back to article Apple reopens stores in China as Middle Kingdom regains control of COVID-19 – after closing all its outlets in Italy

In a rare bit of positive COVID-19 news, Apple has reopened all of its 42 retail outlets in Mainland China. The fruity firm was forced to lower the shutters last month as the Middle Kingdom entered a nationwide quarantine that drastically restricted economic activity, in an effort to slow the movement of the virus that has …

  1. John Robson Silver badge

    So what did China do...

    Because it seems to have worked, and we shouldn't be letting the infection get as far as it did there before we do the same...

    A worldwide coordinated response has a good chance of really slowing this down.

    1. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

      Re: So what did China do...

      Ummm, what DID China do?

      Similar to SARS, Avian and Swine flu.. they waited to long to get a handle on it before it spread outside their borders. They then tried to blame everyone but themselves for it, and then tried to gag anyone in country who spoke outside of the party line.

      Have they actually got a handle on it? Who knows. I'd be surprised if anyone actually believes a word their Government says.

      As for Apple... they'd open a store next to an erupting volcano if it meant making a profit.

    2. WolfFan Silver badge

      Re: So what did China do...

      They behaved exactly as a communist dictatorship is expected to behave: they ordered a mass lockdown and enforced it. Italy has ordered a mass lockdown; whether they can enforce it remains to be seen. El Don de Mar-a-Largo is being even more of a racist xenophobic idiot than usual; trying to ban the ‘foreign virus’ by semi-blocking travel to Europe ain’t gonna help. Son of Pierre in The Great White North is being almost as big an idiot as the Orangeutuan, just in different ways. I’m not sure what BJ is doing. I am sure that he has no idea, either.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: So what did China do...

        BJ is listening to his scientific advisers so he can blame them when it all goes tits up. I particularly liked his scientific advisers reason for not shutting schools yesterday where he said that it would be impossible for parents to stop children playing with their friends for 13 weeks because kids will be kids eh?

        1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

          Re: So what did China do...

          it would be impossible for parents to stop children playing with their friends for 13 weeks because kids will be kids eh?

          Which is quite correct.

          Kids pay much less attention to hygiene than adults, and touch each other far more freely, so they always spread any bug that's going. They'll do that playing in the park as much as they will in a playground. Forcing them to sit in class, with compulsory and supervised hand-washing before drinks, food or play is likely to be much less risky.

          Also, if you close schools and send the kids home someone will have to look after them, and if both parents are working it's most likely the grandparents who'll step up to do it. Since this virus has far more serious consequences for the elderly than almost anyone else it doesn't seem rational to put them in a position of increased exposure.

          1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

            Well, last night that's exactly what my President did on French television. He gave a long explanation about how difficult a decision it was, then declared that all daycare centers, schools and universities are closed until further notice.

            He mentioned twice that health was our greatest asset and he would protect it "whatever the cost".

            It's probably going to cost a bundle, but I think he did the right thing. And he was damn Presidential while saying it.

            It's been a long time since I've been proud of my President, but last night I was.

            1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

              .Well, last night that's exactly what my President did on French television.

              Yes, while insisting that the local elections would go ahead to "ensure the continuity of our democratic life". Just remember to take your own pen!

              1. DJV Silver badge
                Happy

                "ensure the continuity of our democratic life"

                That probably resembles the truth more if you take the "f" out of "life"!

          2. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

            Re: reasons not to close schools...

            Consequences for the elderly... I'm torn of the stance being taken here.

            Yes, if the kids have COVID-19 there's risk to the grandparents. But it's not clear yet if many kids actually have it. Some do, but how far has it spread among their friends?

            Since bugs spread like wildfire among school kids, shutting schools now would surely help stem that tide.

            Keeping the schools open seems a sure-fire way to guarantee many kids will get it at some point in the near future, and then will pass it on to parents and grandparents anyway.

            This "let's let it play out a bit longer and see what happens" approach seems only likely to overwhelm the NHS over the coming weeks.

            My feeling is lock everyone down, now. That will do wonders to halt further spread and allow the NHS to focus care on the remaining, much smaller number of people, who will get seriously ill. Yes there will be an economic hit, but that's nothing to hit when 80% of the population* get COVID-19 and half a million* of those die from it.

            * Currently the stated possible outcome by BoJo's science advisors. Who admit they're guessing and there's no way to really know.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: reasons not to close schools...

              My feeling is lock everyone down, now. That will do wonders to halt further spread and allow the NHS to focus care on the remaining, much smaller number of people, who will get seriously ill.

              The opposite will happen. People will go along with this for a few weeks but after 3 weeks or so they'll decide that it was all overblown and they'll start going out again, at which point there will be another surge. Looking at the data from China, a lock down starting now will mean the end of that 3-week period arriving just as we go through the peak, and the NHS will be overwhelmed.

              Getting people to just act sensibly over a long period is much easier than a lockdown, and although the overall number of people who catch it will be about the same the peak will be spread out, to levels where the NHS can cope.

              Remember, it's a virus. You can't "cure" it. Sooner or later we all need to catch it, or be vaccinated against it, those are the only ways to stop the spread. It takes 6-9 months minimum to develop a vaccine, so it needs to be managed at a low level until then. Lockdown won't work, as France and Italy will discover.

              1. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

                Re: reasons not to close schools...

                3 weeks covers the incubation period. After 3 weeks most people infected will either be over it or should remain isolated until their symptoms clear or they can be hospitalised.

                There will still be a peak, but it will be lower because it hasn't had a chance to run rampant through the population.

                Letting it run unchecked now will bring on the peak. Italy didn't react soon enough and their health system is teetering on the brink of collapse. But sure, let's do the same thing here because this time it will be different.

                I agree enforcement would be a challenge. But I'm not talking months. Start with 2-3 weeks. Monitor the spread. Monitor containment and enforcement of isolation rules. Most people will go along with it because they don't want to catch the virus.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: reasons not to close schools...

                  3 weeks covers the incubation period. After 3 weeks most people infected will either be over it or should remain isolated until their symptoms clear or they can be hospitalised.

                  Indeed, so starting quarantine only when someone is infected is reasonable.

                  Starting lockdown now, when very few people are infected, means that that three week period will have no effect, and will just release people back out at exactly the time the peak hits.

                  Current figures suggest that taking no action at all will result in a huge peak in about three weeks, but sensible limited action will spread that out over two months, giving the NHS much more chance to handle the cases which arrive steadily, and not all at once as is happening in Italy.

                  1. John Jennings

                    Re: reasons not to close schools...

                    I dont think that the current figures suggest a peak after 3 weeks.

                    The newest growth rate (with no controls) suggest a doubling of infections every THREE days.

                    Italy now shows no sign of slowing its rate.

                    https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2020/3/13/21178289/confirmed-coronavirus-cases-us-countries-italy-iran-singapore-hong-kong

                    Logarithmic scales here.

                2. The Nazz Silver badge
                  Happy

                  Re: reasons not to close schools...

                  "because they don't want to catch it"

                  I'd rather catch it now, get it over with. AFAIK i have no underlying health issues so i'll take my chances.

                  Nothing to do with me visiting the M-I-L next week, no sirree.

                  1. the Jim bloke Silver badge
                    Pirate

                    Re: reasons not to close schools...

                    Perhaps I am overly cynical, but how many millenials - and government economists - are going to be seeing this as an opportunity to free up some real estate, and reduce the "Aging Population Crisis"?

                    Just go for a dinner at the Italian-Iranian food court, stop in for communion at your Greek Orthodox church, then go and give the grandparents a big sloppy hug...

              2. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

                Re: Lockdown won't work, as France and Italy will discover.

                Italy left it too late, and when they did respond they did it piecemeal, hence why they're in the shit now.

                China left if too late and it rapidly ballooned almost out of control. Almost. It's only after drastic quarantine was enforced that they got it back under control, and even then that took a few weeks to see the effect. But it is working, as the steady decline in new cases shows.

                Didn't mention curing it. Vaccine development is being fast-tracked, new methodologies attempted, though it's debatable whether that will ultimately succeed. I fail to see how to manage viral spread at a low level by allowing it to run unchecked through the population. Easy to say when your partner doesn't have severe asthma and a blunted lung from plurasy earlier in life.

                1. Chris G Silver badge

                  Re: Lockdown won't work, as France and Italy will discover.

                  I see so many people talking about the lead time/s for developing a vaccine.

                  The common cold is caused by any of a group of four families of corona virus, research that extends back over decades has still not found a functional vaccine for even a fraction of common cold viruses so don't hold your breath while waiting for a covid-19 vaccine.

              3. Dan 55 Silver badge

                Re: reasons not to close schools...

                Getting people to just act sensibly over a long period is much easier than a lockdown, and although the overall number of people who catch it will be about the same the peak will be spread out, to levels where the NHS can cope.

                If you want to stop a virus spreading, you have to stop people spreading it. Doing absolutely nothing apart from suggesting people wash their hands a bit more (or for some people, suggesting that they wash their hands) doesn't really cut it.

                Remember, it's a virus. You can't "cure" it. Sooner or later we all need to catch it, or be vaccinated against it, those are the only ways to stop the spread. It takes 6-9 months minimum to develop a vaccine, so it needs to be managed at a low level until then. Lockdown won't work, as France and Italy will discover.

                How come Asian countries which locked down are now getting on top of it then?

                'Do not let this fire burn': WHO warns Europe over coronavirus

                Tedros stressed that countries should take a comprehensive approach. “Not testing alone,” he said. “Not contact tracing alone. Not quarantine alone. Not social distancing alone. Do it all. Find, isolate, test and treat every case, to break the chains of transmission … Do not just let this fire burn.”

                The British government's response - actively choosing to stop community testing, deciding not to even bother trying to trace people who might have come into someone diagnosed with Covid-19, allowing people to behave as usual, is wrong-headed, irresponsible, and a complete contradiction of WHO guidelines and the opposite of what Asian countries have done.

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: So what did China do...

            Not really it's about being a responsible parent. Keeping kids entertained may mean some have to forgo their dose of television or phones but it can be done and it's not really that hard.

            The only reason we haven't done it is money and the fact we don't have a system for people to fall back on. When they rolled all the benefits such as housing benefit into universal credit they knew exactly what they were doing, you can't claim UC if you're working so when you get SSP you don't get help with your rent even though you are on a very low income. Therefore they can't "lock down" anything.

          4. Chris G Silver badge

            Re: So what did China do...

            Are people really dumb enough to allow their kids out while a school closing pandemic is doing the rounds?

            I think the parenting classes they offer to newly pregnants need upgrading.

            1. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

              Re: So what did China do...

              Sadly yes. Some people really are.

          5. John Jennings

            Re: So what did China do...

            Keep drinking the KoolAid.

            playing in the park is likely less risky than sitting for extended periods within 2 feet of each other.

            Sorry, closing schools is a standard WHO reccomendation.

            Where you have vulnerable parents (a good percentage are) it makes sense for the parents to isolate whith the children. And sorry, but most kids can do this.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Golf Course in UK and Ireland

        He banned Europe flights except the two countries where he has golf courses, UK and Ireland.

        If that isn't clear to you, how he really doesn't understand what's about to hit, then what does. Does he think people will go golfing? 600 cases in the UK, follow the curve along Italy and that's the UK's future. Literally days away.

        https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/country/italy/

        Still looks exponential with Italy. But hey, I'm sure people will want to go visit his golf courses! Cough cough.

        I would also check for insider stock trades and derivatives trading by Trump and co. just before Fed announcements. I notice Trump is super focused on the stock markets, which suggests he's an active trader. And I don't rule out Alfa-bank and VTB bank when checking for insider trades. I assume he had Russian bank accounts when he did the Miss Universe Moscow thing. There seems to be a lot of activity relating to those Russian banks and him, and he has a lot of deal with Russians for property, so I would expect those bank accounts to still exist and be stuffed with black Rubles.

        1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

          Re: Golf Course in UK and Ireland

          Trump is a fool, no argument there, but as for "Does he think people will go golfing?", maybe they will. Which is better, sitting in your office with 20 people, or at home with family, touching the same door handles and coffee machines, or walking around in the fresh air with only 1 or 2 mates, touching only your own clubs?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Golf Course in UK and Ireland

            All you have to do is fly into Glasgow Prestwich airport on a jet with other people to get there and stay at Trump Turnberry Golf resort. Do the US airforce still use it as a stopover airport in place of their own bases? Why yes they do:

            https://www.businessinsider.com/259-air-force-crews-refueled-at-the-airport-trump-turnberry-2019-9?op=1

            So just you, a bunch of tourists and airforce crews that fly around the world meeting and stay in large group barracks normally. I see no problem there..... sure none at all....

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Golf Course in UK and Ireland

              Most golfers are day players, not staying anywhere but their own home. Clearly anyone staying in a resort hotel will be at more risk, that much should be obvious.

        2. John H Woods Silver badge

          Re: Golf Course in UK and Ireland

          My non-China cases graph approximately fits an exponential with a time constant of 0.2/days meaning a doubling time of 3-4 days. I suspect UK results will start to lag significantly behind this curve now because it is almost impossible to get tested. I reckon we are within a fortnight of the Italian situation.

          1. John H Woods Silver badge

            Re: Golf Course in UK and Ireland

            Update, new data makes it 0.16/days so non-Chinese doubling time of ~4.2 days, just over 100 hours.

            Italy is at 18000 cases right now, 20-25x worse than our case count, so maybe we are more than a fortnight behind, but less than three weeks.

            BTW: I note that it looks like on Wednesday, ~10% of the Italians who died that day died of COVID19.

    3. John Jennings

      Re: So what did China do...

      And why do you think that China has Covid under control at this point?

      Because it didnt report many new cases? perhaps its like the UK - dont test so nothing to report.

      The math does not lie. Covid 19 is not over in China.

  2. Dan 55 Silver badge

    They basically didn't mess about and decided that it was better to get the economic hit over and done with. Places like South Korea, Singapore, and Taiwan had plans ready to go.

    Singapore was ready for COVID-19—other countries, take note

    Note: Democratic countries can also have plans ready to go. It is not necessary to dismantle the pandemic response department (US) or call muddling through it a plan (UK).

    1. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      It is not necessary to ... call muddling through it a plan (UK).

      This.

      Current response here seems designed to intentionally cripple the NHS as many (hundreds of) thousands become needlessly infected over the next few weeks.

      Put the UK in quarantine now. Yes it will bring some short term economic pain. It will also dramatically stem the spread of the virus.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Current response here seems designed to intentionally cripple the NHS

        Not in the slightest. It's designed to spread out the peak specifically so the NHS won't be overwhelmed.

        1. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

          I respectfully disagree. Where's the evidence this approach will have that effect? I am aware that's the reason being trumpeted from not taking stronger measures yet.

          Allowing spread unchecked through the population will not spread the peak.

          Also, I find the advice to workers and schools contradictory. Workers advised to work from home wherever possible, to minimise viral spread. Yet schools not closing; the same workers advised to work from home are taking their kids to school, along with typicaly hundreds of other parents at each school. That will surely eliminate much of the gain made working from home.

    2. lucki bstard

      In the UK muddling through is a plan and often the only one. Not UK bashing I live there and know of what I speak.

  3. codejunky Silver badge

    Well

    Seeing various comment boards being very unhappy with how the UK is handling things (Boris listening to experts) makes me wonder if the experts are only worth listening to if they say what they want to hear. People complaining they want the country on military lockdown to kill the virus, that doesnt kill the virus! If you want to kill it then wash your hands!

    Seriously the good old soap and water is worth more than all the panic. A reasonable response that keeps the economy going is sensible. If you want a reaction like China then move there. If you prefer the reaction of Europe then go.

    This virus has brought out some of the worst comments and attitudes on other comment websites, I hope the reg has a better standard of commenter.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Well

      Seeing various comment boards being very unhappy with how the UK is handling things (Boris listening to experts) makes me wonder if the experts are only worth listening to if they say what they want to hear.

      Isn't that always the case? Panic sets in, the experts give calm advice but social media promises miracles, so people prefer to believe the social media. It's no different from the people who take homeopathic miracle cures for things like cancer, because "obviously" real scientific medicine doesn't work.

      It's particularly disappointing to see how many people seem to want it all to go wrong, just so they can point the finger & say "It's all Boris's fault", as if party politics is an issue here.

    2. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Boris listening to experts

      The cynic in me suggests that maybe:

      a) Boris chooses his experts.

      b) Boris' experts have a vested interest in saying what he wants to hear.

      Quarantine doesn't kill the virus. That's not the aim, and don't believe that is being suggested. The aim would be to slow its spread to manageable levels that don't overwhelm local and national health services.

      1. codejunky Silver badge

        Re: Boris listening to experts

        @Jimmy2Cows

        "The aim would be to slow its spread to manageable levels that don't overwhelm local and national health services."

        Aka basic sanitary behaviour i.e. washing hands. We have never stopped the spread of the cold or flu because it is infectious before symptoms. Add the number of surfaces and people to people contact and the best advice is to practice basic sanitary behaviour.

        Seriously you can kill corona. Wash with soap. To keep from overwhelming the NHS we dont need to test absolutely everyone in a 'who can test more' exercise but instead to manage the biggest problem- the hosts of the virus- people. It is people who are the problem (no more than usual) and by managing that we can hopefully avoid overwhelming the NHS.

        But in trying to deal with the problem for the exact issues we are trying to avoid the gov and so called experts get stick.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Boris listening to experts

        The cynic in me suggests that maybe:

        a) Boris chooses his experts.

        b) Boris' experts have a vested interest in saying what he wants to hear.

        And there is exactly what I mean.

        What possible reason could he have for any course of action that would make things worse? He wants this over. Like any politician he'll want credit for getting it done well and with as little harm as possible. His partner is pregnant, so smack in the middle of the vulnerable category.

        Suggesting that he would take any action other than the one that he genuinely thinks is best for the country (and therefore by definition best for himself) is not cynicism, it's sheer, blind prejudice.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Well

      You have to remember, the people of Britain have had enough of experts. This is now the time of the amateurs and the pundits.

    4. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Well

      I think it goes like this:

      - Experts say what's needed.

      - Johnson says "no, you've got no money and no lockdown and we're barely prepared to lift a finger, what can you do with that?"

      - Experts say what they can do with that on TV.

      - Johnson says "say goodbye to your loved ones".

      "Herd immunity" sounds very Dominic Cummings, don't you think?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Well

        - Johnson says "no, you've got no money and no lockdown and we're barely prepared to lift a finger, what can you do with that?"

        Do you really believe that?

        We're a week after a budget that committed far more money to this than other countries. Even the French media are drawing unfavourable comparisons over what France is spending compared to the UK's financial stimulus program, and that is rare.

        Just take a moment, put your party-political prejudice aside, and ask yourself why any politician would be so stupid? If for no other reason that he'll want to be re-elected again when this is all over.

        1. Dan 55 Silver badge

          Re: Well

          Sorry, are you actually comparing the UK's lack of action favourably against France's?

          The Tories might be more prepared to prop businesses up (I don't know, I haven't found an article comparing the two), but actual steps taken to stop people becoming infected look particularly weak compared to other countries.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Well

            Sorry, are you actually comparing the UK's lack of action favourably against France's?

            No, I'm pointing out that the French media are comparing the UK financial response favourably to that in France/EU.

            actual steps taken to stop people becoming infected look particularly weak compared to other countries.

            For the current stage of the infection they look far more reasonable than the knee-jerk "ban everything'" reaction here in France, although France has borders with Italy and Spain which have bigger problems.

            1. Dan 55 Silver badge

              Re: Well

              Well be a sport and post a link to an article which a favourable comparison, then, in either English or French, because I can't find one in the English-speaking press.

              By the way: "The idea that countries should shift from containment to mitigation is wrong and dangerous.” - WHO.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Well

                Sorry, I heard it as radio discussion with the editor of an investment magazine.

                1. Dan 55 Silver badge

                  Re: Well

                  For the record, ballcocks.

                  Britain's bars and restaurants are doomed – unless the government acts now

                  I am a food and drink journalist, but last night I felt more like a grief counsellor. After Boris Johnson’s announcement that the public should avoid pubs and restaurants, their owners were bewildered, stricken, livid.

                  “In our industry that’s the worst thing he could have done,” said one “blindsided” bar owner who had expected a total shutdown – an involuntary closure that would have potentially allowed venues to trigger their business interruption insurance.

                  Instead, restaurateurs were left hanging. No insurance. No rescue package. No customers. With the added PR disaster that, as one put it: “If you stay open you’re seen as someone who doesn’t care about your community or staff.” Hospitality is not alone. Theatres, cinemas, clubs and music venues are in the same bind. As one friend who works across several of those fields messaged: “Fucking hell!"

                  [...]

                  The contrast between the French government’s response – €300bn of state-guaranteed bank loans with the promise: “No business will fail’’ – and that of our own government could not be more stark. The piecemeal efforts in last week’s budget to protect hospitality and the arts were pathetic. Business rate holidays for smaller operators and statutory sick-pay refunds for businesses that employ less than 250 was a fraction of the action needed. To survive this, such businesses need immediate permission to waive-not-defer (any deferral is simply accruing debt), rent and business loan repayments, utility bills, all tax and NI obligations. Instead, they are left at the mercy of an imploding market. One operator I spoke to, who had contacted HMRC to spread his corporation tax payments, was simply told this was not possible.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Well

        "Herd immunity" sounds very Dominic Cummings, don't you think?

        It's a well-established medical term, Cummings is an historian so he may well have heard it.

        Sorry, doesn't that fit with that chip on your shoulder?

        1. Dan 55 Silver badge

          Re: Well

          Coupled with this 'plan', it means that the most oldest and most vulnerable in society who can't fight off this disease will get infected and die. And also the not so old and vulnerable... an Italian patient who went to hospital just over three weeks ago is under 40 only just got out the ICU.

          So, yeah, I've got a chip on my shoulder about that. Is that a problem for you?

      3. EvilDrSmith

        Re: Well

        "Herd immunity" sounds very Dominic Cummings, don't you think?

        Nope, it sounds like an expression I've been aware of for years, possibly decades, generally being used by experts in medicine and disease control.

        1. Dan 55 Silver badge

          Re: Well

          Only one country's experts are saying the British government's approach is right. And they're from the UK and usually found either side of Boris Johnson.

          I don't think viruses recognise English exceptionalism.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Well

      codejunky>> If you want a reaction like China then move there. If you prefer the reaction of Europe then go.

      Is that approach from the Yaxley-Lennon school of virology??

  4. VibhorTyagi

    Shame On Apple!

    Also.. "store closures outside of Greater China?" Really?! Every Apple store in the world is closed, except the one at the epicenter. Amazing. This online webinar stuff is just a diversion from their usual disregard for employee security (typical Apple)! They could've helped in some form or another - turns out even Microsoft has managed to engineer AI based tracking software. one that has accurately been able to detect and project the rise and spread of the Coronavirus (covid-19) across the world.

    ~Vibhor Tyagi (Techie at Engineer.AI)

  5. Nifty

    Any thoughts on why the German mortality rate with this virus is so low?

    Real time virus atlas

    https://gisanddata.maps.arcgis.com/apps/opsdashboard/index.html#/bda7594740fd40299423467b48e9ecf6

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