First Patients To Be Enrolled For Covid-19 Drug Trial

Asia and Oceania Coronavirus Watch Top Stories

By the Chinese Embassy in Zimbabwe

By the end of March 26, there had been 81,394 confirmed cases, including 2,526 patients who were still being treated; 649 confirmed cases are imported from abroad;

184 were still suspected of being infected with the virus, and there were 3,295 deaths.

A total of 74,971 people had been discharged from hospital after recovery.

March 27 saw:

  • 54 new confirmed cases. All of them are imported cases from abroad.
  • There were three deaths – all in Hubei Province – 29 new suspected cases, while 383 people were discharged from hospital after recovery. 
  • 17,198 close contacts were still under medical observation.

On Friday, 758 people were discharged from medical observation.

By the end of March 27; 518 confirmed cases, including four deaths, had been reported in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR), 34 confirmed cases in the Macao SAR, and 267 in Taiwan, including two deaths.

According to the World Health Organisation’s situation report on March 27, two new countries/territories/areas from the Region of the Americas [2] have reported cases of Covid-19 in the past 24 hours. Globally, there had been 509,164 confirmed (46,484 new) cases, including 23,335 deaths (2,501 new).

Who announced that in Norway and Spain, the first patients will shortly be enrolled in the Solidarity Trial, which will compare the safety and effectiveness of four different drugs or drug combinations against Covid-19. This is a historic trial which will dramatically cut the time needed to generate robust evidence about what drugs work. More than 45 countries are contributing to the trial, and more have expressed interest. The more countries who join the trial, the faster Who will have results.

In the meantime, Who calls on individuals and countries to refrain from using therapeutics that have not been demonstrated to be effective in the treatment of Covid-19. The history of medicine is strewn with examples of drugs that worked on paper, or in a test tube, but didn’t work in humans or were actually harmful.

New arrangements on co-ordinating the COVID-19 response

Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, on Friday chaired a leadership meeting to analyse the Covid-19 response and economic performance.

The meeting of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee made new arrangements on coordinating the Covid-19 response and economic and social development.

It also deliberated on two reports on poverty eradication.

The meeting came two days after Xi presided over a meeting of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, also on epidemic response and economic situations.

“Major changes are taking place in the epidemic control and economic situations at home and abroad,” according to a statement released after Friday’s meeting.

Overseas, the coronavirus outbreak has been spreading at an accelerated pace, seriously impacting world economic and trade growth, the meeting noted.

“China is facing an increasing pressure of imported cases as well as new challenges in terms of economic development, especially the industrial chain recovery,” the statement said.

The meeting underscored focusing on preventing infections influx from abroad and epidemic rebound at home to ensure the epidemic situation in China keeps moving steadily in a positive direction.

The meeting stressed the implementation of priorities in epidemic response to every detail to consolidate and sustain the positive trend in containing the epidemic.

It said major affected regions should continue containment measures and treatment of patients while taking steps to gradually restore people’s normal work and life, and low-risk regions should make it a regular mechanism to swiftly detect, cope with and treat new cases so as to resolutely prevent a resurgence of the outbreak.

Calling for more care for Chinese nationals overseas, the meeting required efforts to closely follow and analyse the development of the global Covid-19 epidemic situation and quickly identify and control risks.

Health checks at ports of entry must be strengthened and inbound passengers are subject to quarantine in designated facilities, the meeting said.

China will deepen exchange and cooperation with the World Health Organisation and continue to provide assistance as its ability permits to other countries, according to the meeting.

The meeting also called for speeding up the return to normal work and life after epidemic containment measures become regular practices.

The damage caused by Covid-19 should be reduced to minimum, said the meeting, urging efforts to achieve this year’s economic and social development goals.

G20 Extraordinary Virtual Leaders’ Summit on Covid-19: Social distancing and working from home

As the novel coronavirus disease (Covid-19) makes social distancing and working from home the new normal, leaders of the Group of 20, home to almost two-thirds of the world’s population and about 86 percent of the gross world product, convened Thursday for a virtual summit that sent a clear message: We are in the same boat.

The G20 Extraordinary Virtual Leaders’ Summit on Covid-19 was the first of its kind in the history of G20, and also the first major multilateral event attended by President Xi Jinping since the outbreak of the Covid-19.

Speaking to his colleagues via video link from Beijing, Xi put forward four proposals to cope with a situation that is “disturbing and unsettling”, calling for an all-out global war against the Covid-19 outbreak and enhancing international macro-economic policy coordination to prevent a recession.

“At such a moment, it is imperative for the international community to strengthen confidence, act with unity and work together in a collective response,” Xi said.

“We must comprehensively step up international cooperation and foster greater synergy so that humanity as one could win the battle against such a major infectious disease.”

In a demonstration of the need for greater global coordination and solidarity, the G20 members were joined by leaders from invited countries including hard-hit Spain as well as multiple international organisations, including the United Nations, the World Health Organisation, the World Trade Organisation and the International Monetary Fund.

While previous G20 summits often discussed high-stake topics like economic recession and boosting development policy, Thursday’s emergency meeting came at a time when the world is grappling with a dicey pandemic and concerns are mounting over the “black swan” event that could derail the global economy.

As China’s epidemic prevention and control are continuously improving, and the trend of an accelerated restoration of normal production and life is being consolidated and expanded, his remarks at the G20 summit are timely and of critical importance for countries now fighting at the front lines of a battle to stem the pandemic and forestalling a recession.

The G20 major economies should uphold the vision of building a community with a shared future for mankind, and strengthen unity, coordination and cooperation to resolutely stem the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic and stabilise the world economy with all their strength, President Xi said Friday.

In a phone conversation with Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Xi noted that with the king presiding, G20 leaders successfully held an extraordinary summit on Covid-19 on Thursday, and reached important consensus on fighting the pandemic in solidarity and stabilising the world economy, which has sent a positive signal to the international community.

China, he added, appreciates the tremendous efforts Saudi Arabia made for the meeting as this year’s G20 chair.

Viruses respect no national borders, and only with a collective response can the international community prevail over them, stressed the Chinese president, adding that China is ready to maintain close communication with Saudi Arabia and strengthen the momentum of G20 cooperation.

Xi recalled that after the coronavirus disease broke out in China, King Salman immediately expressed sympathies and support to him, and the Saudi government and various sections of Saudi society extended a helping hand one after another, and provided China with multiple batches of material assistance.

That will be engraved in the hearts of the Chinese people, Xi said, adding that the Chinese nation is a grateful nation that returns a favor with a favour.

Noting that now Saudi Arabia is also facing the severe challenge of Covid-19, Xi said China firmly supports the Saudi side in fighting the epidemic, and stands ready to provide as much assistance as its capability allows.

China, he added, is also willing to share its epidemic prevention and control experience with the Saudi side, and help Saudi Arabia purchase medical supplies, so as to protect the lives and health of the people in both countries, and jointly safeguard global and regional public health security.

China and US Leaders speak about COVID-19

A picture from the last time the two leaders met in person…

President Xi on Friday spoke over phone with his United States counterpart, Donald Trump, on anti-epidemic cooperation and bilateral ties.

Xi stressed that China has been sharing information on Covid-19 in an open, transparent and responsible manner with the World Health Organisation and countries, including the United States since the onset of the epidemic.

China, he said, wasted no time in releasing such information as the genetic sequence of the virus, and has also been sharing experience on Covid-19 prevention, containment and treatment without reservation, and providing as much support and assistance as it can for countries in need.

He added that China will continue to do so, and work with the international community to prevail over the pandemic.

Epidemics recognise no national borders or races and are a common enemy of humankind, noted the president, adding that only by making a collective response can the international community defeat them.

With joint efforts of all parties, the G20 Extraordinary Leaders’ Summit on Covid-19 on Thursday reached many consensuses and achieved positive results, Xi said, expressing his hope that all parties will strengthen coordination and cooperation, implement the outcomes, and inject strong vigor into enhancing international anti-epidemic cooperation and stabilising the global economy.

China, he added, is willing to work with the United States and other parties to continue to support Who in playing an important role, enhance sharing of information and experience on epidemic prevention and control, accelerate cooperation in scientific research, and improve global health governance.

Xi also called for concerted efforts to strengthen macro-economic policy coordination, in order to stabilise markets, maintain growth, safeguard people’s wellbeing, and ensure the openness, stability and safety of global supply chains.

Upon inquiry, Xi introduced in detail the measures China has taken to prevent and control the spread of the epidemic.

He said he follows closely and is concerned about the development of the Covid-19 outbreak in the United States and has noticed that Trump is carrying out a series of policies and measures in response.

The Chinese people, Xi said, sincerely hope that the United States contains the spread of the epidemic at an early date, so as to reduce the losses inflicted by the disease upon the American people.

China has always maintained an active attitude towards international collaboration on epidemic prevention and control, Xi said, adding that under current circumstances China and the United States should unite against the Covid-19 pandemic.

The health departments and medical experts of the two countries have maintained communication over the global pandemic situation and bilateral anti-epidemic cooperation, Xi said, adding that China is willing to continue sharing, without reservation, relevant information and experience with the United States.

Noting that some Chinese provinces and enterprises have been providing the United States with assistance in medical supplies, Xi said China understands the United States’ current predicament and stands ready to provide support within its capacity.

There are currently a large number of Chinese nationals in the United States, including Chinese students, and the Chinese government attaches great importance to their safety and health, Xi stressed, expressing his hope that the US side will take practical and effective measures to safeguard their safety and health.

Xi emphasised that China-US relations are now at an important juncture, and that both will benefit from cooperation and lose from confrontation.

Calling on the United States to take substantive action to improve bilateral relations, Xi suggested that the two sides work together to boost cooperation in epidemic control and other fields, and develop a relationship of non-conflict, non-confrontation, mutual respect and win-win cooperation.

Trump, for his part, said that he listened closely to Xi’s speech at the G20 Extraordinary Leaders’ Summit on Covid-19, and appreciates Xi’s views and proposals along with other leaders.

Trump asked Xi in detail about China’s anti-epidemic measures, saying that both countries are facing the challenge of the Covid-19 epidemic, and he is delighted to see the positive progress made by China in combating the disease.

Stressing that China’s experience is very illuminating to him, he said he will make personal efforts to ensure the United States and China can ward off distractions and concentrate on cooperation against Covid-19.

The United States, he added, is grateful to China for providing medical supplies for its fight against the epidemic, and promoting bilateral medical and healthcare exchanges, including cooperation in research and development of effective medicines against the disease.

Trump said he has publicly made clear on social media that the American people respect and love the Chinese people very much and that Chinese students are of great significance to the US educational business.

The United States will protect Chinese nationals on its soil, including Chinese students, he added.

The two heads of state agreed to maintain communication on subjects of shared interest.

Last Thursday’s G40 Summit came as the global death toll from the Covid-19, an illness caused by novel coronavirus, climbed over 21,000 and the number of infections has surpassed 480,000 as of Thursday, according to a count by Johns Hopkins University.

This is the first time for the leaders of the world’s 20 major economies to hold a summit online since the mechanism, which used to only gather finance ministers and central bankers, was elevated to be the world’s premier platform for international economic cooperation in 2008.

Stressing the outbreak is spreading worldwide and the situation is disturbing and unsettling, Xi called on countries to move swiftly to stem the spread of the virus.

He proposed that a G20 health ministers’ meeting be convened as quickly as possible to improve information sharing, strengthen cooperation on drugs, vaccines and epidemic control, and cut off cross-border infections.

Xi also proposed a G20 Covid-19 assistance initiative for better information sharing and policy and action coordination with the support of the World Health Organisation.

Guided by the vision of building a community with a shared future for mankind, China will be more than ready to share its good practices and provide assistance in its capacity to countries hit by the growing outbreak, he said.

The following are excerpts from Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang’s Press Conferences on March 26 and 27:

The Paper: After the Virtual G7 Ministerial (meeting) on March 25, United States Secretary of State Pompeo renewed his attacks on China’s political system and once again referred to the coronavirus as “the Wuhan virus”. What’s your comment?

Geng Shuang: We strongly condemn these remarks by Secretary Pompeo.

As China has repeatedly pointed out, origin-tracing of the virus is a complicated matter, where we should rely on professional views from the science community. Who and the international community explicitly object to linking the virus with specific countries or regions, or seeking stigmatisation. They have commended China’s response. However, this American politician continues to defy global consensus, stigmatise China and discredit its epidemic response. The sinister intention behind his attempt is to deflect attention at home and shift the blame to the innocent.

I have to point out that the Covid-19 pandemic is spreading across the globe and the situation in the US is getting worse. Under such circumstances, if a politician keeps provoking political disputes and disrupting international cooperation in combating the virus, instead of focusing on containing the spread at home and contributing to global cooperation, what morality does he have?

People of the world have all witnessed that it is under the leadership of the CPC that the Chinese people achieved independence, freedom and liberation and made enormous progress in national development. It is also under the leadership of the CPC that the Chinese nation united as one and speedily fought against Covid-19, buying precious time for the global response. These are plain facts for all to see.

We advise this politician not to go further down the wrong path, otherwise his hypocrisy and malign intentions will be further exposed, prompting more indignation and objection among the Chinese people and the international community.

AFP: Just one follow-up question on Secretary of State Pompeo’s comments. He mentioned that the G7 foreign ministers agreed with him that China was waging a disinformation campaign about the coronavirus pandemic. So we wanted to ask what is China’s comment?

Geng Shuang: I have just elaborated on China’s stance in my response to The Paper.

Since you asked about it again, I can say a few more. Since the pandemic broke out, China has taken the most comprehensive, thorough and rigorous measures against it and such measures have produced great results. This is our contribution to the global fight against the pandemic. All along, China has been open, transparent and responsible in sharing information, staying in close communication and carrying out cooperation with relevant countries and international organizations including G7. What we have done has won us applause from the international community.

We urge the US side to respect facts and the public opinion of the international community and stop politicising the pandemic and stigmatising China. As we said repeatedly, the top priority for the US is to put its own house in order, do its level best to halt the spread of Covid-19 and play a constructive role in the international cooperation against the pandemic. Trying to muddy the water and divert responsibility at this moment will not help solve any problem.

CCTV: What is China’s comment on the Extraordinary G20 Leaders’ Summit on Covid-19 which was held last night? What is the significance of it to the global efforts against the pandemic?

Geng Shuang: The Extraordinary G20 Leaders’ Summit on Covid-19 was held successfully last night, and a statement was issued. This is a positive sign that G20 members are working together to meet the challenges of the pandemic and maintain the stability of the world economy.

Thanks to the concerted efforts of all parties, this summit has achieved the following results. First, all parties are committed to timely sharing of information, ensuring medical supplies and taking all necessary measures to jointly combat the pandemic and safeguard global public health security.

Second, all parties agree to support developing countries, especially the least developed countries, in their fights against the pandemic, and improve the global public health system to prepare for future outbreaks of infectious diseases. Third, all parties pledge to maintain global economic and financial stability, boost market confidence, safeguard jobs and reduce the impact of the outbreak on global trade and supply chains.

President Xi Jinping attended this summit and put forward four propositions. First, we need to be resolute in fighting an all-out global war against the Covid-19 outbreak, and a G20 health ministers’ meeting should be convened as quick as possible. Second, we need to make a collective response for prevention and control at the international level.

Discussions are also needed regarding the establishment of regional public health emergency liaison mechanisms. Third, we need to support international organisations like Who and G20 in playing their active roles and a high-level meeting on international public health security should be convened in due course. Fourth, we need to enhance international macro-economic policy coordination and prevent the world economy from falling into recession.

China will continue to pursue a proactive fiscal policy and prudent monetary policy, expand imports and outbound investment to contribute to a stable world economy. We are ready to work with the international community to ensure the implementation of these outcomes.

We believe that with the concerted efforts of all parties, we will prevail over this pandemic, protect the health and well-being of our citizens, resume normal order of production and life, and strengthen and deepen cooperation between each other to not only stabilise the global economy but also realise strong, sustainable, balanced and inclusive growth.

CRI: Eight countries including China and Russia wrote a letter to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, asking him to call for lifting sanctions that are hampering the fight against Covid-19. Mr. Guterres said at the Extraordinary G20 Leaders’ Summit that the world needs to fight the virus and appealed for the waiving of sanctions that can undermine countries’ capacity to respond to the pandemic. What’s your comment?

Geng Shuang: Unilateral sanctions outside the UN framework by certain country violate the UN Charter and basic norms governing international relations. China consistently objects to them.

As the Covid-19 pandemic spreads across the world, international cooperation is the most urgent task at the moment. Continuing sanctioning relevant countries will only make things worse for them and goes against the humanitarian spirit. It will not only hamper the efforts of relevant countries and the world to fight the virus, but will also hinder humanitarian assistance by the UN and other international organizations.

China supports Secretary-General Guterres’ call for certain country to respect the legitimate rights, interests and life of the affected people and immediately lift all unilateral sanctions.

Reuters: Many foreigners in China find that they are being treated with increased suspicion and even discrimination as the coronavirus outbreak grows globally. Do you have any comment?

Geng Shuang: I haven’t heard any news or response like this so far. What I heard mostly is the admiration and applause from foreigners in China for what they saw as the Chinese government and people united as one and acted speedily in the fight against the epidemic.

As for the situation you just mentioned, I am not aware of it, but I can give you our principled position. China always attaches great importance to the health and safety of foreign nationals in China and protects their legitimate rights and interests in accordance with law. That’s what we say, and also what we do. At the same time, China rejects all forms of discrimination and prejudice. The inspection, quarantine and prevention and control measures introduced by local governments in China apply equally to Chinese and foreign citizens. This shows our responsibility for them and for the global fight against pandemic.