In this image taken from video provided by the Malacanang RTVM, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, center, gestures as he delivers his speech at the Malacanang presidential palace in Manila, Philippines, on Thursday March 12, 2020.(AP)
Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte is allowing for the use of deadly force against those found violating lockdown standards implemented in an effort curtail the spread of the coronavirus.
In a televised address on Wednesday, Duterte emphasized the importance of respecting the quarantine guidelines as authorities work to slow the virus, which has infected nearly 1 million people worldwide, according to Reuters. The volatile leader added he’s granted the military and local authorities permission to shoot those resisting the new measures and abusing medical officials.
“It is getting worse. So once again I’m telling you the seriousness of the problem and that you must listen,” Duterte said in a broadcast to the nation’s 107 million residents.
“My orders to the police and military … if there is trouble and there’s an occasion that they fight back and your lives are in danger, shoot them dead.”
“Is that understood? Dead. Instead of causing trouble, I will bury you.”
National police chief Gen. Archie Gamboa on Thursday clarified the president’s remarks, noting authorities understood he “just overemphasized” the law and that lethal force would only be used when absolutely necessary, Bloomberg News reported.
Duterte’s warning came one day after the Philippines recorded its largest daily increase of infections and coronavirus deaths. The total confirmed cases most recently stood at 2,084, with 88 fatalities.
It also came on the heel of media reports detailing the arrests of several residents in a poor area of Manila, who were protesting a lack of sufficient government food and aid.
Boxes with medical equipment and masks to help fight coronavirus are seen aboard a Russian military transport plane ahead of its departure for the US.Reuters
A Russian military transport plane loaded with medical equipment took off early Wednesday from an airfield outside Moscow and headed for the US, following a conversation between President Trump and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, according to a report.
Putin offered supplies to help fight the coronavirus pandemic during a phone call with Trump on Monday, which focused on how to respond to the outbreak, Reuters reported.
“Trump gratefully accepted this humanitarian aid,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Tuesday, Reuters reported, citing the Interfax news agency.
The Russian Embassy said on its Twitter account that Moscow sent the aid as Trump predicted the death toll in the US could be between 100,000 and 240,000 and amid hopes that the Trump administration would return the favor if the outbreak becomes severe in Russia.
“Importantly, when offering assistance to the American colleagues, President Putin is guided by the following consideration: when manufacturers of medical equipment gain momentum they will be able to reciprocate if need be,” the tweet said.
Trump on Monday said he had talked to Putin and suggested Russia would be sending aid.
“I have to say, we’ve had great relationships with a lot of countries,” Trump said. “China sent us some stuff, which was terrific. Russia sent us a very, very large planeload of things, medical equipment, which was very nice.”
Russia reported more than 2,000 cases of the virus, but many health experts have questioned the accuracy of the data.
The closed Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan, China, on January 12.
China’s wildlife-farming industry, valued at $74 billion, has been permanently shut down.
On Monday, the nation’s legislature banned the buying, selling, and eating of wild animals in an effort to prevent zoonotic diseases from jumping from animals to people.
The novel coronavirus, which has killed at least 2,700 people, is thought to have been transmitted to humans by pigs, civets, or pangolins at the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan, China.
“There has been a growing concern among people over the consumption of wild animals and the hidden dangers it brings to public health security since the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak,” Zhang Tiewei, a legislative spokesman, told Reuters Monday.
Zhang added that the decision came at a “critical moment for the epidemic prevention and control.”
A wet market in Dandong, Liaoning province, China.
Officials closed the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market on January 1, and Wuhan authorities banned the live-animal trade at all markets in the city soon thereafter.
A few weeks later, Chinese authorities temporarily banned the buying, selling, and transportation of wild animals in markets, restaurants, and online marketplaces across the country. Farms that breed and transport wildlife were also quarantined and shut down. The ban was expected to stay in place until the coronavirus epidemic ended, Xinhua News reported. But now it’s permanent.
Much of China’s wildlife trade, according to experts, was already illegal: China’s Wildlife Protection Law bans the hunting and selling of endangered species but doesn’t apply to all wild animals. But the practice persisted because of lax enforcement and legal loopholes, such as inconsistencies in species’ names and online sales of exotic wildlife as pets.
Before the new ban was instated, the Chinese Communist Party announced plans to crack down on illegal wildlife markets and trade across the country, recognizing “shortcomings” in its response to the outbreak.
A vendor sells bats at a market in Sulawesi, Indonesia, on February 8.
China’s wild-meat industry is valued at $7.1 billion and employs 1 million people, Nature reported. The value of the larger wildlife-farming industry is closer to $74 billion, according to a 2017 report by the Chinese Academy of Engineering.
“A total ban on trading wild animals would criminalize a substantial proportion of the Chinese population, and be untenable,” Zhao-Min Zhou, a Chinese wildlife-policy researcher, told Nature. He added that shuttering animal markets would just move the trade to the black market.
Since the outbreak began, Chinese authorities have shut down 20,000 farms raising peacocks, civet cats, porcupines, ostriches, and wild geese, The Guardian reported.
But many experts support this type of intervention to help prevent the spread of viruses.
“The government has signaled that it wants to take immediate action to prevent any future outbreaks of diseases that spread from animals to humans,” Li Zhang, a conservation biologist at Beijing Normal University, told Nature. He added that wildlife trade and consumption represented a direct threat to animals and a major public-health risk.
That’s because the close proximity of shoppers and vendors to live and dead animals at wet markets creates a breeding ground for zoonotic diseases.
“For cultural reasons in the region, people want to see the specific animals they’re buying be slaughtered in front of them, so they know they’re receiving the products they paid for,” Emily Langdon, an infectious-disease specialist at the University of Chicago, wrote in an article. “That means there’s a lot of skinning of dead animals in front of shoppers and, as a result, aerosolizing of all sorts of things.”
Three-quarters of new or emerging infectious diseases in people come from animals, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Bats harbor a significantly higher proportion of zoonotic viruses than other mammals. They pass them along in their poop: If a bat drops feces onto a piece of fruit that another animal then eats, that creature can become a carrier.
Genetic evidence suggests that the new coronavirus almost certainly originated in bats, which passed it to another animal. The virus then jumped from that animal to people at a wildlife market. SARS (which is caused by a coronavirus) originated in bats too, then jumped to civets, which passed it to people in a Chinese wet market. The SARS coronavirus infected more than 8,000 people and killed 774 between 2002 and 2003.
Experts still aren’t sure which animal species served as the new coronavirus’ intermediary between bats and people. Many possibilities have been floated, including snakes (which is unlikely), pigs, civets, and pangolins — endangered mammals that are roasted and eaten in China, Vietnam, and parts of West Africa and whose scales are used in traditional Chinese medicine.
A pangolin at a wild-animal-rescue center in Cuc Phuong, Vietnam, in 2016.
Pangolins were the most trafficked nonhuman species in the world in 2013, according to National Geographic. The Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species declared pangolin trade illegal in 2016.
The trade and consumption of pangolins was already illegal under China’s Wildlife Protection Law.
In this photo taken Tuesday, March 3, 2020, a worker stands near Chinese national flag and propaganda which reads “Go China” in Beijing. As the rest of the world grapples with a burgeoning virus outbreak, China’s ruling Communist Party has turned to its propaganda playbook to portray its leader as firmly in charge, leading an army of health workers in a “people’s war” against the disease. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
Now that the number of new people infected with the coronavirus in China is slowing down, the country’s Communist Party is ratcheting up threats against the West, with a particularly nasty warning about access to life-saving drugs aimed at the United States.
In an article in Xinhua, the state-run media agency that’s largely considered the mouthpiece of the party, Beijing bragged about its handling of COVID-19, a virus that originated in the city of Wuhan and has spread quickly around the world, killing nearly 5,000 people and infecting thousands more. The article also claimed that China could impose pharmaceutical export controls which would plunge America into “the mighty sea of coronavirus.”
The disturbing threats made during a global pandemic as well as the scary consequences if that threat becomes real highlight just how tight China’s grip is on the global supply chain. Already, the Food and Drug Administration has announced the first drug shortage related to the coronavirus. Though it did not disclose which drug was in short supply, the FDA did say it could not access enough raw components needed because they are made in China.
That doesn’t come as a surprise to Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla, who told Fox News on Thursday that America is “dangerously reliant” on China for the production of critical goods, including parts for technologies needed to fight COVID-19.
Though the United States is a global leader in research, much of the manufacturing of life-saving drugs has moved overseas. The last American manufacturing plant to make a key component in penicillin shuttered in 2004. Since then, Chinese pharmaceuticals companies have moved in and taken over, supplying between 80 percent and 90 percent of U.S. antibiotics, 70 percent of acetaminophen and about 40 percent of heparin, according to Yanzhong Huang, a senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations.
If China makes good on its threat to cut off the United States, Rubio believes the results could be crippling.
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases worldwide on Thursday went up to 124,518, up from 118,162 cases the day before. In China, there are 80,980 confirmed cases. Italy saw a 22.7 percent jump to 12,462 from 10,149. Iran is hovering close to a 12 percent increase while cases in Qatar jumped 991 percent to 262 cases from 24. In the United States, there are more than 1,300 confirmed cases spread across 44 states and the District of Columbia.
People wearing protective face masks wait in a queue to get temperature check before entering a bank in Beijing, Wednesday, March 11, 2020. For most, the coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. But for a few, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illnesses, including pneumonia. (AP)
As the rest of the world scrambles to contain the virus and protect its citizens, China has been busy casting itself in the role of global hero going so far as to demand a thank you for containing the virus as long as it did.
“We should say righteously that the U.S. owes China an apology, the world owes China a thank you,” an editorial in Xinhua read.
Rubio said Beijing’s comments should concern all Americans and that China is keenly aware that in a moment of crisis “they can threaten to cut us off from our pharmaceutical supplies, they could trigger a domestic problem here that would make it difficult or us to confront them.”
“It’s a tremendous amount of leverage,” Rubio said.
Two surveys released this week show Corona’s brand is suffering from negative buzz.
The first survey, conducted by 5W Public Relations, said that 38% of Americans wouldn’t buy Corona “under any circumstances” because of the outbreak, and another 14% said they wouldn’t order a Corona in public. The survey encompasses polling from 737 beer drinkers in the United States.
In another survey conducted by YouGov, the firm found consumers’ intent to purchase Corona fell to its lowest level in two years. The survey also showed that Corona’s buzz score, a metric that that measures favorability, has dropped significantly since the beginning of the year.
Still, Corona beer isn’t making any changes to its advertising despite the name’s unfortunate similarity to the deadly coronavirus.
Constellation Brands, which brews several variations of the popular lager, said in a statement that its customers “understand there is no link between the virus and our business.”
“Sales of Corona remain very strong and we appreciate the continued support from our fans,” Constellation Brands spokesperson Stephanie McGuane told CNN Business. “Our advertising with Corona is consistent with the campaign we have been running for the last 30 years and is based off strong consumer sentiment.”
The spread of the coronavirus couldn’t have come at a worse time for Constellation, which is spending $40 million to launch its new Corona-branded hard seltzer. Part of the promotion includes a sponsored tweet that has sparked criticism for using the phrase “coming ashore soon.”
Replies to the tweet say the ad is in “poor taste” and that the brand should “lay low for a few weeks.”
Online searches for “corona beer virus” spiked in early February, but have since declined.
Constellation Brands’ stock dropped 8% on Thursday, although the entire stock market has fallen sharply as fear grows about the spread of coronavirus. The number of cases have climbed to 83,577 globally Friday. Nearly 3,000 people have died from the virus.