Covid-19 Update | Wuhan gives hope to the world

Asia and Oceania Coronavirus Watch Top Stories
  • China, France to boost international cooperation in epidemic control;
  • China sends message of sympathy to Germany;
  • China to provide assistance to Serbia against the COVID-19 epidemic;
  • A message of sympathy for Spain;
  • IMF commends China’s fight against COVID-19;
  • Again… No new cases in Wuhan!
  • Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang’s Regular Press Conference on March 20, 2020 on COVID-19.
A fifth straight day with no new cases in Wuhan… a positive step!

By the end of 21 March there had been 81,054 confirmed cases, including 5,549 patients who were still being treated.

Among the confirmed cases 314 of them were imported cases from aboard.

People numbering 118 were still suspected of being infected with the virus while 3,261 deaths had been recorded.

A total of 72,244 people had been discharged from hospital after recovery.

21 March saw:

  • 46 new confirmed cases, 45 of them are imported cases from aboard,
  • 6 deaths —- 5 in Hubei Province,
  • 45 new suspected cases,
  • 504 people were discharged from hospital after recovery. 
  • 10,071 close contacts were still under medical observation. On Wednesday, 1,100 people were discharged from medical observation.

By the end of 21 March, 273 confirmed cases including 4 deaths had been reported in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR), 18 confirmed cases in the Macao SAR, and 153 in Taiwan, including 2 deaths.

According to the WHO’s situation report on 21 March, 6 new countries/territories/areas (African Region [2], European Region [1], Region of the Americas [1], South East Asia Region [1]and Western Pacific Region [1]) have reported cases of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours.  Globally there had been 266,073 confirmed (32,000 new) cases, including 11,184 deaths (1,344 new).

As the on-going Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) pandemic continues to develop, WHO has published guidelines for health ministers, health system administrators, and other decision-makers, to help them provide life-saving treatment as health systems are challenged, without compromising the safety of health workers.

China, France to boost international cooperation in epidemic control

Chinese President Xi Jinping said China stands ready to work with France to boost international cooperation in epidemic prevention and control and build a community of common health for mankind.

Xi made the remarks in a recent message to French President Emmanuel Macron, in which he extended sincere sympathies on behalf of the Chinese government and people to their French counterparts over the COVID-19 outbreak in the European country.

China and France have a fine tradition of helping each other and sharing weal and woe in bilateral relations, said Xi, who thanked the French government and society for their support of and sympathies with China’s all-out battle against the novel coronavirus disease.

Pointing out that public health security is a common challenge faced by humanity, he said the Chinese government and people firmly support France’s efforts against the COVID-19 epidemic, and stand ready to boost cooperation with France and jointly win the battle through mutual support and help.

Both as permenant members of the UN Security Council, China and France share the important responsibility of safeguarding the lives and health of the entire human race, Xi stressed.

China, he added, is willing to make concerted efforts with France to enhance international cooperation in epidemic prevention and control, support the United Nations and the World Health Organization playing a core role in improving global public health governance, and build a community of common health for mankind.

Xi stressed that he attaches great importance to the development of China-France relations, and stands ready to work with Macron to properly coordinate all aspects of work related to epidemic control and bilateral relations, so as to ensure that the China-France comprehensive strategic partnership will ride out the COVID-19 test and continue to move forward.

China sends message of sympathy to Germany

Public health crises pose a common challenge for humanity, and solidarity and cooperation are the most powerful weapon to tackle them, Chinese President Xi Jinping said in a recent message of sympathy to German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

In his message, Xi, on behalf of the Chinese government and people, expressed sincere sympathies to the German government and people over the recent COVID-19 outbreak in the Eurpean country.

Xi recalled that not long ago the German government and various sections of German society conveyed via multiple means their sympathies with and support of China’s epidemic prevention and control efforts.

China firmly supports Germany’s endeavor in combating the epidemic and is willing to provide assistance within its capacity if there is a need from the German side, he said.

Upholding the principle that mankind is a community with a shared future, China stands ready to continue sharing information and experience with Germany, and strengthening cooperation in such areas as epidemic prevention and control, treatment of patients, and vaccine research and development, so as to jointly protect the health and well-being of people not only in both countries but in the rest of the world, Xi added.

Xi stressed that China highly values the development of China-Germany relations, and is willing to work with the German side to deepen their all-round strategic partnership and promote the development of China-Europe relations.

China to provide assistance to Serbia against the COVID-19 epidemic

China will provide Serbia with assistance in protective equipment and medical instruments, and send a group of medical experts to help it better contain the COVID-19 epidemic, Chinese President Xi Jinping said in a recent message of sympathy to his Serbian counterpart, Aleksandar Vucic.

In his message, Xi, on behalf of the Chinese government and people, extended sincere sympathies to the Serbian government and people over the recent COVID-19 outbreak in the Balkan country.

China and Serbia are comprehensive strategic partners, and the iron-clad friendship between the two countries and between the two peoples has stood the test of time and grown ever stronger, Xi stressed.

Recalling that when the Chinese people was making an all-out effort to fight the novel coronavirus disease, the Serbian government and people offered China strong support through concrete actions, Xi said he is deeply grateful for that.

China firmly supports Serbia’s efforts against the epidemic, Xi said, adding that China will provide Serbia with assistance in protective equipment and medical instruments, and help it purchase urgently needed supplies in China.

China will also send a group of medical experts to help Serbia better contain the epidemic, so as to protect the life, health and well-being of the Serbian people, he added.

Xi said he attaches great importance to the development of China-Serbia relations, and believes that through the joint battle against the epidemic, the two countries’ time-tested traditional friendship will gain more hearty support from their people, and their comprehensive strategic partnership will grow deeper and rise to a higher level.

A message of sympathy for Spain

China and Spain will certainly be able to win the final victory over the COVID-19 epidemic as long as they make joint efforts with the international community, Chinese President Xi Jinping said in a message of sympathy recently sent to Spanish King Felipe VI.

On behalf of the Chinese government and people, Xi extended sincere sympathies to the Spanish government and people over the recent COVID-19 outbreak in the European country.

China, Xi said, firmly supports Spain’s efforts and measures in fighting the novel coronavirus disease, and stands ready to share prevention and control experience as well as diagnostic and treatment plans, and provide assistance and support within its capacity.

Mankind is a community with a shared future, and only through solidarity and coordination can mankind overcome this public health security challenge, added the Chinese president.

Xi said he highly values the development of China-Spain relations, and believes that through the joint fight against the epidemic, the two countries’ friendship and mutual trust will grow stronger, and their win-win cooperation closer, so as to benefit both nations and their people.

“China’s experience is very valuable and can help Europe avoid detours,” Jean-Pierre Armand, oncologist based in Paris at Gustave Roussy Institute, told reporters after a video conference with his Chinese peers on Thursday.

The tele-meeting on response to the novel coronavirus outbreak was joined by health officials and experts from China and more than 10 European countries, including France, Portugal and Denmark.

Last week, a similar video conference was held between China and 17 Central and Eastern European countries.

China, emerging from the most difficult time in its own battle, has been standing with Europe at a time when the COVID-19 epidemic is spreading across the continent.

Italy is Europe’s hardest-hit. As of Thursday, the count of cases has reached 41,035 with 3,405 deaths, according to the latest data released by the Civil Protection Department.

On March 12, one day before the World Health Organization announced that Europe has become the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic, a group of nine Chinese aid professionals arrived in Rome with tons of medical supplies including 700 ventilators, monitors and defibrillators, as part of China’s efforts to help Italy contain the novel coronavirus outbreak.

“This evening I wanted to show you the first aid arrived from China,” Italy’s Foreign Minister Luigi di Maio said during an emotional speech in a Facebook live broadcast, shortly after the Chinese team’s landing.

He pointed to his laptop which showed a group of Chinese nationals coming off the plane.

“These are the specialised medical staff who faced the coronavirus emergency in China, and in this moment have arrived in Rome,” Di Maio said. “This is what we call solidarity.”

IMF commends China’s fight against COVID-19

China’s experience so far has shown that the right policies make a difference in fighting the COVID-19 epidemic and mitigating its impact, though some of these policies come with difficult economic tradeoffs, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said Friday.

Noting that success in containing the coronavirus comes at the price of slowing economic activity, three IMF officials wrote on an IMF blog that Chinese policymakers made the “hard choices” to implement strict mobility constraints, both at the national and local level, with the devastating tradeoff in Hubei Province.

“This makes it clear that as the pandemic takes hold across the world, those hit the hardest — within countries but also across countries — will need support to help contain the virus and delay its spread to others,” they said, adding that mitigating the impact of this severe shock requires that support to the most vulnerable be provided.

The IMF officials said that Chinese policymakers have “targeted vulnerable households and looked for new ways to reach smaller firms” — for example, by waiving social security fees, utility bills, and channeling credit through fintech firms.

The authorities also quickly arranged subsidized credit to support scaling up the production of health equipment and other critical activities involved in the outbreak response, which has been helpful, the officials argued.

The blog, part of a special IMF series on the response to the coronavirus, is co-authored by Helge Berger, the IMF’s China mission chief, Kenneth Kang, a deputy director in the IMF’s Asia & Pacific Department, and Changyong Rhee, director of the Asia and Pacific Department.

To safeguard financial stability, the IMF officials said, Chinese authorities “stepped in early” to backstop interbank markets and provide financial support to firms under pressure, while letting the renminbi adjust to external pressures.

Among other measures, this included guiding banks to work with borrowers affected by the outbreak, incentivizing banks to lend to smaller firms via special funding from China’s central bank, and providing targeted cuts to reserve requirements for banks, they said.

Noting that some of the relief tools come with their own problems, the officials said using “well-targeted” instruments wherever possible “is the way to go.”

The IMF officials said the outbreak led to terrible human suffering in China, as it is continuing to do elsewhere, along with significant economic costs.

“The coronavirus shock is severe even compared to the Great Financial Crisis in 2007-08, as it hit households, businesses, financial institutions, and markets all at the same time — first in China and now globally,” they said.

“While there are reassuring signs of economic normalization in China — most larger firms have reported reopening their doors and many local employees are back at their jobs — stark risks remain,” the IMF officials said, adding that this includes new infections rising again as national and international travel resumes, as well as economic risks of the ongoing pandemic.

“Therefore, Chinese policymakers will have to be ready to support growth and financial stability if needed.” They added, “given the global nature of the outbreak, many of these efforts will be most effective if coordinated internationally.”

Again… No new cases in Wuhan!

Wuhan, the epicenter of COVID-19 outbreak in China, provides hope for the rest of the world that even the most severe situation of COVID-19 can be turned around, the World Health Organization (WHO) chief said Friday.

Calling it a “success”, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus noted Wuhan, capital of central China’s Hubei Province, reported no new cases for the first time since the epidemic outbreak started.

According to the Health Commission of Hubei Province, no new infections or suspected cases of the novel coronavirus were reported on Thursday in Wuhan, marking two days in a row of zero report at the epicenter of the epidemic in a months-long battle with the deadly virus.

“The experience of cities and countries that have pushed back this virus give hope and courage to the rest of the world,” Tedros said at a daily briefing.

Answering a question from Xinhua, Michael Ryan, executive director of the WHO health emergencies program, said it’s a message of hope from China that the coronavirus can be suppressed, whose transmission chains can be broken through huge all-society effort, coordination, solidarity, commitment and workable supply chains, as well as engagement of activated communities and brave health workers.

“That is a message of hope to many other countries around the world who have very low number of cases right now,” said Ryan.

Tedros said COVID-19 seems to reach a new and tragic milestone every day, as more than 210,000 cases, including over 9,000 deaths, have been reported globally.

“Every loss of life is a tragedy,” Tedros said, calling it “motivation” to double down and do everything people can to stop transmission of the virus and save lives.

Tedros warned younger people particularly that they are not spared amid the pandemic.

“Data from many countries clearly show that people under 50 make up a significant proportion of patients requiring hospitalization,” said Tedros.

He stressed solidarity between countries as well as between age groups is the key to defeating COVID-19.

Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang’s Regular Press Conference on March 20, 2020 on COVID-19

Q: We saw that the foreign ministers of China, Japan and the ROK held a special video conference this morning, which is the first foreign ministers’ meeting on COVID-19 among the three countries. Can you give us more details of the meeting? How do you see its results?

A: A special video conference on COVID-19 was held this morning among the foreign ministers of China, Japan and the ROK. The three foreign ministers had in-depth exchange of views and reached important consensus on making joint efforts to fight COVID-19 and deepening practical cooperation. This meeting demonstrates our resolve and readiness to collectively respond to global major challenges and maintain normal exchange and cooperation. The consensus reached can be concluded in the following aspects.

First, joint epidemic prevention and control. The three countries agree to explore enhancing joint prevention and control efforts to stop the virus from spreading across the border. To this end, we will explore making concerted guidelines for travelers.

Second, policy coordination. The three countries agree to enhance policy communication and coordination to reduce the impact of COVID-19 on economic and trade cooperation and people-to-people exchange, and to stabilize our industrial and supply chains.

Third, communication and cooperation. China, Japan and the ROK support greater communication between health, science and commerce authorities to timely notify each other of epidemic developments, cooperate in medicine and vaccine R&D and coordinate the import and export of medical supplies. The three countries agree to hold a trilateral health ministers’ meeting as soon as possible to share information and safeguard regional public health security.

Besides, the three countries also agree to step up cooperation with the international community and contribute to the global fight against the pandemic.

As close neighbors, in the face of the pandemic, China, Japan and the ROK are a community with a shared future. Since the outbreak, we have been supporting and helping each other, and there have been many heartwarming moments of mutual assistance. I believe our collective efforts in fighting the pandemic will be a major impetus for growing traditional friendship and deepening practical cooperation. China will work with Japan and the ROK to keep close communication, share our experience and coordinate our measures. Together we will achieve the final victory against the disease and contribute to regional and global public health security.

By the way, today is the spring equinox of this year, which is a special day on the traditional calendar of all the three countries – China, Japan and the ROK. I believe the spring is already in the air, and the shadows of the pandemic will eventually be driven away by the warm sun and spring breeze.

Q: Certain western scholar said that products bought from China carry the novel coronavirus. There are also allegations that products made in China carry the coronavirus thus should be rejected. What’s your comment?

A: Since the outbreak, we have seen some people acting in an irresponsible manner, spreading rumors and creating panic. I wonder what these people are up to by making such absurd, ignorant and sensational comments? Is it grandstanding or deception?

China is a leading manufacturer as well as a major producer and exporter of medical supplies for epidemic response. As the pandemic is spreading around the world, many countries are facing a shortage of medical supplies such as masks, protective suits and ventilators. They hope to get assistance or purchase items from China. While combating the epidemic at home, China has provided and will continue to provide assistance to countries in need to facilitate their commercial procurement in China. Our responsible practice has been universally praised by the international community.

For those who label products made in China as “contaminated with virus”, they’d better not use made-in-China masks, protective suits and ventilators.

In this global fight against the coronavirus, everyone needs to respect facts, respect science, respect others and, above all, respect oneself. Because where science cannot arrive for the time being, humanity will.