Coronavirus: a big test for all countries

Asia and Oceania Coronavirus Watch Top Stories

By the end of 25 March there had been 81,285 confirmed coronavirus cases, including 3,947 patients who were still being treated.

A total of   541 confirmed cases are imported cases from aboard while 159 people were still suspected of being infected with the virus.

The death toll stood at 3,287.

A total of 74,051 people had been discharged from hospital after recovery.

25 March saw:

  • 67 new confirmed cases, all of them are imported cases from aboard,
  • 6 deaths —- all in Hubei Province,
  • 58 new suspected cases,
  • 401 people were discharged from hospital after recovery. 
  • 14,714 close contacts were still under medical observation. On Wednesday, 721 people were discharged from medical observation.

By the end of 25 March, 410 confirmed cases including 4 deaths had been reported in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR), 30 confirmed cases in the Macao SAR, and 235 in Taiwan, including 2 deaths.

According to the WHO’s situation report on 25 March, 2 new countries/territories/areas (Western Pacific Region [1], and Eastern Mediterranean Region [1]) have reported cases of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours.  Globally there had been 414,179 confirmed (40,712 new) cases, including 18,440 deaths (2,202 new).

As the on-going Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) pandemic continues to develop, WHO calls on all countries who have introduced so-called “lockdown” measures to use this time to attack the virus with six key actions that WHO recommend.First, expand, train and deploy your health care and public health workforce;Second, implement a system to find every suspected case at community level;Third, ramp up the production, capacity and availability of testing; Fourth, identify, adapt and equip facilities you will use to treat and isolate patients; Fifth, develop a clear plan and process to quarantine contacts; And sixth, refocus the whole of government on suppressing and controlling COVID-19.

Coronavirus: a big test for all countries

Chinese President Xi Jinping said Tuesday night that in the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic the urgency and significance of building a community with a shared future for mankind have become even greater.

He made the remarks in a phone conversation with his Kazakh counterpart, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev.

Xi pointed out that the coronavirus disease broke out with a vengeance and constitutes a big test for all countries.

At the most difficult moment in China’s battle against the epidemic, the Kazakh government and society offered China strong support, recalled the Chinese president.

Noting that now Kazakhstan is witnessing a spread of the contagious illness, Xi said China highly appreciates the fact that under Tokayev’s leadership, Kazakhstan has taken swift and decisive measures, which demonstrates a responsible attitude towards all the people.

As a friendly neighbor and permanent comprehensive strategic partner, China sympathizes with Kazakhstan’s current situation, and will actively provide support and assistance, Xi said.

The mutual support between China and Kazakhstan, he added, reflects the high level and uniqueness of bilateral relations, and has set an example for international cooperation against the pandemic.

Viruses recognize no national borders and epidemics do not discriminate between races, Xi stressed, adding that in the battle against the current global public health crisis, the urgency and significance of building a community with a shared future for mankind have become even greater.

Only with solidarity and cooperation can the international community prevail over the pandemic and safeguard the planet, the Chinese president pointed out.

China, he said, stands ready to work with Kazakhstan and all other countries to strengthen international cooperation against the pandemic and safeguard global public health security.

The epidemic is temporary, but cooperation is everlasting, Xi said, noting that while posing challenges to bilateral cooperation, the disease also creates new opportunities.

The two countries, he suggested, should unswervingly cement political mutual trust, expand cooperation in such areas as digital economy and health care, and foster new sources of growth for bilateral relations.

G20 leaders to hold video summit

3.As the novel coronavirus epidemic further extends its global reach, a united and coordinated response is in urgent need. The G20 has an important role to play in the fight, just as it did in the global financial crisis in 2008.

A special G20 leaders’ video summit on responding to the COVID-19 pandemic will be held on Thursday. Chinese President Xi Jinping will attend in Beijing.

The world has seen enough blame game and finger-pointing since the outbreak of the pandemic. The pointless bickering comes at the cost of an efficient and effective response to the pandemic. It is high time for the G20 to build consensus to inject positive energy into global cooperation to fight the common enemy of mankind.

In the war against the virus, China has firmly upheld the vision of building a community of a shared future for mankind. China has and will continue to share medical supplies, therapeutic and treatment experiences, and solutions with the world. As the epidemic situation in China eases, China will be able to spare more resources to help other countries within its capacity.

The G20 should bring the international community together quickly. Member countries should enhance unity and jointly meet challenges and boost the confidence of the international community.

G20 members should make every effort to properly handle domestic prevention and control. China will do its best to provide timely help to countries in difficulties. It is hoped that G20 members will help each other and cooperate closely to jointly safeguard international public health safety.

The pandemic has taken a heavy toll on the global economy. It is critical for G20 members to strengthen macroeconomic policy coordination, adopt necessary fiscal, monetary and structural policies, promote market openness, and ensure the open, stable, safe and smooth operation of global supply chains.

An important lesson the world has learned from past crises is that a global crisis should be met with a global response. Uncoordinated or unilateral actions by a single economy will produce limited effects and could lead to a vicious cycle of “beggar-thy-neighbor” policies.

The G20 summit is held at a time when the global fight against the COVID-19 has come to a critical moment. The health of millions of people is at stake. We hope and believe the G20 meeting will inject new confidence and energy into the ongoing anti-pandemic efforts.

WeChat messages of hope

“Together we are stronger”,”l’union fait la force”, “Berg und Tal kommen nicht zusammen, wohl aber die Menschen” — expressions in various languages displaying hope and solidarity circulate on the social media platform WeChat these days as countless Chinese expats living in Europe join people in their host countries in the tough war against the coronavirus.

From the Meuse River to the Dinaric Alps, from Rica to Piraeus, increasing numbers of Chinese enterprises and residents stand side by side with local authorities and frontline health workers, mainly by providing much-needed medical protective gears to help attenuate the sanitary shockwave in their second homeland, now the epicenter of the pandemic.

China’s experience of Covid-19 being shared globally: Epidemiology expert

China has shared with more than 100 countries its experience in the prevention and control of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) epidemic as the world witnesses a growing number of infected cases of the disease, a Chinese epidemiology expert said here Tuesday.

Chinese experience underlines the core effect of separation between the source of infection and the susceptible population, Wu Zunyou, an epidemiology expert at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, told a press conference.

“China’s epidemic control work mainly focuses on three aspects, tight control of the infection source, breaking the chain of transmission and protecting the susceptible population,” said Wu.

Timely detection, reporting, quarantine and medical treatment have contributed to effectively reducing the source of infection in China, said Wu.

To cut off the transmission chain, Wu stressed the importance of wearing face masks, washing hands and ensuring ventilation.

China prolonged holidays and advocates keeping a certain distance between people for the good of the susceptible population, he said.

Many countries have adopted those methods in light of their conditions, Wu added.

Opinion: Washington’s deadly coronavirus blame game

BEIJING, March 24 (Xinhua) — Repeat a lie ad nauseam and it might come true. At least that’s what some U.S. politicians believe.

As the COVID-19 caseload continues to spiral upwards in the United States, some Washington politicians, instead of focusing on containing the epidemic, have been on a systemic offensive to cover up their incompetence by trying to shift the blame to China.

But calling the pathogen a “Chinese virus” serves as nothing more than evidence that Washington has ulterior motives since it is known to all that the virus’ origin remains undetermined and such a spurious argument only serves to stir up xenophobia, division and hate.

U.S. media have already reported rising incidences of hate in which Asian Americans have been spit on, yelled at and even attacked in the country. This is counterproductive at a moment when solidarity and trust are desperately needed for the people in the United States to brace themselves to confront the challenge.

Furthermore, the use of the term “Chinese virus” runs counter to World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines intended to avoid stigmatizing a country or a particular group of people when naming infectious diseases. That’s why the H1N1 influenza pandemic of 2009 is not called “the North American flu” despite originating from there.

Washington’s stock-in-trade wastes the great sacrifices made by China to curb the virus’ further spread and buy the world time, efforts that have been praised by the WHO and world leaders.

The current campaign to smear China also illustrates Washington’s defiance against scientific common sense.

Although COVID-19 was first reported in China, scientists have yet to determine the virus’ origin. Giuseppe Remuzzi, director of the Mario Negri Institute for Pharmacological Research in Italy, recently told U.S. National Public Radio that strange pneumonia cases appeared in Italy as early as November, which could mean the virus was circulating in parts of Italy before the outbreak in China.

Also, Robert Redfield, director of U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, admitted earlier when testifying to the U.S. Congress that some Americans who seemingly died of influenza tested positive for the novel coronavirus in a posthumous diagnosis.

As the number of confirmed cases surpasses 40,000 and continues to surge in the United States, self-serving attempts to blame China will only make Washington hooked by its own lies. Criticism of the U.S. government’s epic failure in handling this public health emergency is continuing to mount.

The global pandemic is spreading to more countries and infecting more people. To beat this deadly disease, all nations must come together.

The United States, the world’s sole superpower, can and should play a major role in this fight for the ages. Those in the White House and on Capital Hill should quit lying their way out of the crisis. Time – now more than ever – is of the essence.

US push to include ‘Wuhan virus’ language in G7 joint statement fractures alliance

Washington (CNN)–A push by the US State Department to include the phrase “Wuhan virus” in a joint statement with other Group of Seven members following a meeting of foreign ministers on coronavirus on Wednesday was rejected, resulting in separate statements and division in the group.

“What the State Department has suggested is a red line,” a European diplomat said. “You cannot agree with this branding of this virus and trying to communicate this.”

The proposed draft statement by the United States also blamed China for the pandemic’s spread, the diplomat told CNN.

Although the World Health Organization officially has dubbed the illness Covid-19 or coronavirus, a 12-paragraph draft statement circulated by the US among the G7 ministers referred to it as the “Wuhan virus.” Because the US holds the presidency for the international coalition — which also includes the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Canada — it was responsible for penning the draft joint statement.

As a result, several of the member nations released their own statements following the foreign ministers’ meeting, which was held virtually due to the coronavirus pandemic.

A French statement about the meeting referred to the “COVID-19 pandemic.” And in a sign that the loaded term isn’t a priority for all members of the Trump administration, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin signed on to a G7 finance ministers’ statement that they were enhancing coordination “to respond to the global health, economic, and financial impacts associated with the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).”

A joint statement by President Donald Trump and the other G7 leaders after a March 16 videoconference made no mention of China at all.

In public remarks, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has consistently targeted China for an alleged lack of transparency at the outset of the pandemic. CNN has learned that the administration has implemented a coordinated messaging campaign, which includes talking points sent out by the National Security Council pushing US officials to highlight China’s alleged “coverup” and subsequent disinformation campaign.

Der Spiegel was first to report on the inclusion of the phrase in the draft. Asked about the German outlet’s report on Wednesday, Pompeo did not deny it.

“With respect to the statement, I always think about these meetings the right answer is to make sure we have the same message coming out of it,” he said during a press availability at the State Department.

Pompeo said that the pandemic was “the most pressing agenda item” at Wednesday’s meeting.

“There was a lot of discussion today amongst the G7 about the intentional disinformation campaign that China has been and continues to be engaged in,” he said.

China reported a cluster of cases of pneumonia of unknown cause to the World Health Organization on December 31, while Chinese officials say they began regular contact with the US about the virus on January 3. The first US case was confirmed January 20.

State Department officials have said that the use of the phrase “Wuhan virus” is meant to counter such disinformation. However, critics say the phrase is inflammatory, particularly as Asians and Asian Americans in the US report heightened incidents of racism and xenophobia.

When the virus was officially named, WHO Director General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus noted that “having a name matters to prevent the use of other names that can be inaccurate or stigmatizing.”

President Donald Trump said Tuesday that he has decided to pull back from associating the coronavirus with China, which he had previously done by calling it the “China virus” or the “Chinese virus.”

Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang’s Regular Press Conference on March 24 and 25, 2020 on COVID-19

1).China Daily: China has deplored and rejected the phrase “Chinese virus” or “Wuhan virus” used by a few individuals in the US. However, US Secretary of State Pompeo still used “Wuhan virus” in his tweet on March 23. Do you have anything more to say on this?

Geng Shuang: The Chinese side has repeated many times that some people in the US have been seeking by every means to link the virus with China and stigmatize China. This was met with strong indignation and firm objection from the Chinese people. WHO and the international community explicitly oppose linking the virus with any specific country or region and reject stigmatization.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres said “it is shameful to see increasing acts of racial discrimination and prejudice as we fight the COVID19 pandemic” and “we must always fight racism and prejudice”. EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell said the virus knows no border and we need cooperation and multilateralism, instead of competition and recrimination, in face of the common challenge for mankind. It is not the time for countries to blame one another with terms like “Chinese virus”. WHO believes that we should avoid calling it “Chinese virus”. Now is the moment for solidarity, for respecting facts and for fighting together.

Some in the US who can still see things clearly have publicly opposed the saying of “Chinese virus”, pointing out that it is bald-faced racism and xenophobia. They believe that calling it “Chinese virus” will expose certain people under the risk of racism and violence. The novel coronavirus affects everyone and needs to be tackled with joint efforts, instead of fear-mongering in a xenophobic way. Many mainstream media and think tanks in the US have also strongly criticized the absurd remarks made by certain American individuals.

Recently, there have been some arguments between China and the US about the origin of the virus. I want to point out that it was the US side that started this argument. It was also the US that first claimed that the virus originated in China and used such terms as “Chinese virus” and “Wuhan virus”. According to media reports, as early as March 6, Pompeo started to use “Wuhan virus” in public remarks. Since then, some US politicians and senior officials have been using this term to stigmatize China, causing great anger and strong opposition from the Chinese people. What I just cited are public records. There is no way for the US to deny this.

Finally, I wish certain people in the US could heed the reasonable voice at home and from the international community and stop making wrongful remarks that stigmatize China. We hope they can understand that confounding public opinion, deflecting responsibilities and shouting “Chinese virus” or “Wuhan virus” will not help with their own or the international efforts against the pandemic. The top priority for the US should be focusing on putting their own house in order and working with China and the international community to contribute to the global fight against the pandemic.

2).RIA Novosti: First, you announced that China sent the third expert team to Italy. How many are on this team? Second, the IOC and Tokyo 2020 organizing committee confirmed in their statement the postponement of the 2020 Olympic Games but no later than the summer of 2021. Do you have any comment?

Geng Shuang: Regarding your first question, I don’t have that specific number at hand but I will come back to you once I have it.

As to the second question, the decision to postpone the Tokyo Olympic Games shows the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Japanese government and Tokyo Organizing Committee’s responsible attitude towards the health and safety of athletes, participants and all mankind. It also manifests the IOC’s commitment to the Olympic Movement. China respects this decision and will continue supporting Japan in hosting the Tokyo Games.

3).Beijing Youth Daily: China released information on several video conferences on COVID-19 recently. Could you give us a number of such meetings? Will there be more?

Geng Shuang: After the outbreak of COVID-19, China has been fighting it with all-out efforts. The most comprehensive, stringent and thorough measures taken have produced positive effects. Thanks to the Chinese people’s arduous efforts, the situation at home keeps trending for the better. China has made tremendous sacrifice in this battle and its efforts are an important contribution to the world as they bought precious time for other countries. We have also gathered valuable experience in this process.

With the pandemic breaking out and spreading in many places across the globe, China, with the vision of a community with a shared future for mankind and a responsible attitude towards global public health security and people’s well-being, has been sharing its experience through communication, coordination and cooperation with relevant countries and regional organizations in an open and transparent manner.

As of today, incomplete statistics show that China has held about 20 video conferences for experts with more than 100 countries in Northeast Asia, South Asia, Central and Eastern Europe, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, and South Pacific as well as international organizations including ASEAN, the EU, the AU, the SCO and the Caribbean Community. The latest conference was held yesterday with over 200 specialists and officials from Nicaragua and 24 Latin American and Caribbean countries having diplomatic ties with China. Exchange through this mechanism has helped countries across the globe.

The Chinese side shared via video link what we have learned about COVID-19, including epidemiological features, prevention and control strategies, clinical diagnosis and treatment, and tracing of close contacts, and offered suggestions to foreign counterparts. Participants all expressed thanks to China and spoke highly of the open, transparent, information-rich and professional meetings, where Chinese experts shared everything within their knowledge that their foreign counterparts can learn from.

As we speak, China is still receiving requests for such conferences from many countries. Competent departments are doing all they can to coordinate arrangements. We will continue close communication and exchange with other parties through video link to help developing countries enhance capacity-building and mount a concerted response to the pandemic for regional and global public health security.

Besides these conferences, China has also released the seventh version of its diagnosis and treatment protocol and sixth of prevention and control protocol. They are a collection of combat experience gathered over the course of more than two months. They represent the wisdom and hard work of tens of thousands of frontline medical personnel in China. With the protocols translated into many foreign languages, we are sharing them with WHO and the international community.

The video conferences and diagnosis and treatment protocols are both examples of how China is contributing to the global response through technical assistance and public goods.

I want to stress that large-scale infectious diseases are major unconventional security threats to mankind. The virus is a common scourge facing all. With our future linked together, countries can only overcome the challenge by standing in solidarity. China will stay committed to the vision of a community with a shared future for mankind, work together with other countries to defeat the virus through mutual assistance, and contribute our wisdom, experience and prescription to the international community.