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Thread: Coronavirus (COVID-19) Wuhan Pneumonia

  1. #16
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    Free on Huanxi Premium

    Too bad I don't have Huanxi Premium.

    Chinese Comedy 'Lost in Russia' to Debut Online for Free After Coronavirus Cancellations (Exclusive)
    6:25 PM PST 1/23/2020 by Patrick Brzeski


    Huanxi Media
    'Lost in Russia'

    The film was expected to be one of the big theatrical blockbusters of the Lunar New Year season for studio Huanxi before the epidemic shuttered cinemas nationwide.
    China's leading film studios were forced to cancel the holiday release of their biggest movies of the year yesterday after the growing coronavirus epidemic cast a pall over the country's annual Lunar New Year festivities.

    Now, rising film company Huanxi Media is responding to the setback with a bold but fan-pleasing move: The studio has decided to release its much-anticipated comedy tentpole Lost in Russia online for free.

    Lost in Russia, directed by and starring comedy superstar Xu Zheng, was widely expected to be one of the big winners of China's 2020 New Year box office, which, prior to the coronavirus outbreak, was forecasted to generate as much as $1 billion in ticket sales over the coming week. The first two films in the Lost In franchise earned a combined $473 million in 2012 and 2015 — at a time when China's box office was much smaller than it is now.

    Huanxi told The Hollywood Reporter Friday morning that Lost In Russia will be made available for free viewing over its in-house streaming platform Huanxi Premium at midnight tonight. Before the coronavirus cancellation, the film was set to get a huge nationwide theatrical release today.

    The move is all but certain to delight fans, as mass moviegoing has become a big Lunar New Year tradition in China, and cinemas across the country are currently shuttered because of the government's advice to avoid congregating in crowded places.

    Lost in Russia's Chinese title roughly translates to "Awkward Mother." The film follows the bumpy journey through Russia of a manipulative older Chinese mother and her middle-aged son who still wants to rebel and escape his mother's smothering influence. Xu, famous for his comedy touch, said his goal was to make viewers reflect on the often funny but deeply loving nature of the mother-child relationship in China.

    In a blast of promotional material set to be released midday in China announcing the free streaming plan, Huanxi told the anxious Chinese populace to "stay safely at home and watch Lost in Russia with your mom."

    Aside from its obvious promotional savvy — and public health benefits — Huanxi's move has an interesting business logic. Underlying the plan is a surprise new deal with internet powerhouse ByteDance, the company behind China's wildly popular Toutiao and Douyin services, and the international social media phenomenon TikTok.

    On Friday, Huanxi revealed that it has entered into a cooperation agreement with ByteDance that will involve the companies working together to leverage Huanxi's premium film and television content across both of their video platforms. Under the deal, ByteDance will pay Huanxi a one-time fee of 700 million Hong Kong dollars (just under $100 million). The two companies' video services will pool content, cross-promote and also share advertising and transactional video-on-demand revenue.

    The giveaway of Lost in Russia (the local equivalent of Disney deciding to open the paywall to Disney+ and release a new Avengers movie for free) — at a time when hundreds of millions of Chinese are nervously stuck at home with little to do — ensures that the new partnership starts with a bang. The attendant advertising revenue of the free online release could also prove enormous.

    In a Friday filing to the Hong Kong stock exchange, where Huanxi is listed, the company said that the current partnership with ByteDance constitutes a "phase 1" agreement that will run for six months. The two parties are currently at work in negotiating a longer-lasting "phase 2" deal, which will entail the joint development of their longform streaming channels, as well as shared investments in producing and acquiring high-end film and TV content.

    Huanxi also has retained the theatrical rights to Lost in Russia, should it decide to bring the film out in cinemas after the public health crisis is resolved.

    The late-hour surprise online release was made possible by the fact that Huanxi fully owns Lost in Russia, a rarity in China, where nearly all major films are co-financed and cut up into small equity pieces (star Xu Zheng is a significant shareholder in Huanxi and one its founding partners). The company previously had inked a minimum guarantee agreement with distributor Hengdian Film, which was promising a minimum box office performance of RMB 2.4 billion ($345 million) for Lost in Russia. That agreement was voided late Thursday and Huanxi is expected to return the RMB 600 million ($86.5 million) fee that Hengdian had paid for the theatrical rights.

    Huanxi also has a large stake in Peter Chan's widely anticipated Chinese New Year film Leap, an inspirational sports drama about China's Olympic volleyball team. Leap and the various other Chinese New Year theatrical tentpoles — including Wanda's comedy action sequel Detective Chinatown 3, Dante Lam's patriotic action epic The Rescue, and animations Boonie Bears: The Wild Life and Jiang Ziya, among others — are currently in a holding pattern, awaiting official indications of how the coronavirus emergency will unfold.
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  2. #17
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    tasty?

    More on bat soup here. Interesting how that story was 2017 originally.

    ‘Sorry about the tasty bat’: Chinese online host apologises for travel show dining advice as Wuhan virus spreads
    Wang Mengyun says she had no idea the animals are a reservoir of disease when she filmed the programme in Palau three years ago
    Emergence of new coronavirus similar to other bat-borne pathogens revives calls for ban on eating exotic species
    Laura Zhou
    Published: 2:11pm, 26 Jan, 2020


    Wang Mengyun says she is sorry for an online travel show segment about bat soup filmed in 2016. Photo: Sohu

    With the death toll from a coronavirus outbreak racing past 50, a Chinese internet celebrity has apologised for posting a video three years ago promoting bat as a tasty food.
    Wang Mengyun, host of an online show about international travel, wrote on her microblog that she was not aware that bats could be a virus carrier when she appeared in the video posted in 2017.
    “[I] had no idea during filming that there was such a virus,” Wang wrote online on Wednesday. “I realised it only recently.”
    She said the video was filmed in Palau, an archipelago in the western Pacific, about three years ago, when she and her team were shooting a tourism programme and trying some local dishes, including bat soup.
    In the video, Wang and another Chinese woman hold up a cooked bat and smile to camera.
    “The bat tastes very fresh, like chicken meat,” she says.
    “I didn’t know that bat is a primary reservoir of viruses ... I really did not check the information or explain its dangerous nature,” she said.
    The video was taken down but reposted by Chinese internet users after cases of pneumonia-like illness emerged in the city of Wuhan in central China late last year.
    The virus soon spread across the country and overseas, killing 56 people and triggering a fear of contagion.
    According to the National Health Commission nearly 2,000 cases of the new coronavirus have been confirmed, with 324 of them in a critical condition.


    China coronavirus: a look inside the sealed off city of Wuhan

    While health officials and researchers are struggling to determine the origins of the virus, scientists from the elite Chinese Academy of Sciences said on Friday that its genome was 96 per cent identical to a bat coronavirus.
    This echoed the findings of David Robertson, a bioinformatics specialist at the University of Glasgow’s Centre for Virus Research, and statistician Jiang Xiaowei of Xian Jiaotong-Liverpool University, who wrote in a medical discussion forum that new coronavirus’ genome data was “most closely related” to three other bat coronaviruses.
    The outbreak in Wuhan has also triggered heated discussion on mainland China about banning consumption of exotic animals, which were sold at a wet market thought to be a source of the cases.
    Some internet users said Wang should have been aware of the deadly nature of wild animals, given the suspected exotic species origins of a deadly 2003 outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars), which killed 774 people worldwide.
    “[Wang] filmed the video in 2016 but since 2003 Sars we have been warned to say no to wild animal consumption,” one Weibo user wrote. “She said it was [filmed] overseas but what she did was trying to show people that bat was attractively tasted.”
    Sign up now for our 50% early bird offer from SCMP Research: China AI Report. The all new SCMP China AI Report gives you exclusive first-hand insights and analysis into the latest industry developments, and actionable and objective intelligence about China AI that you should be equipped with.

    This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: host of online travel show apologises for posting video of eating bat in 2017
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  3. #18
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    Wildlife consumption

    Wildlife Consumption Linked to Deadly New Strain of Virus
    January 24, 2020



    With more than 800 people infected and 26 confirmed deaths, a new virus outbreak from China has put a spotlight on the consumption of wildlife. While the government has stepped up its efforts to limit such consumption in response, WildAid is working with our partners in China and Vietnam to implement effective and long-term solutions.

    The new coronavirus (known as 2019-nCoV) was first reported in Wuhan City, China, on December 31, 2019, and has since been detected in travelers to other countries. The Huanan Seafood Market in the central city of Wuhan came under scrutiny after experts suggested the new type of virus came from wild animals kept in unhygienic conditions and illegally sold for consumption. A menu circulating online lists animals like live foxes, crocodiles, civets, snakes, rats, seafood and other wildlife for sale.

    China’s Ministry of Natural Resources, along with numerous other ministries have urged people to immediately stop consuming wildlife and in a recent social media post, they repeated that “refusing to eat wildlife is also a way to protect ourselves.”

    The Chinese authorities had been “remarkably open” amid an “enormously demanding” situation, said Prof Neil Ferguson, the director of the MRC Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis at Imperial College in London.

    Chinese authorities have issued daily briefings, putting in place strict measures to control the disease, including closing wildlife markets and banning travel in Wuhan, a city of 11 million people, as well as in 11 other nearby cities. China’s National Health Commission Vice-Minister Li Bin warned the flu-like virus can be transmitted from human to human and urged the public to minimize public gatherings. The timing of the outbreak is particularly worrisome as hundreds of millions of people are expected to travel for the Lunar New Year beginning on Saturday, January 25th.

    “The openness and willingness by the authorities to quickly shut down the markets and call on the public to stop consuming illegal wildlife products has been very encouraging,” said WildAid China Representative Steve Blake. “Momentum to end this dangerous and often devastating consumption of wildlife has been building here for years, but this is the first time we’re seeing such a complete stance to end it from both the government and the public.”

    The Chinese public has taken to social media to vent their frustrations, demanding stricter enforcement of wildlife markets and trade. A public service announcement with musician Jay Chou and WildAid, which warns the public about illegally consuming wildlife, has gone viral with over 14 million views in just a few days on Weibo.

    “Some people think it’s clever to eat these cute animals, pangolins,” Chou says in the PSA. “In fact, it’s dangerous. There are serious risks of picking up parasites or catching diseases, and the scales for medicine? They’re keratin, just like your fingernails…and these animals are becoming endangered. Never eat pangolins or use their scales. When the buying stops, the killing can too.”

    For 20 years, WildAid has been campaigning to end consumer demand for illegal wildlife products to save endangered species, which in turn can help protect public health.

    Past epidemics like the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) have entered the human population from animals. China bans the trafficking of a number of wild species or requires special licenses, but many exotic species are still widely consumed illegally.

    The coronavirus, which has no known vaccine, has also been reported in South Korea, Thailand, Japan and elsewhere outside China. This week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed the first U.S. case in which a man infected with the virus flew from Wuhan to Everett, Washington. Meanwhile, India, Nigeria, Japan and the United States have all implemented airport screening procedures. Symptoms of the virus include fever, cough or trouble breathing with serious cases leading to pneumonia, kidney failure and death.
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  4. #19
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    Holiday extended

    It's really more like sick days off.

    China extends Lunar New Year holiday in bid to fight coronavirus
    BY ZACK BUDRYK - 01/27/20 08:53 AM EST 9


    China extends Lunar New Year holiday in bid to fight coronavirus
    © Getty Images

    Chinese officials on Monday announced they would extend the Lunar New Year holiday in hopes of keeping citizens home and reducing the risk of the spread of the coronavirus that has killed at least 81 people.

    The Chinese government said in a statement that it will push back the end of the holiday from Sunday to Thursday to “reduce mass gatherings” and “block the spread of the epidemic,” The Associated Press reported. Officials hope the extension will prevent the potential spread of the disease risked by tens of millions of travelers returning to work by plane, train or bus. Schools are slated to remain closed indefinitely.

    Individual cities across China have also taken action to reduce the spread of the virus, with Shanghai extending the holiday to Feb. 9 and ordering the closure of all religious events and sports stadiums.

    Premier Li Keqiang visited the city of Wuhan, believed to the origin point of the outbreak through a wildlife market, on Monday to “guide epidemic work,” according to the Cabinet, later visiting a supermarket and mingling with shoppers.

    “To get the epidemic under control in Wuhan and the good health of people in Wuhan will be good news for the whole country,” Li told the crowd, the AP reports. “We wish the people of Wuhan a safe, healthy and long life. Let’s go, Wuhan!”

    The U.S. consulate in Wuhan said it plans to evacuate diplomats and other American citizens on Tuesday, while the French plans to fly its citizens out of the area and quarantine them in France, while the France-based automaker PSA Peugeot Citroen is moving foreign employees of its Wuhan factory and their families to another city, where they will be quarantined.

    U.S. officials confirmed a fourth case of the virus on Sunday, with a patient being diagnosed with it in Los Angeles County.
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  5. #20
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    flu vs coronavirus

    This is a tad sensationalist. While this is a bad flu season, worse than most, a good friend of mine who is a CDC RN tells me that it's still well within normal mortality rates for flu.



    Coronavirus terrifies us, but another virus has already killed 6,000 in US
    By Liz Szabo, Kaiser Health News
    Posted Jan 24, 2020 at 11:55 AM
    Updated Jan 24, 2020 at 12:17 PM

    Influenza rarely gets the sort of attention that coronavirus has, even though flu has already sickened at least 13 million Americans this winter and killed 6,600 people. In a bad year, the flu kills up to 61,000 Americans.

    There’s a deadly virus spreading from state to state. It preys on the most vulnerable, striking the sick and the old without mercy. In just the past few months, it has claimed the lives of at least 39 children.

    The virus is influenza, and it poses a far greater threat to Americans than the coronavirus from China that has made headlines around the world.

    “When we think about the relative danger of this new coronavirus and influenza, there’s just no comparison,” said Dr. William Schaffner, a professor of preventive medicine and health policy at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee. “Coronavirus will be a blip on the horizon in comparison. The risk is trivial.”

    The coronavirus outbreak, which originated last month in the Chinese city of Wuhan, should be taken seriously. The virus can cause pneumonia and is blamed for more than 800 illnesses and 26 deaths. British researchers estimate the virus has infected 4,000 people.

    A second person in the U.S. who visited China has been diagnosed with the Wuhan virus, officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday. Public health workers are monitoring 63 additional patients from 22 states.

    Influenza rarely gets this sort of attention, even though it kills more Americans each year than any other virus, said Dr. Peter Hotez, a professor of pediatrics, molecular virology and microbiology at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.

    Influenza has already sickened at least 13 million Americans this winter, hospitalizing 120,000 and killing 6,600, according to the CDC. And flu season hasn’t even peaked. In a bad year, the flu kills up to 61,000 Americans.

    Worldwide, the flu causes up to 5 million cases of severe illness worldwide and kills up to 650,000 people every year, according to the World Health Organization.

    And yet, Americans aren’t particularly concerned.

    Fewer than half of adults got a flu shot last season, according to the CDC. Even among children, who can be especially vulnerable to respiratory illnesses, only 62% received the vaccine.

    If Americans aren’t afraid of the flu, perhaps that’s because they are inured to yearly warnings. For them, the flu is old news. Yet viruses named after foreign places — such as Ebola, Zika and Wuhan — inspire terror.

    “Familiarity breeds indifference,” Schaffner said. “Because it’s new, it’s mysterious and comes from an exotic place, the coronavirus creates anxiety.”

    Some doctors joke that the flu needs to be rebranded.

    “We should rename influenza; call it XZ-47 virus, or something scarier,” said Dr. Paul Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

    Measles in the Democratic Republic of Congo has killed 5,000 people in the past year — more than twice as many as Ebola. Yet UNICEF officials have noted that the measles, which many Americans no longer fear, has gotten little attention. Nearly all the measles victims were children under 5.

    Some people may worry less about the flu because there’s a vaccine, whose protection has ranged from 19% to 60% in recent years. Simply having the choice about whether to receive a flu shot can give people an illusion of control, Schaffner said.

    But people often feel powerless to fight novel viruses. The fact that an airplane passenger spread SARS to other passengers and flight crew made people feel especially vulnerable.

    Because the Wuhan virus is new, humans have no antibodies against it. Doctors haven’t had time to develop treatments or vaccines.

    The big question, so far unknown, is just how easily the virus is transmitted from an infected person to others. The WHO this week opted not to declare the Wuhan outbreak an international health emergency. But officials warn the outbreak hasn’t peaked. Each patient with the new coronavirus appears to be infecting about two other people.

    By comparison, patients with SARS, or Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, spread the infection to an average of two to four others. Each patient with measles — one of the most contagious viruses known to science — infects 12 to 18 unvaccinated people.

    Health officials worry that the new coronavirus could resemble SARS — which appeared suddenly in China in 2002 and spread to 26 countries, sickening 8,000 people and killing 774, according to the WHO.

    The U.S. dodged a bullet with SARS, Schaffner said. Only eight Americans became infected, and none died, according to the CDC. Yet SARS caused a global panic, leading people to shutter hotels, cancel flights and close businesses.

    Coronaviruses can be unpredictable, said Dr. Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. While some patients never infect anyone else, people who are “super spreaders” can infect dozens of others.

    At Seoul’s Samsung Medical Center in 2015, a single emergency room patient infected 82 people — including patients, visitors and staff — with a coronavirus called MERS, or Middle East Respiratory Syndrome. The hospital partly shut down to control the virus.

    “This is one of the finest medical centers in the world, on par with the Cleveland Clinic, and they were brought to their knees,” Osterholm said.

    Yet MERS has never posed much a threat to the U.S.

    Only two patients in the U.S. — health care providers who had worked in Saudi Arabia — have ever tested positive for the virus, according to the CDC. Both patients survived.

    Hotez, who is working to develop vaccines against neglected diseases, said he worries about unvaccinated children. Most kids who die from the flu haven’t been immunized against it, he said. And many were previously healthy.

    “If you’re worried about your health, get your flu vaccination,” Hotez said. “It’s not too late.”

    Kaiser Health News is a nonprofit news service. It is an editorially independent program of the Kaiser Family Foundation that is not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.
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  6. #21
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    Coronavirus fake news

    I haven't seen this one, but I have been seeing a lot of disinformation about coronavirus lately. The good ol' interwebz spreads viral fake news...like the plague.

    Watch out for this extremely fake, weirdly racist viral post about coronavirus
    BY CAITLIN WELSH
    6 HOURS AGO

    From fake Coachella posters and deepfake videos to Trump tweets and clout-chasing tragedy porn, there is no shortage of stuff on the internet trying to convince you of things that aren't true. But an Australia-focused viral misinformation post about the coronavirus, packed with errors, typos, and blatantly made-up details, is still being shared by individuals and business pages on social media despite being both debunked and widely mocked.

    The text post, which has been copied and shared on Facebook as well as harder-to-track Instagram Stories, claims "Corna's disease" is "starting to spread in the greater Sydney region," and warns of "contiminated [sic] products" (the spelling mistake is replicated in most iterations of the text).

    The post then lists a random collection of popular Asian foods supposedly made in "neighbouring areas" to Wuhan— the Chinese city where the current virus originated — and are thus claimed to contain "traces of corona's disease." These foods include wagyu beef and Yakult (which are Japanese), Nongshim Onion Ring snacks (Korean), Mi Goreng instant noodles (Indonesian), Lipton peach-flavoured iced tea (made and bottled all over the world), fortune cookies, two varieties of rice, and Red Bull (both "Chinese" and "normal").

    Even more bizarrely, it claims the "bureau of diseasology parramatta" lists some "areas which people with corona's disease have visited and contaminated," proven by "positive readings" in the air near train stations. A couple of the Western Sydney suburbs listed have large populations of people who are of Chinese (or Vietnamese) birth or descent. The Sydney suburb of Parramatta is not home to a "Bureau of Diseasology," however, as it does not exist.

    The post lists a random collection of popular Asian foods claimed to contain "traces of corona's disease"
    The name for study of diseases is actually epidemiology — and epidemiologists currently advise that coronavirus has not been proven to be transmitted by contaminated food or air, but rather by respiratory droplets (e.g. sneezing or coughing).

    The post has been repeatedly debunked by the (actually real) New South Wales Department of Health throughout the course of Tuesday — with the existence of the mysterious Bureau specifically denied — but it was still being shared on social media as of at least 5 p.m. Sydney time. In some versions, extra suburbs had been added to the list of "contaminated" areas.

    Kevin Nguyen

    @cog_ink
    Fake news and misinformation around the coronavirus is wild. Childcare centres are sharing a post claiming wagyu beef and mi goreng could have traces of the virus and that the "bureau of diseasology Parramatta" is testing the air. Everyone knows that burea relocated to Ryde.


    73
    5:49 PM - Jan 27, 2020
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    NSW Health
    @NSWHealth
    1/2 @NSWHealth has been made aware of a social media post that is being widely circulated warning people to not consume certain foods or visit certain locations in Sydney.

    This post has not originated from NSW Health or any related entity...


    196
    7:53 PM - Jan 27, 2020
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    Carl Smith

    @Carl3Smith
    If you spot anything like what's in this picture on social media, do your duty and repeat the NSW Health mantra: 👏*there is no such entity as the "Department of Diseasology Paramatta"*👏 https://twitter.com/NSWHealth/status...04812805332993


    NSW Health
    @NSWHealth
    Replying to @NSWHealth
    2/2 Further, there is no such entity as the “Department of Diseasology Parramatta”.

    NSW Health would like to assure the community that the locations mentioned in this post pose no risk to visitors, and there have been no “positive readings” at train stations.

    16
    10:16 PM - Jan 27, 2020
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    Four of the five confirmed cases of coronavirus in Australia are in the state of NSW, and as most schools began classes on Tuesday, parents of children who have recently been to China were encouraged to keep their kids home until two weeks from their return date. At least one Sydney council also postponed its Lunar New Year celebrations over the previous weekend out of concern over the virus' spread. And lines formed outside pharmacies in the Sydney CBD, as Sydneysiders queued to buy face masks. (Not everyone has invested yet, despite the ongoing bushfire smoke.)

    Meanwhile, "Department of Diseasology" trended in Australia on Tuesday afternoon, as Twitter users made jokes and memes about the post.

    The text's scattershot, racist targeting of widely popular Asian snack foods and disdain for spellcheck give it a ****post-level absurdity — it's hard to believe anyone meant it to be taken seriously, let alone succeeded.

    But its sloppy phrasing might not be a dead giveaway for someone whose English isn't strong — and it's also powered by racist stereotypes about Asian food, people, and standards of hygiene.

    Amid the deaths in China and the documented spread of the virus to a handful of other countries, East Asian people are reporting being profiled and avoided on public transport, recalling similar racism experienced during the SARS outbreak.


    Terri Chu
    @TerriChu
    In my Chinese moms chat group, we discussed how to brace ourselves and the kids for the inevitable wave of racism coming our way as this unfolds.

    Many of us have never even been to China but know we will not go unscathed. https://twitter.com/akurjata/status/1221165180568002560

    Andrew Kurjata 📻

    @akurjata
    Perhaps revealing some naiveté, I'm surprised at the level of vitriol towards Chinese people I'm seeing in the comments sections of stories about the Wuhan coronavirus. And I mean towards the people, not the government. Disheartening.

    442
    1:31 PM - Jan 25, 2020
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    Muqing
    @muqingmq
    The reason Western coverage of the coronavirus is so racist is bc it feeds orientalizing narratives of Chinese people as a dirty, diseased orientals and provides an excuse for increased Western aggression & "containment" of China as well as suspicion of Chinese in Western nations

    26.7K
    5:20 PM - Jan 25, 2020
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    Some of the earliest iterations of the post spotted by Mashable have already vanished from Facebook, where it seems to have originated, but it persists nonetheless. Whether its intent was earnest or not, misinformation like this feeds, and feeds off, racial profiling, ignorance, and fear. As with the arson conspiracy theories and misinformation that thrived once the Australian bushfires hit international headlines, it's likely this misinfo will continue to spread and mutate throughout the internet despite best efforts to debunk it.

    As always, take officially-recommended precautions as necessary – and be sure to double check your sources before sharing information on social media.
    Gene Ching
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  7. #22
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    One day in Wuhan through a photographer's lens

    Gene Ching
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  8. #23
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    Potential vaccine

    This is good news, finally. But we'll see. Hopeful.

    China coronavirus: Hong Kong researchers have already developed vaccine but need time to test it, expert reveals
    HKU’s Professor Yuen Kwok-yung says his team is working on vaccine, having isolated virus from the city’s first imported case
    Scientists in mainland China and the United States are also racing to produce a vaccine for the deadly new coronavirus
    Elizabeth Cheung
    Published: 10:48pm, 28 Jan, 2020


    The previously unknown coronavirus has killed more than 100 people and infected thousands. Photo: National Microbiology Data Centre

    Hong Kong researchers have already developed a vaccine for the deadly Wuhan coronavirus – but need time to test it, according to infectious diseases expert Professor Yuen Kwok-yung.
    Scientists in mainland China and the United States were also separately racing to produce a vaccine for the new coronavirus, which has killed more than 100 people and infected thousands.
    Yuen, chair of infectious diseases at the University of Hong Kong, revealed that his team was working on the vaccine and had isolated the previously unknown virus from the city’s first imported case.
    “We have already produced the vaccine, but it will take a long time to test on animals,” Yuen said, without giving a specific time frame on when it would be ready for patients.


    Professor Yuen Kwok-yung did not give a time frame on when the vaccine would be ready. Photo: Winson Wong

    But he said it would take months to test the vaccine on animals and at least another year to conduct clinical trials on humans before it was fit for use.
    HKU researchers based it on a nasal spray influenza vaccine previously invented by Yuen’s team.
    Researchers modified the flu vaccine with part of the surface antigen of the coronavirus, meaning it could prevent influenza viruses as well as the new coronavirus, which causes pneumonia.
    The vaccine, if successfully tested, could be the answer to a disease that has infected more than 4,600 people globally and killed over 100 on the mainland, mostly in Wuhan, centre of the outbreak.
    Hong Kong had so far seen eight confirmed cases. From noon on Monday to noon on Tuesday, 78 more people were reported as suspected cases. Currently, 103 people are in isolation in public hospitals.
    Although mainland media quoted Chinese infectious diseases expert Li Lanjuan on Monday as saying a vaccine targeting the coronavirus was being developed and could be made in around a month at the earliest, Yuen expressed doubts.


    Hong Kong increases measures to contain spread of Wuhan coronavirus

    He said the one being developed on the mainland is likely to be an inactivated virus vaccine, which consists of a virus grown in a culture that has had its infectivity destroyed by chemicals or radiation.
    To test the vaccine, it will have to be injected into an animal to see if it produces a good immune response, Yuen said. The vaccinated animal would then be exposed to the virus to see if is protected.
    “If the vaccine appears effective and safe in a number of animal species, it will go into clinical trials on humans. This takes at least one year even if expedited,” Yuen said.
    He was also concerned that the approach taken by the mainland side to develop a vaccine would lead to a major complication, in which people who were vaccinated might develop a more severe disease if exposed to the virus. He said such a reaction for coronavirus had been recorded in reports.
    Meanwhile, Xinhua reported that Shanghai East Hospital of Tongji University had urgently approved a project for the development of a vaccine targeting the novel virus.
    The vaccine would be co-developed by the hospital and Stemirna Therapeutics, a Shanghai-based biotechnology company.
    Company CEO Li Hangwen said no more than 40 days would be needed to manufacture vaccine samples, which would then be sent for tests and brought to clinics “as soon as possible”.


    This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: Vaccine developed but far from ready, expert says
    Here I've been waiting for someone to suggest banlangen or something.
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  9. #24
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    More racism

    The coronavirus panic is turning the UK into a hostile environment for east Asians
    Sam Phan
    Stereotypes are spreading as quickly as the virus. On the bus, in the street, people have started treating us as if we’re infected

    Mon 27 Jan 2020 11.15 ESTLast modified on Tue 28 Jan 2020 09.19 EST


    ‘The virus has spread to at least eight other countries including Thailand, Japan and the US, and it’s ‘highly likely’ it will reach the UK, according to Public Health England.’ Photograph: Amer Ghazzal/REX/Shutterstock

    The atmosphere on my morning commute is tense. As panic over the coronavirus deepens and dominates the headlines, as an east Asian I can’t help but feel more and more uncomfortable. On the bus to work last week, as I sat down, the man next to me immediately scrambled to gather his stuff and stood up to avoid sitting next to me.

    Perhaps it did not occur to these people that I, as a UK citizen, was no more likely than them to be carrying the virus
    On the train over the weekend, a group sat opposite me chattering about their weekend plans. One of them seriously advised the rest, “I wouldn’t go to Chinatown if I were you, they have that disease.”

    As I made my way towards Chinatown in London, an elderly woman and her friend on the escalators at Leicester Square underground station were casually talking about how dangerous the area now was, and she complained she was obliged to go there for a meeting. “At least I’m old, I have nothing left to lose,” she laughed.

    In another loud conversation, I overheard a woman talking about how terrified she was that her friend, who had spent some time working with Chinese students, might have infected her with the virus.

    In light of current events, we east Asians in the UK are on high alert, paying close attention to how people interact with us. It is not their concern about health that is problematic, but the stereotyping of all east Asians as a coronavirus risk. At times such as this, even a simple bus trip can feel like a hostile environment.

    A friend at a university library experienced something similar: as soon as they sat down at a desk, the person in front of them packed up their things to leave. We’re noticing odd things like this that we never saw happen before.

    Perhaps it did not occur to some of these people, so happy to talk loudly in front of me, that I was also concerned about the virus – or that I, as a British citizen, was no more likely than them to be carrying the virus. They grouped all east Asian people together, without factoring in that perhaps we were British or, if not, we were from unaffected areas of China, or even came from other countries in the Chinese diaspora. We were all the same to them.

    The virus that originated in Wuhan has spread to at least eight other countries including Thailand, Japan, Australia and the US, and it’s “highly likely” it will reach the UK, according to Public Health England.

    As it spreads, the virus has revealed more and more stereotyped judgments about Chinese people. I have also heard accounts from east Asians, even if they are not Chinese, who have recently been profiled while travelling at airports or on trains due to the ignorant perception that all east Asians are Chinese.

    George Osborne, editor of the Evening Standard, proudly tweeted his newspaper’s cartoon of a rat with a face mask to supposedly commemorate the lunar new year. Piers Morgan mocked the Chinese language on Good Morning Britain with a tired “ching chang chong” joke. East Asians have been accused of instigating the virus by having “revolting” eating habits. Most Asians know these stereotypes all too well.

    These insulting depictions don’t reflect the reality of being Chinese at all, and encourage the misguided perception of more than one billion people being a monolithic and singular group in which everyone speaks, acts and looks the same. In fact, there is a huge diversity.

    Language and culture vary massively within the region. Speakers of Hokkien would not be able to converse with people who speak Hakka. And despite Mandarin being the lingua franca, there are more than 200 dialects spoken across China. In fact in Wuhan itself, a beautiful and diverse city with more than 3,500 years of history, many of its population of 11.8 million speak a Wuhan dialect.

    Elsewhere, natives of Aksu look completely different to the majority Han Chinese. And the food, too: dim sum from the south of China is vastly different from the tangy, spicy flavours of Sichuan.

    This week, my ethnicity has made me feel like I was part of a threatening and diseased mass. To see me as someone who carries the virus just because of my race is, well, just racist.

    As the lunar new year celebrations take place across the world, let’s take a moment to think about the way in which east Asians are perceived and how important it is to see us in all our diversity, as individual human beings, and to challenge stereotypes. The coronavirus is a human tragedy, so let’s not allow fear to breed hatred, intolerance and racism.

    • Sam Phan is an MA student at the University of Manchester
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  10. #25
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    From the CDC

    Novel Coronavirus in China
    Warning - Level 3, Avoid Nonessential Travel
    Alert - Level 2, Practice Enhanced Precautions
    Watch - Level 1, Practice Usual Precautions
    Key Points
    CDC recommends that travelers avoid all nonessential travel to China.
    There is an ongoing outbreak of respiratory illness caused by a novel (new) coronavirus that can be spread from person to person.
    Chinese officials have closed transport within and out of Wuhan and other cities in Hubei province, including buses, subways, trains, and the international airport. Other locations may be affected.

    Older adults and people with underlying health conditions may be at increased risk for severe disease.

    The situation is evolving. This notice will be updated as more information becomes available.

    What is the current situation?
    CDC recommends that travelers avoid all nonessential travel to China. In response to an outbreak of respiratory illness, Chinese officials have closed transport within and out of Wuhan and other cities in Hubei province, including buses, subways, trains, and the international airport. Additional restrictions and cancellations of events may occur.
    There is limited access to adequate medical care in affected areas.
    A novel (new) coronavirus is causing an outbreak of respiratory illness that began in the city of Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. This outbreak began in early December 2019 and continues to grow. Initially, some patients were linked to the Wuhan South China Seafood City (also called the South China Seafood Wholesale Market and the Hua Nan Seafood Market).

    Chinese health officials have reported thousands of cases in China and severe illness has been reported, including deaths. Cases have also been identified in travelers to other countries, including the United States. Person-to-person spread is occurring in China. The extent of person-to-person spread outside of China is unclear at this time.

    Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses. There are several known coronaviruses that infect people and usually only cause mild respiratory disease, such as the common cold. However, at least two previously identified coronaviruses have caused severe disease — severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) coronavirus and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) coronavirus.

    Signs and symptoms of this illness include fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. This novel coronavirus has the potential to cause severe disease and death. Available information suggests that older adults and people with underlying health conditions or compromised immune systems may be at increased risk of severe disease.

    In response to this outbreak, Chinese officials are screening travelers leaving some cities in China. Several countries and territories throughout the world are reported to have implemented health screening of travelers arriving from China.

    On arrival to the United States, travelers from China may be asked questions to determine if they need to undergo health screening. Travelers with signs and symptoms of illness (fever, cough, or difficulty breathing) will have an additional health assessment.

    What can travelers do to protect themselves and others?
    CDC recommends avoiding nonessential travel to China. If you must travel:

    Avoid contact with sick people.
    Discuss travel to China with your healthcare provider. Older adults and travelers with underlying health issues may be at risk for more severe disease.
    Avoid animals (alive or dead), animal markets, and products that come from animals (such as uncooked meat).
    Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
    If you were in China in the last 14 days and feel sick with fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, you should:

    Seek medical care right away. Before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room, call ahead and tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms.
    Avoid contact with others.
    Not travel while sick.
    Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
    Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
    Clinician Information
    Healthcare providers should obtain a detailed travel history for patients with fever and respiratory symptoms. For patients with these symptoms who were in China on or after December 1, 2019, and had onset of illness within 2 weeks of leaving, consider the novel coronavirus and notify infection control personnel and your local health department immediately.

    Although routes of transmission have yet to be definitively determined, CDC recommends a cautious approach to interacting with patients under investigation. Ask such patients to wear a surgical mask as soon as they are identified. Conduct their evaluation in a private room with the door closed, ideally an airborne infection isolation room, if available. Personnel entering the room should use standard precautions, contact precautions, and airborne precautions, and use eye protection (goggles or a face shield). For additional infection control guidance, visit CDC's Infection Control webpage.
    Hope no one was China-bound.
    Gene Ching
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  11. #26
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    So tacky of Jedrzejczyk


    UFC strawweight champ Weili Zhang slams Joanna Jedrzejczyk for joking about coronavirus

    The Chinese-born champion was not happy at the former champ's joke invoking her homeland
    Brent Brookhouse
    38 mins ago • 1 min read



    As Weili Zhang prepares to defend her UFC women's strawweight championship against former champ Joanna Jedrzejczyk, she is also dealing with a crisis in her country. Zhang became a hero in China after winning the title with a 42-second knockout of Jessica Andrade last August. But China is currently struggling with an outbreak of coronavirus, with the country reporting more than 130 deaths and 5,974 confirmed cases of the virus.

    Jedrzejczyk posted a photo on her Instagram of a photoshopped magazine cover in anticipation of the fight with Zhang positioned in the foreground and herself in the background wearing a gas mask, apparently a reference to the fast-spreading disease. The attempt at a joke drew a serious response from the champion.

    "To make fun of tragedy is a true sign of ones character," Zhang wrote in her own Instagram post. "People are dying, someone's father, someone's mother, someone's child. Say what you want about me if it makes you feel stronger but do not joke about what's happening here. I wish you good health until March 7. I will see you soon."

    Zhang and Jedrzejczyk face off on March 7 in the co-main event of UFC 248. The event takes place from T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The fight marks the first title defense for Zhang and an attempt for Jedrzejczyk to regain a championship she held from March 2015 to November 2017 while establishing herself as one of the most dominant forces in women's MMA. Jedrzejczyk has lost three consecutive championship bouts.

    Jedrzejczyk posted a response on her own Instagram, offering a partial apology in a video while also telling Zhang to not get emotional.

    "Hey champ, hey Weili," Jedrzejczyk said. "So sorry to make you feel bad, but I would never make fun of people with an illness or virus. I didn't want you to get offended, but I just made fun of the funny internet meme. So, so sorry, but still, I will see you on March 7 and don't get emotional, OK?"
    Here's the image:


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  12. #27
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    The return of 'sick men of asia'


    ‘Made in China’: how Wuhan coronavirus spread anti-Chinese racism like a disease through Asia

    Xenophobic chatter about Chinese eating habits is going viral on the internet
    Such ignorance isn’t just unpalatable – in misdiagnosing the problem, it’s dangerous, too
    Kok Xinghui
    Published: 8:00pm, 29 Jan, 2020


    A video by Chinese social media influencer Wang Mengyun, in which she tries bat soup has been held up by some as evidence of ‘disgusting’ Chinese eating habits – even though the video was shot in Palau. Photo: Sohu

    As Singaporeans gathered over the Lunar New Year weekend, jokes were cracked about Chinese eating habits and how a propensity to eat “anything with four legs except the table and everything that flies except planes” had given rise to the Wuhan coronavirus.
    One meme said there was no need to worry – the virus would not last long because it was “made in China”.
    The jokes, tinged with racism, soon grew into a call for the city state to ban Chinese travellers from entering. A change.org petition started on January 26 had 118,858 signatures as of Wednesday afternoon. Among those calling for health to be prioritised over tourism dollars was Ian Ong, who wrote: “We are not rat or bat eaters and should not be made to shoulder their nonsense.”
    Xenophobic chatter about mainland Chinese and their eating habits has spread across the world since the first cases of the novel coronavirus 2019 (2019 n-CoV) emerged in China’s Hubei province in December.
    The virus has now infected more than 6,000 people, most of them in mainland China where at least 132 people have died. Dozens of people have been infected in the rest of Asia – including 10 in Singapore and seven in Malaysia.
    Some countries, including the Philippines, have stopped issuing visas on arrival to all Chinese nationals. Papua New Guinea has gone further, shutting its air and seaports to all foreigners coming from Asia.


    Passengers arriving from Guangzhou, China, at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila. The Philippines has stopped issuing visas on arrival to all Chinese nationals. Photo: EPA

    In Malaysia, there have been calls to block Chinese tourists and social media posts claiming the outbreak is “divine retribution” for China’s treatment of its Muslim Uygur population. Some mosques in Malaysia have also closed themselves off to tourists.
    In Japan, a shop in a mountain town prompted an apology from tourism authorities after it posted a sign saying: “No Chinese are allowed to enter the store. I do not want to spread the virus.”
    From noon on Wednesday Singapore has blocked the entry of tourists who had visited Hubei province in the past 14 days, or who hold passports issued in the province. Malaysia has also stopped issuing visas to Chinese travellers from Hubei.
    The Singapore government has said the travel ban was due to global trends showing that most of the infections were in people who had been to the province and the country wanted to minimise import of the virus to Singapore.
    The growing stigma has even reached European shores. Graduate student Sam Phan wrote in the British newspaper The Guardian about how a man on the bus in London had scrambled to get up as soon as Phan sat down. “This week, my ethnicity has made me feel like I was part of a threatening and diseased mass. To see me as someone who carries the virus just because of my race is, well, just racist,” he wrote.
    In Canada, Toronto website BlogTO said a stigma was also attached to Chinese food, noting that a similar thing happened during the 2003 outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars), which infected 8,000 people globally and killed nearly 800. The website noted racist comments on its Instagram post about a new Chinese restaurant, which some posters urged diners to avoid because it “may have bat pieces in there or whatever else they eat”.
    The comments were in part a reference to a video of a Chinese social media influencer tucking into a bowl of bat soup. Some posters have claimed the video is evidence of “disgusting” Chinese eating habits, though the video was in fact filmed three years ago in Palau, a Pacific island nation where bat soup is a delicacy.
    continued next post
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  13. #28
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    Continued from previous post


    Wrongly accused? The Huanan Seafood Market in Wuhan. Photo: Simon Song

    It is still unknown how the coronavirus made the jump from wildlife to humans, but early on in the outbreak the Huanan Seafood Market in the central city of Wuhan was widely assumed to be the origin of the disease. The market has a thriving wildlife trade, selling animals from foxes to wolf puppies, giant salamanders to peacocks and porcupines.
    However, in recent days research has emerged suggesting the market may not be the source of the virus.
    The medical journal The Lancet on January 24 said that of the first clinical cases, 13 out of 41 had no link to the market.
    The first patient showed symptoms on December 1, meaning human infections must have occurred in November 2019 given the two-week incubation period. Researchers said the virus could have spread in Wuhan before the cluster within the market was discovered.
    Similarly, the virus’ genome has been sequenced but researchers are not sure if it comes from bats – as Sars did – or snakes. Still, experts said it is not so much about what meat is eaten, but how thoroughly it is cooked and the hygiene precautions taken during food preparation.
    “The chef is at greatest risk,” said infectious disease specialist Leong Hoe Nam, who was closely involved in Singapore’s fight against Sars, which killed 33 people and infected 238 in the city state.
    Leong said anybody could catch a virus from an animal.
    “It is a case of the right person meeting the wrong virus at the wrong time. It could happen to anyone studying viruses, or meeting the bats in the most inopportune time,” he said, referring to a case in Melaka, Malaysia, when a bat flew into a house and infected a 39-year-old man and his family.
    Painting the coronavirus as a Chinese problem was like “dealing with the problem with a sledge hammer, implicating all Chinese nationals rather than dealing with bad food safety practices and diets”, said National University of Singapore sociologist Tan Ern Ser.
    Nanyang Technological University (NTU) sociologist Laavanya Kathiravelu said xenophobic social media posts were an extension of colonial-era stereotypes.
    “Chinese, in these xenophobic accounts, are seen as taking resources away from deserving local populations, and having uncouth behaviour. More broadly, this can also be seen as informed by older stereotypes of Chinese as dirty, having bad hygiene and undesirable culinary practices,” she said.
    Even Singapore government ministers have spoken out.


    Singapore’s National Development Minister Lawrence Wong, pictured with Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam, has cautioned his countrymen against ‘turning xenophobic’. File photo

    Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong, who co-chairs a task force set up to deal with the virus, said on Monday: “I want to assure Singaporeans that the government will do everything we can to protect Singaporeans and Singapore but this does not mean overreacting, or worse, turning xenophobic.”
    Singaporean playwright Zizi Azah, who is based in New York, said it was illogical to pin the virus on a race. “Illness knows no geographical or racial boundaries and it really is the luck of the draw, isn’t it? Where something starts and where it gets to,” she said.
    Mohamed Imran Mohamed Taib, director of the Centre for Interfaith Understanding, cautioned against the effects of dehumanising Chinese people as uncivilised. “It is not due to ‘Chinese-ness’; the fact that these people are Chinese is incidental, not the reason for the emergence and transmission of the virus. The virus could have emerged in any other part of the world, just as Ebola started in Congo and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome in Saudi Arabia,” he said.
    Singapore’s Minister for Education Ong Ye Kung on Monday called for empathy, saying that Singaporeans would not have liked it if during the Sars outbreak other countries had asked Singaporean expatriates to leave.
    “We’re an international hub, we can well be quite hard hit by such epidemics. So I’d say do not do unto others what you do not want others to do unto you. We all must tackle the problem objectively.”
    In Malaysia, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad clarified that any mosques that had closed themselves off to tourists had not done so on the government’s advice.
    “This is not a government policy and it is an irresponsible act,” he said on Wednesday, warning the public against spreading fake news that could stir racial tensions.
    “Even though we believe in freedom of expression, it does not mean we can be antagonistic and agitate the feelings of others.”


    This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: racism aimed at chinese spreads fear and panic
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  14. #29
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    Big jump

    China’s coronavirus cases jump to 7711, Yuan to extend selloff
    By ActionForex.com -Jan 30, 03:26 GMT

    China’s National Health Commission reported that, as of January 29, number of confirmed coronavirus case in the country rose 1737 from 1459 to 7711. Serious cases rose from 1239 to 1370. Death toll rose from 132 to 170. Suspected cases rose from 9239 to 12167. Number of people being tracked rose from 65537 to 88693.

    WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in Geneva, “in the last few days the progress of the virus especially in some countries, especially human-to-human transmission, worries us.” “Although the numbers outside China are still relatively small, they hold the potential for a much larger outbreak.”

    Offshore Chinese Yuan is back under selling pressure today. USD/CNH’s rebound suggests that rise from 6.8452 is resuming for channel resistance (now at 7.0061). Sustained break there should confirm that corrective fall from 7.1953 has completed. Further rally would be seen to 7.0867 resistance next. Nevertheless, break of 6.9420 support will indicate rejection by the channel resistance and turn focus back to 6.8452 low.
    The economic impact could be devastating on the martial arts world what with us already grappling with the trade war issues.
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  15. #30
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    misinfo

    I always cherry-pick the news that I post here but even I was taken in by the bat soup story. The news is happening so quickly that it's hard to keep up.

    Coronavirus Misinformation Is Spreading All Over Social Media
    By Gerrit De Vynck, Riley Griffin, and Alyza Sebenius
    January 29, 2020, 1:09 PM PST
    Racist rants, dubious claims surface in wake of outbreak
    YouTube, Twitter, Facebook trying to suppress misinformation

    The new coronavirus roiling financial markets and prompting travel bans is taking on a life of its own on the internet, once again putting U.S.-based social media companies on the defensive about their efforts to curb the spread of false or dangerous information.

    Researchers and journalists have documented a growing number of cases of misinformation about the virus, ranging from racist explanations for the disease’s origin to false claims about miracle cures. Conspiracy theorists, trolls and cynics hoping to use the panic to boost traffic to their own accounts have all contributed to the cloud of bad information.


    Workers clean gates at a Hong Kong High Speed Rail Station on Jan. 29.Photographer: Anthony Kwan/Getty Images

    “It’s the perfect intersection of fear, racism and distrust of the government and Big Pharma,” said Maarten Schenk, co-founder of the fact-checking site Lead Stories. “People don’t trust the official narrative.”

    The novel coronavirus, which originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan, has killed 132 people and infected over 6,000, with cases in 19 countries.

    One set of tweets and Facebook posts from U.S. conspiracy theory accounts said drinking bleach could protect against the virus or even cure it. On YouTube, a series of videos accusing media organizations of suppressing information had hundreds of thousands of views.

    Fact-checkers, medical experts and academics reviewing coronavirus-related misinformation said some of the most viral hoaxes have concerned vaccines that claim to prevent or cure the disease and that would soon be commercially accessible to the public. Though medical authorities and biotechnology companies have begun researching and developing vaccines, they’re far from being stocked on pharmacy shelves.

    “Rumors can travel more quickly and more widely than they could” in an era before social media, said Thomas Rid, a professor of strategic studies at Johns Hopkins University, who has a forthcoming book on the history of disinformation. “That of course lends itself to conspiracies spreading more quickly. They spread more widely and they are more persistent in the sense that you can’t undo them.”

    Mapping the Coronavirus Outbreak

    Some of the internet traffic and misinformation has been outright racist against Chinese people and Asians in general. Posts attributing the coronavirus to Chinese culinary practices have blown up, and a review of a new Chinese restaurant in Toronto was swarmed by racist trolls.

    “There’s a lot of misinformation out there, and some of that can be quite dangerous,” Maria Van Kerkhove, head of the World Health Organization’s emerging diseases unit, said at a Wednesday press conference in Geneva.


    Customer wait in line to purchase protective masks at a store in Hong Kong.Photographer: Paul Yeung/Bloomberg

    Viruses have always sparked fear and misinformation, striking panic as rumors spread and people desperate for information latch onto whatever snippets they can find -- whether they’re true or not. But the advent of social media has supercharged this process, leading to waves of misinformation over elections, mass shootings, plane crashes and natural disasters.

    The outbreak is just the latest test of social networks’ ability to handle the spread of false and dangerous information.

    Twitter Inc. is trying to stave off bad information related to coronavirus by directing users to more reliable sources, prompting users who search for “coronavirus” to visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. The company has not seen an uptick in disinformation since coronavirus became a worldwide problem, a spokeswoman said. Twitter has a policy against people trying to “mislead” others with “deceptive activity.”

    Facebook Inc.’s fact-checking partners -- independent organizations that flag problematic posts on the platform -- have been labeling misinformation about the coronavirus so users know it’s false, according to a company spokeswoman. Facebook is also alerting people who may have shared misinformation before it was fact-checked. On Tuesday, Facebook searches for “coronavirus” and related terms surfaced mostly credible reports from sites like the BBC and CNN, but there were also links touting dubious immune-boosting services and posts from users that questioned whether the virus news was a conspiracy from the World Health Organization.

    Information shared in private groups are outside of Facebook’s fact-checking apparatus, and they have been known to incubate conspiracies on many different topics.

    Alphabet Inc.’s Google searches for the virus are topped with a special panel linking to the Centers for Disease Control.

    On Google’s YouTube, coronavirus was being treated as a news event, so searches for videos related to the outbreak mostly returned results from large, mainstream news organizations, though some conspiracy theory videos slipped through. Much of the dubious information being shared could be considered what YouTube labels “borderline” content. That’s information that isn’t necessarily wrong or racist but peddles unconfirmed conspiracies or shoddy medical information. YouTube said its algorithms are built to lower the number of times “borderline” content is recommended to viewers.

    In China itself, where homegrown social media apps like WeChat and Weibo dominate, misinformation has spread alongside protests against the government’s handling of the situation. Generally, social media is closely monitored and censored by the communist party. But the sheer amount of posts criticizing the government and demanding more action mean some have evaded censors. Videos and posts that otherwise wouldn’t have left China have circulated through the internet, giving the world a view into the situation that isn’t totally controlled by the government.

    “Early days in an outbreak, there’s so much uncertainty. People don’t like uncertainty. They want answers,” said Timothy Caulfield, a health law professor at the University of Alberta.

    “Social media is a polarization machine where the loudest voices win,” he said. “In an outbreak, where you want accurate, measured discourse, that’s kind of a worst-case scenario.”

    — With assistance by Kurt Wagner, Kartikay Mehrotra, and Sarah Frier
    The racist issues are particularly disturbing. And shameful.
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