What you need to know about coronavirus right now


(Reuters) – Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:

FILE PHOTO: The ultrastructural morphology exhibited by the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV), which was identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China, is seen in an illustration released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S. January 29, 2020. Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAM/CDC/Handout via REUTERS/File Photo

Shelter from the financial storm

The numbers have been staggering: $15 trillion wiped off stock markets, airlines have had half their value vaporized and cratering economies risk a new wave of government debt crises.

So where are the places to park your money?

Sit-on-your-sofa-suited stocks like Netflix and Amazon have risen and some specialized medical equipment companies have surged. Ultra-safe U.S. government bonds too appear a safe harbor, returning 13% as the Fed cut U.S. interest rates to effectively zero.

Though the cavalry has arrived in the G20 promise of a $5 trillion revival effort, it’s unlikely that April will bring much relief.

“Our expectation is for a very volatile second quarter,” Stephane Monier, chief investment officer of Lombard Odier, said. “It is important to keep in liquid, high-quality assets.”

‘Blind luck’: South Korea practiced an emergency response to fictional pneumonia outbreak in December

According to an undisclosed government document seen by Reuters, two dozen leading South Korean infectious diseases specialists tackled a worrying scenario in a tabletop exercise on emergency responses on Dec. 17: a South Korean family contracts pneumonia after a trip to China, where cases of an unidentified disease had arisen.

This led the team of experts at the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) to develop an algorithm to find the pathogen and its origin, as well as to test techniques.

Those measures were mobilized in real life when a first suspected coronavirus patient appeared in South Korea on Jan. 20, the document said.

“It was blind luck – we were speechless to see the scenario become reality,” said Lee Sang-won, one of the KCDC experts who led the drill. “But the exercise helped us save much time developing testing methodology and identifying cases.”

(Coronavirus knowns and unknowns: click reut.rs/2UHIgvz to have some of your basic questions answered.)

The spread

There are over 720,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus worldwide, with more than 57,000 cases added in the last 24 hours across 202 countries and territories.

The United States reported over 18,000 new cases in the past day, roughly a third of all new cases. North America now accounts for 20% of all cases, and Europe 53%, though fatality rates in the latter are much higher than in the United States.

There were 3,208 deaths reported in the last day, bringing the total number of fatalities to 34,000.

The global average fatality rate of the disease remains high at around 4.7%, though that figure is expected to drop as testing widens. Countries with unusually high fatality rates include Italy, where around 11% of reported cases have been fatal, and Spain, where 8% of cases have been fatal.

China continues to report low numbers of new cases, with just 31 new infections on Sunday and only one locally contracted case. The country closed its borders to foreign passport holders on Saturday.

Globally, over 145,000 cases have been reportedly cured, around 20%. The recovery rate has reached 92.5% in China where the virus peaked over a month ago.

(To see an interactive graphic tracking the global spread of coronavirus: open tmsnrt.rs/3aIRuz7 in an external browser.)

Acceptable distance = length of hockey stick, sturgeon or big llama.

Two meters (6 feet, 6 inches) of separation is seen as critical to preventing transmission of the coronavirus, but with few people carrying tape measures, rules of thumb have become important.

The City of Toronto posted signs in parks last week urging residents to stay one hockey stick apart.

In nature-loving Oregon, standing back about “one mature white sturgeon” should do the trick, the U.S. state’s fish and wildlife department wrote on Twitter, while the City of Calgary, Alberta, suggested a “big llama.”

Even a large llama’s length may not work, though. A study from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology concluded coughs and sneezes can generate clouds of viral droplets of seven to eight meters.

That’s roughly four hockey sticks.

Reporting by Cate Cadell; Compiled by Karishma Singh



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