In Tokyo on Thursday, February 27, visitors
wearing face masks take a commemorative photo in front of the Japan
Olympic Committee headquarters near the new National Stadium venue
for the Opening and Closing Ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympic
Preparations for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic
Games continue as planned despite the spreading COVID-19 coronavirus
outbreak. The games are scheduled to start on July 24, 2020.
In early February, Airbus shut down its manufacturing
line in Tianjin, shuttering its regular production of six A320 aircraft
a month. It wasn’t long before Boeing and other members of the aerospace
industry joined carmakers and a myriad of other industries in China in
the slow down or complete termination of their assembly lines.
News that the virus has been detected in
Milan and the Lombardi counties surrounding parts of northern Italy sent
shock waves on Monday. Those areas of Italy generate more than half of
that country’s industry and could effectively shut the country down.
Fashion Week Impacted
Fashion Week in Milan started February 18
and has been hampered by the situation. Clothes
are being shown to buyers only, with the gates closed to the general public.
FlyingTypers learned that the Giorgio
Armani presentations were held behind closed doors, while other events
were canceled or postponed.
Train service both regionally and cross
border has also been affected.
La Scala Voices Pause
As Italy scrambles to check the spread of
COVID-19 amid rapidly rising numbers of infections and a third death,
the Venice Carnival, major league soccer matches and theaters—including
Milan’s legendary La Scala opera—are shut down until at least
“Milan is a like a ghost town,”
was one comment.
In Paris on Wednesday a report said that
COVID-19 took the life of an 80-year-old Chinese tourist.
Greece and Brazil confirmed their first
coronavirus cases, a day after the virus spread to Switzerland, Austria,
Croatia, and mainland Spain.
What We Have To Fear Is Fear Itself
In 1933 President Franklin Delano Roosevelt
stood up in front of a downtrodden nation at the height of the great depression
“Let me assert my firm belief that
the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning,
unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into
Those words from FDR’s first inaugural
address should be remembered at this time along with some recent stirring
words from Chinese President Xi Jinping who said to President Trump:
“Chinese civilization is a unique
lasting culture in the world that passed down through generations consistently.
“We call ourselves descendants of
As COVID-19 threatened a pandemic affecting
the concentration of people in the world’s largest nation, President
Xi Jinping doubled-down, calling for a larger measure of the great strength
of the Chinese nation to come forward in a common cause:
“The virus is a demon and we cannot
allow the demon to hide,” said President Xi.
A direct simple sentence to be sure.
President Xi, whatever else you might think,
came up big, sounding the clarion call for all-hands-on-deck in China.
The strength, courage and resolve of the
Chinese people is just immense, and if you don’t believe that or
quite get that point, just look at those people in Hong Kong fighting
in the streets against immense odds for their freedom during the year.
Meantime a much calmer approach is lent
to this situation by sources in Italy. Marco Sorgetti our man in Turin,
“Too much hysteria was the word.
“As example there are just 2 (two)
confirmed COVID-19 cases in Turin and Asti, in an area comprising almost
5 million people.
“For this, governors of the northern
regions (including the area of Turin) have closed schools, theatres, gymnasiums,
cinemas, fairgrounds, etc.
“The image of Italy as though in the
middle of a plague is destroying the Italian economy that is already on
life support. One wonders why this unreasonable approach prevails.
“While it is prudent for everyone
to be sensible and careful at this time, reality is that politicians here
have managed to alarm the whole world, which, at this point in time, does
not seem to be able to calmly process information any better than Italians,”
Perhaps the most balanced in the moment
and thoughtful way forward we heard today came from (what else) a leading
freight forwarder who said simply:
“This whole COVID-19 matter is a moving
“It's difficult to make forward decisions
other than to sit tight and hope we can come through this with a minimum
of human suffering and that the economic and financial impact will not
be too severe.”
Vigilance Minus Xenophobic Statements
is a situation of concern but we must not give in to panic,” EU
Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides said in Rome.
“We must also be vigilant when it
comes to misinformation and disinformation as well as xenophobic statements
which are misleading citizens and putting in question the work of public
Builders Biting Their Nails
In the meantime, the slowdown in port traffic
as China battles the pandemic may impact many U.S. businesses, including
the booming home builders that rely on a steady flow of everything from
nails to sheet rock from the mainland.
Amazon Masks Price Double
A quick look at Amazon USA online reveals
several items produced in China—like some protective face mask prices—have
tripled in cost, while other items in the vast Amazon catalogue are marked
For its part, Amazon is warning third party
sellers on its service “to not gouge customers” although there
is no indication of countermeasures being taken as the aforementioned
inflated mask prices persist on Amazon.
China Supplies 80% of U.S. Antibiotics
One concern in the U.S. is for the supply
of prescription pharma and other essential over-the-counter drugs to retail
outlets, hospitals, and pharmacies, which rely on their supplies arriving
Last year (2019), China accounted for 95
percent of U.S. imports of ibuprofen, 91 percent of U.S. imports of hydrocortisone,
70 percent of U.S. imports of acetaminophen, 40 to 45 percent of U.S.
imports of penicillin, and 40 percent of U.S. imports of heparin, Politico
said, quoting Commerce Department data.
In all, 80 percent of the U.S. supply of antibiotics
are made in China.
Fallacy of Unintended Consequences
Interestingly last year during that U.S.-China
trade war dust up, Li Daokui, a professor of economics at Tsinghua University,
speaking at the National People’s Conference in March 2019, indicated
that China might decide to weaponize U.S. dependency on pharma from China,
“We are at the mercy of others when
it comes to computer chips, but we are the world’s largest exporter
of raw materials for vitamins and antibiotics.
“Should we reduce exports, the medical
systems of some western countries will not run well,” he added.
Disruptions & Getting Back
has been a little increase in worker activity,” Christopher Balding,
a Fulbright University economist based in Saigon, Vietnam, said in an
interview on the YouTube program War Room Pandemic.
“Most people however who went home
for Chinese New Year have stayed there.
“So even if the economy wants to get
going, people are not back where their jobs are.
“There are [ocean cargo] ships that
are bobbing up and down tied up all along the eastern seaboard of China,
backed up unable to unload.
“Inventories in a lot of industries
are currently at all-time highs because the larger heavy industries that
can’t shut down continued to operate throughout the Lunar New Year
“China has a large production overhang
because in effect the country has been shut down for a month now.
“So even if Chinese people get back
to work as the government is pushing for, these delays will continue to
cause significant disruptions in the supply chain.
“A good example of the impact of the
shutdown going on right now in China can be seen in the consumption of
coal that generates about 70 percent of the heat and electricity for the
“Coal consumption is currently down
by 50 percent, which is an indication that there are not a lot of businesses
at work in China right now.
“Our data tracks real estate and apartment
sales in China,” Professor Balding declared.
“Basically, right now there is every
little activity in these markets.
“For the Chinese government, which
depends on that business, that is a real problem.
“Our China data tells us that daily
train and auto trips are way down to about 15 to 20 percent of yearly
“People are not moving, goods are
not moving, China is basically flatlining as an economy,” Christopher
If you own some freighters, demand from
China is good. It’s a reversal in fortune of sorts from the early
days, when China saw many flying in empty, filling up the main deck with
cargo, and then taking off for a quick trip to Russia to gas up on cheap
kero, to then fly back home fat, full, and happy.
Now operators like Volga-Dnepr Group and
its half dozen air cargo brands say it is continuing to operate services
in and out of China with charter operations filled with masks, various
other emergency equipment, and hand sanitizers.
How crews are managing to stay safe is another
To date, no photos have emerged of handlers
or crew in haz-mat suits.
“We are taking preventative measures
to ensure the safety of personnel, cargo, and aircraft,” Volga-Dneper