The coronavirus epidemic continues and appears to be spreading. The official case total is currently about 79,000 people, up about 10,000 in the last week. This is growth for sure, though not as fast as would be informed by an exponential model.
Of course, questions arise about the accuracy of this count. And given the authoritarian nature of the Chinese society, as well as limitations having to do with testing and verification procedures, it is possible that the real cases are undercounted, and quite possibly undercounted significantly.
To be fair, the Chinese government is likely not the only one fearing that concerns over the scope of this epidemic may cause severe economic fallout. That may likely contribute to a relatively muted reaction to the crisis on the part of the US government and many other powers in the US and elsewhere. So bear in mind that currently governments the world over have a strong incentive to underreport the spread and scope of this epidemic. Especially if they don't have a path to resolution of the problem.
Which they likely don't. For instance, after a short quarantine of a cruise ship docked in Japan those who were not infected were allowed to go. Even though the quarantine only lasted about two weeks, the incubation period is up to 21 days and the virus can survive on smooth surfaces at temperatures as low as +4C for up to 21 days. So the passengers who were just allowed to leave could be asymptomatic carriers - and the virus may be present on their belongings. And yes, they are the lucky ones as hundreds of their comrades fell ill and three of them had sadly passed away. But the ones who were released could still fall ill, or infect others - even via their infected possessions, even if they themselves are not infected. So why were they allowed to leave? This author would not know for sure, but quite possibly this is the result of realization on the part of the powers that be that the virus is way past the point where it could possibly be contained and hence further detention of these people would serve little purpose.
Meanwhile, significant strides are being made into coming up with a treatment for this virus. The scientists have come up with its structural model, and AI is helping design anti-viral treatments and vaccines aimed at this particular virus. Additionally, as time goes on viruses tend to mutate into more transmissible but less lethal forms. So, as is often the case, not all news is bad and there are many ways this situation may play out.
However, it is severe, and in some countries disruptions have been very significant. Not just in China where whole cities are on lock down, not just in Hong Kong where many stores have been emptied of goods, but also in Italy where many public events have been cancelled and closures enacted in some towns. In Israel, given how dense the population is, various lockdown scenarios are possible as hundreds of people are under observation and one case is confirmed. In some underdeveloped parts of the world, such as sub-Saharan Africa, the virus really threatens massive destruction should it get a hold there.
Meanwhile, for an average person the threat posed by possible disruptions is likely more tangible than the threat of the disease itself. In light of that, preparedness seems to be key. By being prepared, not only do you get to stay out of the possibly tense situations should there be a panic and shortages, you avoid possibly crowded areas where cross-infection is more likely to occur.
We have started on this path and recently received out first shipment: a two week supply of 25-year shelf life food from My Patriot Supply (link below). And yes, they have a backlog of orders. We have yet to sample it - but once we do, I will certainly report on the experience.
And yes, the supply chains being what they are in the modern world, disruptions may be damaging. For example, the US pharmaceutical industry may experience severe disruptions due to the fact that a large number of pharmaceuticals sold in the US, and other Western countries, is manufactures in China. So think of what you may need - and try to get some supplies stocked up. This may be more important than you think.
This situation is a challenge. It takes energy, dedication and effort to meet this challenge. How well we as a global society are prepared for it - that remains to be seen.
On a personal note - stay healthy, do your best to think clearly and act reasonably, hope for the best and be prepared for whatever may come.
Coronavirus COVID-19 Global Cases by Johns Hopkins CSSE
The Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at JHU
Bill Gates warns that coronavirus impact could be ‘very, very dramatic,’ outlines long-term solutions
Todd Bishop, GeekWire, 14 February 2020
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Alan Boyle, GeekWire, 19 February 2020
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David Isaac, World Israel News, 23 February 2020
Coronavirus: some random thoughts and observations
@borepstein, 15 February 2020
China’s Lock on Drugs
Steve Stemberg, US News, 8 May 2018
A dozen towns in northern Italy are locked down after coronavirus deaths
Doug Stanglin, USA Today, 22 February 2020
Last Coronavirus Cruise Passenger Departs Ship, but Infection Concerns Linger
Suryatapa Bhattacharya and Peter Landers, The Wall Street Journal, 23 February 2020
First data on stability and resistance of SARS coronavirus compiled by members of WHO laboratory network
World Health Organization
The Corona Virus and The Supply Chain 2-23-2020
DuckHK, 23 February 2020