Saturday, February 29, 2020

Pestilence: Now 'Disease X' Hits Ethiopia, WHO Issues Warning

'Disease X' feared to have hit Ethiopia as dying villagers 'bleed from eyes'


A mysterious and horrifying deadly illness killing villagers in Ethiopia could be the dreaded "Disease X".
A concept coined by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to describe a new unknown pathogen with the potential to cause an epidemic, scientists are constantly on the lookout for illnesses that fit the description.
Some believe coronavirus is Disease X, but the real answer could lie in East Africa. 
"Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever" leaves people bleeding from their eyes, mouth, and anus.
The gruesome sickness, informally dubbed "bleeding eye fever", has a higher mortality rate than the plague and has mystified medical professionals for the past couple of years.

Cases were reported in South Sudan and Uganda in 2018, with dozens infected and at least four killed.
Now neighbouring country Ethiopia is grappling with similar horrific symptoms.
One 23-year-old victim first experienced his eyes and palms turning yellow, before he began bleeding from his nose and mouth and his body swelled up, the Guardian reports . He later died after collapsing with fever. 
Many of his neighbours suffered the same symptoms and some died.
Other victims included a two-year-old boy in the town of Haarcad who died despite receiving multiple blood transfusions during a month-long hospital stay. He, too, had yellow eyes and palms, swelling and a fever.

People who report the horrific symptoms are often treated for a short time in hospital, before being discharged and told nothing more can be done.
The disease is spreading through villages near a Chinese natural gas project in the Somali region, and some locals believe hazardous chemical waste has poisoned the water supply.
However, government officials have denied these allegations, saying there have been no reports of spillages.
"We can emphatically state that all the gas wells at Calub and elsewhere in the Ogaden Basin, are sealed, safe and secured ... according to international standards," Ketsela Tadesse told the Guardian.
There have been at least 2,000 deaths from the mystery illness since 2014.
In October 2019, the WHO warned an outbreak of Disease X was "on the horizon".

"It is not a case of if, but when," Coalition of Epidemic Preparedness Innovations CEO Richard Hatchett said.
"We need to be prepared. We need to invest in platform technologies that can be used to quickly respond to the emergence of a pathogen with epidemic potential."
On the other side of Africa, in Sierra Leone, "virus hunters" are searching for Disease X - examining animals such as bats, which are believed to have passed the coronavirus to humans, for signs of a potentially deadly pathogen. 
It's unknown if Ethiopia has access to the same resources for a virus-hunting operation of its own.
The country has recently stepped up its prevention measures against coronavirus, the first confirmed case of which has just been reported in sub-Saharan Africa.

'We Have Reached The Tipping Point'

"We've Reached The Tipping Point" - Guggenheim's Minerd Warns Virus Will Deflate The Everything Bubble

Last week, Guggenheim's Global CIO Scott Minerd exclaimed that "the cognitive dissonance in the market is stunning," as he reflected on the ever-rising stock prices (and collapsing credit spreads) he was seeing in the face of growing global fears of the virus' spread.
And as the market began to waken from its dissonant slumber, he warned:
"This is not a buy-the-dip market. It is a don’t-catch-a-falling-knife market. "

As he detailed to CNBC the threat the coronavirus poses to corporate earnings and the U.S. economy if the pandemic spreads.

And now, after an unprecedented collapse in stock prices and Treasury yields, Minerd details his portfolio positioning with coronavirus on the brink of pandemic.
The impact of the coronavirus has made for a crazy couple of weeks in the financial markets. Now spreading beyond Italy into other parts of Europe, it is on the brink of a pandemic and investors, fearing a sharp slowdown in global growth, have reacted by taking out support for yields for the long bond and the 10-year Treasury note. Bonds are comfortably below 2 percent and the 10-year Treasury yield is hovering around 1.3 percent. Unlikely as it may seem, technical analysis now indicates a target yield on the 30-year bond at 1 percent and the 10-year note at 0.25 percent. Stocks are nearing correction territory, with more downside likely.
At the same time that long Treasury yields are making new historic lows, credit spreads, while widening, remain relatively tight. This does not make any sense given the fundamental backdrop which indicate that defaults will rise significantly, particularly in energy, airlines, retailing, and hospitality. Nevertheless, central bank liquidity continues to drive flows into bonds at a record pace. These flows are keeping spreads tight and, until there is an interruption of the inflows, credit spreads will be contained.

Now apparently the everything bubble for risk assets is in danger of deflating. The coronavirus is showing us the unpredictable path that an exogenous force can play in interrupting an economy that is already exhibiting many late-cycle symptoms. And it is far from over. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has been firm in its warnings, as Dr. Nancy Messonnier of the CDC urged, “We are asking the American public to prepare for the expectation that this might be bad.”

We have reached the tipping point. Either the epidemic will be quickly contained or the world will soon slip into pandemic. I’m not an epidemiologist so I will leave the semantics to the medical experts, but of this I am certain: From a U.S. perspective if our neighbors are infected, it will be an epidemic. If infections begin rapid transmission in the U.S., we will call this a pandemic.
For the moment we have found support in the S&P 500 around 3,000 and the decline in the 10-year Treasury yield has stopped out at around 1.25 percent. For the time being, I would expect retracing in both markets as stocks and bonds stabilize or even rise in price.
In the coming days, market prices will be the tell as to how the disease progresses. For the moment, panic is high. To be clear, I am not saying the worst is over; but, rather, it is time to take a break and assess the next moves.

The Hoarding Begins In The U.S. : Costco In Brooklyn

Meanwhile At A Costco In Brooklyn, The Hoarding Begins

The same long lines that we've seen in China, Japan, South Korea, and across the world as people panic buy food and health supplies have started in the US.
On Saturday, the US Surgeon General urged people to "stop buying masks," saying on Twitter that they're not effective in preventing the general public from catching coronavirus.
Despite the CDC telling everyone to calm down, alleged video of long lines pouring out of a Costco store in Brooklyn, New York, surfaced on YouTube Saturday afternoon.

This angle shows hundreds of people lined up outside of the Brooklyn Costco today in the freezing cold for a chance to load up on supplies amid virus fears. 

This comes days after we reported Hawaiians raced to Sam's Club and Costco to panic buy food and health supplies as virus fears surge.

And as we noted earlier today: "The great panic of 2020 is underway" as Americans are now stocking up on supplies as a pandemic could be imminent.

Things To Come:

Pascal Lamb could be Sacrificed on Temple Mount for first Time in 2,000 Years

As per Trump’s Deal of the Century, the Sanhedrin petitioned the Israeli government, filing to receive permits that would allow priests to perform the ritual of the Pesach (Passover) sacrifice temporary altar that will be transported to the temple mount and removed immediately after the ceremony. If the government grants the permits, as it should, based on Israeli and international law, this will be the first time since the destruction of the Second Temple that an altar has stood in its proper place on Judaism’s holiest site: the threshing floor purchased by King David.
For the past eight years, the Sanhedrin has been conducting reenactments of the Temple service as a means of preparing for the actual reinstating of the service. These reenactments are held before each of the Biblically mandated feasts by kohanim (Jewish men descended for Aaron the high priests) dressed in the proper Temple garb.
The reenactment of the Pesach offering has special significance as the commandment has great import. There are only two mitzvot (Biblical commandments) for which non-compliance receives the most severe punishment mandated by the Torah, karet (being cut off from the community, or excommunicated): brit milah (circumcision) and the korban Pesach(Passover sacrifice).
“Despite various issues of Jewish law, such as ritual impurity and lack of a high priestJews are still required and technically able to bring the sacrifice,” Rabbi Hillel Weiss, the spokesman for the Sanhedrin told Breaking Israel News. “The only thing preventing the Jewish People from performing the Passover sacrifice is the Israeli government.”
The Sanhedrin recently performed an intense study concerning the current status of the Passover offering and concluded that at this juncture, one sacrifice made at the Temple Mount brought in the name of the entire Jewish people would suffice. The Sanhedrin held a special meeting on Wednesday to discuss the Pesach offering reenactment as well as contingency plans should the government permit the actual ritual to be performed on the Temple Mount at the proper time.
As they do every year, the Sanhedrin submitted requests for permits to perform the reenactment to be held on the Temple Mount three days before the holiday. They also submitted a separate request for the actual sacrifice to be held on the Temple Mount on the holiday. Included in this request is the plan to bring a stone altar to the Temple Mount.
The Passover sacrifice can only be offered in one place; on the Temple Mount. The sacrifice does not require an actual Temple structure but it does require an altar that is built to adhere to the Biblical requirements. Such an altar was constructed last year and stands ready. 

Rumors Of War:

The threat of a nuclear war between the US and Russia is now at its greatest since 1983

Scott Ritter

When the Commander of NATO says he is a fan of flexible first strike at the same time that NATO is flexing its military muscle on Russia’s border, the risk of inadvertent nuclear war is real.

US Air Force Gen. Tod D Wolters told the Senate this week he “is a fan of flexible first strike” regarding NATO’s nuclear weapons, thereby exposing the fatal fallacy of the alliance’s embrace of American nuclear deterrence policy. 

It was one of the most remarkable yet underreported exchanges in recent Senate history. Earlier this week, during the testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee of General Tod Wolters, the commander of US European Command and, concurrently, as the Supreme Allied Commander in Europe (SACEUR) also the military head of all NATO armed forces, General Wolters engaged in a short yet informative exchange with Senator Deb Fischer, a Republican from the state of Nebraska. 

Following some initial questions and answers focused on the alignment of NATO’s military strategy with the 2018 National Defense Strategy of the US, which codified what Wolters called “the malign influence on behalf of Russia” toward European security, Senator Fischer asked about the growing recognition on the part of NATO of the important role of US nuclear deterrence in keeping the peace. “We all understand that our deterrent, the TRIAD, is the bedrock of the security of this country,” Fischer noted. “Can you tell us about what you are hearing…from our NATO partners about this deterrent?

Wolters responded by linking the deterrence provided to Europe by the US nuclear TRIAD with the peace enjoyed on the European continent over the past seven decades. Fischer asked if the US nuclear umbrella was “vital in the freedom of NATO members”; Wolters agreed. Remarkably, Wolters linked the role of nuclear deterrence with the NATO missions in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere outside the European continent. NATO’s mission, he said, was to “proliferate deterrence to the max extent practical to achieve greater peace.”

Then came the piece de resistance of the hearing. “What are your views, Sir,” Senator Fischer asked, “of adopting a so-called no-first-use policy. Do you believe that that would strengthen deterrence?

General Wolters’ response was straight to the point. “Senator, I’m a fan of flexible first use policy.

Under any circumstance, the public embrace of a “flexible first strike” policy regarding nuclear weapons employment by the Supreme Allied Commander in Europe should generate widespread attention. When seen in the context of the recent deployment by the US of a low-yield nuclear warhead on submarine-launched ballistic missiles carried onboard a Trident submarine, however, Wolters’ statement is downright explosive. Add to the mix the fact the US recently carried out a wargame where the US Secretary of Defense practiced the procedures for launching this very same “low yield” weapon against a Russian target during simulated combat between Russia and NATO in Europe, and the reaction should be off the charts. And yet there has been deafening silence from both the European and US press on this topic.
Complicating matters further are the ‘Defender 2020’ NATO military exercises underway in Europe, involving tens of thousands of US troops in one of the largest training operations since the end of the Cold War. The fact that these exercises are taking place at a time when the issue of US nuclear weapons and NATO’s doctrine regarding their employment against Russia is being actively tracked by senior Russian authorities only highlights the danger posed.

On February 6, General Valery Gerasimov, the Russian Chief of Staff, met with General Wolters to discuss ‘Defender 2020’ and concurrent Russian military exercises to be held nearby to deconflict their respective operations and avoid any unforeseen incidents. This meeting, however, was held prior to the reports about a US/NATO nuclear wargame targeting Russian forces going public, and prior to General Wolters’ statement about “flexible first use” of NATO nuclear weapons.

So concerned was Moscow about these exercises, and the possibility that NATO might use them as a cover for an attack against Soviet forces in East Germany, that the Soviet nuclear forces were placed on high alert. Historians have since observed that the threat of nuclear war between the US and the USSR was at that time the highest it had been since the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962.
US and NATO officials would do well to recall the danger to European and world security posed by the “Able Archer ‘83” exercise and the potential for Soviet miscalculations when assessing the concerns expressed by General Gerasimov today. The unprecedented concentration of offensive NATO military power on Russia’s border, coupled with the cavalier public embrace by General Wolters of a “flexible first strike” nuclear posture by NATO, has more than replicated the threat model presented by Able Archer ’83. In this context, it would not be a stretch to conclude that the threat of nuclear war between the US and Russia is the highest it has been since Able Archer ’83.

Pestilence And Worldwide Economic Crisis

Outbreak starts to look more like worldwide economic crisis


The coronavirus outbreak began to look more like a worldwide economic crisis Friday as anxiety about the infection emptied shops and amusement parks, canceled events, cut trade and travel and dragged already slumping financial markets even lower.
More employers told their workers to stay home, and officials locked down neighborhoods and closed schools. The wide-ranging efforts to halt the spread of the illness threatened jobs, paychecks and profits.
“This is a case where in economic terms the cure is almost worse than the disease,″ said Jacob Kirkegaard, senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. “When you quarantine cities ... you lose economic activity that you’re not going to get back.′

The list of countries touched by the illness climbed to nearly 60 as Mexico, Belarus, Lithuania, New Zealand, Nigeria, Azerbaijan, Iceland and the Netherlands reported their first cases. More than 83,000 people worldwide have contracted the illness, with deaths topping 2,800.
China, where the outbreak began in December, has seen a slowdown in new infections and on Saturday morning reported 427 new cases over the past 24 hours along with 47 additional deaths. The city at the epicenter of the outbreak, Wuhan, accounted for the bulk of both.
New cases in mainland China have held steady at under 500 for past four days, with almost all of them in Wuhan and its surrounding Hubei province.

With the number of discharged patients now greatly exceeding those of new arrivals, Wuhan now has more than 5,000 spare beds in 16 temporary treatment centers, Ma Xiaowei, director of the National Health Commission, told a news conference in Wuhan on Friday. 
South Korea, the second hardest hit country, on Saturday morning reported 594 new cases, the highest daily jump since confirming its first patient in late January. Emerging clusters in Italy and in Iran, which has had 34 deaths and 388 cases, have led to infections of people in other countries. France and Germany were also seeing increases, with dozens of infections.
The head of the World Health Organization on Friday announced that the risk of the virus spreading worldwide was “very high,” citing the “continued increase in the number of cases and the number of affected countries.”

Turkey Announces Free Passage Of Huge Wave Of Migrants To Europe

BREAKING: Turkey Breaks Its Promise - Announces Free Passage to New Wave of Afghan and Arab Migrants to Europe

Jim Hoft

Massive numbers of Afghan and Arab migrants are gathered at the border of Turkey and Greece after the Erdogan government announced on Friday to give third world migrants free passage to Europe.

If you have never seen this video on the invasion of Europe you must watch this now…(video in main link above)

Greece does not bear any responsibility for the tragic events in Syria and will not suffer the consequences of decisions taken by others. I have informed the European Union of the situation.

— Prime Minister GR (@PrimeministerGR) February 28, 2020

Ejinsight reported:
Turkey, faced with a possible new wave of Syrian migrants and dozens more dead Turkish soldiers in Idlib, will no longer stop Syrian refugees from reaching Europe, Reuters reports, citing a senior Turkish official.
An airstrike by Syrian government forces in Syria’s northwest Idlib region killed 33 Turkish soldiers and wounded others, the governor in Turkey’s southeastern province of Hatay said separately early on Friday.
Turkey’s communications director, Fahrettin Altun, said that in retaliation, “all known” Syrian government targets were being fired on by Turkish air and land support units.
President Tayyip Erdogan has warned that Turkey would launch a full-scale offensive to repel Syrian forces unless they pulled back.
He held an emergency meeting with staff for several hours late on Thursday to discuss the attack, which raised the military death toll to 54 so far this month.
Nearly a million civilians have been displaced in Idlib near the Turkish border since December as Russia-backed Syrian government forces seized territory from Turkey-backed Syrian rebels, marking the worst humanitarian crisis of the country’s nine-year war.
The threat to open the way for refugees to Europe would, if executed, reverse a pledge Turkey made to the European Union in 2016 and could quickly draw Western powers into the standoff over Idlib and stalled negotiations between Ankara and Moscow.

Greece Sends 50 Naval Vessels & Commandos To Block Refugee Wave Out Of Turkey

Greece sealed its key land Kastanies border crossing with Turkey Friday after Ankara declared it's allowing refugees to flee Idlib and on to Europe for at least 72 hours, in response to Syrian-Russian airstrikes killing 33 Turkish troops Thursday.
Germany's Bild newspaper reported Friday that Greece is taking further emergency measures to prevent Erdogan from effectively "opening the gates" on new waves of refugee and migrant hordes seeking entry to the EU, noting the country "completely closed off its borders with Turkey: not just for refugees, but for EVERYONE."
The newspaper said 50 naval ships, likely most of them small patrol vessels, have been deployed by the Hellenic Navy to ensure those coming out of Turkey don't get through.

'Nothing Goes To Heck In A Straight Line'

“Nothing Goes to Heck in a Straight Line,” Not Even Stocks Today

OK, all kinds of things were going on today. First, in mid-plunge this afternoon, the Fed came out and said it’s going to print antibodies or something. To soothe the rattled nerves of the Wall Street crybabies on TV, as the worst weekly sell-off in stocks since 2008 was heating up, Fed Chair Jerome Powell released a one-paragraph Fed-speak statement Friday afternoon (in full):
“The fundamentals of the U.S. economy remain strong. However, the coronavirus poses evolving risks to economic activity. The Federal Reserve is closely monitoring developments and their implications for the economic outlook. We will use our tools and act as appropriate to support the economy.”
The thing is, interest rate cuts and QE or whatever other shenanigans the Fed concocts aren’t going to solve the problem posed by the appearance of the coronavirus. If you don’t want to get on a plane in order to avoid catching the virus, you’re not going to change your mind because T-bill yields dropped 50 basis points.

The second thing going on: “Nothing goes to heck in a straight line.”

This was predictable, with it only being a question of when. The effect – “Nothing Goes to Heck in a Straight Line” – is also printed on our handsome and hilarious heavy-duty WOLF STREET beer mugs, that are ideal for contemplating days and weeks like these, and for musing about the 15-minutes-before-the-close spike like this.
The thing is, sooner or later, buyers in form of humans and algos always emerge. This is the nature of trading. If there’s blood in the streets….
If this happens shortly before the close on a Friday afternoon after a horrendous week, when all the sellers are done selling and are exhausted in a corner somewhere licking their wounds, when there is no liquidity left in the market, and some human and algo buyers step forward, then stocks bounce and prices explode higher. Hence the WOLF STREET beer mugs.
And this happened beautifully during the last 15 minutes of trading, when the sellers had disappeared, and it took just a little buying pressure to red-line the needle:
  • The S&P 500 index skyrocketed 73 points in 15 minutes, from 2,881 to close at 2,954, down “only” 0.8% for the day.
  • The Dow skyrocketed 622 points in 15 minutes, from 24,787 to close at 25,409, down “only” 1.4% for the day.
  • The Nasdaq spiked 207 points in 15 minutes, from 8,360 to close at 8,567, flat for the day, and “green” because it was up 0.001%.
Despite these fireworks over the last 15 minutes of trading, it wasn’t a pretty week. The S&P 500 index had peaked on February 19 at a closing high of 3,386 – after skyrocketing 30% last year despite a slow-growth economy, and after spending the first seven weeks this year blowing off the end of QE-4, lousy corporate earnings, the coronavirus outbreak in China and all the issues this would pose for US corporate supply chains and revenues, and the near-certainty that the virus would make it to the US. But on February 20, it started to sink in.

Rise In Quakes Goes Unnoticed

Seismic Monitor - Recent earthquakes on a world map and much more.

Over the last 48 Hours: 

5.3 Tonga Islands
5.1 Loyalty Islands 
4.7 Fiji Islands
4.6 Russia
5.1 S Sandwich Islands
5.2 Pacific
4.8 New Britain Region
5.3 Indonesia
5.0 China
4.7 Columbia (coastal)
4.6 Mexico
4.6 Venezuela (coastal)
4.8 Greece

Pope Francis Cancels Events For Third Day With 'Cold'

Pope cancels audiences for third day with apparent cold

Pope Francis canceled official engagements for the third day in a row Saturday as he battled an apparent cold.
The 83-year-old pope, who lost part of a lung to a respiratory illness as a young man, has never canceled so many official audiences or events in his seven-year papacy.
Francis is, however, continuing to work from his residence at the Vatican’s Santa Marta hotel and is receiving people in private, the Vatican press office said. On Saturday, those private meetings were with the head of the Vatican’s bishops’ office, Francis’ ambassadors to Lebanon and France and a Ukrainian archbishop.
Canceled were his two planned official audiences — formal affairs in the Apostolic Palace where Francis would have delivered a speech and greeted a great number of people at the end. Those were to include an audience with an international bioethics organization and with members of the scandal-marred Legion of Christ religious order.
On Sunday, Francis is expected to leave the Vatican with top Holy See bureaucrats for a week of spiritual exercises in the Roman countryside, an annual retreat that the pope attends at the start of each Lent.
Francis last appeared in public on Wednesday, when he was seen coughing and blowing his nose during an Ash Wednesday Mass. The following day, he canceled a Mass across town with Roman priests and on Friday, skipped an audience with participants of a Vatican conference on artificial intelligence.

Is Iran's Mortality Rate From Virus Significantly Higher Than Other Regions?

Why is Iran's reported mortality rate for coronavirus higher than in other countries?
Dan De Luce and Leila Gharagozlou and Emmanuelle Saliba and Robert Windrem

Iran has the highest reported number of deaths from the coronavirus outside China, raising questions about how the government is handling the public health crisis and whether the often secretive regime has been fully transparent about the extent of the outbreak.
Iran's health ministry spokesman said on Friday that 34 Iranians have died out of a total of 388 positive cases. Iran has now suspended parliament indefinitely due to the outbreak.
Four doctors in Iran who are familiar with how authorities are handling the outbreak, including two who work at hospitals where infected patients have been treated, told an NBC News reporter in New York that the total number of those infected is likely substantially higher than the number released by health authorities.
Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of the World Health Organization’s emergencies program, told reporters Thursday that the virus "came unseen and undetected into Iran, so the extent of infection may be broader than what we may be seeing."
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Congress Friday that the U.S. had offered to help Iran respond to the virus.
Apart from China, where it was first detected in December, Iran has recorded the most deaths from the new form of coronavirus. There have been 2,747 deaths in China, out of a total of at least 78,497 confirmed cases.
But Iran's reported mortality rate — now just nine under percent — surpasses the rate for other countries by a wide margin. Earlier this week, it was 16 percent. China's reported mortality rate is currently at 3.5 percent. In South Korea, 13 patients have died out of 1,766 cases, for a reported mortality rate of slightly less than 1 percent. A U.S. soldier is among those infected in South Korea.
A top official in Iran, Masoumeh Ebtekar, the highest ranking woman in Iran’s government and a vice president for women and family affairs, has tested positive for the corona virus, state media reported, the latest senior official to contract the COVID-19 illness. Ebtekar, the English-speaking spokesperson for the group of Iranian students who seized hostages at the U.S. embassy in Tehran in 1979, was captured in a photo attending a meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday.
Two members of Iran’s parliament have contracted the virus as well as the deputy health minister, who was seen wiping his brow and looking feverish at a press conference a day before he announced he had tested positive.
While the government has imposed some restrictions on holy sites and called off some Friday prayer services, President Rouhani has said there are no plans to quarantine entire cities hit by the virus.
Amid a shortage of surgical masks and hand sanitizer in shops, public health experts say Iran could become the hub of a major outbreak across the Middle East, especially given its porous borders with unstable countries at war or in turmoil.
Iranian officials reported the first case of virus in the religious city of Qom last week, and coronavirus has spread to at least seven other provinces. Other countries in the region, including Iraq, Kuwait, Oman and Afghanistan, reported their first cases this week and said the patients had recently visited Iran.
In an echo of public reaction in China, critics of the Iranian regime in and outside the country are questioning whether officials in Tehran have given the public a full and accurate picture of the outbreak. But Iranian officials have rejected any suggestion that they are playing down the epidemic
The head of Medical Science University in Qom, Mohammad Reza Ghadir, said on state television that the Health Ministry had banned releasing figures on the outbreak in the city.
Asked how many people had been placed in quarantine, Ghadir said, "The Health Ministry has told us not to announce any new statistics."
Ghadir also said that "most of the tests have to be done in Tehran, and Tehran announces it." His comments suggested that diagnostic tests were mainly being conducted in the capital.

It's unclear whether Iran has the ability to find out how many people have been infected, which would require venturing out to towns and villages to conduct tests and not simply relying on who goes to large hospitals with severe symptoms, said Dr. William Schaffner, a professor of preventive medicine and infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
"That means going to the neighborhood and knocking on doors and really aggressively trying to find cases," Schaffner said in an interview. "I don't know if they have that capacity. Many countries do not, and they don't have that tradition in their public health systems. This would be a very new thing for them to do."
Another possibility is that the patients are from an elderly, more vulnerable part of the population, Schaffner said.
If the virus "was introduced to a population that was older and as a consequence has a bunch of underlying illnesses, [that] could explain a high fatality rate," Schaffner said.

Updates From Times Of Israel (Liveblogging)

Coronavirus Updates, Updates From Israel - "We're willing to do a great deal to topple Netanyahu"

Over 85,000 infected globally by coronavirus, over 2,900 deaths

The coronavirus outbreak that began in China has infected more than 85,000 people globally.
The latest figures, based on WHO and national counts:
— Mainland China: 2,835 deaths among 79,251 cases, mostly in the central province of Hubei
— Hong Kong: 94 cases, 2 deaths
— Macao: 10 cases
— South Korea: 3,150 cases, 17 deaths
— Japan: 941 cases, including 705 from the Diamond Princess cruise ship, 11 deaths
— Italy: 888 cases, 18 deaths
— Iran: 593 cases, 43 deaths
— Singapore: 98 cases
— United States: 62
— France: 57 cases, 2 deaths
— Germany: 57 cases
— Spain: 46
— Kuwait: 45
— Thailand: 42
— Taiwan: 39 cases, 1 death
— Bahrain: 38 cases
— Malaysia: 24
— Australia: 23
— United Kingdom: 20 cases, 1 death
— United Arab Emirates: 19 cases
— Vietnam: 16
— Canada: 14
— Sweden: 12
— Switzerland: 10
— Iraq: 8
— Norway: 6
— Oman: 6
— Austria: 5
— Russia: 5
— Croatia: 5
— Israel: 5
— Netherlands: 4
— Pakistan: 4
— Philippines: 3 cases, 1 death
— Finland: 3 cases
— Greece: 3
— India: 3
— Lebanon: 3
— Romania: 3
— Norway: 2
— Denmark: 2
— Georgia: 2
— Mexico: 2
— Egypt: 1
— Algeria: 1
— Afghanistan: 1
— North Macedonia: 1
— Estonia: 1
— Lithuania: 1
— Belgium: 1
— Belarus: 1
— Nepal: 1
— Sri Lanka: 1
— Cambodia: 1
— Brazil: 1
— New Zealand: 1
— Nigeria: 1
— Azerbaijan: 1
— Monaco: 1
— Qatar: 1
— AP

France cancels Paris half-marathon, gatherings of more than 5,000 over virus fears

French authorities have announced the cancellation of the Paris half-marathon scheduled for tomorrow amid coronavirus fears.
Authorities have also barred gatherings of more than 5,000 people.
There have been 57 cases of coronavirus in the country with two of them leading to deaths.

Joint List MK: We’re willing to do a great deal to topple Netanyahu

Joint List MK Ahmad Tibi says his majority-Arab party is “ready to do a great deal” to topple Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
With the election less than two days away, Tibi says the Joint List is inching closer to its goal of 15 or 16 seats in the Knesset. In the last race, they won 13 seats.
Much of the ability for the Netanyahu-led right-wing, religious bloc to win a 61-seat majority on Monday will depend on turnout in the Arab Israeli sector. In the September election, the minority came out in higher numbers than expected amid a Likud campaign to place cameras in their polling stations due to alleged voter fraud.
Netanyahu has dropped the targeted campaign against the demographic this time around, instead reaching out to Arab Israelis and encouraging them to vote for Likud.