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February 18, 2020

EPI UPDATES China’s Health Commission reports 1,886 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total of confirmed cases to 72,436, along with 1,868 deaths and 12,552 patients who have been discharged. The majority of new cases (96%) were reported in China’s Hubei province. 

WHO’s latest situation report reports 111 new COVID-19 cases in countries outside of China, 99 of which were tied to passengers and crew on the Diamond Princess cruise ship. There are now 794 confirmed cases outside of China across 25 countries. The WHO also clarified that, from today onwards, they will be reporting all confirmed cases, including laboratory confirmed and patients in Hubei province who were clinically diagnosed. 

The Japanese Ministry of Health reports that the total number of confirmed cases tied to the Diamond Princess cruise ship has increased to 542 out of 2,404 patients tested, and that 254 (47%) of positive cases were asymptomatic carriers. For those passengers preparing to disembark, those with no symptoms over the 14 days and that test negative for the virus will not be kept under further health observation after leaving the ship.  

CONTINUED CHINESE RESPONSE Reports surfaced earlier this morning that Liu Zhiniming, the director of one of Wuhan’s largest hospitals, died from COVID-19. There are reports that approximately 25,000 medical professionals have been dispatched to Hubei province, the outbreak epicenter, to help fight the disease. In other news, the number of Chinese residents that face movement and travel restrictions continues to grow. According to an analysis of local government announcements done by the New York Times, there may be over 150 million people facing restrictions on movement from their homes. Chinese news outlets are also announcing that the country’s annual parliamentary meeting, scheduled to occur in early March, will most likely be delayed.

NEW WHO MASS GATHERINGS GUIDANCE The WHO released a set of publications and trainings relating to the management of points of entry and mass gatherings. The publications cover topics including public health preparedness and response for aviation and maritime companies, as well as the management of ill travelers via air, ground and sea. The page also offers two online courses pertaining to preparation and recommendations for mass gatherings during the COVID-19 outbreak. This technical guidance is freely available.

SINGAPORE GOVERNMENT RESPONSE The Singapore Ministry of Health reports 81 confirmed COVID-19 cases. There are currently 28 tests pending results and 1,051 that have tested negative. Of the four new cases reported today, three of the cases have ties to the Grace Assembly of God church and one has ties to a previously reported case. Reports suggest that the Grace Assembly of God has suspended services. 

ECONOMIC IMPACT On Monday, Apple issued a statement that describes the anticipated impact of the COVID-19 epidemic on their business in the first quarter of this year. The company foresees iPhone supplies being constrained globally and lower demand for products in the Chinese market. They further noted that “ [w]ork is starting to resume around the country, but we are experiencing a slower return to normal conditions than we had anticipated.” In a related article , the New York Times observed that Apple was one of the first global businesses to disclose the financial implications of COVID-19. 

In China, the economic sector has faced a number of challenges as large portions of the country’s workforce remain idle. According to Caixin , fewer than a third of the chinese migrant labor workforce have returned to their jobs. In addition, the COVID-19 outbreak is one of several global factors listed in HSBC Bank’s decision to cut almost 35,000 jobs from their payroll over the next 3 years.