Mass roundups of the infected
Top officials in Beijing expanded their mass quarantining of sick people — and those possibly infected — to include other cities beyond Wuhan, according to China’s state-run broadcaster.
Confirmed coronavirus patients showing mild symptoms are put into large quarantine spaces, while suspected cases are isolated in converted hotels and schools.
Quotable: “This is really like a prison,” Deng Chao, 30, told a Times reporter by phone after being quarantined in a hotel room for nearly a week. He said that he was getting progressively sicker and that there were no doctors or medicine available.
Mobile surveillance: Chinese mobile phone providers have asked users to send a text message that generates a list of provinces they have visited in the past several weeks. Officials in some cities are demanding to see the texts before allowing visitors to enter.
U.S. charges Huawei with racketeering
The Trump administration significantly ramped up a pressure campaign against the Chinese telecommunications giant by accusing it of federal racketeering and conspiracy to steal trade secrets.
The alleged stolen information included source code and the manuals for wireless technology. A Huawei spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Takeaway: “The biggest piece of news here is the RICO federal racketeering charge — which essentially alleges that Huawei and its affiliates are a criminal enterprise,” says David McCabe, our tech policy reporter. “This is a law that has historically been used to take down crime bosses.”
Context: Last year the Justice Department filed charges against Meng Wanzhou, the company’s chief financial officer, outlining a decade-long attempt to steal trade secrets and evade economic sanctions on Iran.
Two cities’ rising tides offer a glimpse of the future
Our Climate reporters looked at the way the sprawling metropolitan areas of Manila and San Francisco are handling the climate crisis and rising sea levels.
Will they try to redirect water to adapt to their needs, or reimagine their coastlines? Their decisions could offer crucial lessons for coastal cities around the world.
In Manila: The ground has been subsiding because of the rapid extraction of ground water, and sea levels have risen by as much as 5 to 7 centimeters a year — double the global average.
Residents have responded with Band-Aid fixes, like pouring layers of cement and sand on the floor. Many have nowhere else to go.
In San Francisco: Wealthy Bay Area municipalities can afford costly sea walls and new infrastructure, staving off destruction for a few more years. But even so, some quickly eroding communities are running out of options.
If you have 6 minutes, this is worth it
Seoul’s role in a global hit
One result of the booming success of Bong Joon Ho’s “Parasite,” which took home the Oscar for best picture over the weekend, is that tourists from around the world are flocking to the streets of the South Korean capital to pay homage. Above, people posing for a photo in a tunnel featured in the movie.
Seoul is as much a character in “Parasite” as its actors — and the city’s role in Mr. Bong’s youth, when he witnessed class strife tear apart society, proved crucial to how he makes movies.
Here’s what else is happening
Barclays: The British bank said regulators were investigating the relationship between its chief executive, Jes Staley, and Jeffrey Epstein, the convicted sex offender who killed himself in August.
British Government: What was expected to be a routine cabinet reshuffle took a dramatic turn when Sajid Javid, the chancellor of the Exchequer abruptly resigned.
The 1619 Project: The Times Magazine looked at the locations in the U.S. where enslaved people were bought and sold. Today, many of those sites are forgotten and unmarked. Read the rest of our series examining the legacy of slavery in America here.
Snapshot: Above, objects from London’s past recovered by so-called mudlarks, who scour the edges of the River Thames at low tide. (The term originally referred to the Victorian-era poor who hunted items to sell.)
What we’re listening to: This week’s episode of The New Yorker Radio Hour. Sam Sifton, our food editor, writes: “I enjoyed listening to Hilton Als talk about Louis C.K.’s return to the stage, and about how it might have gone differently, had Louis attempted art and not commerce.”
Now, a break from the news
Cook: Take time this weekend for stuffed shells.
Go: Sublime skiing, snowboarding and “snow-surfing” are only part of the story in Niseko, a Japanese resort.
Smarter Living: There are good ways and bad ways for colleagues with different circadian rhythms to approach working together. Here are some tips.
And now for the Back Story on …
Reporting on the coronavirus
Donald G. McNeil Jr., a science reporter for The New York Times, has covered infectious diseases since 2002. He’s part of a team of science reporters working to make sense of the spread of the latest coronavirus and the medical response. The following is a condensed version of a conversation about his observations and concerns.
What do we know, and what don’t we know, about the coronavirus?
In the beginning of every epidemic, there is the fog of war.
I’d say we’re still in that fog. We know this virus is much more transmissible than SARS or MERS. We don’t know if it’s quite as transmissible as the flu. We know it can kill people. We know it’s not nearly as lethal as MERS or SARS.
One of the things we don’t know is what the Chinese aren’t saying. We know that they’re reluctant to let in outside experts to root around and wouldn’t share samples of the earliest cases with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
When you ask scientists, “What’s your fear for the Big One, the pandemic that’s going to kill us all?” — not that there is a pandemic that’s going to kill us all — but if you ask them that, they say, “Flu.” They worry about some new flu, bird flu or swine flu, that’s highly lethal but becomes very transmissible between humans. I only know one or two scientists who have said, “You know, I also worry about coronaviruses being the Big One.”
I don’t want to raise alarm that this is the Big One. But this is a new, scary and confusing one, and we don’t yet know how far it’s going to spread and how many people it’s going to kill.
What do you think about the public’s reaction to your reporting?
I’m always trying to figure out, “Am I being alarmist or am I not being alarmist enough?” I was too alarmist about H5N1 back in 2005, the bird flu. I was not alarmist enough about West Africa and Ebola in its early days. All previous Ebola outbreaks had killed a few hundred people. That one killed 11,000.
A big part of my beat is debunking the panicky stories. It actually consumes almost as much of my time as reporting does.
I try to spread truth instead of panic, even if it takes me a little longer to get it right.
That’s it for this briefing. See you next time.
To Mark Josephson and Kathleen Massara for the break from the news. Alex Traub wrote today’s Back Story. You can reach the team at [email protected].
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