Of Coronavirus and Chartism 468

I am cheerfully optimistic that this Coronavirus, like asian swine flu and SARS before it, will prove not to be as deadly as may be prognosticated by journalists wanting to fill column inches. One day the human race will become extinct; but it is unlikely to be a virus that does it, as wiping out your host is not a clever survival policy for a virus. Even a disease as vicious as ebola proved not to be so potent against subjects who were not malnourished nor struggling with other health issues. So far this coronavirus seems to have a mortality rate of about 3%, which is probably an over high estimate as it is only a percentage of those who died after testing, whereas it appears there are large numbers with milder symptoms who are unlikely to have been tested in the first place. So coronavirus is not looking vastly different to ordinary influenza, which has a mortality rate of about 1%.

When you or I get flu we don’t normally panic as though we have a 1% chance of dying from it. That is again because we are well nourished, live in good conditions and have not been much weakened by other disease. Like this coronavirus, influenza generally carries off the old and frail. Whether the infamous Spanish flu after the First World War that killed so many was a particularly potent strain is open to doubt. A more powerful factor is probably that the population it wracked was suffering greatly from malnourishment, stress and disease already as a result of the war. But unlike this coronavirus, that one did attack children badly.

Which is not to say the current coronavirus might not yet mutate into something much more lethal, but as yet there is no sign of that happening.

I was educated both at school and university very much in the liberal tradition of history. At both levels, the curriculum featured a view of historic political development very much as “progress”. The “years of revolution”, 1830 and 1848, were landmarks in this, where liberal and national movements made some progress against monarchist autocracy across the whole of Europe. These political waves of convulsion on a continent wide basis undoubtedly happened, and in the UK resulted in the Great Reform Act and the Chartist Movement. They were taught in the Macaulay/Trevelyan historical tradition as very much the product of development in thought, as a product of political philosophy, as though the masses were moved by the elegantly turned phrases of a Benthamite pamphlet.

At university, I did add to this the knowledge that poor harvests had helped precipitate events, and indeed those had featured in my A level lists of “Causes of the French Revolution”. But it was only really a few years ago, when I was researching Sikunder Burnes, that I came to focus properly on the role of epidemiology in these human convulsions. Both the 1830 and 1848 European wave of revolutions coincided with the first and second ever cholera pandemics sweeping across Europe. The reason I came across this while studying Burnes is precisely that it was the opening up of Central Asia to trade in this period, largely through Russian exploration and expansion, that brought the disease into Europe. Burnes was in 1832 in a Bokhara ravaged for years by cholera. Its great canals – which are still there – were only being opened to fresh water once a month, and they served as both water supply and sewer, as Burnes documented in detail.

Without the misery inflicted by cholera, both directly and in economic impact, the desperate urban mobs may not have existed which enabled middle class liberals – and their own auto-didactic leadership – to start the establishment of western European democracy. It seems a very strange thing to suggest that cholera pandemics forwarded social progress. But there you are. I am now proceeding to an audacious discussion as to whether a lack of effective pandemics may retard social progress. Hang on to your hats.

[As a complete aside, I also discovered while researching Alexander Burnes that the great British liberal historical tradition was founded on a truly remarkable incestuous household menage a trois between Macaulay, his sister and Charles Trevelyan, father of the historian George who may well have been Macaulay’s son and nephew, rather than the official version of just nephew, and that Macaulay had also been having sex with his other sister. So much for Victorian respectability. Sikunder Burnes is a difficult book to describe because it presents an extremely detailed and painstaking account of the life of a 19th century British imperial functionary, and then from that framework sprout all kinds of exegeses on my wider intellectual interests. I hope it reads better than that sounds].

I do hope that I am right that coronavirus will prove, like SARS, not a great threat to us. The ability of modern nutrition, living conditions and medicine to ward off serious risk of epidemic and other illness has of course resulted in a very significant increase in human longevity. The relentless increase in longevity has slowed slightly as a result of the post 2008 economic crash, but I expect it to pick up again as it is a centuries old trend. In the UK, much has been written about the economic effects of this. In the UK, the concentration of wealth in the hands of old people who are not dying and passing it down, coincides with economic changes which have made it very difficult for young people to have good secure employment and to accumulate wealth, particularly property.

At the same time, the old people may own wealth but do not much generate it. With the increasingly aged demographic profile boosted by both people living longer and by historic falling birth rates, the percentage of the population in employment is in decline. The Office of National Statistics projects that while in 2007 there were 244 pensioners for every 1000 adults of working age, by 2041 there will be 419 per 1,000. This is a well understood economic problem to which, within the UK, the answer has lain in immigration.

It is not my purpose here to touch on these economic questions. I wish rather to look at the political effects. The UK has become a gerontocracy. The proportion of British adults eligible to vote who were aged over 55 in 2007 was approximately 37%. By 2041, that will be a majority of voters aged over 55. It is quite possible that a majority of those who do cast their vote in the UK are already over 55, as voter turnout is much higher among the elderly. So by 2040 it is perfectly possible that 60% or more of all votes actually cast will be cast by people aged 55 or over.

This is significant because it is a matter of indisputable fact that voting patterns are different between the old and the young. It was, to a truly remarkable degree, only the votes of the over 55s that stopped Scottish Independence, voted for Brexit, and elected Boris Johnson. Now any time I write on this subject I get offended older people saying “well I am old but I am not a Tory”. I know. I am not claiming every old person is a Tory. But Unionism, Brexitism and Toryism all are much more predominant among older voters. And while the issues may differ by 2040, I very much doubt there will cease to be differentials between the views of the old and the young.

The long term effects of western political systems which become increasingly dominated by geriatric voters are very unlikely to include a greater willingness to adopt progressive or innovative political approaches. I do not see how there can fail to be a stultifying effect on social progress. Again, I am 61 myself. Of course there are many radical older people. But there is overwhelming evidence that is not the norm.

Gaia has ways of restoring balance. It seems to me a fascinating speculation that, as the planet’s apex predator, mankind has succeeded in increasing individual longevity by increased nutrition and an ability to stave off pandemics which nature would use to keep down the numbers, and which normally would particularly kill older people. But the result of this may be a profound reduction in the adaptability and flexibility of mankind’s political hive mind as it becomes encrusted with geriatric thought, leading to seriously bad political decisions which ultimately will impact population anyway. Climate change is the most obvious example, but the process could have long term subtle effects in many ways.

Thomas Malthus was pilloried for centuries, but his critique of the dangers of human over-population now chimes with envronmentalist concerns. I have no desire to underestimate the suffering of those unfortunate enough to be affected by coronavirus. I do not actually wish to see elderly Tories and unionists carried off by flu. But I suspect you, like me, may very seldom get to read an article referencing the interrelationship of epidemiology, longevity and political systems. As the avowed purpose of this blog is to make people think, I thought readers and commenters may care to stretch their brains on this one.

Finally, as a restorative affirmation of the fact that older people can have very positive contributions to make to political thought, here is last week’s debate between George Galloway and myself on the subject of Scottish Independence. It has become unusual in British politics to see two people with fundamentally different views on a major political issue, discuss the matter with mutual respect and absolutely no rancour. It is a practice that appears to have deserted most professional politicians, as the last disintegrating days of the UK state become increasingly acrimonious.


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468 thoughts on “Of Coronavirus and Chartism

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  • Agric

    That was an excellent chat with GW, congrats to you both for a very civil and informative discussion. I agree with many, but not all, of your views Craig but I do on this: well and cogently argued.

    I was last living in England in 2007 when the NHS was still pretty good due to a decade of investment, then spent 10 years in Highlands of Scotland and thought it reasonable there. Next I moved to Wales and found the NHS to be dire (getting appts, canx appts, waiting times etc…). I expect England to be similar to that, now. The evil way Westminster has squeezed spending in the colonies (and England, too) must be called out much more than it has been so far.

    It would be interesting to see an analysis of the relative costs of:
    1. Tory cutbacks over last decade then reinvesting to reverse those cutbacks now (NHS, police, local authorities, social care)
    2. Not making those cuts (ie austerity) in the first place.

    Of course, the answer could be biased by the increased cost of additional people alive in case 2. Perhaps some adjustment might fairly be made for that?

    There again, there are too many of us for this planet to support at an economic level we all aspire to. Maybe austerity was a price worth paying for another couple of months of this illusion.

    On colonies, you are but the second, Wales can fairly claim to be first. A long while back I wrote a very short story, it may resonate:

  • Dan

    I dunno if it was mentioned before in the comments, but, Craig, the issue with Spanish Flu and related strains is sort of the inverse to the norm. It masquerades in your body and replicates massively, and once the body figures out what’s wrong, it goes the way of USSR in the 80s – there’s so much arming in terms of white blood cell production going on that your national economy fails… I mean, your lungs fill with blood and you die.

    This doesn’t happen if your immune system is shot, so as a result, spanish flu paradoxically killed the healthiest while leaving the old and infirm fine.

    • michael norton

      If we have had the NHS bog standard Once In A Lifetime pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine
      would that help with at least partial protection from Wuhan Virus?

      • michael norton

        Wang Yuedan, an expert in immunology at Beijing University, said the Prevenar 13® vaccination is “ineffective” against the Wuhan pneumonia since the vaccine treats spherical bacteria, while what caused the Wuhan disease is a new coronavirus.

        He criticized medical centers for using “misleading advertisements” to tout customers.

        David Hui Shu-cheong, director of the Stanley Ho Centre for Emerging Infectious Diseases of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, shared similar views.

        “The vaccine is absolutely ineffective against the virus that causes the Wuhan-related pneumonia,” he said.

        A coronavirus is much more difficult to combat than pneumococcal bacteria, according to Hui.

        As a pensioner in the U.K. you get offered a free fly jab each year and a single shot of Pneumococcal vaccine.
        It is probably when Wuhan Fever goes to Pneumonia that the deaths happen.

        We don’t yet know what proportion just get a flu, then recover on their own, not needing medical intervention?

    • AKAaka

      funny you should mention Spanish Flu. nCoV now confirmed as causing a cytokine storm as was with Spanish Flu.

      So far this has not translated into the healthy being particularly at risk for nCoV as far as we are told or can discern. Whether ‘healthy’ patients ‘recover’, but go on to develop much later I do not know but I’m watching.

      With regards to pneumonia, it would seem there are a lot of reports of asymptomatic pneumonia in the confirmed cases, particularly the assumed healthiest. Confirmed cases either having, or developing pneumonia seems incredible common though. How they progress is much harder to follow with the limited information.

        • michael norton

          Apparently most of the people who have died, were not that fit, most were smokers, which means more likely to run to Pneumonia.
          One of my relatives contracted Necrotizing fasciitis of the lungs, he was put in an induced coma for many months after they had removed two thirds of his lungs.
          He survived but they have told him that he must never get Pneumonia as it will kill him, he can’t work he is not strong enough.

          So, just because the death rate is 2% does not mean those who recover, will all lead healthy, normal lives, again.

          • AKAaka

            Sorry about the relative. Understandable why this is a particularly worrying virus from your perspective, but then I imagine it’s also just a reminder of worries that are already there with flu etc every year.

            Well I started writing a reply this morning, but I had to work. Coming back to it I’ve deleted everything because there’s so much information and possibilities it can easily become alarmist. The lack of discussion itself is particularly alarming. Currently every day feels like a week with the amount of data I’m working with and news sources I’m monitoring. Was it really just 4 days ago we were on 10k confirmed (probably around 24k tonight once figures are updated), 6k 1 week ago. Evidence that true figures are far far higher of course.

            All I will say is prepare to be isolated for at least a month. Don’t panic, just be prepared. Buy the thing’s you’d normally buy, but buy a few bits more that aren’t perishable soon. You will find if the shit hits the fan, then that month’s supply will keep you alive a lot longer than a month if needs must.

            With regards to Pneumonia and nCov. Yes, there is evidence that even relatively healthy cases affected by Pneumonia have at least some lung damage after being declared recovered. Notably Chinese propaganda statements declaring sick doctors now recovered and anxious to rejoin the fight… once their lungs have recovered. Don’t get me wrong, I am not anti Chinese at all, I believe they are the victims and praise their fantastic efforts, and propaganda in this sense ‘may’ be justifiable since they are trying desperately to keep spirits high and avoid violent dissent and chaos.

            This may just be limited to Asian populations though, unable to effectively spread outside of Asian populations (very limited evidence, but very early days outside of China, so cannot confirm). This raises all sorts of questions in itself. Regardless of the answers, the consequences globally could be as much a worry as the virus.

            Currently, I don’t think the shit has hit the fan outside of China, but I am less and less confident we would be told when it has, if it hasn’t already. So don’t panic. Be prepared now, worry less now, and worry less later, whatever happens.

            For the Virus, keep an eye on this graph:
            (Be aware that figures are added throughout the 24hrs, so best ignore the latest data point because it will move higher as the day progresses)
            Click ‘Mainland China’ beneath the graph to isolate plot for ‘Other Locations’. At the very least this gives you some idea of the growth outside of China (trusting the data) and community transmission eventually once imported cases stop muddying the waters (effectively importing an exponential growth pattern, at least to begin with). If this starts to curve upwards more steeply (aggressively might be a better word), especially if it goes on to double say every 3-4 days, then it is time to worry. I estimate a week for this to become relatively clear for those looking. A month to be irrefutable.

  • Humbaba

    “So coronavirus is not looking vastly different to ordinary influenza, which has a mortality rate of about 1%.”

    A common flu virus has a death rate of about 0.02%. Which means that the nCoV with a death rate of 2% is 100 times more deadly. Your kids may survive, but your chances aren’t good with a death rate of 20 to 30% for the elderly.

    With a reproductive rate of R.naught 2 to 3 the nCoV spreads infinitely faster than a common flu because it can be transmitted by persons during incubation when no symptoms are detectable. If you have Ebola, you don’t feel like walking around.

    We are lucky this happened in China because no other country would be capable of the containing the virus. If it spreads in the 3rd world, we are in for a rerun of the Spanish flu.

    This raises a political issue. The nCoV is a break or make moment for the CCP. If Xi can show that China can contain the virus, it’ll be China’s Manhattan project because he can demonstrate to the world that the Chinese system is superior and that the rest of us can just go an bugger off.

  • michael norton

    Coronavirus warning:
    Britons told to leave China immediately and cancel all future trips.
    Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has also warned against “all but essential travel to mainland China”.

    Now more than 20,000 people have contracted Wuhan Virus.

  • michael norton

    Another situation has come to light,
    don’t go on any cruise ship holidays, being held together with thousands of others is not good.
    A cruise ship is being held off Hong Kong as up to a dozen cruise ship workers are suspected of contracting Wuhan Virus.
    So, all the paying guests, as well as the crew have to stay on board, for a further few weeks.
    Not a way, I would choose to spend my money.

  • AKAaka

    Something I noticed a few days ago, looked into a bit more closely today. A particular type of dust mask in the UK seems strangely hard to come by.

    I’m writing this now because I’ve heard a rumour, and it is just rumour, that the US is stockpiling masks, and it would be this type they would aim for first. The same thing may well be happening here. It does seem too soon to have run out of such a commonly used item in the UK. China will be the main supplier, but still too soon. Some panic buying I’m sure but still, they were everywhere. These were the most widely used and abundant masks. Dirt cheap at under a quid each. China themselves running out may have caused Governments to panic buy.

    Happy to write more info on what you want to look out for in case you want some, but don’t want to write a long winded ‘article’ if no one is interested. Don’t worry though. If it comes down to everyone wearing masks, then covering your mouth (eyes too ideally) in general is a good idea, just to stop you unconsciously touching it (them). Obviously not as good as proper PPE, but most will not be using that properly anyway.

  • michael norton

    Malaysia confirmed on Thursday (Feb 6) its first locally transmitted case of the novel coronavirus, with the patient being the sister of the Malaysian man who attended a conference in Singapore and later tested positive for the virus.
    Now almost 600 reported deaths World wide.

    • michael norton

      A further patient has tested positive for coronavirus,
      bringing the total number of cases in the U.K. to 3. The individual did not acquire this in the U.K.

      Every hospital in England is being asked to create “priority assessment pods” for patients with suspected coronavirus, the NHS has said.

    • michael norton

      Infected (Surpassed SARS)


      Countries / Regions affected
      Another 41 people on another cruise ship off the coast of Japan,
      have tested positive for the new coronavirus, bringing the total number of cases on board to 61.

      Some 3,700 people are on board the Diamond Princess, which is quarantined near Yokohama for at least two weeks.

      • AKAaka

        A week ago, I said we’d ‘know’ in a week or 2. Well I still don’t know, but I have been working on various models and scenarios, but as with all models, put crap data in, get crap data out. We don’t have data we know to be sound for a variety of reasons, but even trusting the data, it is inevitable that testing will bottleneck. So new cases cannot be confirmed at the rate they appear. This bottleneck can be caused for example by insufficient quantity of testkits, backlog in processing testkits for results, shortage in services, effectively turning suspected cases away due to lack of beds/staff, inaccurate tests (false negatives) even on symptomatic cases, required multiple retests to confirm. China seemed to address these issues days ago ramping up kit production massively, developing new fast test kits and alternative tests, and deploying thousands more medics and boots in general. Unfortunately this doesn’t appear to have translated into more reliable detection/results. They’re priorities may well be elsewhere now.

        Around when I wrote that post a week ago, I was seeing cases double every 3-4 days. I read papers saying double time was 6.2 days. This did not fit with me at all.

        The rate of growth in new cases does appear to be slowing, but with my points above, this is likely due to reaching testing capacity. This slowing of growth appears, in my modelling at least, to have started 5 or 6 days ago. This may be natural, but it appears to happen simultaneously across many, if not all regions in China, so suggestive of something other than effective local containment for example which would only show in one region at a time.

        It hasn’t slowed enough to skew what was looking scary 1 week ago though (doubling every 3-4 days).

        One week ago I posted:
        7,783 confirmed cases, 170 dead.
        So doubling every 3.5 days, confirmed cases goes to 15,566, and another 3.5 days doubles it to 31,132. So in 1 week 7,783 goes to 31,132. Similarly dead goes to 680.

        1 week after I post those figures, Michael posts latest figures of:
        31,480 confirmed, 640 deaths

        Many are comforted by the idea that if this thing were so contagious, this would have exploded everywhere by now. I’m afraid that’s not how it works. You get one confirmed case of local transmission somewhere, 3.5 days later it is 2, or 1 week later it is 4. Its been 2 weeks and you only have 16 confirmed cases. Nothing to worry about right? Tiny numbers. 2 months, or 8 weeks after the first case, you have 65k confirmed cases. There you have your explosion. How long is the fuse? How long is a piece of string.

        Watch for reports of local transmission. Hopefully we would be told. Bear in mind, with an incubation of 14 days, confirmed cases will be up to 2 weeks behind the true number of cases out there yet to show symptoms, bit more when you consider time to test, more still when you consider some will not show symptoms or just be affected very mildly, never getting detected.

        Don’t feel foolish for panic buying, feel secure. I think this is poorly portrayed. A rush on supplies early, while supply chains can quickly recover is sensible, a panic later when supply chains may already be struggling is asking for trouble. Completely irresponsible of governments not to be preparing the public. Especially since a rush on supplies too late would bring people together in numbers at a time when you are trying to limit contact and spread.

  • michael norton

    Italy has contradicted China’s assertions over a possible resumption of flights between the two countries.

    Rome’s decision on January 31 to block flights to and from China was greeted with dismay by Beijing, which has been lobbying in the past few days to have the ban lifted.

    “The block on flights is a measure taken to immediately deal with any emergency and we will keep it in place as long as health authorities and therefore the scientific community tell us we should,” Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio told a news conference in Madrid.

    Turkey has stopped imports of livestock and animal fats from China, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said.

    Hong Kong will deploy an army of volunteers to bolster plans to forcibly quarantine all arrivals from mainland China, warning that anyone caught breaching the new rules faces up to six months prison.

    • michael norton

      Coronavirus death toll surges past 700, exceeding SARS toll in China and Hong Kong
      The toll is now higher than that of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) virus in mainland China and Hong Kong, where nearly 650 people died in 2002-2003.

      Three thousand extra people have contracted Wuhan Virus in the last 24 hours.

  • michael norton

    A fourth person has tested positive for coronavirus in the U.K., England’s chief medical officer has confirmed.

    The new case is a known contact of a previous patient in the U.K., and caught the virus in FRANCE.

    It comes after around 200 British and foreign nationals evacuated from Wuhan on the U.K.’s final rescue flight arrived at RAF Brize Norton on Sunday.

    This is going to reduce World Trade, it is not going away.
    Now more than 830 people dead.

    • AKAaka

      “This is going to reduce World Trade, it is not going away”

      This is an important point regardless of the virus. For example supply chains are already effected. Industry is shutting down because they have no supplies coming from China (example Hyundai 5 days ago). Of course there’s an argument for keeping the markets happy as long as possible before a crash, but at what cost? Do they care?

  • AKAaka

    well I think I’m going to call it.

    I think UK hospitals will be overwhelmed in as little as a month. I’ve based this on my various models against estimated numbers for UK hospital beds and occupancy. It’s difficult not to give a biased prediction due to wide range of variables and sources of uncertainty, but this sort of time frame cropped up in the results many times and actually is based on at least some of the more optimistic assumptions.

    By the time hospitals are struggling, there will be many more infected walking about oblivious to their condition, either being mild or asymptomatic (5x the amount, possibly much more). When this happens it may be the time to ‘bug in’. Maybe sooner.

    • michael norton

      Today I was speaking to a family friend, who is a doctor, she said they have been given no information whatsoever about Wuhan Fever.

      • AKAaka

        I don’t know whether to be encouraged, or terrified. I’ll take encouraged! My confidence this is going bad is about 70%. Didn’t want to say anything until I was at least 90-95% confident one way or they other.

        Discovered some really useful Hong Kong data today where I can isolate local transmissions and imported ones much more easily. They got their first confirmed case of local transmission around a week after the first confirmed imported one. Which means we are due to get ours about now. But they likely had a lot more imports than us, so that may skew/delay things. Indefinitely hopefully!

    • Billy Bostickson

      Hmm, I see where you are going with this. Best to buy large quantities of oats, rice, dried beans, raisins, opiates, honey, flour, canned foods, marmite, peanut butter, bleach, rum, cider, kerosene, plus rolling tobacco and papers to be used for bargaining for food and sexual services and bribery of local bureaucrats;) Have I missed anything?

      • michael norton

        Well I took the learned advice of AKAaka and have replenished my stock of Brexit tins.
        Yesterday I was doing an activity , one of the chaps is a GP, retired, we spoke about Wuhan Virus and he said, he definitely would not be going anywhere near the Far East.
        He would tell all his friends, not to do so, also.
        One of my relatives had booked her honeymoon for China, she has cancelled and doesn’t care if she does not get her money back.
        Only stupid people, will for the near future go to the Far East.
        Even Japan has one hundred cases.
        World travel is going to dramatically reduce, which will please the Global Warming fanatics, and reduce the need for runway three at Heathrow.

      • AKAaka

        re: Billy

        Well, if that’s the kind of stuff you will use anyway, given time, then where’s the harm? I understand what you are saying. I don’t want anyone to be overly worried. I’m still not convinced this is as virulent outside of dense Asian populations. Maybe we get infected but only mildly and far less contagious. Who knows? But if anyone is worried, then yes, some preparedness alleviates a lot of the anxiety.

        I wouldn’t recommend going anywhere near prostitutes though, and certainly not local bureaucrats!

  • Billy Bostickson

    I think at the end of the day we are all going to have to pull our socks up and accept this new coronavirus as a fact of life. This is likely what the Chinese will be doing (or be told to do) in the coming weeks. If infected, people young or old will have to keep a stiff upper lip and accept with good humour the need for quarantine in the garden shed (as we used to do with measles). Yes, complications due to pneumonia may unfairly target the malnourished elderly and infants, but what we cannot afford to do as a nation (and as humans) is to allow a poxy little virus carried by dirty oriental cave bats (or pangolins as the case may be) to undermine our post-Brexit economic growth and spiritual well being. It will not be Despair that will win the day, but rather Dettol and Determination!

    • AKAaka

      and UK cases just doubled. Not sure if they are local transmission though. Reports say the virus was passed on in France, but seems a bit vague. Probably on purpose.

      • michael norton

        Just under a fifth of known cases of the new coronavirus in China may be resulting in death, a new report estimates.
        The coronavirus can survive on door handles and bus or train poles for up to nine days – more than four times longer than flu, according to research.

        Five of the people now in the United Kingdom, who are now known to have Wuhan Virus are linked by one super spreader, who caught it in Singapore, then spread it to others in a FRENCH chalet in Haute-Savoie.
        He has also been out to a pub in England before self-reporting himself.

        • michael norton

          A GP practice in Brighton has been closed after a staff member tested positive for the coronavirus.

          • AKAaka

            and a school in Southampton due to suspected cases. Still no confirmation of local transmission so that’s good news!…

          • michael norton

            The new cases are all linked to a British man a super spreader who caught the virus at a conference in Singapore and travelled to a ski resort in the Haute-Savoie.
            He was diagnosed in Brighton, and is being treated at St Thomas’ Hospital in London.

            So, probably the super spreader who returned from The Haute-Savoie to Brighton, also infected a member of staff at his quacks in Brighton.

          • AKAaka

            yes, and passengers on his return flight told not to worry because he wasn’t contagious… Hmmm ok… He’s on his way back after infecting 1 family in France, and possibly another family in Spain… The mind boggles.

          • michael norton

            China has “removed” several senior officials over their handling of the coronavirus outbreak – as the death toll passed 1,000.

            The party secretary for the Hubei Health Commission, and the head of the commission, were among those who lost their jobs.

            They are the most senior officials to be demoted so far.

            The deputy director of the local Red Cross was also removed for “dereliction of duty” over “handling of donations”.

            U.K. tally up to eight,
            including two G.P.s, probably linked to the super spreader from Haute-Savoie-Brighton-Singapore-Spain.

          • AKAaka

            Yes there is lots of speculation about the Wuhan Lab. Dean Koontz even wrote a book years ago about a Wuhan virus (The Eyes of Darkness). But also there were arrests made in US and Canada early days due to Chinese trying to steal (or successfully stealing) ‘biological material’ from their bio labs and possible spying. There are also links to someone successfully mutating bat corona virus to infect humans in 2018, in the US, and a Chinese researcher on that project also connected to Wuhan.

            Very murky stuff with lots of what ifs. Could be China stole the virus, was working on a vaccine, it got out, or US used it before they could create vaccine. Conspiracy theorists saying China was already under attack, having masses of pork, chicken and corn wiped out during trade war with US after refusing to buy the same from US. I would have to say though that this is perfect timing, in a perfect location, all the more perfect having that lab there. Wild speculation, not many good scenarios.

          • michael norton

            Steve Walsh
            The Super Spreader of Brighton has been outed.

            Yes, it is so suspicious that this awful disease started near the Lab in Wuhan.
            There was already a trade war and a war of disinformation between China and the U.S.A.

            The very suspiciuos new information is that surfaces can be contaminated for more than a week.
            So go into a public toilet and not see anyone in there, catch it off the taps/door handle, bog chain.

          • AKAaka

            Yes it does seem awfully well made. Not that nature couldn’t do it. I do love a good conspiracy theory though, so to build on that one: If US made this thing 2 years ago, but it’s essentially just another doomsday device like nukes because you cannot control it.

            What if it affects Chinese more? It attacks ACE2 in the body, it is alleged that Chinese have more ACE2, and smokers have more too. Maybe poor air quality increases this further. If this doesn’t contain spread to inside China, well by now US could have a vaccine and most Americans require flu vaccine for insurance etc and so are already vaccinated. The poor wouldn’t be so lucky, but this may be a bonus to the psychopaths in charge.

            Like I say, I like a conspiracy theory, but for now, that is all it is.

          • michael norton

            Wuhan Virus

            “We now have a new name for the disease and it’s Covid-19,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters in Geneva.

            It comes after the death toll from the virus passed 1,000. Tens of thousands of people have been infected.

          • AKAaka

            4-6 GP surgeries closed, 2 or 3 schools, (I lose track), an electrical wholesaler. Not to mention suspected cases including some in a prison. I believe local transmission has now occurred in UK and I suspect this will be the case in many countries as of a few days ago. Difficult to be certain because reports aren’t being ‘too’ specific. Strange considering it’s China who is shouted down as so cloak and dagger. Looking at figures for Hong Kong I can easily access numbers for imported cases, local cases, their condition etc.

            Removing imported cases from HK removes much noise and allows far better visualisation and modelling. Model for Hong Kong local transmissions fitting exponential growth, doubling every 2.8 days very well. Showing signs of decay which should be expected. 3.5 days seems a good fit as an all rounder based on more regions. 6.2 days quoted in at least 1 paper. I’ve not seen 6.2 in my modelling, but might be expected once population becomes more saturated with infected, or better containment etc or in less densely populated areas, less things like tubes etc.

            Any big city might expect similar growth in local transmission to HK, hopefully less, HK being particularly dense etc. Dread to imagine what the doubling rate is on a cruise ship, those people should be evacuated immediately and put into proper quarantine. Currently it’s like some sick experiment, and the demographic abroad will not fare well.

          • AKAaka

            Just to clarify, I’m saying local transmission has happened before a few days ago, but only as of a few days ago would we expect to see those come through as confirmed cases in the data. They actually could have been infected weeks before hand, and many other cases would have gone under the radar having not developed symptoms severe enough to warrant getting checked.

          • michael norton

            A super spreader, is quite likely to be a fit person who only has the virus in a mild form, they carry on with their life, shedding more virus.
            Stories of doctors surgeries, near me, cordoned off.

  • Muscleguy

    Dinnae fash yersel over the population Craig. I prescribe the eminent Hans Rosling’s very entertaining online lectures on the subject. The vast majority of the recent increase in world population has been caused by longevity, not procreation and once the bump of the baby boomers moves on (I’m just under 55 so Gen X) it will begin to decline back down towards 5 billions or even less.

    Also not all elderly persons are economically inactive. This is another beef the young have, the crusties aren’t vacating the jobs or the homes. I know one emeritus academic who is busy earning money from his economic consultancy work for developing world governments unencumbered by lecturing and departmental duties etc. He is likely off somewhere warm instead of enduring this mild if recently stormy Scottish winter. Nice work if you have qualified for it.

    BTW there are quite a number of us oldsters in Dundee Radical Independence Campaign, we are meeting again (details on the Fb page). We are not just Yes activists but Yes activists on the Left. You visited us while up here during the campaign if you recall Craig. We do have a welcome influx of youngsters though, good Extinction Rebellion types. We got a report from one of the young women who climbed the mobile drilling rig to try and prevent it sailing on more drilling recently. They were defeated by the wind at height, not removed by the polis. She reported the rig workers were very nice and friendly. In the current employment climate you cannot criticise folk trying to make a crust.

    Servicing and now dismantling mobile rigs is Dundee’s share of North Sea oil work. Our crumbs from Aberdeen’s heaving table.

  • michael norton

    Infected (Surpassed SARS)

    Deaths (Surpassed SARS)

    Countries / Regions affected

    Very strangely, the WHO does not report Wuhan Virus for North Korea, yet it is adjacent to Russia = 2 cases, Japan = 202 cases, South Korea = 28 cases, China = 44653 cases.

    We know that China is the main trading partner of North Korea and that North Koreans work in China, so it is a mystery?

    • michael norton

      Twelve patients treated by two British GPs who have been diagnosed with Wuhan Virus are being traced by health officials.

      Between them, the two doctors worked in four different places in East and West Sussex – a nursing home, an A&E department and two GP practices.

      The pair are now in isolation, and efforts to trace those that came into contact with them are ongoing.

      Most of the people with Wuhan Virus in the U.K. are from Brighton, spread by the Super Spreader.
      Not one case in Scotland, Wales or Ireland, so far.

  • michael norton

    A woman who flew into London from China a few days ago is being treated for Wuhan Virus, bringing the total number of U.K. cases to nine.
    Sources say she developed symptoms “after” landing at Heathrow, called NHS 111 and then tested positive.

    It seems to me they should not be bringing any more people from China in to the U.K.

    • michael norton

      Infected (+14923)

      Deaths (+247)

      Countries / Regions affected

      Big jump over last few days.

      It has been suggested that China is getting overwhelmed.
      They may be changing how they count suspects, rather than actual scientific diagnosis?

      • AKAaka

        Talk that they are now giving numbers based on clinical diagnosis rather than waiting or relying on test results. Seems to only have been implemented in Hubei province. Hubei figures were hrs late to come out, rest of China much later still so maybe some confusion over there as to what to report and time involved in changing to new format.

        Read 500 Wuhan Medics are infected last night

        Read days ago that front line medics in Hong Kong are having to reuse masks due to shortage. High risk of infection from their own mask and spreading it throughout.

        This new method of counting cases may be more efficient. With false negative testing, may even be more accurate. I wonder how many more weeks until there is no one left to do the counting though. The data is useful to us on the outside, but I’m glad this is not their priority.

        Some talk of Chinese being sent back to work. Hard to know what to think, but I’ll take that positive!

        Also there is no way on knowing how many are infected at home. This is a double edged sword, but if millions are infected at home and recovering from mild symptoms, mortality/severity could be very low. That’s the positive spin, but I’ll take it.

        • michael norton

          No reported cases yet from
          Laos, Indonesia, North Korea, Bangladesh, Pakistan Mongolia or any of the ex-Soviet states, how likely is that, answer, very, very, very unlikely.

          • AKAaka

            Unfortunately the latest London case could have been handled better. The lady went to A&E in an Uber. Did not dial 111 as we were led to believe. They tested her, and sent her home…

            3 days later she was picked up after they had the results.

            Now a London Surgery is closed due to Coronavirus. Not sure if it is related to this lady.

            This would not be a big deal if this is something that is not as bad as the flu, but since when did a surgery or a school get closed down for one person having the flu? Or whole cities in China?

          • michael norton

            JCB on slow time
            as can’t get the parts from CHINA.
            I thought they were a British firm?
            The World price of oil is plunging, much less World Trade happening because of Wuhan Virus.
            People are now afraid of going to the hairdresser or dentist.
            Air travel is winding down.
            Difficult to see the how the cruise linner business can carry on?

  • Dungroanin

    So the spike reported yesterday were NOT new cases in one day but a correction from a methodology update.

    If the ‘new’ daily death total didn’t jump from less than 100 to over 200, then it seems that the pneumonia virus is only killing the vulnerable with pre existing pulmonary conditions. No worse than a winter flu – which in America already has almost 20,000 deaths this season.

    Unless there is a mutation this particular scare us over before Big Pharma can make billions from their fake ‘new’ meds. Though i’m sure our privatising NHS will try and inflict plenty of untrialled meds down our throats.

    • michael norton

      Infected (+5096)

      Deaths (+121)

      Countries / Regions affected

      Taxi /bus drivers are vulnerable.
      One of my neighbours is a taxi driver, he is due back from six weeks holiday in Thailand, this week.
      He should probably hide at home for a couple of weeks, to keep his potential passengers safe?

  • michael norton

    Health officials have contacted hundreds of conference attendees in London, after it emerged one of them was later diagnosed with coronavirus.

    The person, who has not been identified, was at the U.K. Bus Summit at the QEII Conference Centre last week.

    Two Labour M.P.s who were also at the conference said they were well but cancelling public engagements until 20 February as a precaution.

    So far, nine people in the U.K. have tested positive for the virus, three of them are Chinese.

    North Korea is able to conduct tests for the new coronavirus, but still has not reported any infections, the World Health Organization told VOA Friday, amid international concerns that Pyongyang is not properly equipped to handle a possible outbreak.

    North Korea has cut off virtually all links to the outside world in response to the highly contagious virus, which has killed nearly 1,400 people and infected more than 60,000 —almost all in next-door China. Calling the efforts a matter of “national survival,” North Korea has banned foreign tourists, halted flights and train services with its neighbors, and implemented a 30-day quarantine for all arriving foreigners.

  • michael norton

    China has reportedly appointed its top military biological weapon expert to take over a secretive virus laboratory in Wuhan after the outbreak of a new coronavirus, sparking conspiracy theories that the health crisis could be connected to the army.
    Chen Wei, a Major General of the People’s Liberation Army, was flown in to Wuhan by the central government late last month before officially taking the helm of Wuhan Institute of Virology, according to a report.
    The 54-year-old’s designation prompted some people to speculate that the epidemic could have been spawned in the little-known lab and that the lab is run by Beijing’s military.

  • michael norton

    9 new COVID-19 cases in Singapore, including 6 linked to Grace Assembly of God cluster
    This brings the total number of novel coronavirus cases in Singapore to 67, with six patients in critical condition.



    Countries / Regions affected

  • michael norton

    A Chinese tourist has died in FRANCE after contracting Wuhan Virus – the first fatality from the disease outside of Asia.

    Still no reported cases from North Korea

  • michael norton

    China is very, very involved with Africa, many Chinamen work in Africa.

    Three hundred and one Egyptians were evacuated from Wuhan,
    epicentre of the virus in China, and have remained in quarantine for 14 days.
    Egypt’s health ministry on Friday announced the first confirmed case of the novel coronavirus in Africa.
    The sufferer was not Egyptian, the ministry said in a statement, without specifying the nationality.
    Earlier this month, Egypt suspended all flights on its national carrier to China. They will remain grounded until the end of the month.

  • michael norton

    Something must be going on. You don’t do this just for the flu.

    China is tightening curbs on movement in Hubei province as it battles the outbreak of new coronavirus.

    Sixty-million people have been told to stay at home unless there is an emergency, and the use of private cars has been banned indefinitely.
    The order to stay at home does have exceptions, such as an emergency. In addition, a single person from each household will be allowed to leave the building every three days to buy food and essential items.

    On housing estates, one entrance will be kept open. It will be guarded to ensure that only residents can enter or leave.

    This isn’t caused by somebody eating a bat/snake,
    this is biological warfare.

    • AKAaka

      It’s all very odd. On one hand, we are told things are coming under control in China and risk anywhere else is low, but dig deeper and you find more and more of China is locked down and harsher.

      If it’s no big deal, what’s with the full on hazmat precautions? Grounded planes, closed schools and surgeries. For something no worse than the flu?

      At just 1% mortality rate and 60% getting infected, 400k will die in the UK. Is that just the first wave? Was it the second wave of Spanish Flu that was the real killer? What are they hiding?

      People are encouraged by so many recoveries outside of China, but you could have 100 confirmed cases and only 2 die for 2% mortality rate. Is it just inevitable that it is out now and will be everywhere? Keep calm, carry on for as long as possible rather than lock down weeks ago and have it anyway? Reporters basically mocking the use of proper face masks by the public, saying they do nothing, while in the same breath saying frontline professionals are struggling to get hold of them.

      Play it down, cover it up, hold off the lockdown and panic. It just seems completely the wrong way to go. Be open early, everyone is prepared early and taking precautions. This decreases transmission and spreads the impact on supply chains and services, lowering mortality rate. The markets might not have liked it though… The way they are playing it, people are mocked for their precautions, and when it does come crashing down no one will be prepared, many more will be needlessly infected and quicker, increasing mortality rate due to strain on services, and the level of panic will dangerous.

      If it was an attack on China, would they even let on? They are in no position to declare war. Yet.

      It just doesn’t add up. If all this is about nothing… Well actions speak louder than words, and what can be seen is unprecedented.

      I’m baffled.

  • michael norton

    Strange that round the edge of China, there are so few cases of Wuhan Fever.
    None in Mongolia and only one in Tibet.
    None in Laos, none in Burhma, none in Indonesia and none confirmed in North Korea, none in Bangladesh?

      • michael norton

        Britain is working to organize a flight to return its citizens onboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Yokohama “as soon as possible,” according to a Foreign Office spokesperson.

        It seems the most concentrated nest of new infections outside of Wuhan is this cruise ship off Japan.

        This ought to tell the scientists, something
        and maybe while this experiment has been allowed to run?

  • michael norton

    Liu Zhiming, 51, was the director of the Wuchang Hospital in Wuhan – one of the leading hospitals in the virus epicentre. He is one of the most senior health officials to die so far.

    Hubei, the province Wuhan is in, is the worst affected province in the country.

    The report by the CCDC showed the province’s death rate is 2.9% compared with only 0.4% in the rest of the country.

    The findings put the overall death rate of the Covid-19 virus at 2.3%.

    Interesting that near Wuhan there is a 2.9% chance of death if you contact Wuhan Virus
    but only 0.4% in the rest of the country, what could that indicate?

    • michael norton

      So if you are near Wuhan and you catch the virus you are
      7 1/4 times more likely to die from it, compared to another part of China.
      There must be an extra factor at play here, which we are not being let in on.
      Anyone acting up asking silly questions in China, is removed by the Authorities, there is something v ery dicey they do not want the public to understand.

    • Dungroanin

      Latest numvers from Global Times

      06:49 am Feb 18

      Hubei Province reported 1,807 new cases of novel coronavirus pneumonia on Feb 17, with 93 new deaths and 1,223 cases of recovery. The total number of infections in the province climbed to 59,989, with 7,862 recovered and 1,789 dead.


      Recovery is now accelerating.

      Mortality is hovering at 3%.

      Unless they actually are sealing the infected in their own homes it seems that the epicentre of the outbreak has it under control.


      The variation in the overall rate and the subset (which forms the majority of the whole) needs explaining.

      It may be that the new way of classification of infection by CT scan to identify pneumonia and calling it ncov without actually identifying the virus causes a variation.

      Also it could be that these who seek treatment faster elsewhere tend then not to die of tge pneumonia- seeing how the outbreak started early December but adequate treatment didn’t happen until just a few weeks ago.

      As I have speculated the convenient ship full of labrat holiday makers – all of whom would inevitably be infected – will give very precise results for this particular virus!

  • michael norton

    China’s National Health Commission (NHC) reported Tuesday that 136 more people died of coronavirus in mainland China,
    132 of which occurred in the Hubei province.

    This is quite stunning.

    Surely the death rate should be more equal than this?

    Now over 2,000 deaths, overall.

  • michael norton

    The coronavirus has turned into an epidemic that has so far infected more than 75,000 and killed more than 2,000, mostly in China. In Hubei province, home to the epicentre of the virus, Wuhan city, there have been nearly 50,000 confirmed cases.

    In a desperate move Wuhan this week began to confine all communities in the city of 11 million people to their homes and authorities said anyone seen on the streets without permission would be severely punished. Officers started to carry out new house-to-house checks to seek out and “round up” all infected patients.

    Citizens of Wuhan say they are forbidden from even taking strolls in their neighbourhood and shopping for food. “People are gripped by fear and anxiety, and we are extremely angry because this disaster is entirely manmade,” said a Wuhan resident who spoke on condition of anonymity to avoid reprisals.

    “If they didn’t detain Dr Li Wenliang for ‘spreading rumours’ and told us the virus was under control, none of this would have happened.”

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