On April 1st, a country in China’s central Henan province said that it had banned all outbound movement of people, following several cases of coronavirus infection in the area.
No one can travel out of Jia county without proper authorization, the county, which has a population of about 600,000, said in a post on its social media account.
Residents are prohibited from leaving their homes, even for work, unless they have clearance for that.
Henan province reported one confirmed case in Luohe city on March 28th. Local authorities said the infected person had been in contact with two doctors based in Jia county who later tested positive for the virus even though they had showed no symptoms.
Bloomberg’s Simon Flint wrote presciently overnight, “as China’s economy restarts, there is every risk infection rates to tick higher once again, requiring renewed control measures and potentially the beginning of a stop-start pattern of lockdowns followed by eased restrictions.”
“Multiply that pattern by the growing number of countries in lockdown – and the unknown impact of a rampant virus in nations with fewer restrictions – and the much hoped for V-shaped recovery could quickly become a series of W’s”… and since “there is no blueprint for jump-starting a stalled economy in the midst of a global pandemic, a fresh waves of infections following production restarts could quickly snuff out any rally in global stocks.”
The closing of outbound movement came shortly after unnamed US intelligence officials said that the US intelligence committee had issued a report to the White House claiming China has concealed the extent of the coronavirus outbreak in its country, under-reporting both total cases and deaths it’s suffered from the disease.
“Their numbers seem to be a little bit on the light side, and I’m being nice when I say that,” US President Donald Trump said, but he said he hadn’t received any intelligence report.
“The reality is that we could have been better off if China had been more forthcoming,” Vice President Mike Pence on April 1st on CNN.
“The claim that the United States has more coronavirus deaths than China is false,” Senator Ben Sasse, a Nebraska Republican, said in a statement after Bloomberg News published its report. “Without commenting on any classified information, this much is painfully obvious: The Chinese Communist Party has lied, is lying, and will continue to lie about coronavirus to protect the regime.”
Deborah Birx, the State Department immunologist advising the White House on its response to the outbreak, said that China’s public reporting influenced assumptions elsewhere in the world about the nature of the virus.
“The medical community made — interpreted the Chinese data as: This was serious, but smaller than anyone expected,” she said at a news conference on March 31st. “Because I think probably we were missing a significant amount of the data, now that what we see happened to Italy and see what happened to Spain.”
In response, Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of China’s state-run Global Times, on his Weibo account said that this was an attempt to divert attention from surging deaths in the US by blaming China.
“To fake the casualty data, which departments will be deployed? Who will implement the plan?,” Hu said. “It will involve many different departments in many places to get the total numbers. If one of them is faking once, they have to fake it all the time. The risk of screwing up could be very high.”
As of April 1st, the US has more confirmed cases than both Italy and Spain combined.
Spain is on the way to surpass Italy in just a matter of days, if Italy’s daily cases continue their downward trend, as it appears that Rome is succeeding in pushing the trend downwards.
Meanwhile, according to confirmed data, China has less than 2,000 active cases.
Russia made a leap, going up by 771 cases, to a total of 3,548.
Meanwhile, in Germany, Thomas Schaefer, the finance minister of Germany’s Hesse state committed suicide on March 28th, apparently after becoming “deeply worried” over how to cope with the economic fallout from the coronavirus.
Schaefer, 54, was found dead near a railway track. The Wiesbaden prosecution’s office said they believe he died by suicide.
“We are in shock, we are in disbelief and above all we are immensely sad,” state premier Volker Bouffier said in a recorded statement.
Der Tod von Finanzminister Thomas Schäfer erschüttert die Landespolitik. Ministerpräsident Volker Bouffier spricht davon, dass die Sorgen um die Zukunft den Minister „erdrückt“ haben könnten. https://t.co/ElLhkQCjRo
— FAZ Rhein-Main (@FAZ_RheinMain) March 29, 2020
“The death of finance minister Thomas Schäfer shakes state politics. Prime Minister Volker Bouffier says that concerns about the future could have “crushed” the minister.”
Bouffier recalled that Schaefer, who was Hesse’s finance chief for 10 years, had been working “day and night” to help companies and workers deal with the economic impact of the pandemic.
“Today we have to assume that he was deeply worried,” said Bouffier, a close ally of Chancellor Angela Merkel.
“It’s precisely during this difficult time that we would have needed someone like him,” he added.
Hesse is home to Germany’s financial capital Frankfurt, where major lenders like Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank have their headquarters. The European Central Bank is also located in Frankfurt.
The US, on April 1st, reached 215,000 active cases of COVID-19, with US Navy hospital ships docked near New York and Los Angeles to assist in offloading some of the strain on the hospitals in the cities.
An engineer in Los Angeles, attempted to ram a train at full speed in the USNS Mercy, docked near Los Angeles, and was arrested and charged.
Train operator at Port of Los Angeles charged with intentional derailment of locomotive near the Navy hospital ship Mercy.https://t.co/Y5fZEj0Vz4
— US Attorney L.A. (@USAO_LosAngeles) April 1, 2020
San Pedro resident Eduardo Moreno was charged with one count of train wrecking after admitting to authorities that he deliberately derailed a locomotive in an attempt to crash it into the USNS Mercy.
Moreno told the LA Port Police that he did it because he was suspicious of the Mercy, which he believed was involved in a “government takeover” plot or some other mysterious conspiracy.
CALIFORNIA: A train engineer at the Port of Los Angeles is facing federal charges for allegedly charging a locomotive off tracks toward the USNS Mercy, which he suspected is tied to a government plot, federal prosecutors said Wednesday. pic.twitter.com/RnEC5cecGb
— News (@News_USA_MSM) April 2, 2020
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