Tag Archives: fall

Every CPU, GPU, and Console Debut This Fall Was Effectively a Paper Launch

When AMD launched its new Radeon 6900 XT yesterday, it didn’t just re-enter the high-end GPU market. It also put the final, beautiful paper crown on a fall season filled with a virtual blizzard of it, from multiple manufacturers.

Nvidia kicked off this unwelcome trend when stocks of new consumer Ampere cards ran dry seconds after launch and haven’t refilled since. Both the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 are nearly impossible to source. There was some hope that AMD might have better availability on the Radeon RX 6000 series than Nvidia did with Ampere, since it uses TSMC instead of Samsung, but early stocks of these cards are only being replenished slowly, if at all. The Ryzen 5000 series of CPUs are not easy to find, either. The Nintendo Switch has been scarce since the pandemic began, and it’s not even new hardware. This last is not a paper launch, obviously, but it’s another example of a tech product that’s very difficult to find.

The companies behind these products would undoubtedly quibble with the phrase “paper launch” since 1). They hate it and 2). You can technically buy some of these products, if you’re very quick, very lucky, or willing to pay a monthly fee for an automated bot for a somewhat higher chance of scoring one. I’m willing to grant that the situation isn’t a paper launch in the strictest sense, but if you’re an ordinary person hoping to snap up some of today’s hottest tech, the distinction isn’t a particularly meaningful one. Either way, hardware that’s supposed to be readily for sale at MSRP is not, and the companies that have spoken about a public timeline for changing that have all indicated it won’t happen until several months from now.

COVID-19 has driven this situation in two different ways. First, it’s slowed or halted the movement and production of goods in various countries at various times. Second, consumer and corporate demand for computers has exploded, and console demand may have surged as well. Last-gen console hardware sales actually rose early in the pandemic, which is virtually unheard of in a new console launch year. Lockdowns have driven a great deal of additional interest in video gaming on every platform.

Past COVID-19, there have been rumors that yields on Samsung’s 8nm node were poor, while allocations for TSMC’s 7nm are said to be tight overall. These factors remain relevant, even in the face of the pandemic, because we have historical proof that low yields at the foundry can make GPUs hard to find on the ground all on their own. Back in 2016, it took Nvidia and AMD months to meaningfully supply GPUs to the consumer market. TSMC builds most of AMD’s product stack in CPUs (and all recent chips), its Radeon RX 5000 and 6000 GPUs, the Xbox Series X SoC, and the PlayStation 5 SoC — plus all of the contract manufacturing it handles for other companies.

Finally, there’s the unknown impact of bots. The use of bots has surged this year and while it’s impossible to estimate the exact impact of these automated scalping tools, the one place where you can find all of the hardware above is on eBay, at vastly inflated prices. There have also been a number of reports claiming that the number of bots being deployed to score desired hardware like the RTX 3080 has skyrocketed.

It is impossible to put the blame for this on any single company or foundry — there are just too many variables in play — but the situation still sucks. Corporate promises of stocked shelves have given way to admissions that supply and demand may not meet until late Q1 2021. AMD, Microsoft, Nvidia, and Sony may have felt they had little choice but to launch their new hardware, for various reasons, but it’s hard to argue the decision constituted an advantage for consumers when the only way to guarantee you’ll get cutting-edge hardware before Christmas is to pay a scalper 1.5x – 2.5x over retail for the privilege. I won’t say that’s the only way you’ll land a hot-ticket item this year, but it appears to be the only way to guarantee it.

I’m also not sure we should think about the GPU market the same way we talk about CPUs or consoles. Microsoft and Sony’s unusual decision to launch the next-generation with games so far away is an interesting way to approach the market, but we know almost nothing about shipments or sales thus far to predict the impact. Nintendo’s Switch has been hot for eight months now, so limited availability is, at least, not new. But the current situation in GPUs isn’t just bad — it’s bad, stacked on top of earlier bad, which stacks on top of still-earlier bad stretching all the way back to Pascal’s launch in 2016.

The GPU Market Has Never Run This Hot For This Long

Consider the GPU market since Nvidia launched Pascal in May 2016. All of the links in the paragraphs below point to stories written during the relevant period, allowing you to verify the pricing shifts I’m going to describe.

It took AMD and Nvidia most of 2016 to work out the kinks with shipping Polaris and Pascal in adequate volume. From late 2016 – May 2017, availability improved and prices fell towards where they were supposed to be, according to GPU MSRP’s. Then, the cryptocurrency market exploded again. From June 2017 – February 2018, GPU prices were ludicrously high, and they didn’t approach normality until May of that year. Pascal spent most of its first two years’ priced well above where the GPU was supposed to be — and so did AMD’s equivalents.

Pascal went out on a high note late in 2018, because a flood of GPUs hit the market at the same time Nvidia raised prices with Turing. By February 2019, the Pascal cards were vanishing from the market and prices on the new Turing GPUs and AMD’s Radeon VII were high enough that we called the new generation “the least-appealing upgrade in GPU history.” Price, as opposed to performance, was the overwhelming reason why.

Nvidia kept prices high until AMD re-entered the market with the 5700 and 5700 XT. From mid-2019 through mid-2020, GPU prices generally conformed to expected MSRPs,

Image of current RTX 2080 prices on Amazon.com. You can see them surge in late summer, when NV stopped production.

There’s some variation, here: Nvidia Turing GPU prices started to jump in the summer, along with rumors that the company had halted production. AMD cards seem to have started to rise only recently, but anything upper-range — 5700 and up — is also currently selling for inflated prices.

In the 55 months since Nvidia launched Pascal, GPUs from AMD, Nvidia, or both have sold at dramatically inflated prices in roughly 23 of them, with some allowance for slippage and some variance between AMD and Nvidia at any particular time. Based on predictions from multiple semiconductor firms, we shouldn’t expect easy availability or normal pricing much before ~March 2021. By Pascal’s 5th birthday, the GPU market will have run hot to red-hot for 26 months out of 60. Another way of saying that is, “For 43 percent of the time over five years, you haven’t been able to buy a GPU for anything like what AMD or Nvidia claim you can.”

It’s one thing when prices spike for a week or a month, but we’re talking about a situation in which GPU prices have been well above MSRP almost half the time, for half a decade. If these periods of time had occurred contiguously, you might have been stuck waiting to purchase an upgraded GPU or replace a dead one at a reasonable price for over two years. The total amount of time that GPU prices have spent inflated from Pascal’s launch in May 2016 to May 2021, assuming markets do cool off by March 2021, will be barely shorter than the entire period of time it ruled as Nvidia’s flagship architecture.

This raises questions about how much faith reviewers and readers should put in GPU MSRP pricing going forward. For now, no one has any choice but to ride out COVID-19, but this pattern of 4-6 month periods where GPU prices make a mockery of their supposed MSRPs needs to stop. The alternative is that we start quoting the launch price you should expect to pay from Amazon, Newegg, and Spankster69 over on eBay, with priority and emphasis given to the latter.

I’m not going to pretend there’s a simple, flawless solution to the problem, but whether it’s through adopting verified pre-order systems or simply through stockpiling far more hardware prior to launching a card, AMD and Nvidia need to address this. The pandemic will end. Low initial yields, periodic surges in demand, and automated scalping won’t. Gaming enthusiasts and professional users deserve better than an asterisk promising a launch in one month with actual availability arriving six months later.

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OL Reign close out NWSL fall series with win over Royals

Sofia Huerta and Leah Pruitt scored and OL Reign beat the Utah Royals 2-0 on Saturday night in the final match of the National Women’s Soccer League fall series.

It was the first win of the series for the Reign (1-1-2). Each of the league’s teams played a four-game series in local markets after the Challenge Cup tournament this summer in Utah.

Huerta put the Reign in front with a goal in the 24th minute, and Pruitt added another in the 51st. It was the first goal with the Reign for both players.

The Royals had a somewhat tumultuous fall series, after coach Craig Harrington was put on an indefinite leave of absence and assistant Amy LePeilbet was promoted to interim head coach. The team has not disclosed why Harrington was put on leave.

WATCH | Reign end season with win over Royals:

Sofia Huerta opened up the scoring for OL Reign who went on to defeat Utah Royals 2-0. 1:13

Utah finishes without a win in the fall series at 0-2-2.

The Portland Thorns were undefeated in the fall series and won the Community Shield, an $ 25,000 award that benefitted a local organization of the winning team’s choice.

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Sinclair keeps scoring streak alive as Thorns claim Fall Series Community Shield

Christine Sinclair scored on a pair of penalty kicks and the Portland Thorns downed OL Reign 2-1 Saturday night to claim the National Women’s Soccer League’s Community Shield in the fall series.

With the win, Portland (3-0-1) locked up the top spot in the fall series. The league created the Community Shield for the series’ best team.

Sinclair scored on a penalty kick late in the first half to put the Thorns up 1-0, but the Reign drew even early in the the second half on Amber Brooks’ goal.

WATCH | Sinclair guides Thorns to victory with brace:

After opening the scoring for Portland in the 1st half with a penalty, Christine Sinclair of Burnaby, B.C., records another goal on a penalty in the 2nd half for a 2-1 win over OL Reign. 0:32

Sinclair scored on a second PK in the 73rd minute. The Canadian national team captain leads all players in the fall series with six goals.

The Reign (0-2-1) wrap up the fall series against the Utah Royals next Saturday, following a match between the Orlando Pride and North Carolina Courage.


The league partnered with Verizon on the Community Shield to provide grants to local small businesses for the top three finishers in the fall series. The Thorns will grant $ 25,000 to Portland’s Mimi’s Fresh Tees.

WATCH | Sinclair opens scoring from the spot:

Christine Sinclair of Burnaby, B.C., scores on a penalty for the Portland Thorns during the 1st half in a match against OL Reign. 0:33

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Dash wrap up NWSL fall series with win over Pride

Veronica Latsko scored in the 29th minute and the Houston Dash held off the Orlando Pride 2-1 in a National Women’s Soccer League fall series match Friday.

The Dash, which won the summer’s Challenge Cup tournament in Utah, are currently in first place in the standings, wrapping up the fall series 3-1-0.

The Pride are 0-2-1 with one more match next weekend against the North Carolina Courage.

Shea Groom put the Dash up early with a header off an assist from Kristie Mewis for her third goal of the fall series. Groom and Mewis were recently called up to the U.S. national team training camp scheduled for later this month in Colorado.

WATCH | Latsko’s winner helps Dash down Pride:

Veronica Latsko scored in the 29th minute and the Houston Dash held off the Orlando Pride 2-1 in their final match of the NWSL fall series. 0:27

Latsko’s goal was her third of the series, and also was assisted by Mewis.

The Pride closed the gap at Osceola County Stadium with Sydney Leroux’s goal early in the second half.

The Pride were hurt when defender Carrie Lawrence was hit in the upper body by the ball and had to be stretchered off in the 25th minute. She was replaced by Abby Elinsky.

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5 years after Truth and Reconciliation, Indigenous athletes say sports programs still fall short

Five years after Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) recommended sports programs reduce barriers and become more inclusive of Indigenous athletes, a panel of experts say not enough has been done to reach that goal.

“We have to stop seeing sport as a recreational pastime,” said Mohawk Olympian Waneek Horn-Miller, of Kahnawake, Que.

“In the Indigenous world, it’s far more important. It is a suicide preventer. It’s leadership building. The TRC included [sports] because they understood their community-building capacity.” 

The online panel, hosted by CBC’s Duncan McCue and released on Monday, was a collaborative production by CBC Sports and CBC Indigenous.

The TRC’s results released in 2015 included 94 “calls to action.” Nos. 87 to 91 call upon governments, national and international sporting officials to collaborate with Indigenous Peoples on several fronts. Those include:

  • Funding for community-based and professional sport initiatives.
  • Providing education on the history of Indigenous athletes.
  • Developing policies for cultural awareness and anti-racism training. 

Horn-Miller was part of a panel discussion that also included: 

  • Spencer O’Brien, an Olympic snowboarder of the Haida and Kwakwaka’wakw Nations.
  • Trina Pauls, a fourth generation Arctic Winter Games athlete from the Tahltan and Tlingit Nations.
  • Serene Porter, the executive director of partnerships and marketing with the 2021 North American Indigenous Games (NAIG).
  • Dr. Lynn Lavallée, an Anishinaabe/Métis instructor at Ryerson University, whose research focuses on Indigenous sport, health and fitness.

WATCH | Where does Indigenous sports stand?

It has been five years since the Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommended more access and education in sports for Indigenous people. CBC Sports and CBC Indigenous convened an expert panel to discuss the successes, shortfalls, and unfinished business of the five calls to action on sport. 40:48

At the age of 14, Horn-Miller spent months on the front lines of resistance during the 1990 Oka Crisis and was stabbed in the chest by a soldier’s bayonet. She won a gold medal at the 1999 Pan American Games and co-captained the first Canadian women’s water polo team in the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia.

Horn-Miller said developing as an athlete was “a cornerstone” in rebuilding her self-confidence while facing discrimination in Canadian and international sport institutions. Implementing the TRC’s calls to action can become a way to address systemic racism in other areas, she said. 

“I think sport has this incredible capacity to make change.”

‘Hope and enthusiasm’

The discussion also explored the impacts that organized sport can have on Indigenous youth and the ripple effects on their communities.

WATCH | Duncan McCue on need for increased Indigenous access to sports:

Duncan McCue, who hosted CBC Sports’ panel on the TRC’s 5 calls to action regarding Indigenous sport, joined Heather Hiscox to discuss where those calls currently stand. 5:15

Call to Action No. 87 calls on governments and sport-related organizations to provide education on the history of Indigenous athletes in Canada. Pauls, 15, whose family has participated in the Arctic Winter Games as athletes and officials, said it’s important for young athletes to have role models and examples of success. 

“[Indigenous youth] don’t really get taught the history, unless you have first-hand knowledge from your family or friends,” she said. 

“Sports make me feel happy and it makes me feel good about myself … and seeing all the athletes [on the panel] gives me inspiration to try to be the best athlete I can and continue in being an Indigenous athlete.”

Encouraging healthy living and teamwork in Indigenous youth is central to the North American Indigenous Games, Porter said. 

The 2020 games were originally scheduled to take place in K’jipuktuk/Halifax, N.S., July 12-18, but were postponed until 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Porter said the NAIG team was concerned about the impact the postponement would have on the mental health of young athletes. They’re planning a virtual event to take place during the same week in July to provide athletes and communities an opportunity to connect. 

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Canadian flight crews demand protective suits as more than a dozen fall ill with COVID-19

More than a dozen Canadian flight attendants are sick with COVID-19, with one recently released from an intensive care unit in Calgary, CBC News has learned.

Many airline crews remain on the job as international and domestic flights continue to take thousands of Canadians home during the global pandemic.

But flight crews and their unions are becoming increasingly vocal in demanding better protective equipment, including protective suits or gowns, and mandatory testing for COVID-19.

“I’ve asked several times, ‘Why are we not wearing hazmat suits?’ Other airlines are wearing hazmat suits,” a flight attendant who works for a major Canadian airline told CBC News.

“We are on the front line and we are exposed to people from all around the world. We have connections from all over the world.”

CBC News agreed not to publish her name or that of her employer, as she is not authorized to speak publicly.


Ukraine International Airlines uses suits and goggles to protect flight crews. (Supplied by a flight attendant)

Protective suits and goggles are now required equipment for crew on Ukraine International Airlines, a measure of how far some in the airline industry are going to protect workers during the global emergency.

Canada’s airlines are now required to provide gloves, masks, wipes and sanitizer to employees. Wearing the gear is optional, except when handling food. 

Illness in Canada

Air Transat says four of its flight attendants and one pilot are sick with coronavirus, while WestJet confirms seven employees across the entire company have tested positive, but declined to say how many of those are front-line flight crews.

Air Canada, which has a much larger workforce and operates the most flights, declined to say whether any of its employees had tested positive.

However, sources tell CBC News that a number of Air Canada employees are ill, with clusters in Western Canada and Calgary, where at least one employee had been hospitalized.

In the U.S., a 65-year-old American Airlines flight attendant died of COVID-19 this week, highlighting the risks flight crews face while helping to get passengers home.

Call for protective gowns

Crews on Canadian airlines remain in close quarters in the sky and find it impossible to keep the standard two-metre distance that health officials recommend for the general public.

While regular meal services have been shut down, flight staff still come into close contact with passengers.

“They’re walking by me as they’re boarding the plane. Definitely isn’t a six-foot distance,” the flight attendant told CBC News.

Air Canada’s main flight attendant union says some of the supplies being provided don’t fit properly and that it is time crews be provided with full-length protective gowns.


Wesley Lesosky, president of the Air Canada component of CUPE, says crew members currently do not have the proper personal protective equipment to wear while flying with passengers during the COVID-19 outbreak. (Zoom/CBC)

“We need the equipment; we need it yesterday,” said Wesley Lesosky, president of the Air Canada component of CUPE.

“We don’t have properly fitted N95 masks, we don’t have properly fitted gloves and we don’t have things such as disposable long-sleeve isolation gowns that should be made available to our crews.”

He said the union looked into the feasibility of hazmat suits but concluded disposable gowns would be easier for crews in tight quarters and pose less risk for contamination and spreading the virus.

In a statement, Air Canada told CBC News the crisis is an “evolving situation” and that as the understanding of COVID-19 increases, the company expects to take additional measures.

But the union is calling on the federal government to move quickly.

“It has to be government intervention to say enough is enough. We need to ensure these people are properly protected. The airlines are trying their best, but obviously it’s not good enough,” Lesosky said.


WestJet says seven of its employees have COVID-19. Air Transat says four of its flight attendants and one pilot are sick. Air Canada declined to say when asked by CBC News. (Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press)

The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) declined to say whether it would mandate protective suits.

“PHAC has provided guidance on hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette and for disinfection and sanitation practices for airlines,” a spokesperson said in an email.

‘This is what I do’

Numerous flight attendants have told CBC News and are sharing messages with each other on social media that they are proud to be helping during the global health emergency but feel helpless to protect themselves.

The unnamed flight attendant quoted in this story recalled a recent repatriation flight where passengers clapped when the plane landed in Canada and thanked the crew for its efforts during the COVID-19 crisis.


Canada’s airlines are now required to offer crews gloves, masks, wipes and hand sanitizer. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

“One man, I’ll never forget his face. He … looked right at me and he said, ‘You’re my hero!'” she recalled. “I got emotional. I started to cry under my mask.”

Such moments make her realize the importance of the role she and her colleagues are playing in getting Canadians home, she said.

“People keep saying, ‘Stay safe. You’re crazy for doing this.’ And I say, ‘Well, no, I have to do this. This is what I do. I’m lucky to have a job.'”

Send tips to dave.seglins@cbc.ca

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Stripped down Senators fall to Blue Jackets in OT of 1st game since trade deadline

The Columbus Blue Jackets ditched their eight-game losing streak — and lost two more players to injuries.

Emil Bemstrom scored 4:35 into overtime, and the banged-up Blue Jackets beat the Ottawa Senators 4-3 on Monday night.

Bemstrom knocked home a rebound for his seventh of the season. Nick Foligno scored twice for the Blue Jackets, and Stefan Matteau tied it with his second of the season midway through the third period.

But Columbus’ first win since Feb. 7 might have been a costly one.

Goaltender Elvis Merzlikins departed in the second period following a jarring collision with former Jackets forward Anthony Duclair. Center Riley Nash also left in the second.

WATCH | Jackets ride 2 goalies to win over Senators:

Columbus beats Ottawa 4-3 with Emil Bemstrom’s overtime winner, snaps 8-game losing skid. 1:40

The Blue Jackets have been ravaged by injuries this year. Merzlikins was replaced by Joonas Korpisalo, who was just activated after sitting out with a knee injury since Dec. 29.

There was no word on the status of Merzlikins and Nash, but Columbus added goalie Matiss Kivlenieks to the roster on emergency recall from the team’s AHL affiliate in Cleveland ahead of Tuesday’s game at Minnesota.

“We have looked at this as a great opportunity,” Columbus coach John Tortorella said. “We lose a couple more guys tonight. It’s just a great opportunity to define team and define not giving in.”

“We don’t have the big speeches, it’s not us against the world, none of that [stuff] anymore,” he added. “We know who we are. We’ve been this for months. We have to be ready to do it each night.”

The Senators were in flux after trading away two of their top offensive players before the deadline Monday and trying to get two other guys to Columbus for the game.

Ottawa dealt centre Jean-Gabriel Pageau to the New York Islanders for a trio of draft picks, including a conditional 2020 first-rounder. The team also traded forward Vladislav Namestnikov to Colorado for a fourth-round pick.

WATCH | Rob Pizzo breaks down busy trade deadline day:

Rob Pizzo tells you everything you need to know about who went where 2:43

“Those are great friends of ours, a big part of our team, a big part of this group of guys,” said Connor Brown, who had two goals for the Senators. “When it’s all said an done you don’t want to be playing on trade deadline day. It’s a pretty emotional day.”

Colin White also scored, and Marcus Hogberg had 41 saves in Ottawa’s third straight loss.

The Blue Jackets’ slide had reached eight, but they managed to get a point in five of the losses to stay in contention. The win enabled them to jump over idle Carolina into the Eastern Conference’s second wild-card slot.

Foligno — still sporting two black eyes from taking a puck in the face Thursday — got the Blue Jackets on the board 4:10 into the first when he swept the puck in from the slot.

Brown tied it at 10:48 when he banged a shot off the near post, and he got another just 9 seconds into a power play to put the Senators up 2-1 halfway through the second.

Foligno got his ninth of the season with 7:28 left in the second, a tap-in after a nice play by Boone Jenner.

The teams traded goals again in the third period, with White tapping in a rebound and Matteau getting credit for a tip-in of Scott Harrington’s long shot 29 seconds later.

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WHO says no time for complacency as China coronavirus cases fall

The latest:

  • WHO ‘encouraged’ by decline in new COVID-19 cases in China but says it is too early to tell if trend will continue.
  • Health commission in China reports 74,576 confirmed COVID-19 cases on mainland, with 2,118 deaths.
  • China changes the way it counts confirmed cases, raising questions about data.
  • South Korea has 104 confirmed cases, including 1 death.
  • Daegu mayor tells residents to stay inside after dozens of new cases confirmed in city.
  • 2 Japanese passengers of Diamond Princess cruise ship have died.
  • Canadian passengers on cruise ship who test negative for COVID-19 are leaving the ship today.

A continued decline in the number of new cases of coronavirus infections in China is encouraging, the World Health Organization said Thursday, but it is too early to know if this trend will continue.

“We are encouraged by this trend but this is no time for complacency,” the WHO’s director general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, told a briefing in Geneva.

He also noted that the number of coronavirus cases in the rest of world was very low compared to inside China, but added: “That may not stay the same for very long.”

In China, officials have been pointing to evidence that new cases were declining as proof they are succeeding in keeping the virus largely contained to Hubei province and its capital Wuhan, where the virus initially emerged. But revisions to their methodology have raised doubts about the data. Under the latest methodology, which excludes chest X-rays, China reported fewer than 400 new cases over the past day, less than a quarter of the number it had been finding in recent days under the previous method.

Only last week, another change in Chinese methodology created an overnight spike of nearly 15,000 new cases, reversing a trend of falling numbers that Chinese officials had previously touted as evidence their disease-fighting strategy was working. Scientists in China who studied nose and throat swabs from 18 patients infected with the virus said it behaves much more like influenza than other closely related viruses, suggesting it may spread even more easily than previously believed.

In at least one case, the virus was present even though the patient had no symptoms, suggesting symptom-free patients could spread the disease, they wrote in preliminary findings published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

“If confirmed, this is very important,” said Dr. Gregory Poland, a vaccine researcher with the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., who was not involved with the study. China has imposed severe controls in Wuhan, a city of 11 million people, to halt the spread of the virus, and has taken urgent steps to keep the overall economy from crashing.

On Thursday, China’s central bank cut a borrowing rate, while the authorities extended an order for businesses in Wuhan to shut down until March 11. Schools in the city, which had been due to re-open on Friday, will also stay shut.

‘Unprecedented crisis’ in South Korean city, mayor says

The coronavirus, which causes an illness called COVID-19, was also causing concern in South Korea.

The streets of South Korea’s fourth-largest city were abandoned on Thursday, with residents holed up indoors after dozens of people caught the coronavirus in what the authorities described as a “super-spreading event” at a church.

The deserted shopping malls and cinemas of Daegu, a city of 2.5 million people, became one of the most striking images outside China of an outbreak that international authorities are trying to prevent from spreading into a global pandemic.

Daegu Mayor Kwon Young-jin told residents to stay indoors after 90 people who worshipped at the Church of Jesus the Temple of the Tabernacle of the Testimony showed symptoms of infection and dozens of new cases were confirmed.


Workers wearing protective gear spray disinfectant as a precaution against the new coronavirus at an Agricultural and Wholesale Products Center in Daegu, South Korea on Thursday. (Kim Hyun-tae/Yonhap/The Associated Press)

The church had been attended by a 61-year-old woman who tested positive, known as “Patient 31.” Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention described the outbreak there as a “super-spreading event.”

“We are in an unprecedented crisis,” Kwon told reporters, adding that all members of the church would be tested. “We’ve asked them to stay at home isolated from their families.”

Describing the abandoned streets, resident Kim Geun-woo, 28, told Reuters by telephone: “It’s like someone dropped a bomb in the middle of the city. It looks like a zombie apocalypse.”

South Korea now has 104 confirmed cases of the flu-like virus, and reported its first death.

2 Diamond Princess passengers die

Japan reported the deaths of two elderly passengers from the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship anchored off Yokohama. They appear to be the first people to have died from the disease from aboard the ship, the biggest cluster of infection outside mainland China with more than 630 cases.

Japan has begun allowing passengers who test negative to disembark from the ship. Hundreds departed on Wednesday and hundreds more were set to leave on Thursday, including Canadians who were cleared by medical staff.

The ship was carrying about 3,700 people when quarantined on Feb. 3, about half of them from Japan. Japanese passengers were permitted to go home once cleared to leave; other countries are flying passengers home and keeping them isolated on arrival.

Japan, which is due to host the Summer Olympics in July, had faced criticism over its strategy of quarantining people on board the ship. Its National Institute of Infectious Diseases published data that it said supported its strategy, showing that the onset of symptoms from confirmed cases had peaked on Feb. 7 and tailed off to zero by Feb. 15.

The NIID report was “very reassuring,” said Kentaro Iwata, an infectious disease specialist from Kobe University Hospital who had been one of the harshest critics of the quarantine.

WATCH: Canadian passengers who are cleared to travel are getting ready to leave Japan 

Canadian passengers who are cleared to travel are getting ready to leave Japan after weeks under quarantine on a cruise ship. 3:16

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China’s new virus cases fall again, deaths now exceed 1,100

The latest:

  • China’s health commission says the number of new cases reported in 24-hour period dropped to 2,015.
  • Number of deaths in mainland China hits 1,113, health commission says.
  • WHO gives disease caused by novel coronavirus a name: COVID-19.
  • Leading Chinese epidemiologist cautions that situation in Wuhan still a concern, citing concerns about transmission of the virus.
  • More cases confirmed on Diamond Princess ship, but MS Westerdam — which has no confirmed cases — will dock in Cambodia after being turned away at other ports.
  • Risk to people in Canada remains low, top public health official says.

China on Wednesday reported another drop in the number of new cases of a viral infection and 97 more deaths, pushing the total dead past 1,100 even as the country remains largely closed down to prevent the spread of the disease.

The country’s National Health Commission on Wednesday said 2,015 new cases had been reported over the last 24 hours, declining for a second day. A statement from the health commission put the total number of cases in mainland China at 44,653, although many experts say a large number of others infected have gone uncounted.

The 97 additional deaths from the virus raised the mainland toll to 1,113, the commission said.

Despite the official end of the extended Lunar New Year holiday, China remained mostly closed for business as many remained at home, with some 60 million people under virtual quarantine.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said the number of newly confirmed cases in China has stabilized over the past week, but that needs to be interpreted with extreme caution. 

“This outbreak could still go in any direction,” WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a media briefing in Geneva on Wednesday. 

WHO emergencies chief Dr. Mike Ryan said as of Tuesday, only 22 per cent of the illnesses outside of China were due to localized transmission that can’t be traced to travel to the epicentre of the outbreak.

On Tuesday, WHO announced the illness caused by the virus is now named COVID-19, reflecting the fact the disease comes from a new coronavirus discovered in 2019.

The illness was first reported in December and connected to a food market in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, where the outbreak has largely been concentrated.

WATCH | Dr. Samir Gupta on some of the science behind COVID-19:

A report in the New England Journal of Medicine claimed a woman who wasn’t showing symptoms triggered a chain of coronavirus infections. Infectious disease specialist Dr. Isaac Bogoch explains how the report got it wrong. 3:25

Meanwhile, in Japan, another 39 people have tested positive for the coronavirus on the Diamond Princess cruise ship quarantined there, with one quarantine officer also infected, the health ministry said on Wednesday.

The Diamond Princess was placed in quarantine for two weeks upon arriving in Yokohama, south of Tokyo, on Feb. 3, after a man who disembarked in Hong Kong was diagnosed with the virus. 

Princess Cruises confirmed Wednesday morning that the additional cases brings the total confirmed case count for guests and crew to 174.

“We are following guidance from the Japan Ministry of Health on plans for disembarkation protocols to provide medical care for these new cases,” the company said in a statement.

The Diamond Princess is not the only ship that is dealing with the fallout of the outbreak. The MS Westerdam, which has 1,455 passengers and 802 crew members on board, has been turned away by several ports amid fear that someone on the ship might have the coronavirus.

On Wednesday, Holland America Line announced that Cambodia has agreed to take the ship, which has not reported having any sick passengers.


“All guests on board are healthy, and despite erroneous reports there are no known or suspected cases of coronavirus on board, nor have there ever been,” a statement from the cruise line said.

In Canada, the number of confirmed cases still stands at seven — with four in B.C. and three in Ontario. On Wednesday, public health officials in Ontario said that one of the three patients in the province had returned two negative tests for the virus within 24 hours. Two other people with the virus are doing well enough to be out of hospital.

Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, reiterated Tuesday that the risk to people in Canada — including people living near CFB Trenton in Ontario, where individuals who were repatriated from China are living under quarantine — remains low.

Top health officials in Hubei no longer on the job

China’s official media reported Tuesday that the top health officials in Hubei province, of which Wuhan is the capital, have been relieved of their duties. No reasons were given, although the province’s initial response was deemed slow and ineffective. Speculation that higher-level officials could be sacked has simmered, but doing so could spark political infighting and be a tacit admission of responsibility.

The virus outbreak has become the latest political challenge for the Communist party and its leader, Xi Jinping, who despite accruing more political power than any Chinese leader since Mao Zedong, has struggled to handle crises on multiple fronts. These include a sharply slowing domestic economy, the trade war with the U.S. and push-back on China’s increasingly aggressive foreign policies.

WATCH | Can the virus be spread by people with no symptoms?

Zhong Nanshan, a leading Chinese epidemiologist, said that while the virus outbreak in China may peak this month, the situation at the centre of the crisis remains more challenging.

“We still need more time of hard working in Wuhan,” he said, describing the isolation of infected patients there a priority. “We have to stop more people from being infected.”

He noted that “the problem of human to human transmission has not yet been resolved.”

Without enough facilities to handle the number of cases, Wuhan has been building prefabricated hospitals and converting a gym and other large spaces to house patients and try to isolate them from others.

The restart of business poses a risk of further spreading the virus, but China has little recourse, said Cong Liang, secretary general of the National Development and Reform Commission, the country’s main economic planning body.

On Wednesday, Formula One’s governing body said the Chinese Grand Prix scheduled for April in Shanghai has been postponed due to the virus.

“Without the reopening of businesses, in the short term, it will affect the supply of medical material and … in the long run, it will affect the supply of all kinds of production and life materials and will make the control and prevention efforts on the front line unsustainable. The target of defeating the epidemic will not be reached,” Cong said at a news conference. 

During the 2002-03 outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), an illness caused by a related virus, a number of infections in Hong Kong were linked to one building’s sewage pipes.

Hong Kong has confirmed 49 cases in the current outbreak.


A worker in a protective suit serves customers at a checkout counter of a supermarket in Wuhan, China on Wednesday. The World Health Organization has named the disease caused by the new virus COVID-19, avoiding any animal or geographic designation to avoid stigmatization and to show the disease comes from a new coronavirus discovered in 2019. (Reuters)

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U.K. election: Why a Labour stronghold of half a century could fall to a pro-Brexit party

Every day around high tide, no matter the weather, you’ll find a dozen or so fishermen positioned along the seawall that runs along England’s northeastern coast at Hartlepool.

Wrapped up against the elements, they stand like a line of defence against the encroaching continent on the other side of the fog bank and the swells.

“I feel angry at the EU,” said Ronnie Horn, a headlight perched on top of his plaid cap with its earflaps down. The middle of the day can sometimes feel like the middle of the night in a Hartlepool winter.

“The people that are running it and are telling us what we have to do — and most of it to suit them.”

Sixty-nine per cent of voters here backed Brexit — the U.K.’s departure from the European Union — in the 2016 referendum.

A straw poll among the fishermen on the seawall reflects that sentiment still, with one exception: a retired prison worker who would only give his name as Steve.


Hartlepool fisherman Ronnie Horn says he’s angry at the European Union, at ‘the people that are running it and are telling us what we have to do — and most of it to suit them.’ (Lily Martin/CBC)

“I voted remain,” he said. “But it’s a democracy. We voted out, we should have left. If you can’t go with your vote, you’ve lost your democracy.”

It’s a strong and common sentiment in these parts. And Steve is a perfect example of just how much traditional party politics in England has been upended by Brexit.

He’s voted Labour all his life, but won’t this time because he can’t stomach Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn. 

Nor can he bring himself to back the Conservatives, and he won’t support the pro-EU Liberal Democrats because they’ve pledged to stop Brexit by revoking Article 50, which set the Brexit countdown running in the first place. 

And that makes him a remain supporter who will be casting a ballot for the Brexit Party, which has parachuted its chairman, multimillionaire Richard Tice, into Hartlepool as its candidate. 

Both the Brexit Party, led by Nigel Farage, and Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservatives are targeting ridings like Hartlepool in this election, hoping to capitalize on disaffection over Brexit in the Labour heartlands of the north, the so-called red wall.

WATCH | Economically battered and fed up with Brexit delay, voters in Hartlepool are turning away from Labour:

The U.K. Labour Party tries to rebuild trust in Hartlepool, a Labour stronghold in the north of England that is leaning toward the Tories and the Brexit Party ahead of the Dec. 12 election. 2:23

Last month Farage announced his party would only target seats not held by the Conservatives in the last election so as not to split the vote. But in a riding like Hartlepool, where pro-Brexit sentiment is strong, that’s exactly what could happen. 

Fisherman Ronnie Horn, for example, knows he’ll have to make a choice between the two pro-Brexit parties and thinks the Conservatives will have the better chance. 

“I don’t really want to vote for Conservatives,” he said, “but there’s no way on this earth I’ll vote for Labour.” 

Austerity to blame: Hill

Labour has held Hartlepool for more than half a century. Labour candidate Mike Hill won it by around 7,000 votes in 2017. 

Out door-knocking in Hartlepool’s seemingly interminable fog, he admits that the Labour Party’s perceived ambiguity on Brexit has brought challenges.

“[Corbyn] has been recently criticized for not [having] declared which way he will go on that,” he said.


Hartlepool incumbent Mike Hill, of Britain’s Labour Party, blames the area’s economic decline on austerity measures brought in by the Conservative government. (Lily Martin/CBC)

Official policy is that, if elected, Labour will negotiate a new Brexit deal with the European Union and then put it to a referendum that would also offer staying in as a choice.

“We understand that people are frustrated about Brexit,” said Hill. “But they’ve also got to remember Hartlepool is in the situation it’s in because of 10 years of Conservative Party austerity measures. We’ve been battered and battered and battered again by the Tories.”

Hartlepool has been on a long path of decline over the past 40 years, starting with the loss of the shipbuilding industry and the more recent hit taken by the steel industry — considered one of the “major success stories” and a source of pride, said Sacha Bedding, who manages a charity called The Annexe in one of Hartlepool’s most downtrodden neighbourhoods.

It has left in its wake a sadness, he said, a loss of the town’s sense of self. 

Today there are seven food banks in a town that has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country.

Many here associate Hartlepool’s decline as an industrial powerhouse with EU competition policies prohibiting state-aid.

But its official designation as one of the U.K.’s most deprived areas entitles it to EU aid — and, in fact, the northeast receives twice the amount of EU funding as other parts of England. Few people know about that, and so the European Union remains a target of many people’s ire.

WATCH | ‘No one seems to know what’s going on’: Young Britons frustrated with Brexit confusion:

Students from the Northern School of Art in Hartlepool, northeastern England, are disillusioned by the drawn-out Brexit process as they head into election day. 3:09

‘Getting nothing’ out of EU

“Because we’re getting nothing out of it. Were putting the most money in and we’re getting nothing out of it,” said Pat Abbey, one of the patrons of a bingo night at Ye Olde Durhams Social Club.

Like Steve on the seawall, she too used to vote Labour. Not anymore.

“Labour was labour then, wasn’t it? They used to help you, be for the working man,” Abbey said. “But now they’re just out for themselves. They don’t care about the people.”

Abbey said she’ll vote for the Conservative Party because she likes Johnson.

But it’s not a given that Labour will fall. The Conservatives adopted the same strategy toward Labour ridings in the north in 2017 and failed to break through the generational connections that can still play a big part in voting patterns.  

Johnson’s predecessor Theresa May wound up with a hung Parliament.  

There are some too, like bingo-goer, Rita Kelly, who say they are so disaffected by the choices in front of them that they will vote for no one. 

“Women have suffered and died for the vote for women, and I feel very guilty that I’m not using my vote at the moment. But, on the other hand, I’m very careful about where I give my loyalties — and this lot don’t get it.”


At a bingo hall in Hartlepool, Rita Kelly says none of the parties have won her support, and she doesn’t plan to vote at all. (Lily Martin/CBC)

Bedding believes it is important for people here to believe that their vote counted in the referendum. He also says it is a message not just for the European Union but for anyone who will listen.

“For the last 40 years we’ve had an irrelevant class in this country. So towns like Hartlepool and others in the north, and other parts of the country as well, have been politically irrelevant. And I think that they’re only relevant now because of the way the EU referendum went.”

And because now their votes are needed again.

LISTEN | CBC’s Margaret Evans talks to voters in London and Hartlepool about the options they are weighing in this election and how Brexit is factoring in their vote:

The U.K. heads back to the polls this week for the third time since 2015. CBC’s senior Europe correspondent, Margaret Evans, spoke with voters in London and Hartlepool about the Dec.12 election and the ongoing Brexit upheaval. 18:37

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