Archive for February 22nd, 2020

Coronavirus may be the ‘disease X’ health agency warned about – MENAFN.COM

February 22nd, 2020

(MENAFN – Gulf Times) The World Health Organisation cautioned years ago that a mysterious ”disease X could spark an international contagion. The new coronavirus, with its ability to quickly morph from mild to deadly, is emerging as a contender.
From recent reports about the stealthy ways the so-called Covid-19 virus spreads and maims, a picture is emerging of an enigmatic pathogen whose effects are mainly mild, but which occasionally and unpredictably turns deadly in the second week. In less than three months, it”s infected about 77,000 people, mostly in China, and killed more than 2,200.
”Whether it will be contained or not, this outbreak is rapidly becoming the first true pandemic challenge that fits the disease X category, Marion Koopmans, head of viroscience at Erasmus University Medical Center in Rotterdam, and a member of the WHO”s emergency committee, wrote on Wednesday in the journal Cell.
The disease has now spread to more than two dozen countries and territories. Some of those infected caught the virus in their local community and have no known link to China, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.
”We are not seeing community spread here in the US yet, but it”s very possible – even likely – that it may eventually happen, Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC”s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, told reporters on Friday.
Unlike Sars, its viral cousin, the COVID-19 virus replicates at high concentrations in the nose and throat akin to the common cold, and appears capable of spreading from those who show no, or mild, symptoms. That makes it impossible to control using the fever-checking measures that helped stop Sars 17 years ago.

Spreading surreptitiously
A cluster of cases within a family living in the Chinese city of Anyang is presumed to have begun when a 20-year-old woman carried the virus from Wuhan, the outbreak”s epicentre, on January 10 and spread it while experiencing no illness, researchers said on Friday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Five relatives subsequently developed fever and respiratory symptoms. Covid-19 is less deadly than Sars, which had a case fatality rate of 9.5%, but appears more contagious. Both viruses attack the respiratory and gastrointestinal tracts, via which they can potentially spread.
While more than 80% of patients are reported to have a mild version of the disease and will recover, about one in seven develops pneumonia, difficulty breathing and other severe symptoms. About 5% of patients have critical illness, including respiratory failure, septic shock and multi-organ failure.
”Unlike Sars, COVID-19 infection has a broader spectrum of severity ranging from asymptomatic to mildly symptomatic to severe illness that requires mechanical ventilation, doctors in Singapore said in a paper in the same medical journal on Thursday. ”Clinical progression of the illness appears similar to Sars: patients developed pneumonia around the end of the first week to the beginning of the second week of illness.

Unpredictable illness
Older adults, especially those with chronic conditions, such as hypertension and diabetes, have been found to have a higher risk of severe illness. Still, ”the experience to date in Singapore is that patients without significant co-morbid conditions can also develop severe illness, they said.
Li Wenliang, the 34-year-old ophthalmologist who was one of the first to warn about the coronavirus in Wuhan, died earlier this month after receiving antibodies, antivirals, antibiotics, oxygen and having his blood pumped through an artificial lung.
The doctor, who was in good health prior to his infection, appeared to have a relatively mild case until his lungs became inflamed, leading to the man”s death two days later, said Linfa Wang, who heads the emerging infectious disease programme at Duke-National University of Singapore Medical School.
A similar pattern of inflammation noted among Covid-19 patients was observed in those who succumbed to the 1918 ”Spanish flu pandemic, said Gregory A Poland, the Mary Lowell Leary emeritus professor of medicine, infectious diseases, and molecular pharmacology and experimental therapeutics at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.
”Whenever, you have an infection, you have a battle going on, Poland said in a phone interview on Thursday. ”And that battle is a battle between the damage that the virus is doing, and the damage the body can do when it tries to fight it off.

Mild symptoms
Doctors studying a 50-year-old man who died in China last month found Covid-19 gave him mild chills and dry cough at the start, enabling him to continue working. But on his ninth day of illness, he was hospitalised with fatigue and shortness of breath, and treated with a barrage of germ-fighting and immune system-modulating treatments.
He died five days later with lung damage reminiscent of SARS and MERS, another coronavirus-related outbreak, doctors at the Fifth Medical Center of PLA General Hospital in Beijing said in a February 16 study in the Lancet medical journal. Blood tests showed an over-activation of a type of infection-fighting cell that accounted for part of the ”severe immune injury he sustained, the authors said.
Controversially, he had been given 80 milligrams twice daily of methylprednisolone, an immune-suppressing corticosteroid drug that”s in common use in China for severe cases, though has been linked to ”prolonged viral shedding in earlier studies of MERS, Sars and influenza, according to the WHO.
The patient”s doctors recommended corticosteroids be considered alongside ventilator support for severely ill patients to prevent a deadly complication known as acute respiratory distress syndrome.
He was given at least double what would typically be recommended for patients with the syndrome and other respiratory indications, said Reed Siemieniuk, a general internist and a health research methodologist at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. Based on what was observed with Mers, the drug may delay viral clearance in Covid-19 patients, he said.
”Corticosteroids could cause more harm than good because of that risk, Siemieniuk said in an interview. ”I wouldn”t want to let a patient die without trying steroids, but I would wait until patients were extremely ill.



42-year-old emergency goalie saves the day for Hurricanes – NHL

February 22nd, 2020

Zamboni driver for the Toronto Marlies and emergency backup goalie David Ayres makes his NHL debut at 42 years of age, stopping 8 of 10 shots to give the Carolina Hurricanes a 6-3 win, all while stealing the show in Toronto.

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Ninja’s Twitter account was hijacked – Engadget

February 22nd, 2020

Man charged with first-degree murder after fatal hammer attack in Scarborough – Toronto Star

February 22nd, 2020

Toronto police say a 30-year-old man has turned himself in after a woman was killed in a hammer attack Friday evening.

Police were called to the area of Sheppard Avenue East near Markham Road for a possible medical complaint. They say the victim, identified as 64-year-old Hang-Kam Annie Chiu of Scarborough, was walking east on Sheppard when she was hit by a man.

She was pronounced dead at the scene.

Police initially said that the incident was a shooting, but say that is no longer the case.

Saad Akhtar, 30, of Scarborough, turned himself in at 42 Division and has been charged with first-degree murder. He appeared in court at Old City Hall Saturday morning, police say.

The investigation is ongoing.

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Ilya Bañares is a breaking news reporter, working out of the Star’s radio room in Toronto. Follow him on Twitter: @ilyaoverseas

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The Batman: Ben Affleck Thinks Robert Pattinson Will A Great Batman – Screen Rant

February 22nd, 2020

Former Batman Ben Affleck is sharing his support for his successor in the role, Robert Pattinson, who will play the Caped Crusader in next year’s The Batman. Starting with 2016’s Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, Affleck was the fifth actor to play Batman in a live-action film, and he appeared in three movies total (which includes a small cameo in Suicide Squad). Affleck was reportedly going to direct, write, and star in The Batman, but reports later emerged suggesting someone new would take over the role. Affleck later departed the project, and Matt Reeves signed on to write and direct with Pattinson filling the role of Bruce Wayne.

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Production on The Batman has been underway for a little while now, and recently Reeves unveiled the first official look of Pattinson in costume. Excitement for the 2021 film has only been building as production has continued, especially due to its large cast. Aside from Pattinson, The Batman will star Zoë Kravitz, Colin Farrell, Jeffrey Wright, Paul Dano, Andy Serkis, Peter Sarsgaard, and John Turturro.

Related: How Robert Pattinson’s Batman Costume Compares To Previous Versions

While promoting his new film The Way Back in an interview with Jake Hamilton, Affleck was briefly asked about his time as Batman as well as the initial script he wrote for The Batman. Affleck was quick to share some words of support for Pattinson, saying, “I think Robert’s a great actor, he’s going to do great.” Affleck also opened up a bit more about why he chose to leave, explaining that he had “kind of lost my passion for it.” He added, “The movie deserves to be made by someone whose dying to do it and can’t wait, and that wasn’t me at the time, so I moved on.”

Recently, Affleck elaborated on his departure from The Batman in a more candid manner than he had previously. Whereas before, it seemed like creative differences led to his exit, Affleck admitted that it was a more personal reason. Affleck explained, “I showed somebody ‘The Batman’ script. They said, ‘I think the script is good. I also think you’ll drink yourself to death if you go through what you just went though again.” It seems that the process behind making and promoting 2017’s Justice League effectively diminished his interest in playing Batman, which isn’t too surprising considering that film’s troubled production history. Affleck’s struggles with alcoholism reportedly added to his stress.

Affleck’s recent comments, including the ones in support of Pattinson, suggest he’s made some peace with his rocky tenure as Batman. Of course, it’s impossible to say for sure without being inside of his head, but it’s a bit of a relief to know that he has moved onto projects he feels more passionate about. Affleck’s Batman, while perhaps not as beloved as say Michael Keaton’s or Christian Bale’s, was a solid take on the well-known character, and it would have been interesting to see what his version of The Batman would have been. Instead though, fans will get the chance to see a new actor take on the role, and only time will tell if they enjoy it or not.

More: The Batman Is The Most Exciting Upcoming Superhero Movie

Source: Jake Hamilton

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Key Release Dates
  • Wonder Woman 1984 (2020)Release date: Jun 05, 2020
  • The Batman (2021)Release date: Jun 25, 2021
  • The Suicide Squad (2021)Release date: Aug 06, 2021
  • Black Adam (2021)Release date: Dec 22, 2021
  • Shazam 2 (2022)Release date: Apr 01, 2022
  • DC Super Pets (2022)Release date: May 20, 2022
  • Aquaman 2 (2022)Release date: Dec 16, 2022

Thanos Wearing Iron Man’s Hulkbuster Armor is the Best Endgame Fan Art Yet


Mike Hughes Dies in Rocket Crash While Filming Science Channel Series ‘Homemade Astronauts’ – TheWrap

February 22nd, 2020

Daredevil “Mad” Mike Hughes died on Saturday after crashing his rocket while filming the new series “Homemade Astronauts” for Science Channel. He was 64.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to Mike Hughes’ family and friends during this difficult time,” a Science Channel spokesperson said in a statement. “It was always his dream to do this launch, and Science Channel was there to chronicle his journey.”

Hughes and teammate Waldo Stakes were “working on a manned rocket to space, designing a ‘Rock-oon’ — part rocket, part balloon — that they hope to use to get Mike to the Karman line, the border between Earth’s atmosphere and outer space at about 62 miles high,” according to Science Channel’s series description. “To raise money and awareness for that pricey venture, they plan to first launch Mike 5,000 feet high in a steam-powered rocket.”

This was that attempt.

“Homemade Astronauts” is also following two other self-financed teams, led by fellow amateur rocketmen Ky Michaelson and Cameron Smith. Michaelson is the first civilian to build and launch an unmanned rocket into space. Smith planned to take a hot air balloon up to 60,000 feet to test out his new spacesuit.

“Homemade Astronauts” was first announced in July 2019 for a 2020 premiere.

“As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, ‘Homemade Astronauts’ looks at a group of ambitious individuals who are carrying on in the American tradition of finding their own way and making their dreams come true with old-fashioned grit and self-determination,” Marc Etkind, general manager of Science Channel, said at the time.

Etkind has since left the company.

“Homemade Astronauts” is being produced by World of Wonder. Executive producers for World of Wonder are Jeremy Simmons, Fenton Bailey, Randy Barbato and Tom Campbell.

Executive producer for Science Channel is Caroline Perez. Lindsey Foster Blumberg is supervising producer for Science.

Science Channel is owned by Discovery, Inc.


Coronavirus Outbreak: More than 77000 people infected around the world – WION

February 22nd, 2020

The death toll from the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak has now reached 2,442 with more than 77,000 people infected around the world.

#WION #Coronavirus #CoronavirusOutbreak

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Hurricanes beat Maple Leafs with help of emergency backup Dave Ayres –

February 22nd, 2020

TORONTO — Emergency backup goalie David Ayres made eight saves in relief and Warren Foegele scored twice as Carolina picked up an improbable 6-3 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday after the Hurricanes lost netminders James Reimer and Petr Mrazek to injury.

Martin Necas, with a goal and an assist, Lucas Wallmark, Nino Niederreiter and Sebastian Aho also scored for Carolina (35-22-4).

Alexander Kerfoot, Pierre Engvall and John Tavares replied for Toronto (32-23-8), which beat the Hurricanes 8-6 at home in another wild affair at Scotiabank Arena on Dec. 23. Kasperi Kapanen and Tyson Barrie picked up two assists each for the Leafs, while Frederik Andersen made 43 saves.

Reimer started for the Hurricanes against his former team, but left with a lower-body injury in the first period after being bowled over in his crease. He was replaced by Mrazek, who made 31 saves in Friday’s 5-2 home loss to the New York Rangers. But Carolina’s second option was hurt in the middle period after a thunderous collision with Leafs winger Kyle Clifford as both players raced for the puck along the sideboards.

That forced Ayres — a 42-year-old ex-junior goalie — into action for the rest of the game between two clubs battling for playoff positioning in the Eastern Conference.

After a bizarre second period that saw Carolina score four times, give up two goals, lose Mrazek, and have Ayres pressed into action, the Hurricanes made it 5-3 just 53 seconds into the third after jumping on a turnover and beating Andersen in tight.

Necas then made it 6-3 at 3:44 when he picked up a loose puck to finish off a chaotic sequence as boos rained down.

The jeers continued on a Leafs power play later in the period and got louder as the period wore on, with some fans chanting “Let’s Go Raptors!” as the final minutes ticked down on an embarassing performance from the home side.

Carolina trailed 1-0 after the first, but tied it at 5:46 of the second when Wallmark scored off a scramble in front of Andersen. Niederrieter then blasted a one-timer on a power play at 9:43 before Foegele made it 3-1 at 10:49.

Mrazek made 14 saves in relief of Reimer, but left the game 30 seconds after Foegele’s first goal. The Czech netminder lay on the ice for a few minutes before leaving.

And after a delay, Ayres emerged fro the Hurricanes locker room sporting No. 90.

He got a some warmup shots from his new teammates before getting thrown into the fray.

Aho made it 4-1 with Clifford in the box for charging at 13:17, but Tavares scored on the first shot against Ayres through the five-hole 19 seconds later.

Engvall buried a loose puck on Toronto’s next shot against Ayres at 15:10.

The Leafs got a power play after that — fans at Scotiabank Arena screamed “Shoot!” almost every time a Toronto player had the puck anywhere the Carolina goal — but the Hurricanes didn’t allow anything through.

Clifford then fought Joel Edmundson in response to the Mrazek collision, much to the delight of the buzzing crowd.

Ayres made his first save late in the second on Auston Matthews as Carolina led 4-3 through a wild 40 minutes.

The Leafs were coming off Thursday’s convincing 4-0 victory over Pittsburgh at Scotiabank Arena in the back end of a home-and-home that started with Tuesday’s 5-2 loss to the Penguins — a second consecutive lacklustre defeat that had fans and media calling out Toronto’s work ethic and level of urgency in the middle of a tight race.

Kerfoot capped a frantic first with 35.1 seconds left when he slid home his ninth after Mrazek couldn’t control Jake Muzzin’s initial shot.

Before that icebreaker, the opening period had already provided plenty of action and controversy.

Carolina’s Andrei Svechnikov nearly put the visitors in front after 40 seconds, but Andersen got his toe on the puck before Denis Malgin cleared it off the goal line.

Zach Hyman then shoved Hurricanes defenceman Jaccob Slavin into Reimer to earn himself an interference penalty. The Carolina goalie, who played for Toronto from 2010 to 2016, stayed in the crease after being looked at by a trainer, but left shortly thereafter with a lower-body injury in favour of Mrazek.

Coming off his second shutout of the season Thursday, Andersen was forced to make the game’s first nine stops before Toronto directed its first shot on target.

Leafs defenceman Tyson Barrie was hurt with six minutes gone when Svechnikov took him hard into the end boards. The defenceman skated right to the locker room favouring his right shoulder, but was back on the bench to start the second.

The Leafs went on the power play with Svechnikov off for boarding, but Carolina had the best chance as Andersen robbed Sebastian Aho on the doorstep.

Jason Spezza lost the puck in front of Toronto’s goal later in the period and had Andersen scrambling to keep things scoreless before Hyman was stopped on a break by Mrazek, but he could do nothing on Kerfoot’s effort late in the period.

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Coronavirus outbreak: Cruise ship evacuees begin quarantine in Ontario – Global News

February 22nd, 2020

Coleen Christie reports on the latest international COVID-19 updates, as Canadian passengers from the Diamond Princess cruise ship begin their quarantine in Ontario, and cases continue to be reported in Iran, South Korea, and Italy.

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Are Overstimulated Stocks Ignoring Coronavirus Risks? –

February 22nd, 2020
  • The Wuhan coronavirus is rapidly spreading around the globe and may soon be declared a global pandemic.
  • The crisis is having a significant economic impact on companies, but financial markets remain nonchalant.
  • China’s economic stimulus may be distorting financial markets. The West should avoid falling into the same trap.

The Wuhan coronavirus outbreak has grown into what looks to be the start of a global pandemic. Confirmed cases of the disease have soared to around 78,000 with 2,362 fatalities. The virus is spreading rapidly outside of China due to a series of “super-spreader” events.

Nevertheless, the U.S. stock market continues to hover near all-time highs despite the economic impact on the ground.

Many analysts believe financial markets are failing to price in the massive risk posed by Wuhan coronavirus outbreak. But some of  their proposed solutions may make the problem worse.

Global Equity Prices Remain Stable

The S&P 500 closed at 3,337.75 on Friday – only a few percentages points off from its all-time high of 3,393.52. The Dow Jones is also near record highs, closing at 28,992.41 on Friday.

In China, equity markets are also surprisingly resilient with the Shanghai and Shenzhen exchanges both holding steady as the crisis rages on.

Shockingly, the China large-cap ETF (FX) is actually up over the last six months.

Chinese stocks are completely ignoring the coronavirus. This may be the result of extreme stimulus. | Source:

The Chinese Communist Party is using authoritarian controls to prop up the stock market.

Earlier in February, the People’s Bank of China injected 100 billion yuan ($14.33 billion) into the financial system through reverse repo operations. It also lowered its benchmark lending rate as well as the rate on its medium-term lending facility.

Chinese authorities are also offering tax incentives to companies to help them deal with the slowdown in business.

These extreme stimulus measures are keeping the Chinese markets unnaturally calm in the face of the growing crisis.

U.S. investors may be looking at the relative calm in the Chinese market and incorrectly concluding that the situation there isn’t very serious. But as the coronavirus grows into a global challenge, the U.S. financial market may find it impossible to continue hiding its head in the sand.

Analysts Believe the Stock Market is Underpricing Coronavirus Risk

According to Axel Weber, the Chairman at UBS, markets are underpricing the risk coronavirus poses to the global economy.

He calls for Western policymakers to, perhaps, replicate the strategies being used in China to prop up the market.

The UBS Chairman states the following:

There is going to be quite a bit of impact that is going to go beyond the first quarter and that is where fiscal response, providing businesses with some tax relievers, some emergency funding, that is going to be very important for putting businesses through.

Weber makes a valid point. The coronavirus is already hurting businesses around the globe.

The number of American companies reporting adverse coronavirus impact is growing by the week, yet the market seems to be shrugging off this massive economic risk.

Bloomberg estimates that around $9 trillion worth of U.S. equities have moderate to severe exposure to the situation in China.

So far American companies have not guided for the potential impact the coronavirus could have on their businesses if the disease sees significant spread outside of Asia or grows to become a global pandemic. This could be the main risk going forward.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the window for halting the spread of coronavirus outside of China may be narrowing.

The WHO believes we may be running out of time to stop Covid-19. | Source:

The Situation Outside of China is Quickly Deteriorating

The coronavirus caseload in Korea tripled on Saturday as the country’s CDC reports a total of 433 confirmed infections. Korean technology giant Samsung shut down one of its factories after confirming an infection at the facility.

In Europe, Italy is beginning to replicate some of the economy-stunting travel restrictions pioneered by China.

Italian authorities have banned public events and offices in several parts of northern Italy as the alpine country now reports 58 coronavirus infections with two fatalities.

In the United States, authorities have tested 414 people with 14 confirmed cases. Many scientists believe the spread will intensify in the coming weeks. This means American companies could start feeling the economic impacts in their home markets, much like their Chinese counterparts.

Stimulus is the Problem, Not the Solution

The Wuhan coronavirus outbreak is on the verge of becoming a global pandemic with severe economic impacts. But Axel Weber’s suggestion that U.S. and European authorities should swoop in and provide support for business in the form of tax relief and subsidies is dangerous.

Top-heavy stimulus is the reason why financial markets are failing to reflect the economic realities on the ground in China. The West should not replicate that strategy.

With U.S. interest rates near record lows and China pumping billions of dollars into its financial markets, the last thing the market needs is more stimulus. While keeping the economic punch bowl spiked makes for a better party, it also leads to a worse hangover as authorities struggle to contain massive bubbles and other systemic imbalances.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of

This article was edited by Sam Bourgi.

Last modified: February 23, 2020 12:45 AM UTC

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