(TMU) — A senior scientist who participated in a simulation of the global impact of a coronavirus outbreak has stated that “the cat is out of the bag” when it comes to the virus and that China is unlikely to contain its spread.
Eric Toner, Senior Scholar with the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security and Senior Scientist in the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Department of Environmental Health and Engineering, said during an interview with CNBC that China’s efforts to contain the current outbreak of the rapidly spreading upper-respiratory illness known as 2019-nCoV are “unlikely to be effective.”
Three months ago Toner, along with the World Economic Forum and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, took part in a simulation called Event 201 centered around a fictional coronavirus (not 2019-nCoV) named CAPS that could potentially kill hundreds of millions of people under the right circumstances.
Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security recently issued a statement about Event 201:
“Recently, the Center for Health Security has received questions about whether that pandemic exercise predicted the current novel coronavirus outbreak in China. To be clear, the Center for Health Security and partners did not make a prediction during our tabletop exercise. For the scenario, we modeled a fictional coronavirus pandemic, but we explicitly stated that it was not a prediction.”
The World Health Organization (WHO) has declined to call the situation a global emergency at this time. However, the Geneva-based organization stated that it considers China’s current situation a health emergency. As of Sunday night WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus was on his way to Beijing to “strengthen our partnership” with China “in providing further protection against the outbreak,” according to Reuters.
Toner stated during the CNBC interview that he believed it was a mistake for the World Health Organization to not issue a global public health emergency. He went on to describe the threat from his point of view, expressing that the point of their exercise wasn’t just to estimate death toll but to showcase the potential consequences on society and the global economy.
Toner asserted China has participated in the “largest effort ever to contain a city.“ However, the doctor also said, “I don’t think it’s likely to be effective, as people have already escaped.” Wuhan’s mayor Zhou Xianwang revealed on Sunday that he was correct. During a press conference, the mayor stated that an estimated 5 million residents had already left the city due to the virus outbreak and Chinese New Year celebrations.
China has so far quarantined at least 50 million people as TMU reported over the weekend. The country has also locked-down much of its transportation system within cities barring citizens from traveling in an attempt to control the virus spread.
According to reports on Twitter, U.S. residents are being evacuated on a flight today from Wuhan.
Lots of things going on right now. People are getting calls confirming their spot on the plane! Unfortunately there is zero solution provided for transportation. All public transport is closed, and people won’t venture out to give you a lift. #wuhan #coronavirus
— ℂ𝕒𝕗𝕗𝕖𝕚𝕟𝕖 𝕒𝕟𝕕 ℂ𝕙𝕒𝕠𝕤 (@plantsNbabes) January 27, 2020
China’s latest announcement puts the totals at 82 dead from the virus and nearly 3,000 people infected. However, according to Prof. Neil Ferguson, a public health expert at Imperial College, the true number is likely closer to 100,000 affected by the virus. On Monday University of Hong Kong academics estimated that 43,590 people were infected in Wuhan as of Saturday, according to the South China Morning Post.
According to the Daily Mail, a report written by researchers from England, Scotland, and Florida believe that up to 350,000 people could potentially be infected in Wuhan by the beginning of February.
On Sunday, the minister in charge of China’s National Health Commission (NHC), Ma Xiaowei, admitted that battling the outbreak had become difficult after it was discovered that the new virus could be transmitted even during the incubation period, which separates the virus from SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) which lacked that trait.
The virus’ incubation period allowing infection may be what makes the virus more dangerous than most in its family. Ma explained, “From observations, the virus is capable of transmission even during incubation period.” He indicated that the incubation period lasted from one to 14 days. “Some patients have normal temperatures and there are many milder cases. There are hidden carriers.”
Ma added that upwards to 2,360 military and civilian doctors and nurses had been sent to Wuhan from Beijing to combat the virus.
In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced over the weekend that there are now five confirmed cases in the U.S with a new case in Arizona. The CDC issued mixed messages on Sunday, first stating coronavirus is an “emerging public threat” that is “serious” and later contradicting itself by saying it was a “low” threat to the U.S. population at this time.
CDC says coronavirus is not spreading in the U.S. at this time, which means the threat to the U.S. population is "low at this time" https://t.co/hSjr1uHLLa
— BNO Newsroom (@BNODesk) January 26, 2020
Thus far deaths have only been reported in China, but that could change quickly as the Chinese government admitted on Sunday that the virus is “strengthening.” Scientists have estimated the virus has a reproduction (R0) rate of between 2.5 and 3.8 according to Dr. Eric Feigl-Ding a public health scientist who taught 15 years at Harvard and an NYT-featured pharma whistleblower.
UPDATE: Transmission of #coronoavirus estimated at 2.6 by another research group (lower than the 3.8 initial reports). But 2.6 is still extremely bad —each infected person will infect 2.6 others. Even the authors admit #CoronaOutbreak containment will be very difficult. Thread: pic.twitter.com/Gg2vyIevL4
— Eric Feigl-Ding (@DrEricDing) January 25, 2020
Symptoms include fever, cough, shortness of breath, and breathing difficulties. However, according to Chinese state media some are not experiencing any of these symptoms and are instead experiencing nausea, diarrhea, tiredness, bad concentration, headache, irregular heartbeat, chest pain, cornea inflammation, and muscular pains in the limbs, back, and waist.
U.S President Donald Trump tweeted Monday morning that the U.S. is “in very close communication with China concerning the virus.”
We are in very close communication with China concerning the virus. Very few cases reported in USA, but strongly on watch. We have offered China and President Xi any help that is necessary. Our experts are extraordinary!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 27, 2020
UPDATE 5:15pm EST — On Monday, the WHO “admitted an error” in assessing the risk of the coronavirus. A Sunday night situation report listed the risk as “very high in China, high at the regional level and high at the global level,” according to the AFP. The WHO admits that the agency “incorrectly” listed the global risk as moderate in reports on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.
Dolphin Swims Through Louisiana Neighborhood in Aftermath of Hurricane Ida
A Louisiana family was shocked to find a dolphin swimming through their neighborhood in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida.
Amanda Huling and her family were assessing the damage to their neighborhood in Slidell, Louisiana, when they noticed the dolphin swimming through the inundated suburban landscape.
In video shot by Huling, the marine mammal’s dorsal fin can be seen emerging from the water.
“The dolphin was still there as of last night but I am in contact with an organization who is going to be rescuing it within the next few days if it is still there,” Huling told FOX 35.
Ida slammed into the coast of Louisiana this past weekend. The Category 4 hurricane ravaged the power grid of the region, plunging residents of New Orleans and upwards of 1 million homes and businesses in Louisiana and Mississippi into the dark for an indefinite period of time.
Officials have warned that the damage has been so extensive that it could take weeks to repair the power grid, reports Associated Press.
Also in Slidell, a 71-year-old man was attacked by an alligator over the weekend while he was in his flooded shed. The man went missing and is assumed dead, reports WDSU.
Internet users began growing weary last year about the steady stream of stories belonging to a “nature is healing” genre, as people stayed indoors and stories emerged about animals taking back their environs be it in the sea or in our suburbs.
However, these latest events are the surreal realities of a world in which extreme weather events are fast becoming the new normal – disrupting our lives in sometimes predictable, and occasionally shocking and surreal, ways.
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Mom in LA Suburbs Fights Off Mountain Lion With Bare Hands, Rescues 5-Year-Old Son
A mother in Southern California is being hailed as a hero after rescuing her five-year-old son from an attacking mountain lion.
The little boy was playing outside his home in Calabasas, a city lying west of Los Angeles in the Santa Monica Mountains, when the large cat pounced on him.
The 65-pound (30 kg) mountain lion dragged the boy about 45 yards across the front lawn before the mother acted fast, running out and striking the creature with her bare hands and forcing it to free her son.
“The true hero of this story is his mom because she absolutely saved her son’s life,” California Department of Fish and Wildlife spokesman Captain Patrick Foy told Associated Press on Saturday.
“She ran out of the house and started punching and striking the mountain lion with her bare hands and got him off her son,” Foy added.
The boy sustained significant injuries to his head, neck and upper torso, but is now in stable condition at a hospital in Los Angeles, according to authorities.
The mountain lion was later located and killed by an officer with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, who found the big cat crouching in the bushes with its “ears back and hissing” at the officer shortly after he arrived at the property.
“Due to its behavior and proximity to the attack, the warden believed it was likely the attacking lion and to protect public safety shot and killed it on sight,” the wildlife department noted in its statement.
The mountain lion attack is the first such attack on a human in Los Angeles County since 1995, according to Fish and Wildlife.
The Santa Monica Mountains is a biodiverse region teeming with wildlife such as large raptors, mountain lions, bears, coyote, deer, lizards, and snakes. However, their numbers have rapidly faded in recent years, causing local wildlife authorities to find new ways to manage the region’s endemic species.
Video Shows Taliban Taking Joyride in Captured US Blackhawk Helicopter
The rapid fall of Kabul to the Taliban has resulted in a number of surreal sights – from footage of the Islamist group’s fighters exercising at a presidential gym to clips of combatants having a great time on bumper cars at the local fun park.
However, a new video of Taliban members seemingly testing their skills in the cockpit of a commandeered UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter shows the chilling extent to which U.S. wares have fallen into the hands of a group it spent trillions of dollars, and exhaustive resources, to stamp out.
In the new video, shared on Twitter, the front-line utility helicopter can be seen taxiing on the ground at Kandahar Airport in southeastern Afghanistan, moving along the tarmac. It is unclear who exactly was sitting in the cockpit, and the Black Hawk cannot be seen taking off or flying.
It is unlikely that the Taliban have any combatants who are sufficiently trained to fly a UH-60 Black Hawk.
The helicopter, which carries a $6 million price tag, is just a small part of the massive haul that fell into the militant group’s hands after the country’s central government seemingly evaporated on Aug. 14 amid the withdrawal of U.S. and coalition troops.
Some 200,000 firearms, 20,000 Humvees and hundreds of aircraft financed by Washington for the now-defunct Afghan Army are believed to be in the possession of the Taliban.
The firearms include M24 sniper rifles, M18 assault weapons, anti-tank missiles, automatic grenade launchers, rocket-propelled grenades and mortars.
Taliban fighters in the elite Badri 313 Brigade have been seen in propaganda images showing off in uniforms and wielding weaponry meant for the special forces units of the Afghan Army.
The U.S. is known to have purchased 42,000 light tactical vehicles, 9,000 medium tactical vehicles and over 22,000 Humvees between 2003 and 2016.
The White House remains unclear on how much weaponry has fallen into Taliban hands, with National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan admitting last week that the U.S. lacks a “clear picture of just how much missing $83 billion of military inventory” the group has.