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New coronavirus from China: 1

Although it may be impossible to do because the news is changing so rapidly about this virus, I will, however try to do frequent updates to let you all know what’s happening as far as we can tell.

So, just to let you know, I’ve been reading about this virus for weeks, ever since the first reports came out about a new seemingly virus-linked infection hitting some people in Wuhan, China.

And for weeks, the news was good, or at least indicated that there wasn’t much to worry about, because the people feeding stories from Wuhan and other parts of China were pretty upbeat about the chances of containing this outbreak.

How wrong we were to believe that.

I mean, you would have thought that with the example of the SARS outbreak so recent in their minds, Chinese authorities, both the low-level local suck-up mandarins but especially the higher-ups, would have learned that you can’t hide this stuff, that if it’s actually worse than they are admitting to, better to get the news out as soon as possible so that the rest of the world can help and respond.

But clearly they haven’t learned a thing.

So while for weeks, the health authorities both in Wuhan and centrally in Peking, kept insisting that there was no evidence of person-to-person transmission of this infection, they finally did admit this week that 14 health care workers have been diagnosed with this virus, and you don’t have to know anything about infections to figure out that most of those workers, probably all, got infected by a person who passed it to them, and that many of them have been infected for a while.

And I am willing to betyou my mortgage that the authorities knew about this for weeks but obfuscated with arguments like “Well, we needed to confirm this possibility with a blood test and hey, it takes time to do a blood test on a new virus”, which is a bigger load of crap than the one being peddled by Trump’s lawyers.

Anyway, the bottom line is that no thinking person should trust that the Chinese authorities are being any more forthright than they are forced to be so who really knows what’s going on in China at this moment (the authorities have even attempted to stop social media from commenting on the state of things, and of course, with such a heavily-censored society, they have managed to do a good job of that although thankfully, not entirely) but we do know at least that they have stampeded into full gear in trying to limit the spread of the virus within their borders, so I suppose that’s a bit of good news (although I do worry about the human rights abuses that will be undoubtedly visited on Chinese citizens as a consequence).

So where are we with this today?

We do know it’s a SARS-like virus that’s the cause of this outbreak, we do know that the virus originated in a huge food market in Wuhan, we do know that although it started as an animal virus (most likely, it seems from bats and snakes passing the virus to humans) and we do know that the virus is clearly now transmittable human-to-human.

But we are still unsure – in fact, we have very little useful knowledge about several crucial questions, including these: How easily does this virus pass from an infected person to others in the vicinity? Are there super-spreaders who can much more easily than others spread the infection to many people? How many people who were infected had only mild symptoms? How many had no symptoms? Is the virus mutating quickly? If it is, is it getting more virulent? Less virulent? What is the incubation period? Can it be prevented with wearing the typical readily-available masks that have become so prevalent in pictures from China (I doubt that very much, BTW)?

And many, many others.

This kind of info will necessarily steadily seep out of China, and the sooner we learn some of these things, the better for all of us.