US COVID-19 storm clouds, transmission rate on the rise, concerns over airborne spread

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COVID-19 news has not been pretty over the weekend and still, the concerning headlines are breaking through. 

The latest updates come from the transmission rate in the US state of New Jersey rising to the highest level in 10 weeks. 

“I see storm clouds on the horizon,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said last Wednesday as he announced indoor dining New York City was postponed indefinitely. 

Today, he warned that “this is a warning sign”.  

US cases continuing to rise

US cases have been continuing to rise over the weekend, with the total number of cases nearing 2.9 million and deaths closing in on 130,000. 

The situation in Houston is being compared to that seen in New York in early April and Florida seeing around 10,000 cases per day. 

Concerns over airborne spread of COVID-19
 

Meanwhile, a recent report in the New York Times has caught the attention of the World Health Organisation (WHO). 

WHO is reviewing a report that suggested its advice on the novel coronavirus needs updating, after some scientists told the New York Times there was evidence the virus could be spread by tiny particles in the air, Reuters wrote in an article pertaining to the matter. 

Key paragraphs

The WHO says the COVID-19 disease spreads primarily through small droplets, which are expelled from the nose and mouth when an infected person breaths them out in coughs, sneezes, speech or laughter and quickly sink to the ground.

In an open letter to the Geneva-based agency, 239 scientists in 32 countries outlined the evidence they say shows that smaller exhaled particles can infect people who inhale them, the newspaper said on Saturday.Because those smaller particles can linger in the air longer, the scientists – who plan to publish their findings in a scientific journal this week – are urging WHO to update its guidance, the Times said.

‘We are aware of the article and are reviewing its contents with our technical experts,’ WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic said in an email reply on Monday to a Reuters request for comment.

The extent to which the coronavirus can be spread by the so-called airborne or aerosol route – as opposed to by larger droplets in coughs and sneezes – remains disputed.

Market implications

Despite the bearish news flows pertaining to COVID-19, the week had started off on the front foot in financial markets, with stock indices rallying in Asia and setting the scene for the West.

The latest headlines do seem to have put a cap on the US session rally, however, with the S&P 50 topping out at 3,182.59 and giving back some ground to 3,172.74 (time of writing) since the New Jersey headline.

We have seen optimism out of China with China’s Securities Times saying that a healthy bull market is more important to the economy than ever, accompanying the vast amount of bullish spun Chinese media coverage of late. 

Citi Bank has also been out with a note saying that the bank is no longer bearish on risk assets. 

For the time being, investors are finding relief in the fact that central banks continue to pump increasingly more liquidity at the same time that economic data continues to impress. 

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