‘Reagents have played key role in Coronavirus control’

Asia and Oceania Coronavirus Watch

By the Chinese Embassy in Zimbabwe

By the end of Saturday, there had been 79,824 confirmed cases.

  • 851 were still suspected of being infected with the virus, and there were 2,870 deaths.
  • A total of 41,625 people had been discharged from hospital after recovery.

Saturday saw 573 new confirmed cases, 35 deaths: 34 were in Hubei Province and one in Henan Province, 132 new suspected cases and 2,623 people were discharged from hospital after recovery. 

The Chinese mainland reported three new confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Saturday outside Hubei Province, the epicenter of the outbreak, according to the National Health Commission.

51,856 close contacts had been traced, among which 8,620 were discharged from medical observation Saturday.

By the end of Saturday, 95 confirmed cases, including two deaths, had been reported in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR), 10 confirmed cases in the Macao SAR, and 39 in Taiwan, including one death.

According to the World Health Organisation, two new Member States (Mexico and San Marino) reported cases of COVID- 19 in the past 24 hours. Globally, there had been 85,403 confirmed (1 753 new) cases, including 6,009 confirmed (1 318 new) cases in 53 countries (two new) and 86 deaths (19 new) outside China.

Global covid-19 situation by the end of Saturday:

  • South Korea: 3150 confirmed cases;
  • Japan: 230 confirmed cases;
  • Singapore: 98 confirmed cases;
  • Australia: 24 confirmed cases;
  • Malaysia: 24 confirmed cases;
  • Italy: 888 confirmed cases;
  • Germany: 57 confirmed cases;
  • France: 57 confirmed cases;
  • Spain: 32 confirmed cases;
  • UK: 20 confirmed cases;
  • Thailand: 42 confirmed cases;
  • Iran: 388 confirmed cases;
  • Kuwait: 45 confirmed cases;
  • Bahrain: 38 confirmed cases;
  • UAE: 19 confirmed cases;
  • USA: 62 confirmed cases;
  • Diamond Princess cruise ship: 705 confirmed cases.

An article by President Xi Jinping on improving law-based epidemic prevention and control, and the national public health emergency management system will be published Sunday on the Qiushi Journal, a flagship magazine of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee.

Stressing that ensuring the safety and health of the people is a major task of the Party in governing the country, the article of Xi, who is also general secretary of the CPC Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, said the mission should always be prioritised.

In addition to securing a victory in the current fight against the epidemic with scientific and targeted measures, the article called for greater efforts in strengthening areas of weakness and closing the loopholes exposed in the outbreak to improve the institutions and mechanisms for major epidemic prevention and control and the national public health emergency management system.

Noting that epidemic prevention and control was at a critical stage, the article stressed the utmost importance of carrying out the work in a law-based, scientific and orderly manner.

The more crucial the fight has become, the more important it is to stick to the rule of law in pushing forward epidemic prevention and control, said the article, adding that the law-based approach is needed to ensure the smooth prevention and control of the epidemic and maintain overall social stability.

Stressing the need to strengthen legislation on public health, the article called for the assessment of revision of laws and regulations on infectious disease prevention and control, as well as wildlife protection.

It also highlighted speeding up establishing a law on biosecurity.

Efforts should be made to reform and improve the disease prevention and control system to prevent minor illness from becoming major epidemics, strengthen the training of general practitioners, and improve a coordinated system for major public health risk analysis, evaluation, decision-making, and prevention and control, the article said.

The system of prevention, control and treatment of major epidemics should also be improved, the article noted, encouraging the application of digital technologies including big data, artificial intelligence and cloud computing in areas such as epidemic monitoring, virus source tracing, epidemic prevention and treatment, and resource allocation.

The article called for improving the medical insurance and medical aid systems for major diseases and a unified system for providing emergency response supplies.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Friday called for greater breakthroughs in the development of efficient detection reagents, effective drugs and vaccines to fight the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19). He made the remarks during an inspection tour to a national emergency platform for COVID-19 drugs and medical equipment.

Acknowledging China’s development in nucleic acid detection reagents and other testing reagents, Li said that the reagents have played a key role in epidemic control, and efforts should be made to develop reagents with shorter detection time, more accurate results and simpler operation.

Noting that drugs are key to curbing the spread of the virus, Li said that priority should be placed on developing a selection of safe and reliable drugs with notable efficacy to treat the critical cases, bring down the mortality rate, and stop mild cases from deteriorating. Efforts should be made to speed up the development of COVID-19 vaccines and ensure their quality at the same time, Li said, adding that the country should strengthen international cooperation in vaccine development.

Li also urged improved government services and a more efficient review process to support the development of reagents, drugs and vaccines. Relevant departments should step up coordination in the release of research results so that the public can get accurate and reliable information, Li said.

On February 28, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi had a phone call with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

Wang Yi noted that China and Iran are comprehensive strategic partners who always support and help each other in times of difficulty, standing side by side. When the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) broke out in China, Iran was the first country to extend its sympathy. With its real actions, Iran has demonstrated the meaning of real friendship and strong solidarity between the two countries and peoples. China will never forget it. 

Wang Yi said that the epidemic respects no border. Recently there have been more COVID-19 cases in Iran. China expresses its sympathy with Iran and its condolences to the victims of the epidemic. Our hearts also go to the patients and their families and wish early recovery of all the infected patients. We believe that under the leadership of the Iranian government, the people of Iran will fight in unity against the epidemic and will prevail. At the moment, the Chinese people are ready to stand together with the Iranian people to overcome the current difficulty. China has made an emergency donation of nucleic acid detection kits and medical equipment to Iran. We will continue to help Iran within our capacity in line with the needs of the Iranian side, which will include cooperation in areas such as epidemic prevention and control and medical treatment. 

Wang Yi emphasised that both China and Iran are nations with time-honored civilizations. As the Chinese nation is invincible in face of any difficulty, it also holds true for the Iranian people. 

Zarif expressed his appreciation that Wang made the phone call to extend China’s sympathy and support to Iran. He said that in the process of jointly fighting the epidemic, the friendship between the two countries and peoples will be further deepened and the two peoples will always stand firmly together. Iran admires the positive results that China has achieved in fighting the epidemic and thanks China for its medical supplies and technical support. Iran stands ready to strengthen exchanges and cooperation with China and learn from its experience in fighting COVID-19. As Iran has experienced various trials and tribulations, it will undoubtedly be able to triumph over the challenge posed by the epidemic.

On February 28, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi had a phone call with Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio.

Wang Yi said that many countries are now fighting against COVID-19. The virus is a common enemy of humanity and calls for collective response from the international community.

Wang Yi thanked the Italian side for its friendship with and support for China since the outbreak, which China will always keep in mind. To date, China has been at the forefront of the fight against the epidemic. With our strenuous efforts, it has been effectively brought under control. The Who delegation highly commended China’s prevention and control measures after its field visit to China. The delegation believed that China’s mobilisation of the whole nation and unprecedented measures not only stemmed the spread of the epidemic in China, but also prevented its spread at a large scale across the world. At the same time, it believed that China has offered valuable experience for the international community to battle against the epidemic. China is confident and capable to defeat it at an early date. 

Wang Yi noted that northern Italy was lately hit by COVID-19. China feels for what the Italian people are going through and expresses its sincere sympathy. China is ready to offer help to Italy as its ability allows according to what the Italian side needs. We are ready to improve professional communication, conduct cooperation in remote medical treatment, anti-viral drugs and vaccine research and development and exchange our experience and technologies in epidemic prevention and control. China is also ready to strengthen unity with countries along the Belt and Road through this joint combat against the outbreak and move towards a Health Silk Road through shared efforts.

Luigi Di Maio expressed gratitude to China for its sympathy and support for Italy’s epidemic prevention and control. This fully shows the traditional friendship between the two peoples. Facing the epidemic, the international community should join hands, step up cooperation and rise to the challenge together. Di Maio briefed Wang on Italy’s situation of epidemic prevention and control. He said the Italian government is taking forceful measures to battle the spread of the outbreak. It stands ready to enhance communication and cooperation with China and intensify information communication between health authorities of the two countries. Italy values and supports the Belt and Road Initiative and at this difficult time countries along the routes should overcome the challenge together through greater unity and cooperation.

The World Health Organisation on Friday raised the global risk level of COVID-19 from high to very high due to two reasons, its chief said on Saturday.

The global risk level has been raised because of, first, the “difficulty in identifying cases due to non-specific symptoms and the potential of undetected transmission,” and second, the “potential for major impact on healthcare systems in some affected and potentially affected countries,” Who Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Twitter.

He also cited the “spread of the new coronavirus and countries’ capacity to respond” as the basis for raising the risk level and said Who risk assessments have been shared with public health authorities, including through the International Health Regulations Event Information Site.

“The assessments are undertaken and updated regularly to inform decision-making and planning,” he said, adding that the risk within China remains unchanged as “very high”. Online health services have played a significant role in China’s fight against novel coronavirus outbreak, reducing the chance of infection by regular hospital visits. In early February, provincial-level health administrative departments were asked to quickly establish and open provincial online health platforms and organize qualified Internet medical institutions to provide relevant online and offline services.

The services include follow-up medical services for chronic patients and online counseling services, Guo said, adding that some fever patients also received medical consultations online. The online health services not only enable the public to obtain convenient, fast and accessible medical services and medical consultation services, but also reduce the chance of cross-infection by avoiding patients gathering in hospitals.

Despite the economic impacts of the novel coronavirus outbreak, micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) across China remain optimistic about business prospects, according to a survey by Alibaba-backed research unit.

More than 66 percent of 23,715 merchants on Alibaba’s major e-commerce platforms of Taobao and Tmall expressed optimism about future activity in 2020, despite short-term setbacks such as declines in orders and customers, delivery delays and tight cash flows caused by the outbreak, showed the survey.

The online survey was conducted from February 5 to 7 by the Ali Research Institute and the China Household Finance Survey and Research Center of Southwestern University of Finance.

The survey on business and economic recovery prospects shed light on the enduring entrepreneurial spirit of the small-business sector, which has been hardest hit by the epidemic, said Luohan Academy, also run by Alibaba, in a research report.

Over 90 percent of the respondents said they expected to suffer losses from the outbreak, but nearly 90 percent stated that they would not cut jobs in 2020, even with increased financial pressure.