In whichever hemisphere you dwell, winter is the time of year when viruses come into their own. Cold weather forces people indoors, crowding them together in buildings and creating a perfect breeding ground for all sorts of viruses. Everything from the common cold to influenza spread quickly during the cold months, spreading misery and debilitation far and wide.
In addition to the usual cocktail of bugs making their annual appearance, this year a new virus appeared. Novel coronavirus 2019, or 2019-nCoV, cropped up first in the city of Wuhan in east-central China. From a family of viruses known to cause everything from the common cold to severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in humans, 2019-nCoV tends toward the more virulent side of the spectrum, causing 600 deaths out of 28,000 infections reported so far, according to official numbers at the time of this writing.
(For scale: the influenzas hit tens of millions of people, resulting in around four million severe illnesses and 500,000 deaths per season, worldwide.)
With China’s unique position in the global economy, 2019-nCoV has the potential to seriously disrupt manufacturing. It may seem crass to worry about something as trivial as this when people are suffering, and of course our hearts go out to the people who are directly affected by this virus and its aftermath. But just like businesses have plans for contingencies such as this, so too should the hacking community know what impact something like 2019-nCoV will have on supply chains that we’ve come to depend on.
Unhappy New Year
The 2019-nCoV outbreak could not have come at a worse time in China’s calendar. Although there is some dispute about whether the virus really first appeared at the end of December or if it cropped up earlier in the month, it’s the fact that it bumped into the annual Chinese lunar new year holiday that counts. And the cultural elements surrounding this time of year are key to understanding what effect the outbreak will have on supply chains, and the degree to which the hacker community will be impacted.
The Chinese New Year starts on the day of the new moon that occurs between January 21 and February 20; this year the holiday began on January 25. It kicks off the Spring Festival, with most people getting a full week off from work to visit relatives and celebrate. The resulting travel period dwarfs every other periodic human migration, with up to 385,000,000 people on the move, mostly on the country’s extensive rail system. The travel season generally starts two weeks before the lunar new year and lasts for about 40 days.
Since much of the Chinese labor force is made up of workers who come from rural areas to large cities where jobs are more readily available, the annual New Year migration is mostly in the opposite direction – from the cities to the countryside. Aside from travel headaches, the lunar new year holiday doesn’t cause much disruption in a normal year because everyone has more or less the same time off from work. Factories traditionally shut down for the week, markets like those in Shenzhen board up, and business returns to normal after everyone returns to work well-fed and rested. This year, though, is anything but normal.
In response to the increasing death toll of the novel virus, Chinese officials imposed a de facto quarantine on Wuhan, the city at its epicenter, by cutting all rail and air service to the city of 11 million on January 23. Other cities followed with equally draconian lockdowns until eventually more than 50 million people were isolated. The lunar new year festivities were officially extended by three days, and things were supposed to get back to normal work-wise by February 3, but many factories are still shut down. This is partly due to the continuing increase in new cases of the infection, but also due to travel restrictions keeping workers who made it out of the cities before the quarantine from returning.
With businesses understaffed, there’s a good chance that the normal Chinese New Year supply chain disruptions will not only continue well past the end of the holiday, but possibly worsen. The financial news is filled with stories of potential disaster for manufacturers like Apple, who have outstanding orders for 45 million AirPods with Chinese contract manufacturers. Similar tales of financial woe abound for every industry whose supply chain passes through China, from automobiles to pharmaceuticals.
But what impact will any of this have on us? The hacking community’s slice of the global market from electronics may be small compared to the needs of an Apple or a Foxconn, but we source a lot of stuff from the currently shuttered markets of Shenzhen. Lots of those modules and boards we so love to include in our projects come from China. What happens if nobody shows up to work, either by necessity or by choice, to fulfill those orders?
With all that in mind, we’d like to turn the question over to the readers. Have you noticed any problems getting parts and supplies from China since the start of the coronavirus outbreak? Any delays in fulfilling or shipping orders? Have any suppliers contacted you to warn you of possible disruptions? What about those of you who place larger orders, perhaps as part of your jobs? Are your companies giving you any guidance on supply chain disruptions? We’d also love to hear from our friends in China, both to wish them well and for a boots-on-the-ground report. Please sound off in the comments below, with all due respect and sensitivity for the seriousness of the situation.
Six people can be added to existing double bubbles, government announces – NTV News
The provincial government announced Friday that residents can expand their bubbles effective immediately.
Up to six more people can be added to an existing double bubble. The new members do not have to be from the same household, but cannot change once added. The government still advises people to keep their bubbles as small as possible.
More guidance can be found online here: https://www.gov.nl.ca/covid-19/individuals-and-households/expansion-of-household-bubble/
Dr. Proton Rahman is scheduled to release new projections Friday on how the COVID-19 pandemic is unfolding.
Dr. Fitzgerald announced no new cases of COVID-19 on Friday.
Ontario ramps up COVID-19 testing – ThePeterboroughExaminer.com
A new testing strategy for COVID-19 will see “targeted campaigns” to check workers in Ontario communities with hot spots and key sectors where the virus spreads easily, including auto manufacturing, food suppliers and major retailers.
Officials unveiled the new blueprint Friday, with elements echoing what Premier Doug Ford has been saying for more than a week — and what epidemiologists have been pushing for much longer — to get a better picture of the illness as the economy reopens.
“It’s really to be proactive and understand what’s happening,” said Dr. Vanessa Allen of Public Health Ontario, who was instrumental in cobbling together a network of provincial, hospital and private labs to expand testing capacity.
For example, workers at LCBO stores were offered testing in the last few days along with Toronto police, said Dr. Dirk Huyer, Ontario’s chief coroner, who was brought in to lead the testing strategy. Several liquor store workers have tested positive in the last few months.
If there are concerns about the virus in a particular business, mobile teams will be sent in to test, he added.
There are also plans to support “enhanced testing” for hospital workers and their families, residents and staff in retirement homes, and more testing in nursing homes, where a first testing blitz of all residents and staff was completed two weeks ago after the new coronavirus raced through hundreds of facilities. About 30 per cent of retirement home testing has been completed.
That testing will continue next week in addition to testing open to the public at Ontario’s 131 assessment centres, which changed their criteria two weeks ago to allow anyone with one symptom of COVID-19 to be swabbed, along with people with no symptoms but occupational risk of exposure, such as health-care workers, their families and grocery-store workers.
Previously, people with mild or moderate symptoms were turned away from testing centres and told to self-isolate at home. Confusion over eligibility prompted Ford to issue a plea for people to get checked under the new criteria.
The goal going forward is to “identify, contain and monitor” new cases and spread of COVID-19, officials said, releasing figures showing 55 per cent of test results are available the next day and 82 per cent within two days.
Aside from communities with a higher number of cases, officials will also focus on “high-risk” individuals, such as hospital patients and cross-border workers.
Officials are aiming to increase Ontario’s lab capacity to get ready for the fall, when more respiratory symptoms will pop up and create “a need for greater testing,” Allen said.
Ontario’s testing for COVID-19 has ramped up this week and is close to peaks rarely reached as the number of cases since the illness arrived four months ago approached 29,000 with almost 2,300 deaths.
Ministry of Health figures released Friday show 18,525 nasal swabs were processed at a network of provincial, hospital and commercial labs across the province the previous day.
The provincial daily lab capacity is just over 20,000.
Results were in progress on another 13,351 samples and there have now been 680,687 tests processed in the province of 14.5 million, or 4.7 per cent of the population.
There were another 391 confirmed and probable cases as of 11 a.m. Friday, according to a Star compilation of data from health units in the previous 24 hours.
That raised the total number of cases to 28,544 and 2,272 deaths.
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About 66 per cent of cases have been in the Greater Toronto Area.
To date, at least 1,625 nursing-home residents have died, and there are outbreaks in 123 homes, down six from the previous day. But 1,476 nursing-home residents and 1,113 staff members are still fighting active cases of the highly contagious virus that spreads easily in close quarters.
The Ministry of Health said there were 826 Ontarians in hospital for COVID-19, with 129 in intensive care and 100 on ventilators. While the first two numbers were down from the previous day, there were six more patients who had to be put on ventilators to breathe.
Just under 21,000 Ontarians have recovered from the virus.
What's open Ottawa: H&M reopens Rideau Street store | CTV News – CTV News Ottawa
Malls remain closed in the capital, under provincial orders, but stores with street entrances are allowed to reopen, and that means a popular fashion brand has reopened one of its stores in Ottawa.
H&M announced Thursday that its store at the Rideau Centre would reopen via its Rideau Street entrance.
Only 15 people will be allowed in the store at one time. The hours are to 11 a.m. – 7 p.m.
There are markers on the floor for physical distancing. Fitting rooms have been closed and there is no garment recycling program for now.
Hand sanitizer is being provided.
While the store accepts cash, they are encouraging card use. There is one line for cash users and one line for card users at the registers.
Employees will be wearing masks, and will be behind barriers at the register. The store will be cleaned more often.
H&M will still accept returns, but says it will hold all returned items for at least 24 hours before putting them back on the sales floor.
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