Important updates on COVID-19: 4 new countries report cases

Asia and Oceania Coronavirus Watch Top Stories

Important updates by Chinese Embassy in Zimbabwe on new coronavirus pneumonia

By the end of Wednesday there had been 78,497 confirmed cases, 2,491 were still suspected of being infected with the virus, 2,744 deaths.

A total of 32,495 people had been discharged from hospital after recovery.

Wednesday saw:

  • 433 new confirmed cases,
  • 29 deaths —- 26 were in Hubei Province, and one in Beijing, Heilongjiang and Henan, respectively,
  • 508 new suspected cases,
  • 2,750 people were discharged from hospital after recovery. 
  • 652,174 close contacts had been traced, among which, 12,823 were discharged from medical observation Wednesday, with 71,572 others still under medical observation.
China’s military medics: Ready and resolute to fight against virus (Source: CGTN)

By the end of Wednesday, 91 confirmed cases including one death had been reported in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR), 10 confirmed cases in the Macao SAR, and 32 in Taiwan.

According to the WHO’s situation report on 26 February, 4 new Member States (Algeria, Austria, Croatia, and Switzerland) reported cases of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours. Algeria is the first Member State of the AFRO Region to report a case of COVID-19. Globally there had been 81,109 confirmed (871 new) cases, including 2918 confirmed (459 new) cases in 37 countries (4 new) and 43 deaths (9 new) outside China.

For the first time, since the onset of symptoms of the first identified case of COVID-19 on 8 December 20191 , there have been more new cases reported from countries outside of China than from China.

The daily number of newly cured and discharged novel coronavirus patients on the Chinese mainland has surpassed that of new infections for the ninth consecutive day. Wednesday marked the eighth consecutive day that daily number of new infections on the mainland remained under 1,000.

COVID-19 Update in China

Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, on Wednesday chaired a meeting of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee on the prevention and control of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Responding to a call of the CPC Central Committee to all Party members, Xi Jinping, Li Keqiang, Li Zhanshu, Wang Yang, Wang Huning, Zhao Leji and Han Zheng all made donations to support the COVID-19 prevention and control work.

Addressing the meeting, Xi said the positive trend in preventing and controlling the epidemic is expanding and economic and social development is rapidly recovering, but the situation in Hubei Province and its capital city of Wuhan remains complex and grim, and the risk of a rebound of the epidemic in other regions can not be overlooked.

Xi said at this moment it is important to make unremitting epidemic containment efforts and accelerate all aspects of work in economic and social development.

He told Party committees and governments at all levels to accurately grasp the epidemic as well as economic and social development situations to ensure winning the people’s war against the epidemic and achieving the goals of building a moderately prosperous society in all aspects and poverty alleviation.

The meeting stressed continuing to concentrate strength and resources on epidemic prevention and control in Hubei and Wuhan to contain the source of infection and cut off the routes of transmission.

The meeting called for efforts to save and cure more patients that are severely ill and attend to patients with mild symptoms in a timely manner, as well as prompt efforts to equip frontline medical workers with protective gear that is in urgent need.

Prevention and control work in Beijing and other key provincial-level regions should be strengthened to resolutely block any possible source of infection, according to the meeting.

The meeting demanded better protection measures for special venues such as the elderly care, childcare and mental health facilities where vulnerable groups of people are housed in enclosed premises.

Experts check protective suits for each other before entering the laboratory in Enshi, central China’s Hubei Province, Feb. 21, 2020. (Photo by Yang Shunpi/Xinhua)

Protection should also be strengthened for people who work on the front line to battle the epidemic, those who have direct contact with medical waste, and those who provide service in enclosed premises, the meeting added.

Resumption of work and production should be carried out in a targeted, steady and safe manner, according to the meeting, which also called for swift and faithful implementation of policies benefiting enterprises.

The meeting also stressed cooperation and communication with the World Health Organization and other relevant countries in sharing epidemic control experience and coordinating measures to safeguard public health security in the region and the world.

China and Japan united in fighting COVID-19

State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi spoke with Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi on the phone on the evening of 26 February.

Wang briefed on the latest progress China has made in fighting COVID-19. He noted that while the outbreak is trending in a positive direction, the complexity and severity of the epidemic still remain. China will continue to do its utmost to win the battle against the outbreak. The fundamentals sustaining China’s sound economic growth have not changed and the impact on the economy will be temporary and limited. China will work to minimize the impact of the epidemic and meet its annual targets for economic and social development.

Wang pointed out that in the face of COVID-19, China and Japan are together in a community with a shared future. China appreciates Japan’s solidarity from the very beginning of the outbreak and thanks for the valuable support and assistance offered by the Japanese government and people from all walks of life. In the same spirit, China follows closely the developments in Japan, and has provided much-needed medical and protective supplies as requested. It will continue to offer assistance as its ability permits in response to Japan’s needs. Going forward, the two countries could further strengthen exchanges between their competent departments and experts, increase cooperation in epidemic mitigation and control, medical treatment and research and development on drugs and vaccines, and actively explore ways to enhance international public health cooperation within multilateral frameworks.

Wang said that the two sides need to strengthen communication and coordination to further enhance outbreak responses, prevent cross-border spread, and earnestly safeguard public health security of the two countries and the region at large. The two countries also need to ensure the stability of the industrial and supply chains, and do their best to minimize the impact of the outbreak on bilateral practical cooperation. China and Japan are both major economies in the world. The normal economic and trade cooperation between the two sides, in itself, is an important contribution to the stable growth of world economy.

Motegi expressed sincere sympathies to China once again for the difficulties and losses caused by the outbreak. He hopes that with the hard work of the whole nation, the epidemic will be brought to an end soon. As China’s friendly neighbor, Japan will continue to offer maximum cooperation. Japan appreciates the medical supplies China has provided and agrees that the two countries need to join hands in upholding normal economic and trade cooperation, and ensure the stability of the global industrial and supply chains. Motegi briefed Wang on the epidemic situation in Japan. He noted that with sporadic cases confirmed in multiple places and small-scale transmission reported in some regions, Japan has not yet seen large-scale spread. The following two weeks will be critical to epidemic control. The Japanese government has laid out its response guidelines and will devise a well-conceived plan to stop the spread of the epidemic. He hopes that the two countries will continue to share information and step up communication and cooperation on COVID-19.

Wang expressed appreciation to Japan for extending the sympathies. He said that as neighbors, China and Japan have every reason to help each other. He believes that Japan has the capability and conditions to bring the epidemic under effective control and wishes that the Tokyo Olympic Games be successfully held as scheduled.

Wang said that the epidemic will have an impact on bilateral exchanges and economic and trade cooperation. The two sides need to work together to minimize the impact. In addition to containing the outbreak, the two sides also need to assist the industries and companies affected in tiding over their difficulty, keep the industrial and supply chains between the two countries stable and push forward concrete cooperation.

Kang said that the ROK and China have supported and helped each other in the fight against the epidemic since it began. She briefed Wang on the ROK’s containment measures and noted that the ROK government has elevated its response to the highest level and President Moon Jae-in has been to the main affected area to inspect and direct the response effort. There is reason for the rapid increase in confirmed cases in the past few days. The ROK is confident in curbing the spread of the disease and hopes to communicate and collaborate more closely with China to tackle the challenge together.

Novel Coronavirus to be under control by end of April: Expert

Renowned Chinese respiratory specialist Zhong Nanshan said he is confident that the novel coronavirus outbreak would be basically under control by the end of April. Zhong made the remarks at a press conference in Guangzhou on Thursday. “With the strong measures taken by the central government and the joint efforts made by medics across the country, we’re confident that the epidemic will be basically under control by the end of April,” said Zhong, in south China’s Guangdong Province. 

US VP to oversee America’s response to COVID-19 outbreak

U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday appointed Vice President Mike Pence to oversee the country’s response to the novel coronavirus outbreak.

“I’m going to be announcing exactly right now that I’m going to be putting our Vice President Mike Pence in charge,” Trump said at the White House briefing room, citing Pence’s experience with health care policy.

Trump said the virus’s threat to the U.S. public “remains very low,” but the country is “very, very ready” for whatever the coronavirus threat brings.

Trump denied the community spread is “inevitable,” while admitting that it could be “at a larger level.” He said the country’s is “ready to adapt” and “ready to do whatever we have to as the disease spreads, if it spreads.”

Trump said at the press conference that China is “working hard and smart” in fighting the COVID-19 outbreak and the United States also has a plan of larger-scale quarantine if things worsen.

The United States has recorded a total of 60 confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of Wednesday. On Tuesday, U.S. health officials have heightened their alert against the COVID-19 outbreak, calling on Americans to brace for a community spread in the country.

COVID-19 outside China:

Japan: Japan had 175 domestic cases of infection from the virus as of Wednesday evening, separate from 705 from a cruise liner quarantined near Tokyo early this month and 14 from returnees on charter flights from Wuhan, China, public broadcaster NHK said.

South Korea: South Korea confirmed 334 more cases of the COVID-19, bringing the total number of infections to 1,595 as of 9:00 a.m. local time (0000 GMT) Thursday. The death toll was unchanged at 12.

Italy: A total of 400 people tested positive for the novel coronavirus in Italy, up by 26 from the official tally released at noon, Civil Protection chief and Extraordinary Commissioner for the Coronavirus Emergency Angelo Borrelli told a televised press conference at 6 p.m. local time (1700 GMT) on Wednesday, including 12 deaths, and 3 recovered.

Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian’s Regular Press Conference on February 26, 2020 on COVID-19

1). Q: There have been an increasing number of COVID-19 cases in Japan and the ROK. As we understand, some localities in China are taking restrictive measures targeting those entering China from Japan and the ROK. There are people saying this is overreaction, and ROK Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha also expressed concerns. Can you comment on that?

A: As China, Japan and the ROK are all at a critical stage of fighting COVID-19, China completely relates to what these two countries are going through and expresses sincere sympathies to them. Since the epidemic broke out, the ROK and Japanese governments and people have given us strong support and assistance. We are deeply grateful for that. While combating the virus at home, China is ready to reciprocate such kindness by sharing information and experiences with the ROK, Japan and the larger international community, strengthening cooperation and tiding over the difficulties together. We want to help them as much as we can. China believes that the concerted efforts by China, Japan and the ROK will be turning into a huge impetus for friendship and cooperation between us.

Virus knows no borders. Recently some countries have taken necessary border restrictive measures aimed at protecting the health and security of their citizens and foreigners as well as safeguarding regional and global public health security. As long as those measures are science-based, professional and appropriate, I think people will understood. One of China’s epidemic control experiences is to go out less and stay away from the crowd, which is the best way to prevent cross infections. China is ready to work with the ROK and Japan to conduct joint prevention and control, enhance relevant measures at border entry, and reduce unnecessary travels.

2). Q: Does China consider imposing travel bans, visa restrictions or any kind of restrictions on people coming from countries with high rates of coronavirus infections? I’m thinking about the ROK, Japan, Iran or maybe Italy.

A: I answered similar questions these two days. We are studying on prevention and control measures that are science-based, appropriate and calibrated.

  • . Q: UN Secretary General Guterres said during his visit to the WHO headquarters on February 24 that the Chinese people are sacrificing many aspects of their normal lives to prevent the virus from further spreading, and he praised China’s contribution for humanity. I wonder if you have any comment?

A: We highly commend Secretary General António Guterres’ remarks. COVID-19 is a common challenge faced by all and shall be countered by the international community working together. We have taken forceful measures to deal with the epidemic because we want to be responsible not only for our own people but also the whole world. In this battle against the epidemic, “the Chinese speed” has won precious time for the whole world to respond, “the Chinese strength” has enacted strong defense lines to stem the spread of the epidemic, and “the Chinese practice” has set a new standard for outbreak response.

So far, more than 170 state leaders and over 40 international organization representatives have expressed their sympathies, confidence and support for China as we fight the epidemic. Faced with the public health crisis, all countries should unite and cooperate to tide over the difficulties together. China will not relent its efforts and will well coordinate its next-stage epidemic prevention and control work. We will strengthen international and regional cooperation, keep good communication and coordination with WHO, share our experiences with relevant countries, and do as much as we can to help those countries and regions affected by the virus as we are a community with a shared future for mankind.

4.) Q: Can we have any update on whether there’s any foreigners in Hubei confirmed or suspected to have the virus? Are there still any foreigners stranded in Wuhan or other cities in Hubei? What are their nationalities?

A: According to relevant departments, a total of 10 foreign nationals have been diagnosed with COVID-19 in Hubei, among whom 7 have been cured and discharged from hospital, and 2 died. China sets much store by the safety and health of foreign nationals in China, and will continue to take effective measures to ensure their protection and needs. Infected foreign nationals in China get medical treatment same as our own citizens.