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Iran Confirms First 2 Cases Of COVID-19; ‘Diamond Princess’ Confirms 79 More Cases As Quarantine Ends

Iran Confirms First 2 Cases Of COVID-19; ‘Diamond Princess’ Confirms 79 More Cases As Quarantine Ends

Tehran is not having a good year.

First, President Trump rang in the new decade by barbecuing the leader of the IRGC Quds Force. In response, Iran killed zero Americans but accidentally shot down a Ukrainian passenger plane, killing nearly 200 people, including dozens of Iranian students, then they tried to lie about it, before finally coming clean.

All that was probably enough to destabilize the regime on its own. Though it has quieted down somewhat, the public outrage is still simmering as Iran’s rolling economic crisis continues.

Now, on top of all that, Tehran has confirmed to the AP that authorities have confirmed two cases of the coronavirus in Iran. That means the virus has now infiltrated two of the world’s most isolated states – Iran and North Korea. Many outsiders believe North Korea has confirmed at least one case of the virus, but that it has withheld this information from the international community to avoid inciting a panic.

Like North Korea, Iran’s battered economy, crippled by years of American sanctions, is hardly equipped to deal with the outbreak. According to Iranian media, the cases were confirmed in the central province of Qom. More patients are being tested as an unknown number of suspected cases have been isolated, according to the AP.

Last night in New York, we reported that Japanese health authorities were preparing to release the first batch of 500 passengers and crew who had reportedly tested negative for the virus (though that doesn’t completely rule out the possibility that a few of them might still develop symptoms caused by COVID-19).

On Wednesday morning in the US (so Wednesday night in Japan), health officials revealed that 79 more people onboard had tested positive for the virus, taking the total number of infected aboard the ship to 621, the AP reports.

As we’ve noted several times, the notion that thousands of people are about to be released while hundreds of cases of the virus are still being confirmed seems like insanity. While most of the patients will face two more weeks of quarantine when they return home, how are they planning on getting there? There’s been no word of an official government transport. By allowing them to travel home, Japan is breaking the quarantine.

Seems like a particularly stupid thing to do when the Tokyo Olympics are coming up this summer.

After the virus death toll on the mainland hit 2,000 last night, Johns Hopkins reports that the number of confirmed cases and deaths haven’t moved since then: By their count, total confirmed stood at 75,201 while deaths stood at 2,012.

Johns Hopkins

Last night, the CDC warned that Japan’s quarantine of the ‘Diamond Princess’ “may not have been sufficient” to prevent transmission among individuals on the ship.

In other slightly more positive cruise-ship related news, the Guardian reports that A total of 781 guests who disembarked from the Westerdam cruise ship in Cambodia have tested negative for Covid-19, Holland America, the ship’s operator, said.

As Beijing tries to reassure its population, half of which is under lockdown, that everything is going to be okay, Reuters reports that China’s central bank and its finance ministry won’t send any officials to a G-20 finance ministers and central bank governors meeting in Riyadh due to the Coronavirus outbreak.

Meanwhile, in Wuhan, the twin nightmares of the ‘war time’ lockdown coupled with the ravages of the virus continue to work their wonders.

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The yuan strengthened early Wednesday following reports that China is weighing measures including direct cash infusions and mergers to bail out the airline industry and others. Earlier, the state directed Chinese banks to offer emergency loans to troubled companies. The South Korean government and central bank announced a similar plan earlier this week.

As we reported earlier, Beijing expelled 3 WSJ reporters on Wednesday over an opinion column published by the paper that Beijing decried as ‘racist’.

Remember, next time you hear somebody talking about the outbreak ‘slowing down’, take a look at this:


Tyler Durden

Wed, 02/19/2020 – 06:59


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Tyler Durden

Zero Hedge's mission is to widen the scope of financial, economic and political information available to the professional investing public, to skeptically examine and, where necessary, attack the flaccid institution that financial journalism has become, to liberate oppressed knowledge, to provide analysis uninhibited by political constraint and to facilitate information's unending quest for freedom. Visit https://www.zerohedge.com

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