Important updates on COVID-19

Asia and Oceania Coronavirus Watch

By the end of day, Monday there had been 77,658 confirmed cases, 2,824 were still suspected of being infected with the virus, 2,663 deaths.

A total of 27,323 people had been discharged from hospital after recovery.

Monday saw:

508 new confirmed cases, 71 deaths —- 68 were in Hubei Province, two in Shandong Province and one in Guangdong Province, 530 new suspected cases, 2,589 people were discharged from hospital after recovery. 

641,742 close contacts had been traced, among which, 15,758 were discharged from medical observation Monday, with 87,902 others still under medical observation.

By the end of day, Sunday, 81 confirmed cases including one death had been reported in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR), 10 confirmed cases in the Macao SAR, and 30 in Taiwan.

According to the WHO’s situation report on 24 February, in the previous 24 hours, 1 new country (Kuwait) reported cases of COVID-19. Globally there had been 79,331 confirmed (715 new) cases, including 2069 confirmed (300 new) cases in 29 countries (1 new) and 23 deaths (6 new) outside China.

No new confirmed cases of COVID-19 were reported on Monday in 23 provincial-level regions on the mainland, including Shanghai and Tianjin, according to local health authorities on Tuesday.

A total of nine new confirmed cases were reported on Monday outside Hubei Province, epicenter of the outbreak, according to the National Health Commission.

President Xi Jinping has stressed the need to prioritize issues concerning agriculture, rural areas and farmers and improve weak links in order to provide strong support for winning the war to prevent and control the epidemic, as well as attaining objectives and targets set for economic and social development of the whole year.

“The more risks and challenges we face, the more we need to stabilize agriculture and ensure the safety of grain and major non-staple foods,” said Xi, who is also the general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission.

President Xi made the remarks in a recent instruction on spring farming in the country.

In a telephone call to Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chinese President Xi Jinping said China has not only been doing its best to protect the lives and health of its own people, but also made positive contributions to safeguarding global public health security.

In the conversation, President Xi noted that at a critical moment when China is sparing no effort to fight the COVID-19 outbreak, the crown prince lost no time in publicly voicing support for China’s endeavours, adding that the government and people of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have many times provided China with medical supplies.

The Chinese president said his country has fully demonstrated the profound friendship between the two nations and the high level of the bilateral strategic partnerships.

He stressed that since the outbreak of the coronavirus disease, China has always placed the lives and health of the people in the first place, and has given full play to its institutional strengths and adopted the most comprehensive, rigorous and thorough prevention and control measures to contain the spread of the epidemic.

Mr Xi said positive changes have been witnessed across the country and that China has full confidence, capacity and confidence that it will win the battle against COVID-19.

While making all-out efforts in epidemic prevention and control, China is also promoting an orderly resumption of work and production, and pushing for continuous and healthy economic and social development, Mr Xi said.

He said the Chinese government has always acted with an open, transparent and responsible attitude, sharing information timeously, actively addressing the concerns of various parties, and boosting cooperation with the international community.

China, he added, will continue to take effective measures to safeguard the life and health of all foreign nationals in the country, including UAE citizens, and stands ready to work with the UAE to maintain close communication on the latest development of the COVID-19 and share experiences in epidemic prevention and control.

  •  The State Council, China’s cabinet, on Tuesday unveiled a string of measures to facilitate the employment of college graduates and rural migrant workers, offer financial support to micro, small and medium-sized enterprises and resolve the difficulties faced by self-employed persons to reduce the impact of the coronavirus epidemic on the economy.
  • China’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism has asked scenic areas nationwide to continue implementing epidemic control measures and closely monitor tourist information, according to a set of guidelines issued on Tuesday by the ministry.

The guidelines required real-name ticketing, registration of tourists’ contact and travel information and big data-powered monitoring of tourist information as scenic attractions have gradually started reopening to the public.

Scenic spots in regions with a high risk of the novel coronavirus epidemic, however, should remain closed for the time being. The scenic spots that are to reopen should strictly control tourist volumes and avoid crowds. Tourists should have their temperatures taken and wear masks before entrance. The ministry also required scenic spots to monitor and report their employees’ health conditions and beef up hygiene and epidemic control at major venues.

COVID-19 outside China

Japan :Japan has confirmed more than 850 infections, with most of them stemming from the virus-hit Diamond Princess cruise ship docked in Yokohama Port near Tokyo.

Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said on Tuesday that seven countries have imposed entry restrictions on Japanese nationals and people traveling from Japan in a bid to curb the spread of COVID-19. Motegi told a press briefing that the countries imposing travel restrictions include Israel, Samoa, Micronesia, Kiribati, Comoros, Tuvalu, and the Solomon Islands.

South Korea: South Korea confirmed 144 more cases of the COVID-19 on Tuesday, raising the total number of infections to 977, and the death toll to 10.

Italy: Italian authorities said on Tuesday the country has by far confirmed a total of 283 novel coronavirus cases. The total number included seven fatalities and one case of full recovery, according to Civil Protection Department chief and extraordinary commissioner for the coronavirus emergency, Angelo Borrelli.

Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian’s Regular Press Conference on February 24, 2020 on COVID-19

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian at a briefing in Beijing on Monday February 24, 2020

1). Q: The China-ASEAN special foreign ministers’ meeting on COVID-19 held last week has seen positive reaction from the international community. On February 21, Philippine Foreign Secretary Locsin tweeted that “the meeting was science- and fact-based and enlightening”, “we are stronger in broken places”, and “we owe China for COVID containment on continental scale”. He also cited Singaporean Foreign Minister Vivian as saying that what does not kill us can only make us stronger. What is your response?

A: We commend the statements made by the Philippine, Singaporean and Thai foreign ministers. The China-ASEAN special foreign ministers’ meeting on COVID-19 held in Vientiane, Laos last week was the first multilateral foreign ministers’ meeting for regional countries to focus on public health security. It has set an example for regional countries to jointly deal with future public health events and sent a strong message that China and ASEAN members will get through tough times together.

Since the outbreak of the epidemic, China has taken the most comprehensive, strenuous and thorough measures which have showed their effects. We believe that with the strong leadership of the Chinese Communist Party, our experience from fighting SARS, our mobilization capabilities, and our institutional advantage of working under a nationwide framework, we have the capability and confidence in defeating the epidemic at an early stage.

Virus respects no borders. No country will remain safe and sound by taking a beggar-thy-neighbor approach, while the advisable way forward is to tide over difficulties together with mutual support. In an open, transparent and highly responsible manner, China will continue to work with and support the international community, including ASEAN members, and make our contributions to regional and global public health.

2). Q: We noted that the French foreign ministry has sent the third batch of medical supplies to China. Also, the French consulate-general in Wuhan will remain open. Do you have more details on that?

A: The third batch of medical supplies France provided to China has recently arrived in Wuhan.

Since the COVID-19 outbreak, President Macron has had two phone calls with President Xi Jinping to express France’s condolences and support. Diplomats at the French embassy in China and consulate-general in Wuhan stay at their posts. In his meeting with Ying Yong, secretary of the Hubei Provincial Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), French consul general in Wuhan Olivier Guyonvarch said they are proud to be joining those who stayed in Wuhan at this unusual time. They will stand together with Wuhan people amid difficulties in this battle to safeguard the health of all people around the world.

As a Chinese saying goes, “It is in difficult times that one recognizes true friends.” Amid this epidemic, French people, like those from many other countries, have reached us with support and assistance, which is a heart-warming act that speaks volumes about the high-level bilateral relations between China and France. We believe China-France friendship will be deepened in this joint fight against COVID-19. China is ready to continue working with France and the rest of the international community to safeguard regional and global public health security.

MFA Spokesperson Mr. Zhao Lijian’s remarks on 24 February:

As President Xi Jinping stressed at a meeting yesterday to advance the work on coordinating the prevention and control of the COVID-19 and economic and social development, the Chinese nation has experienced many ordeals in its history, but it has never been overwhelmed. Instead, it has become more and more courageous, growing up and rising up from the hardships. After arduous work, the positive trend in the prevention and control work is now expanding. We must remain vigilant and continue making unrelenting efforts. No victory should be announced until there is a complete win. Today is the second day of the second lunar month in this year. In China we have the traditional saying of “the dragon raises its head on the second day of the second month”. It means everything takes on a new look at this time of year. At this particular time, it also indicates that more good news will come as China and the world are fighting the epidemic together.