Positive Coronavirus Trend Expanding

Asia and Oceania Coronavirus Watch

By the Chinese Embassy in Zimbabwe

By the end of Sunday, there had been 77,150 confirmed cases.

3,434 were still suspected of being infected with the virus, and there were 2,592 deaths.

A total of 24,734 people had been discharged from hospital after recovery.

Sunday saw 409 new confirmed cases and 150 deaths (149 were in Hubei Province and one in Hainan Province). There were also 620 new suspected cases, and 1,846 people were discharged from hospital after recovery. 

635,531 close contacts had been traced, among which, 16,758 were discharged from medical observation Saturday, with 97,481 others still under medical observation.

By the end of Sunday, 74 confirmed cases, including one death, had been reported in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR), 10 confirmed cases in the Macao SAR, and 28 in Taiwan.

According to the World Health Organisation’s situation report on February 23, in the previous 24 hours, no new countries reported cases of COVID-19. Globally, there had been 78,811 confirmed (1017 new) cases, including 1769 confirmed (367 new) cases in 28 countries and 17 deaths (six new) outside China.

China’s daily new confirmed cases of COVID-19 outside Hubei Province, epicenter of the outbreak, dropped to 11 on Sunday, according to the National Health Commission. The commission said Monday it received reports of 409 new confirmed cases on Sunday from 31 provincial-level regions on the mainland, including 398 from Hubei. On Saturday, 18 new confirmed cases were reported outside Hubei.

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Sunday stressed unremitting efforts in the prevention and control of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) epidemic and coordination in advancing economic and social development.

Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, made the remarks when delivering an important speech at a meeting in Beijing 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, Xi said.

The epidemic situation remains grim and complex and it is now a most crucial moment to curb the spread, he noted.

Xi asked Party committees and governments at all levels to continue to make unremitting efforts in various prevention and control work and resume work and production in an orderly manner.

Efforts should be made to fully unleash the huge potential and powerful driving force of China’s development and strive to achieve the goals and tasks for economic and social development this year, Xi said.

On behalf of the CPC Central Committee, Xi extended sincere greetings to Party members, officials and the general public throughout the country, especially those in Hubei Province and its capital city Wuhan, and expressed respect to the medical workers, officers and soldiers of the People’s Liberation Army and comrades from various sectors who have been fighting on the front line of epidemic prevention and control.

He also expressed his sincere gratitude to compatriots in Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan, overseas Chinese, as well as to countries, international organizations and friendly people that have provided various support to the epidemic prevention and control.

Xi also expressed deep condolences to compatriots and medical personnel who lost their lives in the fight against the epidemic, and sincere sympathy to patients and their families who are struggling with the disease, as well as to the families of those who died on duty and the deceased patients.

Sunday’s meeting was presided over by Li Keqiang and attended by Li Zhanshu, Wang Yang, Wang Huning, Zhao Leji and Han Zheng.

Positive Trend Expanding

Xi said since the start of the outbreak, the CPC Central Committee has attached great importance to the issue, made swift deployment, strengthened the centralised, unified leadership of the Party, requiring Party committees and governments at all levels to put people’s lives and health as the top priority and adopt effective measures to curb the spread of the virus.

The CPC Central Committee has made it a prominent task to improve the admission and cure rates and reduce the infection and mortality rates, Xi said, noting that Wuhan and Hubei have been taken as the country’s main battlefield against the epidemic.

Efforts have also been made to strengthen the emergency supply of medical materials and daily necessities, safeguard social stability and win the support of the international community, he added.

The COVID-19 outbreak is a major public health emergency that has spread in the fastest speed, caused the most extensive infection and is the most difficult to contain in the country since the founding of the People’s Republic of China, said Xi.

“This is both a crisis and a big test for us,” Xi said, adding that after arduous work, the positive trend in the prevention and control work is now expanding.

“It has been proven that the CPC Central Committee’s judgment on the situation of the epidemic is accurate, all work arrangements are timely, and the measures taken are effective,” said Xi.

“The results of the prevention and control work have once again demonstrated the notable advantages of the leadership of the CPC and the system of socialism with Chinese characteristics,” he added.

Solid, Meticulous Efforts Required

Xi called for firm, solid and meticulous efforts in the epidemic prevention and control, urging Party committees and governments at all levels to remain vigilant and make unremitting efforts in the epidemic prevention and control work.

No victory should be lightly announced until there is a complete win, Xi said, making the following demands:

  • Hubei Province, as well as its capital city Wuhan, should be safeguarded with resolute efforts, with focal attention paid to containing the spread at communities and treating the patients;
  • The epidemic prevention and control work in Beijing should be carried out with all-out efforts. Both imported cases and spread within the city should be prevented;
  • Medical resources and key supplies should be allocated in a scientific manner, providing more protection for the medical workers;
  • Scientific research should be accelerated in terms of drug and vaccine development. Effective diagnosis and treatment plans should be summarised and promoted in time;
  • International and regional cooperation should be expanded. Good communication with the World Health Organisation and experience sharing with relevant countries should be continued;
  • Public communication through news media should be more effective. Release of epidemic information should be improved;
  • Social stability should be well safeguarded. Illegal activities disturbing medical treatment, epidemic prevention, and market and social order should be severely punished.

Impact Manageable

The impact of the epidemic on China’s economic and social development is temporary and generally manageable, Xi noted.

He said the COVID-19 epidemic will inevitably deal a relatively big blow to China’s economic and social development. However, at such a time it is even more important to view China’s development in a comprehensive, dialectical and long-term perspective, and to strengthen and firm up confidence.

In general, the fundamentals of China’s long-term sound economic growth remain unchanged, Xi added.

Orderly Resumption of Work, Production

Stressing orderly resumption of work and production, Xi made specific requirements to that end.

Each region should adopt a precise approach when advancing resumption of work and production based on local health risks, Xi said.

Regions with relatively low risks should reorient their disease prevention and control strategies as soon as possible to focus on forestalling imported cases and comprehensively restoring the order of production and life, Xi said.

Medium-risk regions should promote work and production resumption in an orderly manner based on local epidemic-control situations, while high-risk regions should continue to be fully committed to doing a good job in epidemic prevention and control, he said.

Xi stressed strengthening the regulation role of macro-economic policies, calling for more positivity in the country’s proactive fiscal policy and the roll-out of more targeted interim policies in cutting taxes and fees to help micro, small and medium-sized firms tide over difficulties.

Besides, the prudent monetary policy should feature more flexibility and moderation, Xi said, calling for making good use of existing financial support policies and introducing new policies and measures in due course.

China will step up efforts to keep employment stable, with all-round measures to cut corporate burdens, keep the payroll stable, and create more jobs, Xi said, adding that in addressing the outstanding problems of serious scarcity of workers in some enterprises, high pressure in keeping the payroll stable, and difficulty of key groups to obtain employment, efforts should be given to support flexible employment through multiple channels and facilitate employment of college graduates.

The country should resolutely accomplish the task of alleviating poverty despite the impact of the epidemic, Xi said, urging efforts to help poor workers return to their posts in an orderly manner, support leading poverty alleviation enterprises and workshops to resume work as soon as possible, and improve mechanisms to prevent people from returning to poverty.

Xi underscored efforts to push for the resumption of work and production with precise epidemic prevention and control strategies, while smoothing travels and logistics channels and lifting cargo transport bans to push all links in the industrial chains to resume work and production in a coordinated way.

The country should actively expand effective domestic demand, fast-track the progress of projects under construction and new ones, as well as enhance guarantees for labour, land, funds and other production factors. 

In the meantime, China will ensure the timely agriculture work in spring, Xi said.

In doing so, he urged efforts to address the protruding issues in spring farming preparation and ensure well-organised production, transportation and supply of farming materials.

Xi also noted that people’s basic livelihood should be guaranteed, such as the supply of staple and non-staple food. Enhanced efforts should be made to take care of those in need as well as those losing their family members due to the epidemic. Efforts should also be made to coordinate medical treatment for patients with other diseases. 

The country should keep the foreign trade and investment stable amid the epidemic outbreak, Xi stressed.

Foreign trade policy tools like export tax rebates and export credit insurances should be put to good and full play to ensure smooth operation of foreign trade industrial chains and supply chains.

Major foreign investment projects should be well implemented, while opening-up of finance and other services should be expanded. Business environment should continue to be optimized to strengthen foreign businesses’ confidence in long-term investment and operation in China, Xi said.

In order to win the people’s war against the epidemic, the Party’s leadership should be strengthened, Xi said.

Xi required cadres at all levels, especially the leading officials, to take initiative in fulfilling duties.

Cadres who make outstanding contributions should be awarded, while those who fail to perform their duties should be held accountable, Xi noted.

Stressing more care for primary-level cadres, Xi called for solving their practical difficulties in a timely manner and resolutely rectifying the practice of formalities for formalities’ sake and bureaucratism.

Xi also required summing up experience and drawing lessons from the weak links exposed in the epidemic to improve the ability to deal with major public health emergencies.

While presiding over the meeting, Li Keqiang called for rallying more closely around the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at the core and required the solid and precise implementation of the decisions and policies made by the CPC Central Committee.

Li demanded efforts to achieve this year’s economic and social development goals and tasks, and secure finishing the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects and completing the 13th Five-Year Plan.  

China will double down on its efforts to mitigate the impact of the novel coronavirus on trade firms and help the commerce sector gain momentum while countering the spread of the epidemic, according to the country’s commerce regulator.

Local governments were instructed to guide trade firms to resume operations with differentiated measures and guard against any infections in clusters, said a circular released late Sunday by the Ministry of Commerce (MOC).

Enterprises engaged in the circulation of goods were urged to resume work as soon as possible in a bid to ensure the supply of people’s daily necessities, beef up consumer confidence and restore market vitality, the circular said.

In its efforts to stabilise global supply chains, the MOC pledged greater policy support for foreign trade and foreign-funded firms, especially key areas and corporate champions crucial for global supply chains.

The commerce authority also encouraged e-commerce enterprises to adopt innovative sales models with the help of information technology to cut the frequency of deliveries and exposure to the disease.

South Korea confirmed 231 more cases of the COVID-19 on Monday, raising the total number of infections to 833, and the death toll rose to eight.

As of 4:00 p.m. local time (0700 GMT), the number of infected patients totaled 833, up 231 from the prior day. The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) has updated the data twice a day at 10:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. local time.

The country raised its four-tier virus alert to the highest “red” level on Sunday as the virus infections soared for the past week. A total of 571 new cases were reported from Wednesday to Sunday.

Under the red alert, the health authorities recommended people with fever or respiratory symptoms to refrain from attending schools and going to work, asking pregnant women, the elderly and the chronically ill to avoid crowded places.

A total of 152 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in Italy, including three deaths and one recovery, said Angelo Borrelli, head of the country’s civil protection department, on Sunday.

The total includes 110 cases in the northern region of Lombardy, 21 in the northeastern region of Veneto, and nine in the northern region of Emilia-Romagna, Borrelli said at a televised press conference, adding that an Italian researcher has made a full recovery.

Eleven towns, 10 in Lombardy and one in Veneto, are under lockdown.

Local authorities have issued bans, closing several gathering spots and prohibiting people from entering or leaving the affected areas.

The China-World Health Organisation (Who) joint expert team visited Hubei Province, epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak, over the weekend to conduct field investigations, according to the National Health Commission (NHC).

The experts visited Tongji Hospital, the Wuhan Sports Center that was converted into a temporary hospital, and the provincial center for disease control and prevention to learn about epidemic prevention and control as well as medical treatment, the NHC said.

They also talked with officials and experts in the province and briefed the NHC director Ma Xiaowei on their findings and suggestions.

Ma reiterated that China’s forceful measures against the epidemic is not only responsible for the health of the Chinese people, but also a contribution to global public health.

“China is confident and determined to win this battle against the epidemic,” he said, adding that China will make efforts to coordinate epidemic fight and economic and social development.

China will continue improving its mechanism for major epidemic prevention and control, strengthening the national public health emergency response and management system, and stepping up cooperation with the Who, he said.

Ma thanked the experts for coming to work in China at a key stage of the epidemic fight and for their valuable suggestions to China and the world in better combating the virus.

A free online learning platform for primary and secondary school students studying at home during the COVID-19 outbreak has been upgraded to further enrich its resources and promote the all-round development of students.

The upgraded learning platform features 10 sections, including epidemic prevention education, moral education, mental health education, classic literature and digital teaching materials, from which students can voluntarily choose to learn, according to China’s Ministry of Education. The platform was launched on February 17 and covers the 31 provincial-level regions on the Chinese mainland.