March 17, 2020

The fight against COVID-19: The progress so far

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  • UN in new COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund
  • China in support of South Korea, Iran and Italy’s Fight against COVID-19
  • Let’s take urgent action against this epidemic: Chinese President
  • Chinese aid team arrives in Italy
  • Situation continues to improve in China
  • Top Greek expert commends China’s COVID-19 fight
  • 7 things China has done right to battle COVID-19
  • Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang’s Regular Press Conference on March 12 and 13, 2020 on COVID-19

By the end of 13 March there had been:

  • 80,824 confirmed cases, including 12,094 patients who were still being treated,
  • 115 were still suspected of being infected with the virus,
  • 3,189 deaths,
  • A total of 65,541 people had been discharged from hospital after recovery.

13 March saw:

  • 11 new confirmed cases,
  • 13 deaths —- all in Hubei Province,
  • 17 new suspected cases,
  • 1,430 people were discharged from hospital after recovery. 
  • 10,879 close contacts were still under medical observation. On Wednesday, 2,174 people were discharged from medical observation.

By the end of 13 March, 137 confirmed cases including 4 deaths had been reported in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR), 10 confirmed cases in the Macao SAR, and 50 in Taiwan, including one death.

According to the WHO’s situation report on 13 March, 5 new countries/territories/areas (Jersey, Réunion, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Cuba and Guyana) have reported cases of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours.  Globally there had been 132,758 confirmed (7499 new) cases, including 51,767 confirmed (7,488 new) cases in 122 countries (5 new) and 1775 deaths (335 new) outside China.

The WHO Director-General said that all countries should take a comprehensive approach. Not testing alone. Not contact tracing alone. Not quarantine alone. Not social distancing alone. Do it all. Any country that looks at the experience of other countries with large epidemics and thinks “that won’t happen to us” is making a deadly mistake. It can happen to any country. WHO has clear advice for governments, businesses and individuals.First, prepare and be ready. Second, detect, protect and treat.Third, reduce transmission.Fourth, innovate and learn.And finally, give help to others.

Countries outside China with reported laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 cases. Data as of 13 March:

  • South Korea: 7,979 confirmed cases;
  • Japan: 675 confirmed cases;
  • Singapore: 187 confirmed cases;
  • Australia: 140 confirmed cases;
  • Malaysia: 129 confirmed cases;
  • Italy: 15,113 confirmed cases;
  • France: 2,860 confirmed cases;
  • Germany: 2,369 confirmed cases;
  • UK: 594 confirmed cases;
  • Switzerland: 858 confirmed cases;
  • Norway: 489 confirmed cases;
  • Netherlands: 614 confirmed cases;
  • Austria: 361 confirmed cases;
  • Sweden: 620 confirmed cases;
  • Iceland: 61 confirmed cases;
  • Belgium: 314 confirmed cases;
  • San Marino: 63 confirmed cases;
  • Thailand: 75 confirmed cases;
  • India: 74 confirmed cases;
  • Iran: 10,075 confirmed cases;
  • Kuwait: 80 confirmed cases;
  • Bahrain: 195 confirmed cases;
  • Iraq: 70 confirmed cases;
  • UAE: 85 confirmed cases;
  • USA: 1264 confirmed cases;
  • Canada: 138 confirmed cases;
  • Diamond Princess cruise ship: 696 confirmed cases;

UN in new COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund

A new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) Solidarity Response Fund will raise money from a wide range of donors to support the work of the World Health Organization (WHO) and partners to help countries respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The fund, the first-of-its-kind, enables private individuals, corporations and institutions anywhere in the world to come together to directly contribute to global response efforts, and has been created by the United Nations Foundation and the Swiss Philanthropy Foundation, together with WHO. 

The fund launches with major support already lined up, including from Facebook and Google who have instituted a matching scheme for funds raised through their platforms, while individual donors are also supporting the fund through

Funds will go towards actions outlined in the COVID-19 Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan to enable all countries–particularly those most vulnerable and at-risk, and with the weakest health systems–to prepare for and respond to the COVID-19 crisis including rapidly detecting cases, stopping transmission of the virus, and caring for those affected.

WHO and its partners are seeking financing for protective equipment for frontline health workers; to equip diagnostic laboratories; improve surveillance and data collection; establish and maintain intensive care units; strengthen supply chains; accelerate research and development of vaccines and therapeutics;  and take other critical steps to scale up the public health response to the pandemic.

The COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund is hosted by two foundations, the UN Foundation (registered in the United States) and the Swiss Philanthropy Foundation (registered in Switzerland). Both foundations have established relationships with the World Health Organization, allowing for efficient transfer of financial resources to enable COVID-19 response efforts.

China in support of South Korea, Iran and Italy’s Fight against COVID-19

Chinese President Xi Jinping said China will continue to provide assistance within its capacity to support South Korea’s fight against the COVID-19 outbreak.

In a message of sympathy recently sent to South Korean President Moon Jae-in, Xi said the Chinese side stands ready to join hands with the South Korean side to win the fight against the epidemic at an early date, so as to protect the life and health of the people of the two countries and the wider world.

Chinese President Xi Jinping said China will continue to provide as much assistance as it can for Iran in the latter’s fight against the COVID-19 outbreak.

In a message of sympathy recently sent to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Xi said China stands ready to step up cooperation with Iran to contain the novel coronavirus epidemic.

Chinese President Xi Jinping said the Chinese government and its people firmly support Italy’s fight against the COVID-19 outbreak.

In a message of sympathy sent recently to Italian President Sergio Mattarella, Xi said that at this difficult time, China is willing to cooperate with Italy and offer assistance.

Let’s take urgent action against this epidemic: Chinese President

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Thursday spoke with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres over phone, urging the international community to take urgent action in the fight against the COVID-19 epidemic.

Xi recalled that since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus disease, Guterres has written to him to extend sympathies and express appreciation of China’s prevention and control measures, and has publicly voiced support for China’s anti-epidemic efforts on multiple occasions.

The Chinese president conveyed his gratitude to the UN chief, pointing out that as Chinese people often say, a friend in need is a friend indeed.

“Thanks to arduous endeavors, China has been witnessing a domestic trend in which the situation of epidemic prevention and control is making sustained progress and the order of life and production is being restored at an increasing pace,” Xi said.

For the next step, he added, China will act as prudently at the end as at the beginning, and carry on its prevention and control efforts in an unrelenting, solid and meticulous fashion, and meanwhile earnestly advance all aspects of work in economic and social development.

“The Chinese people will definitely prevail over the COVID-19 epidemic and will also definitely realize its intended targets for economic and social development,” Xi said. “I am fully confident in that.”

Xi stressed that the Chinese people’s hard work has won precious time for and made important contributions to other countries’ epidemic prevention and control.

Noting that with COVID-19 having recently occured and spread in a number of countries, the situation is worrying, he urged the international community to take urgent action and carry out effective international cooperation in joint prevention and control, so as to form a strong concerted force to beat the disease.

“China stands ready to share its experience with other countries, carry out joint research and development on drugs and vaccines, and offer as much assistance as it can to countries where the disease is spreading,” Xi said.

He added that China supports the United Nations and the World Health Organization (WHO) in mobilizing the international community to enhance policy coordination, expand resources input, and particularly help developing countries with poor public health systems prepare themselves for prevention and response.

“The epidemic has once again demonstrated that mankind is a community with a shared future that shares weal and woe,” Xi stressed, adding that in the era of economic globalization, COVID-19 will not be the world’s last major emergency, and various traditional and non-traditional security issues will constantly bring about new tests.

“The international community has to see humanity as one community with a shared future, look out for one another, and join hands to tackle risks and challenges and build a beautiful planet,” said the Chinese president.

Noting that this year marks the 75th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations, Xi said China supports the international community in taking that as an opportunity to reaffirm its commitment to multilateralism, and reinforce and improve the global governance system with the United Nations at the core.

The Chinese side, he added, will continue supporting the work of the world body.

For his part, Guterres said he is very pleased with and congratulates China on the significant decrease of COVID-19 cases in China.

The UN chief said he believes that with firm determination and strong resilience, China will both overcome the epidemic and restore economic order in a rapid manner, which not only serves the interests of the Chinese people, but also represents an important contribution to the world.

“The United Nations thanks China for helping countries currently in difficulties to fight against COVID-19,” said Guterres, adding that the world body appreciates China’s sharing of experience in epidemic prevention and control with developing countries and provision of such valuable assistance as medical supplies, vaccines and medicines.

He said that China’s support is crucial to multilateralism, and that the United Nations hopes to further deepen its cooperation with China in climate change, sustainable development and various other fields, and looks forward to China playing an important leading role in international affairs.

Chinese aid team arrives in Italy

A charter flight carrying a 9-member Chinese aid team, along with tonnes of medical supplies, arrived at Rome’s Fiumicino Airport on Thursday night, in part of China’s efforts to help Italy contain the novel coronavirus outbreak.

The team was organized by the National Health Commission and the Red Cross Society of China. It is the third expert team sent abroad by Chinese authorities following previous teams sent to Iran and Iraq.

They took with them more than 700 pieces of equipment and goods including ventilators, monitors and defibrillators. Cargo blocks wrapped with water proofed material were seen being unloaded from the aircraft. The equipment were selected according to the requirements of the Italian side and were proven to be useful during clinical practices in China.

Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio appeared on Facebook expressing his thankfulness. Francesco Rocca, Chairman of Italian Red Cross, said he appreciated the Chinese experts who, after their arduous work in the front line for over a month, chose to move ahead by flying all the way to Italy to offer help.

Chinese Ambassador Li Junhua noted that the Chinese support was an example that indicated the vision of a community with a shared future for mankind.

Situation continues to improve in China

China’s epidemic prevention and control situation continues to improve, recording some major progress for the current stage, a health commission spokesperson said Friday.

The Chinese mainland reported eight new confirmed cases on Thursday, with five in Hubei Province, the epicenter of the outbreak, said Mi Feng, spokesperson for the National Health Commission, at a press conference in Beijing.

All of the three new cases outside Hubei Province were imported from outside the mainland, bringing the total number of imported cases to 88, Mi said.

As of Thursday, a total of 21 provincial-level regions and the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps had seen no new indigenous cases for more than 14 days, while six provincial-level regions had reported no new indigenous cases for more than a week, Mi said.

Top Greek expert commends China’s COVID-19 fight

A top expert of the Hellenic National Public Health Organization (NPHO), which leads the battle against the novel coronavirus in Greece, commended China on Friday for its response to the outbreak.

“China has taken very impressive measures in order to contain this epidemic. China behaved with responsibility towards the Chinese people, and also the global community,” Helena Maltezou, head of the NPHO’s Department of Epidemiological Surveillance and Intervention, told Xinhua on Friday on the sidelines of a video conference.

The video conference, which was hosted by the Chinese Embassy in Greece, brought together epidemiological experts from China and their peers from central and eastern Europe.

During the video conference, the Chinese experts outlined their progress in combating the pandemic and explained their containment strategies.They presented their latest diagnostic and treatment plans, and summed up their experiences in community disease prevention.

“China responded very fast and responsibly when the virus first emerged, Maltezou said. This means that China has gained scientific credibility to introduce its experiences to other countries, to the scientific communities there. “China is respected for this,” Maltezou stressed.

7 things China has done right to battle COVID-19

China has passed its peak of the COVID-19 outbreak, with new cases trickling down to single digits and overall epidemic situation improving.

On Thursday, the Chinese mainland reported eight new cases. Close to 80 percent of over 80,000 infected patients on the Chinese mainland have recovered.

Though China still needs to be vigilant for imported infections, its experience shows that the disease can and will be contained. Here are seven things China has done right to battle the virus.


To battle a highly infectious disease, the first and foremost task is to stop it from spreading. Therefore, China locked down virus epicenter Wuhan, where 10 million people live, on Jan. 23. Across Hubei, as many as 60 million people faced some sort of outbound restriction.


Across the country, all hands have been on deck.


What China faces is the hardest major public health emergency to contain since the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949. President Xi said the epidemic is a major test of China’s system and capacity for governance.


To stem the outbreak, Chinese authorities extended the New Year holiday and kept schools shut. In February, China announced it will postpone the annual sessions of the national legislative and political advisory bodies, a key event on the country’s political calendar.


To keep the economy on track, ministries and local governments rolled out policies to ensure agricultural production in the spring season, facilitate business operation and employment, with specific measures such as provisionally lowering or waiving employers’ social insurance contributions. Authorities have kept consumer prices stable and punished price gouging.


Domestically, officials handling the outbreak faced constant scrutiny from the public and were pressured to make good on the promise to keep the people safe.On the international stage, Chinese authorities have vowed transparency and coordinated response with the global community.


No one knew how to treat the new disease. However, science and technology are the most powerful weapon in humanity’s battle against diseases. President Xi called for accelerated development of new-type testing kits, antibody medicines, vaccines, diagnosis, and treatment plans.

Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang’s Regular Press Conference on March 12 and 13, 2020 on COVID-19:

Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang

1). Q: WHO Director-General Tedros said on March 11 that WHO is deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity, and by the alarming levels of inaction. WHO has therefore made the assessment that COVID-19 can be characterized as a pandemic. I wonder if you have any comment?

A: According to the latest update on WHO website, over 100 countries are affected and some of them are in a severe situation. WHO therefore made the assessment that COVID-19 can be characterized as a pandemic. It also stressed that describing the situation as a pandemic does not change WHO’s assessment of the threat posed by this virus or what WHO and countries should do. Its aim is to call on all member states to make greater political pledges and devote more resources to change the course of this pandemic.

Since the outbreak, with a highly responsible attitude towards our people and people around the globe, the Chinese government has adopted the most comprehensive, thorough and rigorous measures of prevention and control. Thanks to these arduous efforts, the situation is increasingly trending in a positive direction and we have made some major progress for the current stage.

China’s efforts are an important part of the global response and our endeavors and progress are important contributions. Going forward, while combating the disease at home, China will make contributions to the global fight against COVID-19. Yesterday I talked about China’s pledges in five areas, including greater communication and collaboration with WHO and other countries, know-how sharing, dispatch of health specialists to countries in need, donation of supplies and cooperation in science and technology. We will maintain close communication and cooperation with the international community to roll out measures in these five areas.

Virus is an enemy of all human beings as it knows no borders. China will work hand in hand with other countries and contribute our strength and wisdom to securing a final victory against the pandemic and to building a community with a shared future for mankind.

2).Q: Robert O’Brien, the White House national security adviser, said yesterday that China covered up the virus outbreak in Wuhan, and this likely cost the world two months of time to prepare. What’s your comment on this?

A: The World Health Organization has just made the assessment that COVID-19 can be characterized as a pandemic, indicating that it has become a common challenge to all human beings. We hope certain US officials could focus on domestic response and international cooperation instead of trying to shift the blame to China by denigrating the Chinese government and people’s efforts to fight the epidemic. This immoral and irresponsible behavior will in no way help mitigate COVID-19 in the US.

The US official accuses China of “covering up” the disease. Well, the world knows better that China released information in an open and transparent manner. It identified the pathogen within a record short period of time and shared the genetic sequence of the virus with WHO and other countries including the US. Not long ago, China hosted a WHO mission including US experts for a nine-day visit, after which they highly commended China’s transparency. Here we do not comment on whether the US response is open and transparent, but obviously, someone in the US still turns a deaf ear to international appraisal on China.

This official blamed China for costing extra time for the US and the larger international community to respond. Well, the world has acknowledged China’s signature speed, scale and efficiency. It is China’s forceful measures and Chinese people’s huge sacrifice that stemmed the outward spread of COVID-19, thus buying valuable time for the world to respond. According to WHO’s recent statement, countries like Singapore and the ROK took necessary measures and put the epidemics under control because they made full use of this precious time China bought for the world. As for whether the US availed itself of this window to enhance preparedness, we do not comment, but I believe the fact is witnessed by all in America and across the globe.

Faced with the pandemic, the guiding consensus for all countries is to join hands and overcome difficulties together. Pointing the finger at others is certainly not constructive, nor will it get any backing. To quote an ancient Chinese saying, “Turn inward and examine yourself when you encounter difficulties in life.” We urge the US official to respect facts and the common understanding of the international community. Every minute wasted on smearing and complaining would be better spent on enhancing domestic response and international cooperation.

3).Q: Lately Europe, especially Italy has seen fast spread of COVID-19 with surging confirmed cases and fatalities. What have China and Europe done in terms of cooperation on prevention, control, diagnosis and treatment?

A: Since the outbreak of COVID-19, China and Europe have all along maintained close communication and cooperation. China’s National Health Commission (NHC) and Center for Disease Control and Prevention set up with the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Health and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control a joint expert team in response to the the epidemic. Only yesterday the team held its third telephone conference, where experts exchanged in-depth views on the latest developments of the epidemic in European countries and China, as well as prevention and control measures, diagnosis and screening, etc. They agreed to strengthen experience-sharing and exchange of know-how to jointly fight the virus and uphold regional and global public health security. Earlier, Zhong Nanshan, head of an NHC high-level expert group and an academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, also shared China’s progress and experience in fighting COVID-19 through video link with head of the European Respiratory Society.

At the same time, the Chinese side has been conducting medical and health cooperation and sharing treatment experience with Italy and other countries. Experts at China’s NHC and Red Cross Society held a video conference with their counterparts in WHO and Italy’s health ministry. Chinese medical institutions at provincial and municipal levels are working with the Italian side through such means as telemedicine. Besides, the Chinese government has sent out a team of medical experts to Italy to help it combat the virus. I just heard that the team of nine will leave Shanghai today for Rome with medical supplies for combating COVID-19.

In the face of the pandemic, international cooperation and solidarity matters. We stand ready to further facilitate information flow, exchange experience and know-how, and cooperate in diagnosis and treatment solutions and medicine and vaccine development. To quote the ancient Roman philosopher Seneca, “we are waves of the same sea, leaves of the same tree, flowers of the same garden”. We are convinced that through the concerted efforts of the international community including China and Europe, the world will surely secure a final victory over the virus.

4).Q: Does China have proof that the coronavirus didn’t originate in China? If so, where did it originate and if not, is it dangerous for understanding how the virus spread to say that without evidence?

A: I answered the same question from AFP yesterday and may repeat it here.

The origin of the virus can only be determined by science. We need to rely on scientific and professional views. We don’t hope to see anyone making an issue out of this to stigmatize other countries. With COVID-19 developing into a pandemic, the world should come together to fight it instead of leveling accusations and attacks against each other, which is not constructive at all.

5).Q: US President Trump in his televised speech today said that the virus started in China and spread to other places. What’s China’s comment?

A: China has been acting in an open, transparent and highly responsible way since the outbreak of the epidemic. United as one, we have taken the most comprehensive, rigorous and thorough measures in this all-out, people’s war against the epidemic. Such extraordinary efforts have resulted in a growing positive momentum in epidemic control across the country with important outcomes achieved for the current stage, making important contributions to the global response. China’s efforts and achievements have received wide support and acclaim from the international community.

At present, the virus has taken footholds in many places around the world and is still spreading. China will strengthen cooperation with the international community to secure an early victory against the epidemic.

6).Q: The second sherpas’ meeting of the G20 Riyadh Summit was held yesterday followed by a statement on COVID-19. Do you have any comment?

A: COVID-19 is now a pandemic. As a major international forum for economic cooperation and a mechanism in response to major global crisis, the G20 has special significance in enhancing international cooperation and response against the pandemic. Building on the recent statement of G20 finance ministers and central bank governors, the G20 sherpas again send a strong signal of solidarity and cooperation to the world by their collaboration and consensus, which will help boost market confidence and international commitment.

China played an active role in the drafting and issuance of the statement. Here I’d like to stress the following three points.

First, since the pandemic knows no borders, the only right thing for the world to do is making concerted efforts. No country can keep itself away from the spread of the virus. We must overcome the difficulties together upholding multilateralism and the vision of building a community with a shared future for mankind. We must inject positive energy into global cooperation by opposing unilateralism, finger-pointing and stigmatization.

Second, we support the G20 in once again leading international efforts against the pandemic. We must use all necessary fiscal, financial and structural policy tools to coordinate macro-economic policies at both demand and supply sides to promote the strong, balanced, sustainable and inclusive growth of the world economy.

Third, we firmly safeguard an open world economy. Measures taken by countries will inevitably impact trade and investment, but we must do our best to ease tensions in international trade, remove unilateral tariffs and jointly protect global industrial and supply chains from disruptions.

Through the G20 and other multilateral platforms, China will continue working with the international community to fight the epidemics. With the joint efforts of all countries, the victory will be ours.

7).Q: Some say it might be the US army who brought the epidemic to Wuhan. How do you comment on that?

A: In recent days we noticed many discussions on the origin of the COVID-19. We firmly oppose the unfounded and irresponsible comments made by certain high-level US officials and Congress members on this issue to smear and attack China.

The fact is, there are different opinions in the US and among the larger international community on the origin of the virus. China believes it’s a matter of science which requires professional and science-based assessment. 

8).Q: We saw reports that Beijing has announced to donate supplies to help Seoul, Tokyo, Yokohama and Tehran fight COVID-19. Do you know when the supplies will be delivered?

A: Yesterday officials from the Foreign Affairs Office of Beijing Municipality talked about the donation at a press conference on epidemic prevention and control.

I understand Beijing has been in close contact with friendly cities including Seoul, Tokyo, Yokohama and Tehran on COVID-19. At present these cities are facing an overwhelming challenge with strained resources for epidemic response. Beijing relates to their difficulties. It has decided to donate supplies to the four cities while meeting local needs to fight the virus. As we learn from the Beijing municipality, the supplies for Tehran have been delivered through Iran’s embassy in China, and the donations for other cities will soon be sent.

I would like to point out that the virus is the common enemy of mankind and the pandemic knows no borders. The donation of prevention and control supplies by the Beijing municipality is the epitome of the assistance Chinese local governments provided to foreign cities. Recently, the local governments of Shanghai, Shandong, Zhejiang, Jiangxi, Jilin, Anhui, Jiangsu and Henan have also provided material support for epidemic prevention and control to foreign countries via their sister cities. China stands ready to provide assistance to the best of its capacity to countries in need while making every effort to combat the epidemic at home.

9).Q: We learned that China and the ROK today established a cooperation mechanism for joint prevention and control against COVID-19, and its first video conference was held. What is China’s comment?

A: This morning, the China-ROK cooperation mechanism on joint prevention and control of COVID-19 was formally established and held its first video conference.The Chinese side has released a readout.

The COVID-19 outbreak is a severe challenge faced by the international community. Since the outbreak of the epidemic, China and the ROK, as close neighbors sharing weal and woe, have shown care for and offered sincere help to each other, which fully demonstrates the friendly sentiments featuring mutual assistance and solidarity. While making epidemic response at home, the two countries have strengthened exchanges and cooperation between departments and adopted a series of effective joint prevention and control measures. On this basis, it is very timely and necessary for China and the ROK to establish a joint prevention and control mechanism in response to latest developments in both countries and beyond. This is not only a positive measure to implement the important consensus reached by the two heads of state, but also serves as a reference for other countries to join hands to fight the epidemic.

The first meeting of the mechanism this morning was efficient and results-oriented. Both sides appraised the epidemic response in the two countries and the exchange and cooperation conducted between their corresponding departments earlier, and discussed priorities and specific measures to strengthen joint prevention and control efforts in the next stage. Broad consensus was reached on reducing unnecessary movement of personnel, stricter border control on “four types of people” (confirmed cases, suspected cases, people who have close contact with the former two, and those who have fever), exchange of prevention and control guidelines as well as diagnosis and treatment technology, and taking good care of each other’s overseas nationals, including international students. We hope both sides can make good use of this mechanism and the channels between corresponding departments to further strengthen communication and coordination in joint prevention and control endeavors  in a bid to overcome the epidemic at an early date, improve the health and well-being of the two peoples, and maintain and promote bilateral exchanges and cooperation.

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