Showing posts with label Virus. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Virus. Show all posts

March 12, 2020

In South Korea Their Newest and Biggest Messiah Has Not Cured Anyone But Started The Hot Zone of Infection

 Credit...Pool photo

SEOUL, South Korea — More than 1.2 million citizens have called for the secretive church to be disbanded. One province asked the public to report church members to a hotline for coronavirus testing. Smartphone apps help identify the church’s 1,100 once-obscure facilities in South Korea, most already plastered with “off-limits” signs by disease-control officials.

Even before the coronavirus scourge, South Korea’s Shincheonji Church of Jesus had faced increased suspicion over its tactics to attract tens of thousands of recruits. But in the month since the church was identified as the epicenter of infections in the country, it has become the target of scorn, vilification and open hatred.

The founder, Lee Man-hee, 88, who has promised its 240,000 members entry to the “new heaven and new earth,” is now the potential subject of a prosecutor investigation into possible murder charges.

Parents of recruits accuse him of “brainwashed slavery.” Former members describe him as another in a long-line of spiritual snake-oil salesmen in South Korea, a fertile ground for untraditional religious sects. 

A large majority of the country’s more than 7,500 coronavirus patients are Shincheonji members in Daegu, a city in the southeast, or people who had come into contact with them. An additional cluster of cases has emerged in Cheongdo, a county near Daegu that is Mr. Lee’s birthplace and a regular pilgrimage destination for his followers.

The church has protested what it called “scapegoating” by South Koreans eager to discredit what had been the fastest-growing religious sect in the country, as other big churches worry about declining membership.

“The entire society has gone berserk against our church since the virus outbreak,” said Lee Young-Soo, 54, a Shincheonji member whose sister, a fellow church member, died after having fallen from her seventh-floor apartment in the southern city of Ulsan last month. Ms. Lee said her sister had confided that her husband’s long-running abuse over her church   had intensified after the virus outbreak.

Another Shincheonji member who church officials said had suffered spousal abuse, a 42-year-old mother of two, died after having fallen from her 11th floor apartment on Monday night. The police are investigating both cases.

“The society is so wrong, and I am so saddened,” Ms. Lee said.

Still, the church is inextricably linked to the spread of the affliction in South Korea, one of the largest outbreaks outside China.
The church’s clandestine nature is part of what made it a focal point for the country’s anger and fear. Officials have struggled to locate and screen church members for the virus.

Kwon Jun-Wook, a senior disease-control official, said last month that when officials had tried to reach church members, they found many incommunicado. Daegu’s mayor said Tuesday that dozens of Shincheonji members must be immediately tested for the coronavirus or face fines. The city of Seoul has accused Mr. Lee and his disciples of failing to provide full membership lists.

“Lee Man-hee is a psychopath who has lied and lied until he believed his own lie that he was the true messiah,” said Jeong Ji-su, a former disciple who left last July.

 'This Messiah Cannot cure You as He Promised'

Mr. Lee is far from the first person claiming to be a messiah in South Korea.

Shamanism — worshiping a multitude of deities including dead parents, ancient warriors and mountain spirits — has infused society for millenniums, interacting with new arrivals like Christianity and making some Koreans amenable to embracing new belief systems, said Koo Se-woong, a scholar who has researched Korean religions.

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“Promising a new world and a ‘New Jerusalem’ in Korea is nothing new among Christian churches in South Korea,” Dr. Koo said. 

As the country has suffered war and deprivation in the past century, 120 self-styled messiahs promising a new world of peace have emerged, 70 commanding sizable followings. The best known is the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, founder of the Unification Church, who died in 2012.

Some ended up in jail on fraud or rape charges or lived in disgrace after the rapture they had promised never came. But their apostles split and spread, rebranding themselves into new sects. Mr. Lee was one of them.

On the day she first encountered the church in September 2016, Ms. Jeong, 25, recalled in an interview, she had been hurrying through a Seoul subway station. Two friendly looking women and a young man about her age asked if she could spare a few minutes to give feedback on a movie script.

They entered a fast-food restaurant, where her initiation began. She became a full member in July 2017. Ms. Jeong said she had been brainwashed and spent the next two years recruiting fellow young people just as she had been.

Shincheonji recruiters seek converts who might be vulnerable, first uncovering personal problems, like low self-esteem in Ms. Jeong’s case. They offer counseling, building friendship and persuading recruits that Bible studies can help, former members said.

“The entire church was a con job,” Ms. Jeong said. “When they targeted you for proselytizing, everyone who approached you in the cloak of chance encounter was a member of Shincheonji — only that you didn’t know it.”

Other former members report proselytizers approached with free tarot card readings, personality tests and foreign-language classes. 

“Young people are attracted to Shincheonji at times like this when opportunities dwindle because the church raises hopes of jobs as pastors and preachers and promises a spiritually fulfilling life, even promising eternal life and high priestship when the new world comes,” said Kim Seong-Ja, 58, a former member.

Young converts often lived together in cheap crowded rooms, former members said. Dating, or any distraction from the goal of winning converts, was discouraged.

“We were nothing but proselytizing robots,” said Lee Ho-yeon, 24, a former member. “I spent as little as possible on food and used what little money I left in my pocket to buy Starbucks coffee for people I wanted to convert.”

Because of Shincheonji’s suspect image, proselytizers would delay revealing their affiliation until confident that their recruits were ready, former members said.

Once they ​passed written tests after months of Bible studies, converts ​became participants in a spectacular commencement ceremony. Life as a church member included meetings, proselytizing missions on the streets and daily progress reports on how many people they had tried to recruit and how their recruits were doing in Bible studies, former members said.

Worshipers were told to keep their membership secret from relatives. If  parents became suspicious, former members said, handlers had told them to lie.

When parents tried to stop worshipers from attending the church, many left home. Ms. Lee said she ate as little as possible at home in case her parents mixed her food with sleeping pills to get her away from the church. 

“They said it was OK to lie to our parents, as it was OK for moms to call bitter medicine a chocolate when feeding it to a sick baby,” said Stella Seo, 29, who was in Shincheonji for seven years until late 2018. 

The practice of disavowing membership carried over to how at least some church members responded to the coronavirus outbreak. South Koreans were outraged when it was revealed last month that church members had received a message telling them to deny their affiliation with Shincheonji and to keep proselytizing even after the outbreak was reported among its congregation.

Shincheonji said that the instruction was not church policy and that it had punished the official who issued it.

While Shincheonji’s recruitment methods have drawn recent condemnation for helping spread the virus, its approach has long galled more mainstream churches, which have accused it of sending undercover proselytizers, known as harvesters, into their congregations and stealing members.

Sometimes, the harvesters were accused of sowing internal discord in a church and taking it over, a feat celebrated as “moving a mountain” among Shincheonji members.

Shincheonji said that disgruntled former members and traditional churches alarmed over their shrinking congregations had spread false rumors to discredit the church. 

But in video footage of internal lecturing viewed by The New York Times, a proselytizing instructor said that the old way of founding a church and then building a congregation “is too expensive, takes too much manpower and is too time-consuming.”

“It’s better to swallow existing churches,” she said to a chorus of amens. “But you must keep this strategy to yourself.”

Mr. Lee has defended the church’s response to the outbreak, and Shincheonji has issued statements through a spokesman repeating that the church was cooperating with the government and demanding an end to “scapegoating.”

Eo Kwang-il, 38, a Shincheonji member, said that because of overwhelming bias against their church, members hid their affiliation and used ruses to win converts. But he said the church never forced members to abandon school or jobs for the sake of proselytizing.

How the church conducts gatherings, however, has drawn scrutiny as a spreader of the disease. Worshipers sit packed tightly on the floor and attend even when sick, former members say.

“We were taught not to be afraid of illness,” said Lee Ho-yeon, who left the church in 2015. A church leader boasted to followers on Feb. 9 that although hundreds of people had died in Wuhan, China, where the outbreak began, no Shincheonji worshipers there became sick, according to the audio file of the sermon released by Yoon Jae-Deok, an expert on religious groups like Shincheonji.

The crowded conditions of Shincheonji churches did make them more vulnerable to contagious diseases, said Hwang Gui-hag, the editor in chief of the Seoul-based Law Times, which specializes in church news. 

But he said that in his view, the central and regional governments, caught off-guard by the virus, had found a convenient point of blame in the church. He said mainstream churches had a vested interest in disparaging Shincheonji, as did the “cult hunters” who demonize the church so that families hire them to remove relatives.

Shincheonji’s followers call ​Mr. ​Lee, the founder, by biblical references like “the Promised Pastor​.” He once gathered his 12 deputies and re-created the scene from the Last Supper.

“It’s embarrassing now to admit this,” said Ms. Seo. “But when I first saw him, I was so overwhelmed with emotions that I wept.”

Ms. Seo said she had felt proud when she and thousands of other church members gathered under a scorching summer sun to practice for the “​world ​​​peace festivals” that Mr. Lee and Kim Nam-hee, a former deputy, organized. Tens of thousands were mobilized to dance, sing and perform.

Ms. Kim, the former deputy, split with Mr. Lee in 2017 and has since called him “no messiah but just a plain old religious con man.” The church called her “an apostate.”

Public officials in Gyeonggi Province sealing one of the 10 Shincheonji facilities in the city of Guri on Sunday.Credit...Woohae Cho for The New York Times
Attempts at ‘Reconversion’

Distressed parents have taken children to  “cult hunters” — activist pastors affiliated with mainstream churches who offer “reconversion” services. In some cases, Shincheonji representatives file a missing person’s report with the police and visit the homes or work sites of relatives to protest.

Both of Ms. Seo’s parents and her brother quit their jobs to stay with her as she violently resisted a reconversion program. Ms. Seo said she had refused to eat for eight days and slashed her wrist and thigh with a razor blade.

“As far as I was concerned, it was a fight against Satan,” she said.

After two months in the program, Ms. Seo rejected the church.

Other families said their efforts to persuade a relative to leave the church had failed.

Doo Song-ja, 64, took her 33-year-old daughter, Hong Eun-hwa, twice to a reconversion program, but she refused to leave the church.

“The only thing left for me is to erase her from my memory,” Ms. Doo said. “But how can I?”

Shincheonji has said that  social bias against it has intensified lately, with members reporting taunting at work and death threats.

“Many church members were afraid to come out and reveal their church membership, given the overwhelming blaming coming from politicians and news media that called Shincheonji the originator of the virus outbreak,” Kim Si-mon, a church spokesman, said in a statement.

The government has repeatedly warned that the battle against the coronavirus depends on how quickly infected church members can be isolated. Mr. Lee has urged them to “follow the government’s instructions,” avoid gatherings and proselytize only online.

Some parents, like Choi Mi-sook, 56, mother of Shincheonji member Kim Yoo-jeong, 25,  remain distraught.

March 11, 2020

Donald Trump Thinks He is "Got Natural Ability" to Know, Address Viral Outbreaks


By Steve Benen

During Donald Trump's visit to the CDC in Atlanta on Friday, a reporter asked the president how American hospitals can properly prepare for a viral outbreak if they have no idea how many patients to expect. Trump's answer rambled a bit, before the Republican assured everyone, "I like this stuff."
"You know, my uncle was a great person. He was at MIT. He taught at MIT for, I think, like a record number of years. He was a great super genius. Dr. John Trump. I like this stuff. I really get it. People are surprised that I understand it. Every one of these doctors said, 'How do you know so much about this? ' Maybe I have a natural ability. Maybe I should have done that instead of running for president."
For weeks, many have marveled at Trump's willingness to ignore, reject, and contradict assessments from experts on the coronavirus outbreak, but these comments help make clear why the president is comfortable doing so: he's convinced himself that he's an expert.
If this sounds at all familiar, it may be because it's happened several times before. About a year ago, for example, Trump was reflecting on technology measures that have been deployed along the U.S./Mexico border, and he assured the public, "I'm a professional at technology."
What kind of technology? He didn't say, but we can probably assume he meant every possible kind.
As we discussed at the time, Trump has also claimed to be the world's foremost authority on everything from terrorism to campaign finance, the judicial system to infrastructure, trade to renewable energy. NowThis prepared a video montage on the subject a while back, and it was amazing to see the many subjects on which the president considers himself a world-class expert. Soon after, Trump billed himself as "the greatest hostage negotiator" in American history. Now, our polymathic leader has "a natural ability" to understand epidemiology, too, all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding.
It's not reasonable to expect a president to be an expert in everything, but it's quite reasonable to expect him to realize that he's not an expert in everything.

March 10, 2020

Just Now}} Inmates in Italy Take Over Prisons Setting Fires and Braking The Infirmaries For Drugs Because The Scare Of Corona

{{VICE News }} 
Italy’s coronavirus lockdown has triggered violent protests in prisons across the country, as inmates fear a devastating outbreak behind bars.
Eleven people are dead after protests erupted in 27 prisons Monday. Inmates took staff hostage, launched mass breakouts, lit fires, and scaled the roofs of prisons. Most of the deaths appear to have been overdoses of methadone looted from prison clinics, but at least one was from smoke inhalation, according to Francesco Basentini, the director of the Italian prison system. The riots began Saturday in the city of Salerno, when news leaked that the government was imposing an unprecedented lockdown of the country’s north, impacting about 16 million people, or a quarter of the Italian population. With the number of confirmed cases continuing to soar, the emergency quarantine was extended to the entire country Monday night.
The lockdown led prison authorities to cancel family visits and day releases, which sparked an angry response from prisoners. Inmates also called for an amnesty to allow them to serve their sentence from home during the coronavirus crisis, and urgent action to reduce overcrowding, amid fears that the virus could sweep through the jails. Italy’s jail system is designed to hold about 51,000 inmates but houses about 10,000 more than that, resulting in chronic overcrowding.
Further protests were reported Tuesday, including in the southern city of Campobasso, where inmates set fire to mattresses to demand increased communication with their families during the crisis, and at Palermo's Pagliarelli jail, where inmates overran sections of the jail and climbed on the roof.
In Modena, in the north, inmates took two guards hostage, stole their keys, and rampaged through the prison. They also looted methadone syrup from the infirmary. Eight inmates from the prison are reported to have died, and six are in serious condition. At least three guards and a number of health workers were also injured in the violence. Three other inmates were reported to have died of overdoses at a prison in Rieti province, after inmates briefly took control of the facility.
In the southern city of Foggia, inmates occupied the entire compound Monday before launching a mass jailbreak, the Justice Ministry said. After tearing down a gate, about 50 inmates fled the complex. About 30 were rounded up nearby and returned to the jail, but about 20 others stole staff cars to flee.
In Melfi prison, which has about 200 inmates, prisoners took four guards and five health workers hostage for about 10 hours, before releasing them and returning to their cells late Monday. Four prison officers were also taken hostage in Bologna, where 350 inmates occupied two sections of the jail.
In Milan’s San Vittore prison, prisoners scaled the roof after seizing keys to the complex, holding a banner reading “indulto” — Italian for “pardon.” Footage from the scene showed fires burning inside the building. Outside, police clashed with inmates’ relatives, who had gathered to protest the situation.
And in the Rebibbia and Regina Coeli prisons in Rome, inmates lit fires and raided a pharmacy. Almost all of the 27 affected jails have sustained serious damage, according to the Justice Ministry.
“The situation is catastrophic,” Aldo Di Giacomo, spokesman for the prison officer union SPP, told Italian news agency Adnkronos. He said the guards had warned their bosses that the situation was likely to explode due to tensions over the coronavirus. He said the army needed to be called in to guard the prisons, which he believed should be completely sealed off for the rest of the lockdown, with inmates confined to their cells.
Prisoners’ rights advocates have called for a more sympathetic response for inmates during the outbreak, saying they are terrified and confused by the virus, and that inadequate testing has been conducted in jails. Inmate advocacy group Antigone has called for the government to allow more prisoners to serve their sentences on house arrest for the duration of the crisis.
“If people outside are scared, imagine what it’s like inside,” spokeswoman Susanna Marietti told the DPA news agency.
But Italy’s hardline opposition leader Matteo Salvini said there should be no concessions made to the rioting inmates. “To handle this serious emergency of the detention centers, you need the iron fist of an Extraordinary Commissioner who brings back order and respect for the law,” he tweeted.
Cover: Inmates stage a protest against new rules to cope with coronavirus emergency, including the suspension of relatives' visits, on the roof of the San Vittore prison in Milan, Italy, Monday, March 9, 2020. (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni

March 9, 2020

China Says They Are in Control of The Corona Virus, If True, At What Cost?

Coronavirus, at a Painful Cost

 Credit...Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Beijing says its heavy-handed measures are working. Can other countries battling the outbreak learn from its efforts — or is the cure worse than the disease?
BEIJING — As the new coronavirus races around the world, tanking markets, cutting off global travel and suspending school for hundreds of millions of children, governments are desperate for ways to contain it.

China, the place where it first appeared, says it has the answers.

To the surprise of some, the country that concealed and mismanaged the initial outbreak appears to be bringing it under control, at least by its own official figures. The number of new cases reported has fallen dramatically in recent days even as infections are surging in other countries. The World Health Organization has praised Beijing’s response.

Officials reported only 99 new cases on Saturday, down from around 2,000 a day just weeks ago, and for the second day in a row, none were detected in Hubei Province outside of its capital, Wuhan, the center of the outbreak.

China says the trend proves that its containment measures — which include a lockdown on nearly 60 million people in Hubei and strict quarantine and travel restrictions for hundreds of millions of citizens and foreigners — are working. And it has begun trying to promote its efforts as successful in propaganda at home and abroad.

The rest of the world, much of it fearfully confronting its first cases, has taken note. But there is also concern that China’s numbers may be flawed and incomplete. The real test will be whether the virus flares again when children return to classrooms and workers to factories, and commuters start taking buses and subways.

China’s blunt force strategy poses deeper questions for other countries. Its campaign has come at great cost to people’s livelihoods and personal liberties. Even countries that could copy China still have to ask whether the cure is worse than the disease.

“I think they did an amazing job of knocking the virus down,” said Michael T. Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. “But I don’t know if it’s sustainable. What have the Chinese really accomplished? Have they really contained the virus? Or have they just suppressed it?”

Elsewhere, Italy, South Korea and Iran are struggling to control the spread of the virus. In the United States, where there are now more than 400 confirmed cases, the government has been criticized for fumbling its rollout of test kits and allowing the virus to spread in vulnerable communities like a nursing home in Seattle. The outbreak now threatens global growth and is intensifying a backlash against immigration and globalization.

The economy has ground to a near standstill, and many small businesses say they may soon run out of cash. Patients with critical illnesses are struggling to find timely care, and some have died. Hundreds of millions of people have been placed in some form of isolation. As of Friday, about 827,000 people remained under quarantine in Beijing, according to the state-run China Daily newspaper.

“I have been worried about all the focus on just controlling the virus,” said Dr. Jennifer Nuzzo, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. She recommended a more measured response, such as that taken by the governments in Hong Kong and Singapore. Officials there enacted targeted quarantines but did not shut down workplaces altogether, allowing their respective economies to continue operating while so far successfully containing the virus.

“We have to take a broad view of the impact on society,” Dr. Nuzzo said, “and do a better accounting for the social tolls of these measures that is not just focused on the numbers.”

For China, the numbers are key.
 Credit...Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

The number of cases reported on Saturday was a substantial decline from two and a half weeks ago, when China was recording around 2,000 new infections and as many as 100 deaths a day. Twenty-eight new deaths were reported on Saturday, all in Hubei.

In Beijing, traffic was light on Friday afternoon during what would usually have been rush hour.
In Beijing, traffic was light on Friday afternoon during what would usually have been rush hour.Credit...Kevin Frayer/Getty Images
By comparison, Italy reported 49 deaths from the virus on Friday.

Outside of Wuhan, the spread has effectively stopped, according to the official figures. All but one of the 99 new cases reported on Saturday were in Wuhan or were people who had traveled to China from abroad.

The World Health Organization says China’s containment measures may have saved hundreds of thousands of people from infection. Its efforts show that uncontrolled spread of the virus “is not a one-way street,” Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the group’s director general, said on Thursday.

“This epidemic can be pushed back,” Dr. Tedros said, “but only with a collective, coordinated and comprehensive approach that engages the entire machinery of government.”

W.H.O. experts sent to China have also highlighted clinics that could diagnose hundreds of cases a day with CT scans and laboratory tests, and the mass isolation centers in stadiums in Wuhan that separated people who had mild infections from their families.

“There’s no question that China’s bold approach to the rapid spread of this new respiratory pathogen has changed the course of what was a rapidly escalating and continues to be a deadly epidemic,” Dr. Bruce Aylward, the leader of the W.H.O. team that visited China, told reporters in Beijing late last month.

The numbers suggest that aggressive quarantine measures, when fully enforced, could choke the spread of the virus, said Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University.

“This is the largest public health experiment in the history of humankind,” Dr. Schaffner said. “They can’t turn it off, but they did turn it down. And it did provide the rest of the world with some extra time.”

Still, the total number of infections in China, at more than 80,000, is staggering. And there are reasons to doubt the official figures.

In the early days of the outbreak, a shortage of test kits and hospital beds meant that many were not able to get tested. Many mild infections are likely going undetected. The government has changed how it counts cases several times in recent weeks, prompting large fluctuations in the reported figures, though experts say such adjustments are not unusual.

Medical experts say that there have been few signs that the government has aggressively tested for the coronavirus outside of medical facilities in Hubei. Until they broaden the scope of testing, experts say, it will be impossible to determine the true extent of the epidemic because those who have mild infections might not see a doctor.

“At the moment we are focused on the tip of the iceberg,” said David Hui, the director of the Stanley Ho Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

The ruling Communist Party hails the slowdown of the outbreak as a sign of the superiority of its authoritarian, top-down political system that gives officials nearly unchecked power. But its heavy-handed measures are testing the patience of its citizens, many of whom think such a clampdown could have been avoided if officials had not first hid the scale of the outbreak and silenced whistle-blowers.

The impact of the restrictions has been felt most acutely in Hubei, where 56 million people have been effectively penned in since January. For more than five weeks, the typically bustling hub of universities, commerce and transportation has been transformed into a collection of ghost towns as the virus has ravaged communities, ensnared entire families and infected thousands of medical workers.

China’s experience combating the virus has also highlighted the risk of family transmission if hospitals run out of beds and testing kits, as they did in Wuhan, where for weeks, many who were sick were sent home and infected their relatives.

Supermarket workers prepared to deliver bags of vegetables to residents in Wuhan.
Roadblocks have sealed off cities, public transportation has been shut down and private cars have been mostly banned from the roads. In Wuhan, restrictions on individual movement have been stepped up in recent weeks, with residents now mostly barred from leaving their homes.

Among residents in Hubei, there are signs that anger and frustration are mounting. Chinese social media sites are flooded with posts from residents saying they have lost their jobs because of the extended lockdown, making it difficult to make payments on mortgages and loans. Others have described food shortages in their communities.

On Thursday, in a rare public rebuke of the government, disgruntled people in a residential community in Wuhan heckled high-level officials as they walked through the neighborhood on an inspection.

“Fake! Everything is fake!” shouted one resident at the delegation, which included Sun Chunlan, a vice premier leading the central government’s response to the outbreak.

The state-run People’s Daily newspaper later said that the accusations were aimed at local neighborhood officials who had “faked” delivery of vegetables and meat to residents. Ms. Sun ordered an immediate investigation into the issue.

Wang Zhonglin, the party secretary of Wuhan, announced plans on Friday to teach the city’s residents to be grateful to the party, a move that was quickly met with derision and anger on Chinese social media.

Relationships are also fraying as families are forced to live for extended periods in confined spaces. Guo Jing, a feminist activist in Wuhan, said she and other volunteers had fielded a number of requests for help from residents reporting physical abuse by their family members at home.

“Under these circumstances, it’s really difficult for them to find help during the epidemic,” said Ms. Guo. “It’s so difficult to leave the house.”
 Credit...Getty Images

Erecting a makeshift barricade at residential compound in Wuhan.Credit...Getty Images
Fang Fang, a writer who has been keeping a widely read — and often-censored — online journal of life in Wuhan, said that the lockdown was exacting a psychological toll on residents.

“Ordinary people have no source of income and lack a sense of certainty even about when they’ll be able to go out,” she wrote in a recent entry. “When you can’t feel the ground or you lose control over a situation, it’s easy to lose the most basic sense of security.”

Outside of Hubei, China wants to fire up its economy, but local officials are also under immense pressure to take no risks in order to reduce the number of infections. Even as provinces have lowered their alert levels for the virus, many companies are choosing to err on the side of caution. Some have even faked electricity consumption rates in order to hit stringent back-to-work targets, according to a recent report by Caixin, an influential Chinese magazine.

Credit...Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

March 8, 2020

Vietnamese Homemade Animated Video in How To Protect Yourself~ Funny!

Hanoi: A home made animated video featuring a catchy vietnamese song
spreading awareness about precautionary measures to fend-off the deadly coronavirus outbreak has taken over the internet with by storm.
Cribbing the tune from pop song Jealous - or Ghen in Vietnamese - by singers Erik and Min, the Ministry of Health released an animated video with lyrics telling its citizens to ''push back the virus Corona, Corona.'' The song is also available on YouTube, titled, ''Trung tam Thanh thieu nien mien Nam - SYC''.  

March 7, 2020

Donald's Gut Collides With Science Again


President Trump is known to say what's on his mind, to go with his gut and accentuate the positive. That approach is now colliding with a public health emergency in the form of coronavirus. 
The challenge posed by Trump's breezy style was on full display Wednesday night in an interview in which he disputed the World Health Organization's recent coronavirus death rate estimate of 3.4%.
"Well, I think the 3.4% is really a false number," Trump told Sean Hannity on Fox News. "Now, this is just my hunch, and — but based on a lot of conversations with a lot of people that do this, because a lot of people will have this, and it's very mild. They will get better very rapidly. They don't even see a doctor."
"Personally, I would say, the number is way under 1%," Trump said.
Public health experts have said there actually is a lot of uncertainty about the mortality rate of coronavirus because it is so new, testing remains limited and the severity of illness varies widely. They say the mortality rate could decrease as more is understood about the disease.
"We are still very early in understanding. All the evidence isn't there," said Adm. Brett Giroir, an assistant health secretary in charge of public health. Giroir told reporters on Capitol Hill that modeling suggests that the death rate is likely lower than 1%. That's higher than the death rate for the seasonal flu, which is typically around 0.1% and 0.15%.
The WHO rate compares the number of deaths to the number of people tested. But many people who have the virus do not show serious symptoms and do not get tested, said Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
But, as Trump tried to explain this in his interview, he added confusion by discussing how people with a mild case of the disease caused by coronavirus may not be tested for it.
"So, if we have thousands or hundreds of thousands of people that get better just by, you know, sitting around and even going to work — some of them go to work, but they get better," Trump said.
Trump's upbeat tone made it seem as though he was suggesting it was a good thing that people with coronavirus could go to work. 
Meanwhile, major employers in Washington state, where there has been a cluster of coronavirus cases, are telling employees to stay home to avoid further spread of the virus.
Facing backlash, Trump clarified what he said he meant in a tweet on Thursday morning. "I NEVER said people that are feeling sick should go to work," Trump said. 
An administration official told NPR on the condition of anonymity that when Trump said sick people go to work, he was talking about telecommuting.
During the interview, Trump also revealed that he was concerned that repatriating Americans from the Diamond Princess cruise ship that was held in Japan last month would "look bad" because it would increase the total number of coronavirus cases in the United States. "I felt we had to do it. And, in one way, I hated to do it statistically," Trump said.
Trump has continued to boast about the United States having fewer cases of the virus than other countries do, even as infectious disease experts say numbers are likely to go up significantly once testing is more widespread.
It's a challenge for any politician to accurately convey public health messages: to encourage preparedness and avoid inciting fear without underplaying or overselling the risks. That challenge is particularly acute for Trump given his free-flowing communications style.

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