ensured that the government got what it needed, when it needed it. That’s how road-building company Brown & Root ended up with a $90 million Naval Air Station in Corpus Christi, Texas, and how Ford got the mile-long assembly line at the Willow Run bomber plant. This effort “was really at the core of US mobilization,” says Wilson. Instead of waiting for corporate executives to decide if a plant made financial sense, “the government just threw money at the problem and said, ‘Don’t worry about that, we’ll absorb the risk.’” The economics aren’t as clear for companies enlisting in the fight against the coronavirus. “We haven't talked to anybody about any kind of reimbursement or anything like that,” Bill Ford told CNBC. But it’s hard to imagine any company launching a large-scale effort to boost production of ventilators or other products without considering how it will recover the costs. During the war, the feds made helping out rather tempting, promising its business partners profit margins of 8 percent, says Citino of the World War II museum. It wasn’t just patriotism that won the war, an old joke went—it was patriotism and that 8 percent. The key to winning a global fight—in the 1940s and maybe today too—was finding the right incentives to push every needed effort in the right direction, Citino adds: “You get to do good and do well at the same time.” WIRED is providing unlimited free access to stories about the coronavirus pandemic. Sign up for our Coronavirus Update newsletter for the latest updates, and subscribe to support our journalism. Source: What World War II Can Teach Us About Fighting the Coronavirus (Wired)
  5. Dyson developed and is producing ventilators to help treat COVID-19 patients The company plans to produce 15,000 ventilators Dyson — the British technology company best known for its high-powered vacuum cleaners, hair dryers, and fans — has designed a new ventilator, the “CoVent,” in the past several days, which it will be producing in order to help treat coronavirus patients, via CNN. The company reportedly developed the ventilator in 10 days based on Dyson’s existing digital motor technology. Dyson is still seeking regulatory approval in the UK for the rapidly designed device, but it’s already received an order from the UK Government for 10,000 ventilators, of which the National Health Service (NHS) is in dire need. The CoVent is a bed-mounted and portable ventilator, with the option to run on battery power should the need arise. “This new device can be manufactured quickly, efficiently and at volume,” company founder James Dyson noted in a letter to the company obtained by Fast Company, adding that the CoVent was “designed to address the specific clinical needs of Covid-19 patients.” Dyson also pledged in the letter to donate an additional 5,000 ventilators to “the international effort, 1,000 of which will go to the United Kingdom.” “The race is now on to get it into production,” Dyson noted in his letter, with a company spokesperson telling CNN that the ventilators would be ready in early April. Ventilators — which provide assisted breathing for patients who are unable to breath themselves — are critical for the treatment of severe cases of COVID-19, which causes respiratory symptoms in some patients. Dyson isn’t the only major company that’s pivoted to ventilator design and production in recent days — carmarkers like Ford, Tesla, and General Motors have also pledged to repurpose their plants toward developing the critical treatment devices as shortages around the world continue to grow. Source: Dyson developed and is producing ventilators to help treat COVID-19 patients (The Verge)
  6. Coronavirus outbreak sparks first federal quarantine in over 50 years The 195 Americans evacuated from Wuhan are now under 14-day quarantine amid outbreak. Enlarge / A crew member of an evacuation flight of French citizens from Wuhan gives passengers disinfectant during the flight to France on February 1, 2020, as they are repatriated from the coronavirus hot zone. Getty | Hector Retamal The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued the first federal quarantine order in more than 50 years for 195 Americans who were evacuated out of Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak (2019-nCoV) The US citizens will be held under quarantine at the March Air Reserve Base in California, where they arrived from Wuhan on Wednesday, January 29 on an aircraft chartered by the US State Department. They have remained at the base since then. The quarantine will last 14 days from the time that their flight left Wuhan. Fourteen days is considered the likely maximum time of a 2019-nCoV infection incubation period—that is the time between an exposure and onset of symptoms. The decision to issue a quarantine comes amid the continued spread of 2019-nCoV—both within and beyond China. It also comes on the heels of a report that an asymptomatic infected person from China spread the viral illness to a 33-year-old healthy business associate in Germany. Further testing found that three other associates at the same company in Germany had also contracted the infection. All four cases were mild, and the first infected associate, who noticed symptoms on January 24, started feeling better and returned to work on the 27. The report was published yesterday, January 30, in the New England Journal of Medicine. While it’s unclear how often asymptomatic transmission is occurring during this outbreak, the documented case raises concern that such quiet spread may thwart international outbreak control measures. According to the latest figures, the 2019-nCoV outbreak has reached nearly 10,000 cases and 222 deaths. While nearly all of the cases are in China, the disease has spread to nearly a dozen other countries, including the US. Yesterday, the World Health Organization declared the outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). Don’t be a jerk The CDC would rather be remembered for overreacting rather than under-reacting, Dr. Nancy Messonnier told reporters in a press conference today. Dr. Messonnier is the director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. As such, the agency decided to issue the federal quarantine. It is the first time a federal agency has issued such a quarantine since the 1960s, when one was issued over a smallpox evaluation, the CDC said. The CDC also clarified that a quarantine—cordoning of people who are not yet sick but could potentially become sick—is different from isolation orders for patients who have already been identified as being sick with a concerning infectious disease, which is more common. So far, none of the 195 evacuated citizens have been found to be infected with 2019-nCoV. And for now, the immediate risk to the American public in general remains low, Dr. Messonnier said in the press conference today. As the outbreak stretches on, she cautioned Americans from unnecessarily panicking over the outbreak—such as buying up surgical face masks, which are not completely effective at preventing viral respiratory infections, to protect against a virus that is not currently circulating in the US. Face masks are not recommended during normal cold and flu season, and they’re certainly not recommended now, Dr. Messonnier said. She also warned citizens not to discriminate against any of their fellow Americans of Asian descent. Last, Dr. Messonnier reiterated that the best way for Americans to protect their health and the health of their communities is to continue practicing good hygiene practices during this cold and flu season. That is, get a flu shot, wash your hands with soap and water frequently, don’t touch your face with unwashed hands, cough and sneeze into your elbow, and stay home if you feel ill. Update (1/31/2020, 5:00pm ET): The Trump Administration this afternoon declared the 2019-nCoV outbreak a public health emergency in the US. The Administration announced that beginning February 2, it will enforce mandatory quarantines of up to 14 days for US citizens who recently traveled to the Hubei province, where Wuhan is located. Additionally, the administration will bar entry of non-resident foreign nationals who have traveled to China in the last two weeks and who do not have immediate family in the US. The decision conflicts with the World Health Organization, which does not recommend that countries issue any travel or trade restrictions. Source: Coronavirus outbreak sparks first federal quarantine in over 50 years (Ars Technica)
  7. Airlines in Europe, Asia and North America are cancelling flights to and from China as the novel coronavirus, which originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan, has infected at least a few thousand people in China and dozens beyond its borders. Although all 213 deaths from the disease have been limited to China, at least 118 people across 22 different countries have tested positive for the mysterious illness, prompting governments around the world to issue travel advisories and start evacuating their citizens from Wuhan. Chinese authorities have shut down travel in and out of Wuhan and enacted similar, strict transportation restrictions in a number of other cities. The majority of cases outside China are associated with travel to China and of those, the vast majority involve travel to Wuhan, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Which airlines have cancelled flights? British Airways has cancelled all flights to and from Beijing and Shanghai until Feb. 29 following local authorities’ advice against “all but essential travel to mainland China.” Flights to and from Hong Kong will remain unaffected, the airline said. KLM opted to suspend flights to Beijing and Shanghai after this weekend until Feb. 9. The airline had previously announced it would also cancel flights to Chengdu, Hangzhou and Xiamen. On Friday, Delta announced it would temporarily suspend all flights from the U.S. to China starting Feb. 6 and running through April 30. “Between now and Feb. 5, Delta will continue to operate flights to ensure customers looking to exit China have options to do so,” the airline said in a statement. The last China-bound flight from the U.S. will leave Feb. 3. Delta is also issuing travel waivers for flights to, from and through Beijing and Shanghai from Jan. 24 until April 30. American Airlines also announced on Friday that it would suspend all flights to and from the Chinese mainland beginning Friday and running through March 27. On Wednesday the airline had said it would suspend flights between Los Angeles and Shanghai and Beijing from Feb. 9 until Mar. 27, but noted that flights from Dallas-Fort Worth would continue, according to the Associated Press. On Thursday, a union representing American Airlines pilots sued the airline over continued flights between Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport and airports in China. The group sought “a temporary restraining order to immediately halt the carrier’s U.S.-China Service.” The lawsuit took issue with the “serious, and in many ways still unknown, health threats posed by the coronavirus, and concerns regarding its continued spread globally.” Lufthansa Group said it would cancel all its flights to mainland China until Feb. 9. Austrian Airlines has said it will suspend flights to and from China until Feb. 9. The airline said Wednesday that it would be flying to destinations in China “for one last time today.” Air Canada has suspended all direct flights to Beijing and Shanghai from Thursday until Feb. 29 following the Canadian government’s advisory to avoid non-essential travel to mainland China. “Affected customers will be notified and offered options, including travel on other carriers where available, or a full refund,” the airline said in a statement. United Airlines will reportedly stop all travel between its hub cities and Beijing, Chengdu and Shanghai between Feb. 6 until March 28. The airline has also issued travel waivers for customers who intended to travel to Wuhan and other destinations in China. Cathay Pacific said Tuesday that it will be “progressively reducing the capacity” of its flights to and from mainland China “by 50% or more” from Jan. 30 until the end of March. Rebooking, refunding and rerouting charges will be waived for any tickets issued on or before Tuesday involving trips arriving to or departing from mainland China between Jan. 28 and Mar. 31. Air India has cancelled flights to Shanghai from Jan. 31 to Feb. 14. and said that a maximum of seven flights between New Delhi and Hong Kong will only occur on three days within the same time period. The airline said that cancellation charges for travel to and from Shanghai and Hong Kong on Air India Flights is “waived off with immediate effect till further notice.” Finnair has also cancelled all flights to mainland China between Feb. 6 and Feb. 29, allowing time next week for customers to fly back if they want to. It has also canceled all its flights to Guangzhou and suspended flights to and from Nanjing and Beijing between Feb. 5 and March 29. “In order to allow Finnair customers who are currently traveling to return home to Europe and China, Finnair will operate flights between its Helsinki hub and its mainland China destinations until February 6,” the airline said, adding it would allow customers to change their travel date. South Korean budget carrier Seoul Air has also halted all flights to China and Indonesia’s Lion Air has said it will do the same, according to the AP. Indonesia’s Lion Air said it canceled more than 50 flights to China into February. The AP also reports that Hong Kong airlines is cutting the number of flights to the Chinese mainland by about half, Air Seoul is suspending its flights to mainland Chinese destinations and Singapore-based Jetstar Asia is cutting down on flights to and from China. What are the new coronavirus travel restrictions and advisories? Several Asian countries have tightened their borders to prevent disease spreading from China. Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said Thursday that Russia would be closing its land border with China from Friday until at least March 1, the Associated Press reported Hong Kong announced Tuesday that it would deny entry to individual travelers from mainland China, dramatically expanding a ban that had previously applied only to visitors from Hubei province, which includes the city of Wuhan. The semi-autonomous city also stated that it would sharply reduce cross-border transit, shutting down rail and ferry service to China, halving flights and decreasing tour buses. Several border checkpoints will also close in what Hong Kong’s leader Carrie Lam termed a “partial shutdown” during a live streamed press conference. The measures went into effect Thursday. Singapore banned the entry and transfer of travelers holding passports issued by China’s Hubei province from Wednesday onwards. Mongolia’s official news agency has said the country closed border crossings with China on Monday, according to the AP. The U.S. State Department escalated a travel advisory warning for Hubei province to level four on Friday, advising visitors not to travel to the province because of the coronavirus. On Monday, a level three advisory to “reconsider travel” was issued for any travel to China in general. “All options for dealing with infectious disease spread have to be on the table, including travel restrictions but diseases are not terribly good at respecting borders,” HHS Secretary Alex Azar said at a press conference on Wednesday. Asked whether the U.S. State Department is considering banning travel to China, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters Wednesday that authorities are closely monitoring for changes that could warrant changing current travel advisories, “including banning travel,” the Washington Post reported. Britain, Canada and New Zealand have advised against all travel to Hubei province and non-essential travel to the rest of mainland China. India issued an advisory to avoid any non-essential travel to China. Hong Kong urged residents not to travel to Hubei province and said, “If it is unavoidable to travel to Hubei, put on a surgical mask and continue to do so until 14 days after returning to Hong Kong.” France strongly recommended postponing all travel to Wuhan and Hubei province, as well as any non-essential travel to China. Finland recommended that citizens avoid non-essential travel to Hubei, according to local media. Australia advised residents not to travel to Hubei province and to “reconsider your need to travel” to China in general. Some companies, including major tech corporations, have warned their employees to stay clear of China, too. Facebook said it had asked employees to stop any non-essential travel to mainland China and called for staff to work from home if they recently traveled to the country, according to Reuters. McDonald’s has suspended locations across five cities in Hubei province and Starbucks has also shut some cafes in the country, Bloomberg News reports. How effective are travel advisories and restrictions? It’s important to distinguish between travel advisories and bans in responding to the novel coronavirus, experts say. Travel advisories to avoid outbreak zones and non-essential travel to at-risk areas “make a lot of sense,” says Amesh A. Adalja, an infectious disease expert at Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. Adalja notes that a widespread outbreak in which people cannot freely move “crosses a threshold where you want to tell people that they need to know” if they’re considering travel to the region. “There may be difficulties getting back out of there, there may be issues with exposure to infection and then getting health care in that area,” Adalja says. But travel bans can “make situations worse,” Adalja notes. “It’s going to isolate a population, it’s going to create public animosity, it’s going to create stigma and it’s going to make it much harder to get resources to an outbreak zone or to allow people to get to those zones as well as out of those zones.” Countries may initiate travel bans for political reasons as opposed to scientific ones, he says, adding that, “It is something that people often clamor for any time there’s any type of outbreak.” Vincent Racaniello, a virologist and professor of microbiology & immunology at Columbia University, agrees that a “travel ban in this case is uncalled for” based on the severity of the virus. Racaniello adds that travel restrictions “probably played a big role in eventually stopping” the SARS outbreak but is skeptical about how useful they can be in relation to this new coronavirus outbreak in which infected people with little to no symptoms appear to be passing on the disease. With SARS, most cases were more easily diagnosed as symptoms were more severe, he explains. Racaniello is unsure about whether travel restrictions will have much of an effect on the new coronavirus as “people are still moving around.” The virus “may end up entrenched as another respiratory virus in the human population, kind of like influenza is,” Racaniello says. “If it gets in every country of the world in significant numbers then we might not be able to get rid of it like we did with SARs.” As countries independently started issuing advisories and a range of travel restrictions, the World Health Organization has said international coordination may be necessary to contain the outbreak, while also minimizing the impact on international trade and travel. “194 countries implementing unilateral measures based on their own individual risk assessment is a potential recipe for disaster,” said Michael Ryan, executive director of WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme, at a press conference on Wednesday. On Thursday, the WHO declared the outbreak a global public health emergency. How to protect yourself while traveling Although there is currently no vaccine to prevent infection from the coronavirus, individuals can take precautions to avoid exposure to the virus, according to the CDC. They include washing your hands thoroughly with soap and water, avoiding close contact with people who are sick, staying home when you are sick, avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands, covering your cough or sneeze with a tissue and cleaning frequently touched objects and surfaces. The CDC also lays out extra precautions for commercial airline crews, advising that they frequently wash their hands and treat all body fluids as if they are infectious when managing a sick traveler. The agency says that employees should minimize contact with any sick person and offer a face mask to the infected person, if possible. The CDC recommends avoiding non-essential travel to China but for those who choose to go, the agency recommends avoiding contact with sick people, discussing the trip with their healthcare provider and avoiding animals, animal markets and raw meat. Adalja says there is “nothing specific a person needs to do” when flying besides practicing the same hygiene they would to protect themselves from influenza and other respiratory viruses, which are more likely to be present than the new coronavirus. “I do not recommend people wear masks routinely,” he says, adding that it would be unnecessary and unproductive for people in countries not facing a significant risk of community spread, like the U.S., to do so. Source
  8. World Health Organization declares global public health emergency over coronavirus outbreak There are over 8,000 confirmed cases of the virus spread across nearly two dozen countries World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Photo by FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP via Getty Images The ongoing coronavirus outbreak is a global health emergency, the World Health Organization determined today. Since it started last month, the virus’s spread has reached nearly two dozen countries, sickened thousands, and impacted both travel and business around the world. “The main reason is not because of what is happening in China, but because of what is happening in other countries,” said Tedros Adhanom, director general of the WHO, in a press conference today. “Our greatest concern is the potential for the virus to spread to other countries with weaker health systems, which are ill prepared to deal with it.” The WHO defines a global emergency — formally, a Public Health Emergency of International Concern — as “an extraordinary event which is determined to constitute a public health risk to other States through the international spread of disease and to potentially require a coordinated international response.” This is the sixth declared in the past decade. Despite the emergency declaration, the WHO is not recommending any restrictions on travel or trade at this time. Countries should implement evidence-based public health policies, combat misinformation, share data, and work together to stop the spread of the virus, Adhanom said. The WHO also called for an acceleration in efforts to develop vaccines and treatments, and stressed that support be given to countries with weak health systems which might not be able to cope with the virus. The International Health Regulations Committee at the WHO is tasked with examining the evidence around an ongoing public health crisis and recommending that an emergency be declared. The committee met twice last week, and both times were split fifty-fifty on whether to recommend an emergency declaration. At that time, committee members who did not want to declare a global emergency said there weren’t enough cases outside of China to warrant it. The committee has now decided to recommend that an emergency be declared because of an increased number of cases, an increased number of countries affected, and news of “questionable” measures taken against travelers in some countries, said committee chair Didier Houssin during the press conference. Declaring a global health emergency gives the director general of the WHO the power to offer recommendations that could prevent the spread of a disease, like travel advisories or restrictions, and allow them to review public health measures in place in affected countries. The recommendations are just recommendations, but there’s pressure on countries to follow them. Source: World Health Organization declares global public health emergency over coronavirus outbreak (The Verge)
  9. On Friday morning, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that a second person in the US had been diagnosed with the Wuhan coronavirus. The woman travelled to Wuhan, China, at the end of December and returned to Chicago on January 13. The announcement of her diagnosis came three days after a man in Washington state contracted the virus. Public-health officials in the US are monitoring at least 63 additional patients from 22 states. Although the CDC considers this coronavirus (whose scientific name is 2019-nCoV) to be a serious public-health concern, the agency said in a statement Friday that "the immediate health risk from 2019-nCoV to the general American public is considered low at this time." A graver health risk for Americans – not just right now, but every year – is the flu. Since October, up to 20,000 people in the US have died of influenza. The coronavirus, meanwhile, has infected about 914 people worldwide and killed 26. "When we think about the relative danger of this new coronavirus and influenza, there's just no comparison," William Schaffner, a vaccine expert at Vanderbilt University Medical Centre, told Kaiser Health News (KHN). "Coronavirus will be a blip on the horizon in comparison. The risk is trivial." Tens of thousands of Americans die of flu every year At least 15 million Americans have caught the flu in the last four months; nearly a quarter million of them went to the hospital. Since flu season peaks between December and February, the worst could be still to come. "Influenza rarely gets this sort of attention, even though it kills more Americans each year than any other virus," Peter Hotez, a virologist at Baylor College of Medicine, told KHN. In 2018, which brought the worst flu season in about 40 years, 80,000 people in the US died of the illness. The flu is not just a US problem, of course. According to the World Health Organisation, seasonal influenza viruses infects between 3 million and 5 million people worldwide annually, and kills up to 650,000 per year. Comparing the flu and the Wuhan coronavirus Both the flu and the coronavirus can be transmitted from person to person via coughing and other close contact. So far, experts report that the median age of those who have died from the Wuhan coronavirus is around 75. Many of these individuals had other health issues like high blood pressure, diabetes, and Parkinson's disease. According to Adrian Hyzler, chief medical officer at Healix International, children, elderly people, pregnant women, and those who are immuno-compromised are more susceptible to the Wuhan coronavirus' severest complications. "The people who are likely to die at first will be people who have other illnesses," he told Business Insider. "But as it spreads, it will pick up more people like flu does – people in their 30s, 40s, who are otherwise good and well but unfortunately get ill," Hyzler's added. His firm offers risk-management solutions for global travellers. The CDC, meanwhile, is far more concerned about protecting people in the US from the flu. Between 5 percent and 20 percent of nearly 400 million Americans get the flu every year. "It is currently flu and respiratory disease season, and CDC recommends getting vaccinated, taking everyday preventive actions to stop the spread of germs, and taking flu antivirals if prescribed," the agency said in a statement Friday. The coronavirus doesn't have a vaccine A key difference between the flu and the Wuhan coronavirus, however, is that the former has a vaccine. "Simply having the choice about whether or not to receive a flu shot can give people an illusion of control," Schaffner told KHN. (The seasonal flu vaccine is never perfect, however. It was about 29 percent effective last year among Americans.) Fewer than half of US adults got a flu shot during the 2018-19 season, according to the CDC. Only 62 percent of children received the vaccine. Because the Wuhan virus is new, experts have not had time to develop a vaccine. "If Wuhan were to explode, a vaccine best-case scenario is three-quarters of a year, if not longer," Vincent Munster, a virologist at the Rocky Mountain Laboratories, told Business Insider. Several companies, including Moderna, Novavax, and Inovio, have announced preliminary vaccine development plans. But vaccine development has historically been an arduous, multi-year process (the Ebola vaccine took 20 years to make). None of the companies provided expected timelines to get their vaccines to market. The coronavirus outbreak isn't considered a pandemic China has quarantined Wuhan and 11 other cities to stop the virus' spread, though cases have been reported in nine other countries, including the US, France, and Japan. The outbreak isn't considered a pandemic, however. The World Health Organisation has so far not declared it a global public-health emergency either. "Familiarity breeds indifference," Schaffner said. "Because it's new, it's mysterious, and comes from an exotic place, the coronavirus creates anxiety." Aria Bendix contributed reporting for this story. source
  10. Could China's New Coronavirus Become a Global Epidemic? Scientists are racing to understand just how bad things could get with a pneumonia-like disease that first appeared in China and has now spread to the US. Photograph: Jason Lee/Reuters What began in mid-December as a mysterious cluster of respiratory illnesses has now killed at least six people, sickened hundreds more, and spread to five other countries, including the US. On Tuesday, American health officials confirmed the nation’s first case of the novel coronavirus: a Washington man hospitalized outside of Seattle last week with pneumonia-like symptoms. According to reports, he had recently traveled to Wuhan, but he says he did not visit the seafood market believed to be at the center of the outbreak. The case adds to the mounting evidence that the virus is able to spread from person to person. Last week, the World Health Organization warned such transmission appeared possible. Newly released data makes it seem nearly certain. On Monday, Chinese authorities reported a sharp uptick in confirmed cases—from a few dozen to nearly 300, including more people like the US patient who’ve had no contact with the market in Wuhan. On Wednesday, the WHO will decide whether to declare the outbreak an international public health emergency. The question on their minds: “Just how bad could this thing get?” If you’re asking yourself the same thing right now, you’ll be relieved to know it’s probably not pandemic bad. “The only agent that can do that, that we know of today, is influenza,” says Mike Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. Coronaviruses just don’t have pandemic potential. At most, they can cause multiple, geographically localized outbreaks. But how big and deadly those outbreaks might get is still a puzzle waiting to be put together. And unfortunately, the information essential to assembling it—to understanding what the virus catchily labeled 2019-nCoV will do next—is only starting to trickle in. Is it going to spread hot and fast like its deadly SARS-causing cousin? Or will it lie low in an animal reservoir, periodically popping out to cause a few dozen deaths each year, like the related virus that causes MERS? Scientists who’ve analyzed the DNA of patients say it’s too soon to tell. Trevor Bedford is an infectious disease biologist at the University of Washington and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center who has built open-source software to track emerging diseases using genetic data. When he plugged in 15 viral genomes released by Chinese and Thai health authorities, he discovered almost no mutations between them. The viruses inside each patient split off from a common ancestor in November 2019. That likely means one of two things: The virus is spreading rapidly in animals in Wuhan and repeatedly crossing over to humans; or animals infected humans once or twice and it is now spreading rapidly among humans. “The DNA can’t distinguish those two scenarios,” says Bedford. “Only epidemiological data or DNA from the reservoir animal can.” Although technologies have advanced considerably since SARS killed nearly 800 people in 2003, figuring out how new diseases spread is still an exercise in shoe-leather epidemiology. It all comes down to identifying new cases, interviewing patients, tracking down anyone they came in contact with, and then monitoring the heck out of them. Only then can you start plotting cases over time to see the shape and scope of an epidemic. None of that’s out there yet. “We don’t even know what the incubation period is or how lethal it is at this point,” says Anne Rimoin, an epidemiologist who studies emerging diseases at UCLA. So far, Chinese health authorities have followed 988 people who’ve come into contact with infected patients in Wuhan, cleared 739 of them, and are still monitoring 249, according to official reports. They have yet to share information about individual cases with the rest of the world—essential details such as what their age and sex are, when they started developing symptoms, what they might have been exposed to, and what condition they’re currently in. That information could be vital to assessing the mortality risk factors associated with 2019-nCoV, says Maia Majumder, a public health researcher at the Computational Health Informatics Program based out of Harvard Medical School and Boston Children’s Hospital. “Then we could analyze what makes people who die from the infection different from the ones that recover.” Lacking this data, researchers can only make vague estimates of the virus’s fatality. The math is pretty simple: Divide the number of deaths by the number of people known to have died or survived. It can be tempting to include hospitalized individuals, but because their outcomes are unknown, they can provide a false sense of security. In Wuhan, six out of 258 infected people have died. Doesn’t seem so bad. But if you exclude the 227 patients who are still hospitalized—who may yet die or survive—now you have a 19 percent death rate. Is that closer to the real death rate? Hard to say. The point is, it’s all just guesses if you only have case numbers at this point in an outbreak. At least one piece of the puzzle is starting to come to light, according to Osterholm. On Monday, a Chinese health official confirmed that 14 healthcare workers have tested positive for 2019-nCoV, and indicated that all 14 of them were infected by a single patient. If true, it suggests the presence of a “super-spreader,” someone who sheds huge amounts of the virus, infecting lots of people at once. “That would be a major amplification, much more akin to what we saw with SARS,” says Osterholm. Where there’s one super-spreader, he says, there are likely others. Still, he’s much less worried about a major 2019-nCoV outbreak on American soil than he is about what happens if things get worse in China, where the US has offshored much of its drug and medical supply manufacturing. If those industrial centers get shut down amidst tightening public health measures, or supply chains get quarantined, the result could be major drug shortages for Americans. “That’s what really scares me right now,” says Osterholm. Source: Could China's New Coronavirus Become a Global Epidemic? (Wired)
  11. China locks down 35M people as US confirms second coronavirus case It’s an emergency in China, but not yet for the rest of the world, WHO says. Enlarge / SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA - JANUARY 24: Disinfection workers wearing protective gear spray anti-septic solution in a train terminal amid rising public concerns over the spread of China's Wuhan Coronavirus at SRT train station on January 24, 2020 in Seoul, South Korea. Getty | Chung Sung-Jun An outbreak of a never-before-seen coronavirus continued to dramatically escalate in China this week, with case counts reaching into the 800s and 26 deaths reported by Chinese health officials. To try to curb the spread of disease, China has issued travel restrictions in the central city of Wuhan, where the outbreak erupted late last month, as well as many nearby cities, including Huanggang, Ezhou, Zhijiang, and Chibi. Hundreds of flights have been cancelled, and train, bus, and subway services have been suspended. Collectively, the travel restrictions and frozen public transportation have now locked down an estimated 35 million residents in the region. So far, all of the outbreak-related deaths and nearly all of the cases have been in China, but the viral illness has appeared in travelers in several other countries. That includes Japan, South Korea, Thailand, and the US. This morning (January 24), the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed that a second US case has been identified in Chicago. The case is a woman in her 60s who had recently traveled to Wuhan. She is said to be doing well and is in stable condition in a local hospital. She is mainly being kept in the hospital for quarantine purposes, officials said. The first US case was identified January 21 in Washington state. The CDC reported this morning that officials have closely monitored people who have had contact with that Washington patient and, so far, none have shown signs of infection. Public health officials in Chicago are now identifying and monitoring people who had contact with the second patient. The US—and countries around the globe—have stepped up monitoring of travelers from Wuhan. Airline passengers arriving in the US from Wuhan are being funneled to five US airports (San Francisco (SFO), New York (JFK), Los Angeles (LAX), Atlanta (ATL), and Chicago (ORD)), where they are undergoing entry screening, looking for fever and other symptoms. In both of the confirmed US cases, the travelers arrived in the US prior to screening and did not have symptoms while traveling. The current rough estimate for the incubation time for the virus—that is, from the time of exposure to the development of symptoms—is two weeks. Low risk, so far The rapid rise in severity and scope of the outbreak has stoked fears of a devastating pandemic and revived memories of the deadly outbreak of SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) in 2003, which was also caused by a coronavirus. But health officials closely monitoring the epidemiological data have determined that—so far—the outlook is far less dire. On Thursday, an emergency committee convened by the World Health Organization determined that the outbreak does not yet constitute a “Public Health Emergency of International Concern.” “Make no mistake. This is an emergency in China,” WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during a press conference. “But it has not yet become a global health emergency.” The committee will reconvene in the coming days to reassess, though. And Dr. Tedros (who goes by his first name) added that “it may yet become” a global emergency. Likewise, the CDC said this morning that while the situation is evolving rapidly, the risk to the US population is currently low. There are some key features of this outbreak that have led to those determinations and given public health experts a little comfort. For one thing, the majority of illnesses have been mild so far. And the reported deaths linked to the outbreak have mainly been in older individuals who had underlying health conditions, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Also, while person-to-person transmission of the virus has been confirmed, WHO officials say that the virus appears to mainly be hopping between people who have had close contact—that is, to family members and medical staff, not, say, people passing by in public settings, such as an airport. The mild cases and limited transmission so far are hopeful signs that the outbreak can be controlled and the death toll will remain low. That said, with novel viruses such as this—which likely jumped from an animal to humans in a live animal market in Wuhan—the virus can continue to evolve, and the situation can change quickly. Infectious unknowns For that reason, WHO and the CDC are “erring on the side of caution” and taking the situation very seriously. There are also many things we don’t yet know about the coronavirus, including where it came from, how easily it can spread from person to person, and the full scope of the clinical features of those infected. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that can cause everything from mild to deadly infections in people and a variety of animals. Several coronaviruses already regularly circulate in humans and cause common respiratory illnesses that are mild to moderate. There are also the notorious members of the family that cause deadly infections, including a strain the causes SARS and one that causes MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome.) Because the new virus can cause relatively mild respiratory infections, it’s possible—if not likely—that cases have gone undetected, particularly as the outbreak has arisen amid cold and flu season. The new virus can cause nondescript respiratory symptoms, including fever, cough, chest tightness, and difficulty breathing. Mild cases could easily be mistaken for influenza or a common cold, including ones caused by established coronaviruses. Flu activity is currently high in the US, according to the CDC. So far this season, the agency estimates that flu has caused 15 million to 21 million illnesses, resulting in up to 250,000 hospitalizations and 20,000 deaths—and that’s in the US alone. While the WHO and others have come up with preliminary estimates of the transmission rate of the new coronavirus virus, those early estimates may be wildly off given the uncertainty of the case counts and clinical features of the illnesses. For now, officials at WHO expect that the case count will continue to climb. The CDC said it fully expects that several more cases will be detected in the US and that the infection may spread to travelers’ close contacts on US soil. The CDC recommends that people avoid unnecessary travel to Wuhan and adhere to standard hygiene practices, such as washing your hands frequently and covering your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze. Source: China locks down 35M people as US confirms second coronavirus case (Ars Technica)
  12. World Health Organization says it’s too early to declare global emergency over new coronavirus The WHO stressed that it is taking the outbreak seriously The World Health Organization (WHO) said today that it’s too early to declare an international public health emergency in response to the rapid spread of a new coronavirus from China. The virus is in the same viral family as SARS, which circulated throughout the world in 2002 and 2003. There are currently over 500 confirmed cases in five countries of the virus, which causes fever and respiratory distress, and 17 confirmed deaths, according to data cited during the press conference. Other sources have reported over 650 confirmed cases and 18 deaths. “Make no mistake, this is, though, an emergency in China. But it has not yet become a global health emergency. It may yet become one,” said Tedros Adhanom, director general of the WHO, in a press conference today. “The fact that I’m not declaring a [global health emergency] today should not be taken as a sign that the WHO does not think the situation is serious or is not taking it seriously.” The virus poses a high risk within China and globally, he said. The WHO defines a global emergency, formally known as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC), as “an extraordinary event which is determined to constitute a public health risk to other States through the international spread of disease and to potentially require a coordinated international response.” The process for declaring this kind of emergency was put in place after the SARS outbreak. Five have been declared in the past decade: swine flu (2009), Ebola outbreaks in West Africa (2014) and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (2019), Zika (2016), and polio (2014). The International Health Regulations Committee, which examines evidence around outbreaks and recommends if they should be declared PHEICs, first met yesterday. The committee was split fifty-fifty and could not reach a decision. Committee members were split down the same lines today. Those who do not believe that the outbreak has reached the level of a PHEIC cited the limited number of cases abroad and the aggressive efforts of Chinese officials to contain the virus, said committee chair Didier Houssin during the press conference. “Declaring PHEIC is an important step in the history of an epidemic,” Houssin said. “The perception of this declaration by the international community and in the most affected country for the people who are presently struggling with the virus certainly has to be considered.” The WHO said that every country should be prepared to deal with cases of the virus. It is not recommending any additional restrictions on travel or trade. Source: World Health Organization says it’s too early to declare global emergency over new coronavirus (The Verge)
  13. By Eileen Yu for By The Way Singapore evokes online falsehoods law while Malaysia makes arrests in their attempts to stem the spread of inaccurate reports concerning the coronavirus. Both Singapore and Malaysia have moved to clamp down on inaccurate online reports about the coronavirus, with the latter making several arrests of individuals for posting and sharing such content. Singapore also vows to take "swift action" against the spread of such reports. The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) on Wednesday said it, alongside the Royal Malaysia Police, had conducted four separate raids that resulted the arrest of four individuals suspected of posting and distributing false reports about the outbreak, which had affected several nations in the region. Three of the detainees allegedly had uploaded inaccurate information on Facebook, while the fourth had shared such content on Twitter. MCMC added that smartphones, SIM cards, and memory cards believed to have been used to upload the content were confiscated during teh raids. Detained under Malaysia's Communications and Multimedia Act, Section 233, for sharing offensive and menacing content, the four individuals--if found guilty--would face fines of up to RM50,000 ($12,247) or imprisonment of up to a year, or both. They also would be fined an additional RM1,000 ($244.93) for each day the alleged falsehood remained online after their conviction. The arrests had followed another on Tuesday when an individual in Selangor was detained for allegedly posting falsehoods about the virus on Facebook. The MCMC said it would continue to step up enforcement efforts, alongside the police, to "control the spreading of false news". Meanwhile, Malaysia's southern neighbour evoked its Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (POFMA) twice this week over false statements made about the coronavirus. Singapore's Minister for Health on Monday instructed the POFMA Office to issue a General Correction Direction to SPH Magazines, which operates the HardwareZone forum, over a post on the forum that falsely claimed a man had died in Singapore from the virus. A General Correction Direction is issued to internet intermediaries, telecom and broadcast licensees, and permit holders of the country's Newspaper Printing Presses Act, requiring them to publish, broadcast, or transmit a correction notice to their users in Singapore. Under the directive, HardwareZone was required to carry a correction notice to anyone in Singapore who accessed its online forum. A day later on Tuesday, the Minister for Transport instructed the POFMA Office to issue a Targeted Correction Direction to Facebook over falsehoods made by two users of the social media site, who falsely stated Woodlands MRT station was closed for disinfection due to a suspected case of the coronavirus. Such directives were issued to internet intermediaries which services were used to communicate falsehoods that affected public interest. They required these sites to communicate correction notices, by means of its service, to all users in Singapore who accessed the falsehood through its service. In this instance, Facebook had to carry a correction notice on the two posts that contained the falsehood, according to the POFMA Office. Commenting on the POFMA directive involving HardwareZone, Singapore's Minister for Communications and Information S. Iswaran noted that more than 4,600 unique visitors had read the false report before it was taken down. "We must take swift action against such falsehoods [or] there is a grave risk they will spread and cause panic among our citizens," Iswaran said. "And that is why we have POFMA and we will not hesitate to use the powers under the law to take action against any party that spreads such falsehoods." He added that the objective was to ensure Singaporeans were provided with the facts to enable them to safely browse online platforms and distinguish truth from falsehoods. The Singapore government last week ordered local access to a website, operated by Malaysia-based Lawyers for Liberty, blocked for failing to comply with a correction directive issued under the POFMA. In response, the human rights group would not comply with the correction notice order and, instead, filed a motion in Kuala Lumpur's High Court against Singapore's Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam. The lawsuit claimed the Singapore government was attempting to "encroach upon" freedom of speech in Malaysia. Under the POFMA, offenders faced up to three or five years' imprisonment, a SG$30,000 or SG$50,000 fine, or both. If bots or inauthentic accounts were used to amplify falsehoods, the potential penalties that could be applied would be doubled. Offending internet intermediaries, meanwhile, could face up to SG$1 million fine, and also would receive a daily SG$100,000 fine for each day they continued to breach the Act after conviction. Source
  14. Redmond no longer expects to meet quarter guidance for personal computing unit In response to the effect of the coronavirus outbreak on Chinese suppliers, Microsoft has cut its sales forecast for Surface tablets and Windows OEM licences. In a statement to investors last night, the global software powerhouse said although it had accounted for the impact of the virus on its operations in January's second-quarter guidance, it now expects the supply chain to return to normal more slowly than predicted. "As a result, for the third quarter of fiscal year 2020, we do not expect to meet our More Personal Computing segment guidance as Windows OEM and Surface are more negatively impacted than previously anticipated," Redmond said. However, Windows sales are not a huge source of growth for Microsoft, neither is hardware, which is not being helped by reports that new Surface laptops can break at the hint of a sneeze. The software giant is a well-diversified biz – unlike a certain fruit-based phone flinger. On 17 February, Apple said the virus-related shutdown of Chinese factories had resulted in a shortage of iPhone components. The "temporarily constrained" supply of iPhones and a fall in Chinese shopper numbers meant it would fail to meet its quarterly revenue target, the company said. HP also warned that the outbreak would have an impact on company performance, resulting in a $0.08 hit on earnings per share, though CFO Steve Fieler added: "We do view the situation as a temporary situation." COVID-19 has taken out IT industry events across the globe, too. GSMA called off Mobile World Congress, due in February, as big names including Cisco, Nokia, Facebook and BT all cancelled their plans to attend. Analyst firm Forrester said the quarantine in China's Wuhan city and Hubei province would affect production of electronic components. "Some factories, including auto plants and tech production facilities, are starting to reopen but at reduced levels," it said. But for computer and communications equipment, demand in China would be delayed but recover quickly, Forrester said. "Sales of durable goods that might have occurred in Q1 2020 will resurface in Q2 or Q3 when quarantines are lifted, and production returns to normal. Of all the segments of the tech market, sales of computer and communications equipment are most likely to see this pattern." Fellow analyst IDC has predicted that China's device sales would fall between 30 and 40 per cent in the first quarter before recovering. But Antonio Wang, associate vice president at IDC China, said there would be "a positive side" as Chinese consumers become aware of the importance of access to internet information as a result of the outbreak. As Romania, Estonia and Norway report their first COVID-19 cases this morning, and Northern California reports an instance with no known contact with other virus carriers, The Register suspects it is too soon to be looking for upsides. Source
  15. The coronavirus will change Windows forever And that’s partly because it’s making it easier for Microsoft to head in a direction it was already taking. Martin Sanchez (CC0) It’s clear that the coronavirus pandemic will forever change the world we know — in the ways we live, work and communicate. And that means technology and software will have to change as well. How? If we look at one dominant software product, Windows, we can already get some ideas. Although it’s still too early to know precisely what Microsoft will do differently with the operating system, there’s plenty of evidence suggesting what it might look like. Here’s what to expect from Windows in the age of pandemics. The first piece of evidence comes from the upcoming Windows 10 May 2020 Update; Microsoft has changed how it will handle all Windows updates for as long as the pandemic lasts. The Windows 10 May 2020 Update offers no major new features, has no significant changes, and looks and works pretty much the same as the previous version of Windows. That’s particularly striking, because it’s been a year since the last major Windows 10 update, and you would expect that Microsoft would come up with some notable improvements in that time. In addition, Microsoft announced that, effective May 1, it will pause the release of non-security Windows updates and only issue security patches. That’s due to the pandemic — IT staffs, which are struggling to keep systems running while working from home, will have to deal with far fewer updates this way. What do these two facts mean for the future of Windows? Expect very few new features for a while — and expect “for a while” to mean something longer than the duration of the pandemic. The Windows you see today will very likely be the Windows you see tomorrow. Expect fewer patches, and don’t look for much in Microsoft’s updates. It’s likely that what the company refers to as “feature updates,” which used to be released twice a year, will only be released once a year, and even then will be minor. There is good reason to believe that the end of the pandemic will not be the end of these changes. Microsoft has been traveling down this path for a long time, with fewer and fewer new features added to Windows. The pandemic has only accelerated that trend. Microsoft developers have been working at home for quite some time, and will continue to do so for a while yet. During that time, Microsoft will have to make hard decisions about which products need updating the most and which can be left fallow. And it’s clear that Windows needs fewer updates in the short term, because it’s no longer the company’s cash cow and doesn’t have fast growth ahead of it no matter how many bells and whistles are added. And that gets us to what new things will be put into Windows. The best evidence comes from the most recent Microsoft earnings report. The report showed that use of Teams, Microsoft’s collaboration chat and meetings app, has skyrocketed due to the coronavirus and the subsequent mass exodus from offices. As of late April, Teams had 75 million daily active users, the company said, up from 20 million users in January. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella explained the spike this way: “We’ve seen two years’ worth of digital transformation in two months. From remote teamwork and learning, to sales and customer service, to critical cloud infrastructure and security — we are working alongside customers every day to help them adapt and stay open for business in a world of remote everything.” The company believes the pandemic is a wake-up call that we need to change the nature of work. Disruption will likely become the new normal, with other pandemics and larger and more dangerous storms fed by global warming ahead of us. In that kind of world, remote collaboration will become king. Jared Spataro, head of Microsoft 365, says, “It’s clear to me there will be a new normal. If you look at what’s happening in China and what’s happening in Singapore, you essentially are in a time machine. We don’t see people going back to work and having it be all the same. There are different restrictions to society, there are new patterns in the way people work. There are societies that are thinking of A days and B days of who gets to go into the office and who works remote. … The new normal is not going to be like what I thought two weeks ago: that all is clear, go back everybody. There will be a new normal that will require us to continue to use these new tools for a long time.” What does that mean for Windows? Expect some form of Teams and possibly other collaboration tools to be built directly into Windows, rather than tacked on afterwards when you decide to download and install the software. That’s what Microsoft did with OneDrive cloud storage. OneDrive began life as a standalone storage service, and eventually migrated directly into Windows. Everyone gets a basic amount of OneDrive storage; those who want more can pay more for it. The same things will likely happen with Teams and other collaboration tools. Everyone will get a free copy in Windows with a license for a small number of people, or perhaps with an incomplete set of features. Various for-pay tiers will be able to be bought at differing fees for companies of all sizes. At first, Teams will be tacked onto Windows. But over time, as remote collaboration becomes an important part of everyone’s working life, it will become more intimately integrated into it, directly into the file system, for example, built into video and audio tools, enabled by voice. Eventually, expect that Windows will no longer be designed for one-person use, but for multi-person use. It’s hard to know right now exactly what that means. But expect collaboration to be baked directly into every aspect of the operating system in one form or another. Full integration will be years away. But it’s coming our way. Remote collaboration is the future of Windows in the same way that it will become the future of work. Source: The coronavirus will change Windows forever (Computerworld - Preston Gralla)
  16. Coronavirus Widens the Money Mule Pool With many people being laid off or working from home thanks to the Coronavirus pandemic, cybercrooks are almost certain to have more than their usual share of recruitable “money mules” — people who get roped into money laundering schemes under the pretense of a work-at-home job offer. Here’s the story of one upstart mule factory that spoofs a major nonprofit and tells new employees they’ll be collecting and transmitting donations for an international “Coronavirus Relief Fund.” On the surface, the Web site for the Vasty Health Care Foundation certainly looks legitimate. It includes various sections on funding relief efforts around the globe, explaining that it “connects nonprofits, donors, and companies in nearly every country around the world.” The site says it’s a nonprofit with offices based in Nebraska and Quebec, Canada. Vasty is a phony charity that pretends to raise money for Coronavirus victims but instead hires people to help launder stolen funds. This and the rest of the content at Vasty’s site was lifted from GlobalGiving, a legitimate charity that is helping people affected by the pandemic. The “Vasty Health Care Foundation” is one of several fraudulent Web sites that recruits money mules in the name of helping Coronavirus victims. The content on Vasty’s site was lifted almost entirely from globalgiving.org, a legitimate charity that actually is trying to help people affected by the pandemic. “We have been contacted by job seekers asking if we are related to some of these job opportunities they’ve been finding on Indeed.com and Monster.com,” said Kevin Conroy, chief product officer at GlobalGiving. “And we always tell them no that’s not from us, and not to cash any checks someone may be giving them in relation to those offers.” The Vasty domain — vastyhealthcarefoundation[.]com — was registered just weeks ago, although the site claims its organization has been around for years. The crooks behind this scheme also seem to have submitted the Vasty name in custom links at vetting sites like The Better Business Bureau and Guidestar that ultimately take one to a summary of data on GlobalGiving, no doubt as part of an effort to lend legitimacy to its name (hovering over the links above reveals the trickery). What proof is there that Vasty isn’t a legitimate charity? None of the dozens of Canadian mules contacted by this author responded to requests for comment. But KrebsOnSecurity received copious amounts of information about this scam from Milwaukee, Wisc. based Hold Security, which managed to intercept key file exchanges between threat actors through public file sharing services. Among those files were a set of form letters and boilerplate email messages that describe the ideal candidate for the job at Vasty and welcome new recruits to the Vasty payroll. Here’s a look at the part of the job description, which includes on a second page (not pictured) a description of the healthcare plans and other benefits allegedly offered to Vasty employees. After congratulating applicants (everyone who applies is “hired”) on their new positions, Vasty asks the recruits to do some busy work. In this case, new hires are sent to local pharmacies on some bogus errand, such as to inspect the pricing of face masks and hand sanitizer products for price-gouging. “Now we have the first task for you. You will have to perform a trip within your city. So that we can compensate for transportation costs along with your hourly rate, I ask you to keep receipts confirming your expenses. LOCATION: Sam’s Geneva Street Pharmacy ADDRESS: 284 Geneva St, St. Catharines, ON L2N 2E8 I ask you to go to the pharmacy at the specified address. We are increasingly receiving reports of private sellers violating the pricing policy for products such as: aspirin, face masks are loose surgical masks with elastic loops that go around the ears, hand sanitizers.” New recruits are then asked to assemble and submit a written report of their observations at the store in question. These types of menial, meaningless tasks are a typical tactic of money mule recruitment schemes and they serve two main purposes: They separate out slackers from people who really need and want a job, and they help the employee feel like he’s doing something useful and legitimate (aside from just moving money around, which if brought up too soon might make him question whether the job is legit). Eventually, after successfully completing one or more of these busy work tasks, the new hire is asked to process a “donation” from someone who wants to help fight the Coronavirus outbreak: “Please read the instructions carefully. One donor wants to make donations to help fight the coronavirus. As you know, this is a big problem for most countries of the world. Every day we receive information from the World Health Organization that more and more people are sick. Quite a lot of people died from this virus. Some people simply don’t have enough funds to provide themselves with standard face masks and disinfectants to fight the virus.” “The donor requests that Bitcoins be bought with his funds. For this task, you need to create your Bitcoin wallet, or use the QR code that we send you in this letter. You will receive from the donor up to 3000 CAD. Your commission up to 150 CAD will be included in this amount to cover your expenses. I remind you that you do not need to use your funds to buy bitcoins. The funds will be sent to you. You will need to receive cash atm or at your bank branch.” What happens next is the employee then receives an electronic transfer of money into his bank account, is asked to withdraw the cash, and to keep 150 Canadian dollars for himself. He’s then instructed to take the remainder of the funds to a Bitcoin ATM and scan an emailed QR code with his mobile phone. This causes the cash he deposits into the Bitcoin ATM to be sent in an irreversible transaction to a Bitcoin wallet controlled by the scammers. What’s going on behind the scenes is the funds that get deposited in the employee’s account are invariably stolen from other hacked bank accounts, and the employee is merely helping the crooks launder the stolen money into a form of payment that can’t be reversed. Another boilerplate email intercepted by Hold Security shows Vasty’s new hires manager offering advice to employees who are asked by nosey bank employees about the nature of the funds withdrawal. “Important: If you receive any questions from the bank regarding the purpose of the payment, you can open part of the instructions if necessary and inform that these funds are intended for payment of medicines. In any case, it is a personal payment and it will not be taxed. However, I strongly recommend that you not divulge the rest of the instructions for paying for medicines against coronavirus so as not to aggravate panic among the population.” Americans shouldn’t feel left out of the scam: Hold Security founder Alex Holden says his analysts also intercepted a nearly identical set of scam templates targeting job seekers in the United States. Money mule scammers specialize in hacking employer accounts at job recruitment Web sites like Monster.com, Hotjobs.com and other popular employment search services. Armed with the employer accounts, the crooks are free to search through millions of resumes and reach out to people who are currently between jobs or seeking part-time employment. If you receive a job solicitation via email that sounds too-good-to-be-true, it probably is related in some way to one of these money-laundering schemes. Even if you can’t see the downside to you, someone is likely getting ripped off. Also, know that money mules — however unwitting — may find themselves in hot water with local police, and may be asked by their bank to pay back funds that were illegally transferred into the mules’ account. Overall, Holden said, established cybercriminals who specialize in recruiting and grooming money mules for financial crimes have been cooing of late over the potential glut of new mules. One mule vendor on a popular Russian-language crime forum posted Tuesday that his “drops” — the hacker slang term for money mules — weren’t scared of Coronavirus concerns. “We got drops in masks!,” one vendor proclaimed. “We continue to work despite the Coronavirus,” declared another drops vendor. Any readers interested in helping others affected by the Coronavirus outbreak should consider giving through the organization Vasty is impersonating here; Global Giving. Alternatively, these two stories link to a number of other reputable organizations facilitating Coronavirus relief efforts. Source: Coronavirus Widens the Money Mule Pool (KrebsOnSecurity - Brian Krebs)
  17. A fake coronavirus tracking app is actually ransomware A fake coronavirus tracking app is actually ransomware that threatens to leak social media accounts and delete a phone's storage unless a victim pays $100 in bitcoin The concerns surrounding the coronavirus outbreak are being exploited by hackers taking advantage of people's thirst for information. An Android app called "COVID19 Tracker" is just one example of ransomware that masks itself as a real-time coronavirus map tracker, according to researchers. If a user grants the app access to certain phone settings, the ransomware is enabled and locks the user ouf of their phone unless they pay $100 in bitcoin to the hackers within 48 hours. If the victim doesn't comply, the ransomware threatens to delete their phone's storage and leak social media accounts. The website that hosts the ransomware app appears to have been taken down. The app isn't found on the Google Play Store, where the risk of downloading malware is significantly lower. Unsurprisingly, people are turning to the internet to get up-to-the-minute information on the coronavirus outbreak, but the thirst for information during a pandemic is a perfect opportunity for hackers. It's also a good time to remind everyone that hackers are still hard at work, even during concerning times. An app called "COVID19 Tracker" masking itself as a coronavirus outbreak map tracker is actually ransomware that locks down your phone and demands you pay the hackers $100 in bitcoin within 48 hours, according to Chad Anderson and Tarik Saleh at internet security company DomainTools. Saleh's report from Friday shows that the app is designed for the Android operating system, and was listed to Android users searching the web for coronavirus tracking apps. To download the app, a user would have to go directly to the website where the app was hosted and download the app from there. The app was not available on the Google Play Store, according to Saleh. The website appears to have been taken down as of Monday afternoon, but it was still running on Monday morning. The site prompts visitors to download an app, saying, "for android users: to get real-time number of coronavirus cases based on your GPS location please download the mobile app version of the website and enable 'accurate reporting' for best experience." Business Insider isn't linking or posting the name of the site. Once opened, the app asks for access to your lock screen to give you "instant alerts when a coronavirus patient is near you." The app also asks for permission of an Android phone's accessibility settings for "active state monitoring." If an unsuspecting user grants these permissions to the app, ransomware dubbed "CovidLock" is enabled, and the screen changes to a ransom note, shown below: The note says: "Your phone is encrypted: You have 48 hours to pay 100$ [sic] in bitcoin or everything will be erased. 1. What will be deleted? your contacts, your pictures and videos, all social media accounts will be leaked publicly and the phone memory will be completely erased 2. How to save it? you need a decryption code that will disarm the app and unlock your data back as it was before 3. How to get the decryption code? you need to send 100$ [sic] in bitcoin to the adress [sic] below, click the button below to see the code Note: Your GPS is watched and your location is known, if you try anything stupid your phone will be automatically erased" At the end of the note is a text field where a victim is meant to enter the decryption code, and a button beneath the text field that says "Decrypt." Saleh notes that protections against this kind of attack in the Android operating system have been in place since Android 7 "Nougat" released in 2016, just as long as the user has set a password to unlock the phone. Without an unlocking password, users are still vulnerable to attacks like the CovidLock ransomware. Saleh said that the DomainTools security research team had reverse engineered the decryption key, and has released it publicly here so that victims could unlock their devices without paying the ransom. When asked whether the hackers could simply generate a new decryption key, DomainTools told Business Insider that the hackers would need to rewrite the malware and redeploy it, and a new key wouldn't affect anyone who has already downloaded the infected app. "That is one of the big flaws of CovidLock," DomainTools said. The company is also monitoring the hackers' bitcoin wallet and its activity, and DomainTools told Business Insider that no one has paid the ransom to the hackers as of yet, but the company is unsure of how many people have downloaded the app. DomainTools advises that people obtain information regarding COVID-19 from trusted sources like government and research institutions. It also suggests that people don't open emails or click links with health-related content, as miscreants are "trying to capitalize on fear." And finally, it advises Android users to download apps exlusively from the Google Play Store, where there is less risk of downloading malware. This isn't the first instance of malware apps masking themselves as coronavirus-related tracking apps. Last week, cybersecurity researchers identified several fake COVID-19 tracker maps that infect people's computers with malware when opened. Source
  18. ‘CovidLock’ Exploits Coronavirus Fears With Bitcoin Ransomware Opportunistic hackers are increasingly seeking to dupe victims using websites or applications purporting to provide information or services pertaining to coronavirus. Cybersecurity threat researchers, DomainTools, have identified that the website coronavirusapp.site facilitates the installation of a new ransomware called “CovidLock.” The website prompts its visitors to install an Android application that purportedly tracks updates regarding the spread of COVID-19, claiming to notify users when an individual infected with coronavirus is in their vicinity using heatmap visuals. CovidLock ransomware launches screen lock attack on unwitting victims Despite appearing to display certification from the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the website is a conduit for the ‘CovidLock’ ransomware — which launches a screen lock attack on unsuspecting users. Once installed, CovidLock alters the lock screen on the infected device and demands a payment of $100 worth of BTC in exchange for a password that will unlock the screen and return control of the device to the owner. If a victim does not pay the ransom within 48 hours, CovidLock threatens to erase all of the files that are stored on the phone — including contacts, pictures, and videos. The program displays a message intended to scare users into compliance with its demand, stating: “YOUR GPS IS WATCHED AND YOUR LOCATION IS KNOWN. IF YOU TRY ANYTHING STUPID YOUR PHONE WILL BE AUTOMATICALLY ERASED.” DomainTools claims to have reversed engineered the decryption keys for CovidLock, adding that they will publicly post the key. Coronavirus-themed website are 50% more likely to be malicious According to cyber threat analyst, Check Point, coronavirus-themed domains are 50% more likely to be a front for malicious actors than other websites. Since January 2020, the firm estimates that more than 4,000 domain names that relate to the coronavirus have been registered globally — 3% of which are deemed to be “malicious,” and 5% of which are described as “suspicious.” U.K. public lose $1 million to coronavirus scams On March 11, the U.K. Financial Conduct Authority warned of an increasing proliferation of coronavirus-themed scams - including investment scams fraudulently offering investments in crypto assets. According to the U.K. National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB), many malicious sites are offering maps and visualizations tracking the spread of coronavirus — much like CovidLock. An NFID representative stated: “They claim to be able to provide the recipient with a list of coronavirus infected people in their area. In order to access this information, the victim needs to click on a link, which leads to a malicious website, or is asked to make a payment in bitcoin.” The NFIB estimates that coronavirus-themed scams have already defrauded the British public out of roughly $1 million. Source
  19. Face masks are mandatory in at least two provinces in China, including the city of Wuhan. In an effort to contain the coronavirus strain that has caused nearly 500 deaths, the government is insisting that millions of residents wear protective face covering when they go out in public. As millions don masks across the country, the Chinese are discovering an unexpected consequence to covering their faces. It turns out that face masks trip up facial recognition-based functions, a technology necessary for many routine transactions in China. Suddenly, certain mobile phones, condominium doors, and bank accounts won’t unlock with a glance. Complaints are plentiful in the popular Chinese blogging platform Weibo, reports Abacus, the Hong Kong-based technology news outlet. “[I’ve] been wearing a mask everyday recently and I just want to throw away this phone with face unlock,” laments one user. “Fingerprint payment is still better,” writes another. “All I want is to pay and quickly run.” Most complaints are about unlocking mobile devices. Apple confirmed to Quartz that an unobstructed view of a user’s eyes, nose, and mouth is needed for FaceID to work properly. Similarly, Huawei says that its efforts to develop a feature that recognizes partially-covered faces has fallen short. “There are too few feature points for the eyes and the head so it’s impossible to ensure security,” explains Huawei vice president Bruce Lee, in a Jan 21 post on Weibo.”We gave up on facial unlock for mask or scarf wearing [users].” Subverting surveillance cameras Biometrics, including facial recognition, are essential to daily life in China, on a scale beyond other nations. It’s used to do everything from ordering fast food meals to scheduling medical appointments to boarding a plane in more than 200 airports across the country. Facial recognition is even used in restrooms to prevent an occupant from taking too much toilet paper. And beyond quotidian transactions, the technology is a linchpin in the Chinese government’s scheme to police its 1.4 billion citizens. Last December, the government passed a new law that forces anyone registering a new mobile phone SIM card to undergo a face scan, in the stated interest of protecting “the legitimate rights and interest of citizens in cyberspace,” as Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information puts it. The technology is also used in some schools, where a camera records student attendance and can offer predictions about behavior and level of engagement. Hong Kong’s government, incidentally, has been trying to install a “mask ban” for protestors participating in anti-government rallies. The anonymity afforded by surgical masks, gas masks, and respirators has somehow emboldened both police and demonstrators to act aggressively, without fear of being caught on camera. Facial recognition technology that can “see through” disguises already exists, but it’s far from perfect. Researchers at the University of Cambridge and India’s National Institute of Technology, for instance, demonstrated one method that could identify a person wearing a mask with around 55% accuracy. In 2018, Panasonic introduced commercially-available software that can ID people wearing surgical masks if the camera captures images at a certain angle. Despite its widespread adoption across China, it’s ironic that facial recognition technology in general has been found to be less reliable when processing non-white faces, observes Jessica Helfand, author of the new book Face: A Visual Odyssey. “The fact that surveillance is increasingly flawed with regard to facial recognition and Asian faces is a paradox made even more bizarre by the face mask thing,” Helfand says. A recent landmark study by the US National Institute of Standards and Technology revealed a racial bias in algorithms sold by Intel, Microsoft, Toshiba, Tencent, and DiDi Chuxing. It showed that that African Americans, Native Americans, and Asians were 10 to 100 times more likely to be misidentified compared to a Caucasian subject. Source
  20. Every movie delayed by coronavirus, from Black Widow to Fast 9 How coronavirus is affecting movies and TV so far (Image credit: Universal) As coronavirus panic spreads, entertainment companies are quickly changing course on releasing the year's biggest movies. Containing the virus and ensuring the safety of other people has to come first. Numerous industries have altered plans because of Covid-19 – MWC 2020 in Barcelona was canceled, and GDC and E3's cancellation mean gaming faces a quiet year for events. Movies, too, will be hit in much the same way. Cinemas are closing worldwide. In TV and film, the effects are accelerating, with movies like Fast and Furious 9, No Time To Die, A Quiet Place Part 2, and Peter Rabbit 2 all changing release dates to either later in 2020 or 2021. Mulan, Black Widow and The New Mutants have also been delayed for the time being, with no new release dates set by Disney just yet. This isn't just about release dates moving, though – TV show productions are shutting down as well, and in the coming months, we're only going to see more examples of this as coronavirus spreads. Here's a summary of how coronavirus has affected TV and movies so far, including every movie delayed by the effects of the virus to date. Movies delayed by coronavirus so far Movie release dates are dropping quickly, as the reality of reduced theater attendance is beginning to hit. No Time To Die's release date moved from April to November and A Quiet Place Part 2 has been delayed as well. Meanwhile, the less exciting Peter Rabbit 2 moved from March to August. The biggest move yet came with Fast and Furious 9, though, which will now release in April 2021, almost a year after its original May 22 release date. Next came word that Disney-distributed movies The New Mutants and Mulan are being delayed until a later, unknown date. Finally, May's Black Widow was delayed too. This is a developing situation, obviously, and the world could look very different in a few weeks. Theaters are communal spaces, more likely to be avoided for the time being to stop the spread of the virus. China, a massive market for blockbusters, is basically closed for business. China closed all of its 70,000+ theaters in late January. Source: Every movie delayed by coronavirus, from Black Widow to Fast 9 (TechRadar)
  21. What Coronavirus Isolation Could Do to Your Mind (and Body) Social distancing can lead to adverse psychological and physiological effects. But there are things you can do to maintain your overall health. Photograph: Klaus Vedfelt/Getty Images By now, you may have noticed a divide among your friends. As social distancing and self-imposed quarantine wear on and more workplaces urge employees to avoid the office, the Covid-19 outbreak has left many people more alone than they’ve been in a long time, or ever. Some are responding by hunkering down into cozy domesticity: baking bread, reading books, taking long baths. Others have begun to fray: FaceTiming with friends is a necessity, not a luxury; the closure of a favorite coffee shop is cause for tears; the walls seem to be closing in. Be kind to your local extroverts. They’re having a hard time. Still, no matter how hygge you’re feeling at this moment, experts suggest that the negative feelings and experiences associated with prolonged isolation will come for us all. Humans are social creatures—yes, all of us. While the coronavirus pandemic is an extreme, largely unprecedented moment, the kind of seclusion that’s been eating at people over the last few weeks is not as uncommon an experience as you might imagine. The impacts of social isolation on our bodies and minds have been felt and studied in a variety of different groups, from astronauts to incarcerated people to immunocompromised children to Antarctic researchers to the elderly. The patterns that have emerged from their experiences with radical aloneness illuminate ways to understand and improve your own. First off, it’s important to remember that isolation doesn’t just numb your brain with boredom. “People start getting lethargic when they don’t have positive inputs into their small worlds,” says John Vincent, a clinical psychologist at the University of Houston. “We can expect depression to kick in, and depression and anxiety are kissing cousins.” These symptoms are likely to be particularly intense during coronavirus-related isolation, according to Lawrence Palinkas, who researches psychosocial adaptation to extreme environments at the University of Southern California. “Oftentimes, if you have a very well defined period of time in which you’re isolated people do pretty well up until the halfway point,” Palinkas says. “Then they experience a let down. But when you’re in a situation like we are now, when you’re not certain how long you’ll be asked to maintain social distance, that produces anxiety as well.” When people, like those kept in solitary confinement or scientists working in a remote region, know their sentence is nearly up, their mood lifts again in anticipation. Those practicing social distancing due to Covid-19 may not get that any time soon. “Open, transparent, consistent communication is the most important thing governments and organizations can do: Make sure people understand why they are being quarantined first and foremost, how long it is expected to last,” says Samantha Brooks, who has studied the psychological impact of quarantine at King’s College London. “A huge factor in the negative psychological impact seems to be confusion about what's going on, not having clear guidelines, or getting different messages from different organizations.” So far, many governments, including the United States’, haven’t been heeding this advice. Perhaps even more concerning is that the psychological strain of loneliness manifests physiologically, too. Harry Taylor, who studies social isolation in older adults, particularly in the black community, says that it’s one of the worst things that humans can do to their overall well-being, adding that “the mortality effect of social isolation is like smoking 15 cigarettes per day.” In older people, social isolation seems to exacerbate any preexisting medical conditions, from cardiovascular diseases to Alzheimer’s, but its ill effects aren’t limited to those over 60. Alexander Chouker, a physician researcher who studies stress immunology at the University of Munich, has seen radical changes in the bodies of people participating in simulations of manned spaceflight missions like Mars-500. “They were young and trained people not in a condition of real threat,” he says. “The pure fact of being confined affects the body. If you change your environment in a quite extreme way, it is changing you.” Participants, some of whom were only isolated for three months, experienced changes to their sleep, changes to their immune, endocrine, and neurocognitive systems, and alterations to their metabolisms. “Being confined and isolated affects the human physiology as a whole,” Chouker says. Does this mean your body will go wonky like an astronaut trapped on fake Mars for over a year? Not necessarily. You probably aren’t truly socially isolated, at least not to that extreme degree. And even those who study the negative consequences of social isolation still think practicing social distancing is a good idea. “Covid-19 is flipping everything on its head,” Taylor says. “This is the first time since we have been alive that actively practicing social isolation is a method to improve health.” The people who are most at risk from the isolation associated with Covid-19 are the people who are at heightened risk of social isolation in the first place. “Among older adults, lower income people and men experience isolation at a different level,” says Thomas Cudjoe, a geriatrician researching the intersection of social connections and aging at Johns Hopkins University. (In both cases, Cudjoe says that a lack of time or inclination to develop social ties outside of work creates the disparity between those groups and their female or higher income counterparts.) Taylor points out that anyone who is marginalized is more likely to have a more limited social network, whether they are a member of the LGBTQ+ community, a survivor of domestic abuse, or just live in a more isolated rural area. These people may not have friends or family to call, or may be unable to do so. “Some people have posited technology as a means of connecting people, but lower income groups might not even have FaceTime or Skype or minutes on their phone,” Cudjoe says. “People take that for granted, using their devices can be a strain on people’s incomes.” Particularly if Covid-19 has left them out of a job. “Minority bodies are going to be hit particularly hard because they often work in service industries, which increases risk for social isolation and loneliness and coronavirus,” says Taylor. “It could create an economic and social recession.” No matter what your unique situation is, there are many things you can do to improve your experience while being socially isolated. Chouker and others recommend exercise as a mood boost. “Create as much structure and predictability as you can with the pieces of your life that you do have control over,” Vincent says. Pursue neglected projects, get on with life, but also be patient with yourself—both now and when this strange time eventually ends. People who go through a period of isolation, whether they’ve been on the International Space Station or in quarantine, often experience PTSD symptoms and struggle while reintegrating back into their ordinary routine. Social isolation may gradually become your normal, and losing it may still be a jolt. Fortunately, you’re not in this alone, and you shouldn’t leave others that way, either. “For the general public who are not isolated, think about those people who were in your network that you haven’t heard from in a while, and give them a call or write a letter,” Cudjoe says. “Strengthen those weak connections.” With any luck, you’ll emerge from social distancing a whole lot closer. WIRED is providing unlimited free access to stories about the coronavirus pandemic. Sign up for our Coronavirus Update to get the latest in your inbox. Source: What Coronavirus Isolation Could Do to Your Mind (and Body)
  22. Coronavirus: Advice from an epidemiologist Some coronavirus advice I've gleaned from folks who've worked in or studied other epidemics. Please take seriously and pass on to family and friends... 1. Many countries like UK are currently in containment phase. But likely at some point infection will start spreading via local transmission. At that point, top priority is to slow the spread, and what we do as individuals and communities will be critical. 2. Fortunately risk of serious illness is low, especially for children. But risk is higher for elderly and people with existing health conditions. Everything we can do to slow the spread will help protect people at higher risk, and less people overall will get infected. 3. There are practical things everyone can do to reduce the risk of getting infected. These need practice, so start doing them now. You may still get infected, but it is worth really trying to avoid infection, because the more we slow spread the better. Slow the spread, buy time. 4. Stop touching your face. Especially stop touching your eyes, nose or mouth. This is much much harder than it sounds, and takes practice. But if you start practising now, you will quickly get a lot better at it. 5. Wash your hands often. Wash with soap and water for 20 seconds, or rub hands with alcohol hand gel. Especially wash hands before eating or touching food. 6. If you or a friend or family member takes any prescription medication, make sure you have a good supply, e.g., at least 4 weeks worth. 7. Don't panic buy enough food to survive a zombie apocalypse. But do buy a few extra provisions. Do it a bit at a time, add a few extra things in when you normally go shopping. Have 2 weeks worth of provisions, including some chocolate or other treats. Don't forget about pets. 8. When local transmission does start, keep your distance from people, at least 2 metres. Especially people showing symptoms, but some people may carry the virus and transmit without symptoms, so generally keep some distance where you can. Stop shaking hands etc. 9. While a mask seems like a good idea, it can give a false sense of security. There isn’t a lot of good evidence that shows a mask to reliably prevent infection when worn by the public. But they are useful to put on a sick person to reduce their spreading of the virus. 10. If you or a loved one becomes sick, follow the practices of the day. Call ahead before going to a Doctor, fever clinic or hospital and get advice on what to do. Think through now how to take care of sick family members while trying not to get infected. 11. Talk things through with friends and family. Be prepared that some people will be very willing to talk about it, others may be reluctant or frightened. But general advice is that it's a good way to prepare emotionally for life not as usual. 12. Unfortunately it doesn't look like this will be over quickly. The new coronavirus may be with us into next year. It might even become a seasonal infection, returning each winter. This is probably going to be a marathon, not a sprint. 13. If you end up stuck at home for a couple of weeks, don't forget about skype/facetime/google hangouts/etc., a great way to catch up, check in and hang out with friends and family. 14. If you manage a business or organisation, cross-train key staff at work so one person’s absence won’t derail our organisation’s ability to function. Some good further reading: So you think you're about to be in a pandemic? by Ian M Mackay, PhD and Katherine E Arden PhD The severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2 [1]) has spread to over 30 countries and regions outside mainland China. Currently, dise… https://virologydownunder.com/so-you-think-youve-about-to-be-in-a-pandemic/ Past Time to Tell the Public: “It Will Probably Go Pandemic, and We Should All Prepare Now” by Jody Lanard and Peter M. Sandman NOTE FROM IAN: The expert risk communication team of Lanard and Sandman has given me permission to post their very well-considered reply to my question of them jus… https://virologydownunder.com/past-time-to-tell-the-public-it-will-probably-go-pandemic-and-we-should-all-prepare-now/ The Wuhan Virus: How to Stay Safe As China’s epidemic continues to spread, things may seem scary. Here are 10 simple precautions that can protect you from contracting the coronavirus. https://foreignpolicy.com/2020/01/25/wuhan-coronavirus-safety-china/ Some good people to follow: @PHE_uk @CDCgov @WHO @DrTedros @kakape @HelenBranswell @MackayIM @JeremyFarrar @mlipsitch @BillHanage @Laurie_Garrett @ChristoPhraser @neil_ferguson Adding one more... 15. If you know someone who works in healthcare, reach out and say hi, and thank you. Source: https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1232693018295250946.html (Alistair Miles @alimanfoo )
  23. What are contact-tracing apps and how will they help you? Three systems, one goal (Image credit: Shutterstock) One thing that’s come out of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic is the development of a new type of app. These are known as contact-tracing apps, and you’ve likely heard of them. The name gives you the core idea of what these apps do – essentially allowing users to identify if they may have been in contact with someone infected with the coronavirus. However, while a number of countries around the world are planning to start using contact-tracing apps (and in some cases already have started), the exact apps and systems vary from place to place. Below then, we’ll give you an overview of the solutions being worked on for the US, UK, and Australia. But first though, here’s a closer look at what exactly contact-tracing apps do. What do contact-tracing apps do? Contact-tracing isn’t a new idea. All it really means is attempting to identify people that may have contracted a specific illness, usually by asking someone who’s known to have it where they’ve been and who they’ve been in contact with. But with Covid-19 the scale of the challenge is much greater than normal, given how many people already have it and how easily it spreads. So rather than questioning individuals, contact-tracing apps are being designed to automate the legwork. These would run in the background on your phone, tracking where you’ve been and who you’ve been in contact with. If someone you’ve been in contact with tests positive for Covid-19 (and enters that data into the app), then the app would alert you to this, so you would know to self-isolate or get tested yourself. It’s a method then of not just tracking who already has Covid-19, but of potentially getting countries safely up and running again while we wait for a vaccine. Though of course how effective it is depends not just on the technology of each specific contact-tracing app, but also on how many people have the relevant app running on their phones. Contact-tracing in the US The main contact-tracing app used in the US is likely to be a joint venture from Apple and Google, so of course the same app would work on both iOS and Android. Powered by Bluetooth, the app would exchange anonymous ‘beacon keys’ with everyone you come in contact with (assuming they’re also using the app). Then, if someone tests positive for Covid-19, they’re able to log this with the contact-tracing app, and it would alert those who the person came in contact with that they’d been exposed to the virus. The alert may not come until days later, as the infected person may not have initially known they were infected, and the contract tracing app only ‘periodically’ downloads the beacon keys of everyone who has tested positive in a user’s region. Importantly, these keys are anonymous – so if you get an alert that you’ve been in contact with someone infected, you won’t know who, when or where. But that’s okay, because if most people are running the app then everyone relevant will be alerted anyway. Users would also need to give consent for the app to share the fact that they’ve been diagnosed with Covid-19 (even though it’s kept anonymous). (Image credit: Apple / Google) (Image credit: Apple / Google) The system doesn’t sound like it’s without its problems though. For one thing, it requires Bluetooth Low Energy to function, which could count out as many as two billion phones across the world. Its focus on privacy meanwhile could hamper its effectiveness. Aside from requiring people to opt in, the fact that it doesn’t use location data could also limit the ability to identify coronavirus hotspots and map viral transmissions. As such, there are rival apps in the works. Utah for example is working on a contact-tracing app called Healthy Together, which uses GPS and location data as well as Bluetooth. Note that the Apple/Google app doesn’t have a name as such yet. In fact, it’s not likely to be a single app. Rather the tech could be integrated into an app for each country that chooses to use it. The actual app could vary from country to country, but the two tech giants have said they will limit the system’s use to one app per country, except where there’s a federated system in place, such as the United States. So the app you have access to may end up depending on what state you’re in, and in some cases – as with Healthy Together – you might not be using Google and Apple’s system at all. Contact-tracing in the UK While the Apple/Google initiative being used in the US would have been an option for the UK, the NHS has decided to go in a different direction, using an app developed by the NHSX (the NHS’s digital division). This decision seems to have been made because the NHS favors a centralized rather than decentralized system, the difference being that whereas a decentralized system carries everything out with users’ smartphones, a centralized one uses a computer server to work out who to send alerts to. There’s no official name for the app at the time of writing, but it in some ways sounds similar to the Apple/Google model, in that it’s powered by Bluetooth, allowing it to log when you come in contact with anyone else using the app. The NHS is opting for a centralized database (Image credit: Shutterstock) Then, if someone using the app gets diagnosed with Covid-19 or reports that they have symptoms, you’ll be sent an alert saying you were in contact with a potentially infected person. This alert may come days later, however, if they only got a diagnosis a while after you came in contact. As with the Apple/Google contact-tracing system, this would all be anonymous – you wouldn’t know who the infected person was, just that someone you crossed paths with was diagnosed or had symptoms. However, using a centralized system means the data is potentially more vulnerable to being mishandled by authorities, or accessed by hackers. On the other hand, in a conversation with the BBC, the NHS argued that having a centralized system makes it easier to audit the system and adapt it quickly based on the latest scientific evidence. Another downside to this system is that the NHS’s app will need to wake up every time your phone detects another device running the app, which shouldn’t be required on Apple and Google’s system. It’s a difference which will likely mean the NHS app uses more of your phone’s battery. Contact-tracing in Australia Unlike the US and UK, which are still developing and trialing their apps and systems at the time of writing, Australia has fully launched its coronavirus contact-tracing app. The app is called CovidSafe, and it’s available for those in Australia to download from the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store. Doing so isn’t mandatory, but the more people who use it the more effective it will be. (Image credit: Australian Department of Health) To set up the CovidSafe app you’ll be asked for your name (or a pseudonym), your phone number, age range, and post code, all of which will be stored on an encrypted government server. Then, the app will work much like most other contact-tracing apps – it will use Bluetooth to automatically (and anonymously) log other app users that you’re in contact with, the data from which stays on your phone unless you come into contact with someone infected. If someone is infected with Covid-19, and they consent to share this with the app, it will then send anonymized ID’s of everyone they’ve been in contact with for the last 14 days to the government’s secure server, allowing the relevant health officials to get in touch with affected people. Having a centralized database like this comes with privacy and security concerns, but the app doesn’t track location, and the Australian government has assured citizens that the data can only be accessed by relevant health officials, and only for contact-tracing. Source: What are contact-tracing apps and how will they help you? (TechRadar)
  24. How coronavirus is affecting TV and movies so far, from Tom Hanks to Fast 9 Coronavirus is causing numerous delays in entertainment (Image credit: Universal) The world around us is changing quickly right now, as the coronavirus pandemic spreads across the planet. Containing the virus and ensuring the safety of other people has to come first. Numerous industries have changed course because of Covid-19 – MWC 2020 in Barcelona was canceled, and GDC and E3's cancellation mean gaming faces a quiet year for events. In TV and film, the effects are now becoming more and more obvious, with movies like Fast and Furious 9, No Time To Die, A Quiet Place Part 2 and Peter Rabbit 2 all changing release dates to either later in 2020 or 2021. This is sure to have a painful effect on theater businesses. This isn't just about release dates moving, though – it's starting to affect the production of TV and film, as you'd expect. Tom Hanks is the highest-profile celebrity to test positive for coronavirus so far, and he was diagnosed as he was filming an Elvis biopic in Australia – that's now on hold, as you'd expect. TV show productions are shutting down as well, and in the coming months, we're only going to see more examples of this as coronavirus spreads. Here's a summary of how coronavirus has affected TV and movies so far. Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson have coronavirus and are in self-isolation Actor Tom Hanks posted the update above from Australia on March 12, revealing he and wife Rita Wilson tested positive for coronavirus. "To play things right, as is needed in the world right now, we were tested for the coronavirus, and were found to be positive," Hanks said, adding that he'll keep people updated on his progress. Hanks was filming an Elvis Presley biopic directed by Baz Luhrmann (The Great Gatsby), and Warner Bros told Indiewire that filming has been put on hold for now. No Time To Die, A Quiet Place 2, Fast and Furious 9 and Peter Rabbit 2 are all delayed by coronavirus Movie release dates are dropping quickly, as the reality of reduced theater attendance is beginning to hit. No Time To Die's release date moved from April to November and A Quiet Place Part 2 has been delayed as well. Meanwhile, the less exciting Peter Rabbit 2 moved from March to August. The biggest move yet came with Fast and Furious 9, though, which will now release in April 2021, almost a year after its original May 22 release date. No word on Black Widow moving yet – its final trailer released earlier this week, and said it's still coming out in early May. This is a developing situation, obviously, and the world could look very different in a few weeks. Theaters are communal spaces, more likely to be avoided for the time being to stop the spread of the virus. China, a massive market for blockbusters, is basically closed for business. China closed all of its 70,000+ theaters in late January. This means numerous movies like Sonic the Hedgehog just can't release in the market – and Mulan, scheduled for March 27, is surely at risk. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier halted filming in Prague (Image credit: Disney/Marvel Studios) Disney Plus series The Falcon and the Winter Soldier was filming in Prague this week, but production has been halted according to a Deadline report, with cast and crew recalled back to Atlanta. The show debuts in August, and there's been no indication it'll affect the release date. Actor Sebastian Stan reacted to the move on Instagram. "We've been shooting The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and experiencing one of the most beautiful cities in the world filled with the most wonderful and welcoming people. Now we are being sent home. Too soon. Prague, you’re gonna be in my thoughts for a long time. Thank you. Will be back. Thinking of you." Sports events are being critically hit by coronavirus Expect more to be canceled or delayed, but next week's Manchester City vs Real Madrid Champions League tie has been postponed, after the Real Madrid squad went into quarantine over coronavirus concerns. Juventus vs Lyon has also been delayed. The UK government is considering banning sporting fixtures altogether, according to the BBC. The NBA season has been suspended. The NFL, though, has said it won't delay the start of the league on March 18. Football/soccer leagues in Italy, Portugal, Spain, the USA and the Netherlands have been suspended (for 30 days, in the case of the MLS). The Australian GP has been 'called off' according to the BBC, and tennis tournament ATP has been bumped back by six weeks. Expect the cancelations to keep stacking up. Numerous productions have been put on hold, including Mission Impossible 7 Production of The CW teen drama Riverdale has been temporarily put on hold, as one of its 'team members' is being tested for coronavirus. EW reported that US reality show Survivor has delayed production as well, which joins fellow long-running reality series The Amazing Race in being put on hold. Filming on Mission Impossible 7 in Venice, Italy was stopped in late February. The Grand Tour will probably be delayed The next episode of The Grand Tour season 4 is imminent, but there might be a longer wait after that. Host Jeremy Clarkson has suggested on Twitter that the virus is holding up filming on more specials, which require international travel. Source: How coronavirus is affecting TV and movies so far, from Tom Hanks to Fast 9 (TechRadar)
  25. Tickler

    CoronaVirus: News and Updates

    The coronavirus has infected more than 1,700 healthcare workers in China, killing 6 of them As of Friday, 1,716 healthcare workers who were treating patients in China have been infected. Six are dead, National Health Commission Vice Minister Zeng Yixin said at a news conference, according to Reuters. A nurse wrote on Weibo that she is among almost 150 people who work at Wuhan Central Hospital and have either been infected or are suspected to have the coronavirus, CNN found. The nurse added that she holds her breath when her fellow healthcare workers enter the room to check on her, saying, “I’m afraid the virus inside my body will come out and infect these colleagues who are still standing fast on the frontline.” Of the infected medical workers, 1,102 are located in Wuhan alone, and another 400 became ill elsewhere in the Hubei province. Wuhan was the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak in December and the threat level skyrocketed for multiple reasons, including a shortage of medical resources to handle the deluge of highly contagious patients.
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