China's control measures prevent tens of thousands of infections: spokesperson


China's control measures prevent tens of thousands of infections: spokesperson

BEIJING-- China's prevention and control measures have altered the dangerous course of COVID-19's quick spread and prevented tens of thousands of infections nationwide, a Foreign Ministry spokesperson said Wednesday.

Hua Chunying made the remarks when asked to comment on a paper recently published by the journal Science, which believes the control measures worked by successfully breaking the chain of transmission and preventing contact between infectious and susceptible people and bought other cities valuable time.

One of the paper's authors, an Oxford fellow, said that without the Wuhan travel ban and the national emergency response by the Chinese government, there would have been more than 700,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases outside of Wuhan by February 19.

"The paper's findings are consistent with WHO's view and the consensus of many countries' leaders and experts," Hua told a regular press briefing.

The Chinese government took the most comprehensive, thorough and rigorous prevention and control measures at the earliest time possible, which have been proven to be highly effective at the current stage, she said.

"Our efforts bought precious time for the world to prepare for the pandemic," said Hua. "Just as WHO puts it, China has taken the most courageous, most flexible and most active prevention and control measures, which altered the dangerous course of the virus' quick spread and prevented tens of thousands of infections nationwide."

China stands ready to further international cooperation in fighting the pandemic and share experience with other countries to defeat the virus as soon as possible and safeguard regional and global public health security, she added.

 
 
 



Global economy could shrink by 1 pct in 2020 due to COVID-19 pandemic: UN


Global economy could shrink by 1 pct in 2020 due to COVID-19 pandemic: UN

UNITED NATIONS-- The global economy could shrink by up to 1 percent in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and may contract even further if restrictions on economic activities are extended without adequate fiscal responses, according to analysis released Wednesday by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN-DESA).

The UN-DESA briefing finds that millions of workers are at risk of losing their jobs as nearly 100 countries close their national borders. That could translate to a global economic contraction of 0.9 percent by the end of 2020, or even higher if governments fail to provide income support and help boost consumer spending.

According to the forecast, lockdowns in Europe and North America are hitting the service sector hard, particularly industries that involve physical interactions such as retail trade, leisure and hospitality, recreation and transportation services. Collectively, such industries account for more than a quarter of all jobs in these economies.

 

As businesses lose revenue, unemployment is likely to increase sharply, transforming a supply-side shock to a wider demand-side shock for the economy. The severity of the impact will largely depend on the duration of restrictions on the movement of people and economic activities and on the scale and efficacy of responses by national treasuries.

Against that backdrop, the UN-DESA is joining a chorus of voices across the UN system calling for well-designed fiscal stimulus packages which prioritize health spending and support households most affected by the pandemic.

"Urgent and bold policy measures are needed, not only to contain the pandemic and save lives, but also to protect the most vulnerable in our societies from economic ruin and to sustain economic growth and financial stability," said Liu Zhenmin, UN undersecretary-general for economic and social affairs.

 
 

The analysis also warns that the adverse effects of prolonged economic restrictions in developed economies will soon spill over to developing countries via trade and investment channels. A sharp decline in consumer spending in the European Union and the United States will reduce imports of consumer goods from developing countries.

Developing countries, particularly those dependent on tourism and commodity exports, face heightened economic risks. Global manufacturing production could contract significantly, and the plummeting number of travellers is likely to hurt the tourism sector in small island developing states, which employs millions of low-skilled workers.

The UN civil aviation body, the International Civil Aviation Organization, welcomed the commitment by leaders of the G20 major economies late last week indicating that bold fiscal support was needed to safeguard the global travel industry, in order to aid the global recovery in the coming months.

Meanwhile, the decline in commodity-related revenues and a reversal of capital flows are increasing the likelihood of debt distress for many nations. Governments may be forced to curtail public expenditure at a time when they need to ramp up spending to contain the pandemic and support consumption and investment.

Elliot Harris, UN chief economist and assistant secretary-general for economic development, said the collective goal must be a resilient recovery which puts the planet back on a sustainable track. "We must not lose sight how it is affecting the most vulnerable population and what that means for sustainable development," he noted.

 
 
 



Greek PM thanks donors for contribution to battle against COVID-19


Greek PM thanks donors for contribution to battle against COVID-19

ATHENS -- Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis expressed his gratitude on Tuesday to all those who have helped in Greece's battle against the novel coronavirus epidemic.

He made the remark at a ceremony at the Athens international airport where 8.3 million surgical masks arrived from China.

They were the second batch of a total of 13.5 million masks purchased and donated by the Onassis Foundation in Greece to the Greek state to be delivered to hospitals nationwide, according to an e-mailed press statement issued by the Prime Minister's office.

The first batch arrived on Monday, while earlier this month the Chinese government and enterprises had made the first significant donation of over a million masks and other medical supplies to Greece.

"On behalf of the National Health System and all the Greek people, I would like to thank you for this extremely generous offer, to strengthen the National Health System in a time of crisis, with a very significant donation of 13 million masks that will be used exclusively to be able to shield those who are at the forefront of dealing with this very big crisis: doctors, nurses," Mitsotakis told Antonis Papadimitriou, president of the Onassis Foundation, according to Greek national broadcaster ERT.

The Greek leader expressed gratitude to all contributors, including big foundations, businesses and ship owners, as well as ordinary people like an Albanian immigrant dressmaker living in northern Greece with her family who made and donated to the local hospital 600 fabric masks.

As Greece was in a 14-day lockdown since March 23 as part of efforts to contain the virus' further spread, Mitsotakis noted that people should keep social distancing also during the upcoming Easter holiday, which for Greek Orthodox Christians falls on April 19 this spring.

This is the best contribution each citizen can make during the ongoing crisis, the prime minister and other state officials have repeatedly said in recent weeks.

"This year we will have a different Easter than we are used to. We will not go to our villages, we will not roast lambs in our yards, we will pray from our home, but it will be the exception to the rule so that we will be able to protect ourselves and our loved ones," he said.

On his part, Papadimitriou noted that the total cost of the latest deliveries from China was 7.7 million euros (8.5 million U.S. dollars).

"We believe that this is a minimal sample of honor and reciprocation for the doctors, nurses and administrative staff in hospitals who are currently fighting for all of us, for our health," he said.

Shortly after, the Health Ministry announced 82 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Greece in the last 24 hours and 7 new deaths. This brings the country's total to 1,314 confirmed infections and 49 deaths.

Among the new confirmed infections, according to the ministry's press briefing, were 20 crew members who were among a total of 383 people on board a ship.

The Greek owned vessel "Eleftherios Venizelos" has docked off Piraeus port and Greek National Public Health Organization experts are conducting tests, Greek national news agency AMNA reported.

Among the new cases was also a refugee woman living in a camp near the city of Halkida, an hour's drive north of Athens, Health Ministry officials said.

All measures to trace her contacts and protect other camp residents have been taken, the Secretary General of Reception for Asylum Applicants at the Ministry of Migration and Asylum, Manos Logothetis, told AMNA.

It was still unclear whether the woman was infected at the camp or at an Athens hospital where she gave birth two days ago.

The result of a blood test on the newborn infant was still pending, while the baby's father is not infected, it was added. (1 euro= 1.1 U. S dollars)

 
 
 



Commentary: 7 decades on, China-India ties face ample chances for new development


Commentary: 7 decades on, China-India ties face ample chances for new development

BEIJING -- In the hard battle against the ravaging coronavirus epidemic, Beijing and New Delhi have offered each other staunch support and timely help.

This vividly reflects the two countries' growing partnership as they mark on Wednesday the 70th anniversary of their diplomatic relationship.

Over the past seven decades, the dragon and the elephant have reached a growing consensus, that is, the only right choice for their bilateral ties is to dance together.

Such an expanding consensus is built on the ever deepening political mutual trust and increasingly frequent high-level exchanges between the two countries.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi have in the past two years held two informal meetings during their visits to each other's country, and sat down face to face many more times on the sidelines of such multilateral occasions as the BRICS summits and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) gatherings.

Practical cooperation between the two sides has also been making new strides.

China and India are key trading partners to each other. In 2019, bilateral trade reached more than 90.1 billion U.S. dollars, up by 1.6 percent year-on-year, according to China's General Administration of Customs.

The two sides have also seen robust exchanges and cooperation in hi-tech and cultural sectors. Chinese tech firm Xiaomi's Redmi smartphone series have topped India's sales ranking. Alibaba, a Chinese e-commerce company, offered technological know-how and financial support for India to develope its largest mobile payment platform Paytm. For their part, Indian films like "3 Idiots" and "Dangal" have made impressive box office takings in China.

As the two economies are highly complementary, China's development means ample growth opportunities for India, and vise versa. Thus, huge potential is waiting for both sides to tap in various areas such as finance, investment, manufacturing and infrastructure.

While promoting their mutually beneficial cooperation, it is also imperative for the two countries to implement the important consensus reached between Xi and Modi at their second informal meeting in the Indian city of Chennai to properly manage their differences on border issues and maintain peace and tranquility in the region.

China is now the world's second largest economy, and India has been one of the fastest growing emerging market economies. Their cooperation transcends bilateral dimensions and bears a regional and global significance.

At a time when the world is undergoing profound changes, China and India are obliged to shoulder increasingly important responsibilities in safeguarding global stability, promoting common development, and addressing global challenges such as pandemics, terrorism and climate change.

The two countries should also jointly oppose trade protectionism, and advocate multilateralism by bolstering international cooperation via such platforms as the Group of 20, BRICS and the SCO.

China and India are the only two countries in the world with more than 1 billion people each. As long as one third of the global population can join hands, they can yield more benefits for not only themselves but also the wider world. The ongoing epidemic fight offers a chance to do exactly that.

 
 
 



Coronavirus Update: 35 overseas Chinese students diagnosed with COVID-19: official


Coronavirus Update: 35 overseas Chinese students diagnosed with COVID-19: official

BEIJING -- Thirty-five Chinese students studying abroad have been diagnosed with the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) so far, said an education official.

According to information collected by Chinese embassies and consulates, all of the diagnosed students have received timely treatment, and 11 of them have recovered, Liu Jin, the official with the Ministry of Education (MOE), said at a press conference Tuesday.

About 1.42 million of some 1.6 million overseas Chinese students are abroad at present, she added.

The MOE has been releasing epidemic-related information through an official WeChat account since Jan. 25, reminding overseas Chinese students to pay attention to epidemic prevention, Liu said.

Noting the overall shortage of epidemic prevention materials abroad, Liu said Chinese embassies and consulates have sent epidemic prevention materials to Chinese students studying abroad, especially to those in severely affected regions.

The MOE has stepped up communication and consultation with government departments and universities of relevant countries, Liu said, adding that the ministry has set up coordination mechanisms for epidemic prevention and control with the education ministries of Japan and the Republic of Korea, to jointly protect the legitimate rights and interests of overseas students from both sides.

Liu advised overseas Chinese students to reduce long-distance travel to avoid cross-infection.

 
 
 



Grocery store throws away food worth $35,000 after woman intentionally coughs on it


Grocery store throws away food worth $35,000 after woman intentionally coughs on it

Well, what could make people panic amid the coronavirus outbreak? It's definitely sneezing or coughing. This brings us to the question: Have you ever tried stopping yourself from sneezing or coughing even if it was caused by dust or allergies? We are sure most of us have done that.

In the times of panic and shortage of essentials, a woman intentionally coughed on food worth $35,000 at a grocery store in Pennsylvania, said the police.


She allegedly entered a grocery chain Gerrity's supermarket in Hanover Township and coughed on bakery items, meat and other food items.

However, the staff immediately removed her from the store and informed the Hanover Township police and took her into custody, reported CNN.

The police said that the woman had intentionally coughed on the food and they are also going to file criminal charges against her after she is treated for her mental health.

The store owner said that the police officials don't think that she has CoVid19 but will however get it tested.

Further, the store disposed off food items worth $35,000- that the woman had coughed on and also disinfected the area.

Fasula said that they considered the woman's act to be a prank but asked a local health inspector to disinfect the area.

Fasula said that they feel bad about the loss of food and its a shame that the food is being wasted when so many people are worried about food security.




WHO warns of 'dramatic evolution' of virus in Africa


WHO warns of 'dramatic evolution' of virus in Africa

Paris: The World Health Organization's regional director for Africa on Friday warned the continent faced a "dramatic evolution" of the coronavirus pandemic.

Of the 47 countries in the WHO Africa region -- which includes sub-Saharan Africa and Algeria -- 39 nations are now affected, compared with only one a month ago, Matshidiso Rebecca Moeti told French television channel France24.

Moeti said there have been about 300 cases per day in recent days, and called for "intensified action by African countries".

"The situation is very worrying, with a dramatic evolution: an increase geographically in the number of countries and also an increase in the number of infections," Moeti said.

Cases have risen across the world's poorest continent over the past week to a total of nearly 3,500 cases and 94 deaths, according to an AFP tally that covers all of Africa.

African nations have ordered curfews and lockdowns in response to the growing pandemic, amid fears that weak health infrastructure will leave the continent terribly exposed to an outbreak on the scale of virus-stricken Europe.

Moeti acknowledged that measures were being taken to contain the spread of the virus and to isolate suspected cases.

Governments have banned religious gatherings and sporting events, while schools were closed in 25 countries, she said.

She noted that 42 countries are now able to diagnose the disease. "A few weeks ago, only two countries had the diagnostic capacity," she said.

But Moeti stressed that the continent was poorly equipped to deal with a major health crisis.

"It is true that in many African households people live in large families. It's very difficult sometimes for everyone to have their own room," she said.

"There is a very strong community life. We have to find other hygiene methods to minimise the spread of the virus."

 
 
 



COVID-19 epicenter Wuhan resumes bus services, China reports 47 new imported cases


COVID-19 epicenter Wuhan resumes bus services, China reports 47 new imported cases

Beijing/Wuhan: Wuhan, the epicentre of the novel coronavirus pandemic, on Wednesday resumed bus services within the city for the first time since the nine-week lockdown even as 47 new imported cases were reported from the country, threatening a second wave of infections.

China on Tuesday decided to lift the three-month lockdown on more than 56 million people in the central Hubei province.

However, the prolonged lockdown of Hubei's capital Wuhan will end on April 8, lifting the mass quarantine over the city with a population of over 11 million.

While Hubei and Wuhan has not reported any new COVID-19 case, four people died in the city taking the death toll in China to 3,281, the National Health Commission (NHC) said.

 
 

China on Wednesday said that no new domestically transmitted case was reported on the Chinese mainland on Tuesday.

Forty seven new imported COVID-19 cases were reported in the country on Tuesday, taking the total of such cases to 474, it said.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday that majority of the imported cases are the Chinese nationals returning from abroad.

Of the 427 confirmed imported cases reported on March 23, 380 are Chinese and the rest 47 are foreign nationals.

Also on Tuesday, four deaths and 33 new suspected cases were reported on the mainland with three of the deaths reported in Hubei.

The overall confirmed cases on the mainland reached 81,218 by the end of Tuesday. This included 3,281 people who died of the disease, 4,287 patients still being treated and 73,650 patients discharged after recovery, the NHC said.

It said 134 people were still suspected of being infected with the virus.

By the end of Tuesday, 386 confirmed cases including four deaths were reported in Hong Kong, 26 confirmed cases in Macao and 216 in Taiwan, including two deaths.

Meanwhile, bus services began in Wuhan for the first time since January 23 as a bus departed from its terminus at Hankou railway station at 5:25 am on Wednesday, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

The city resumed a total of 117 bus routes starting Wednesday, around 30 per cent of the city's total bus transport capacity, the municipal transport bureau said.

It would resume outbound transport services from April 8.

Apart from the driver, a safety supervisor is also present on each bus whose duty is to make sure all passengers are healthy as their health code is being checked before boarding.

People in Wuhan will be allowed to leave the city and Hubei Province, if they hold a green health code, meaning no contact with any infected or suspected COVID-19 cases.

"For those who do not use smart phones, they should bring with them a health certificate issued by the health authorities," said Zhou Jingjing, a safety supervisor aboard a bus departing from Wuchang railway station complex.

From Saturday, six metro lines are expected to reopen to the public. The service time will be published on the stations.

On January 23, Wuhan declared unprecedented traffic restrictions, including suspending the city's public transport and all outbound flights and trains, in an attempt to contain the epidemic within its territory.

Similar restrictions were later introduced in other areas in Hubei.

The provincial authorities ended restrictions on outbound traffic starting Wednesday, with the exception of its capital city of Wuhan, which will lift outbound travel restrictions on April 8, according to a provincial government notice issued Tuesday.

 
 
 



Coronavirus infected dead bodies found in Spain


Coronavirus infected dead bodies found in Spain

Spanish army troops disinfecting nursing homes have found, to their horror, some residents living in squalor among the infectious bodies of people that authorities suspect have died from the new coronavirus. Prosecutors have launched a judicial probe.

Defense Minister Margarita Robles said the elderly were "completely left to fend for themselves, or even dead, in their beds." She said the discovery included several nursing homes and several bodies but did not give exact locations for the nursing homes or exactly how many bodies were found.

The news came as Spain on Tuesday announced a record daily rise of 6,584 new coronavirus infections, bringing the overall total to 39,673. The number of deaths also jumped by a record number of 514 to 2,696.

Madrid took over a public skating rink Tuesday after the city morgue overflowed. To date, 1,535 people have died in the hard-hit Spanish capital, more than half of the national total. The region has over 12,350 infections.

 
 
 



Latest Coronavirus Update: China reopens Great Wall


Latest Coronavirus Update: China reopens Great Wall

China on Tuesday reopened a section of its iconic Great Wall to visitors, as the country limped back to normalcy after the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Badaling section of the Great Wall will be open daily from 9 am to 4 pm. The daily number of visitors will be capped at 19,500. Around 60 kilometers from Beijing, it's the most popular section of the wall for tourists.

As of 2 pm on Tuesday, a total of 892 tickets had been reserved by visitors to visit the area, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

China in January closed all its museums and tourist centres all over the country to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

To be permitted entry, visitors must book tickets on the official website or through social media app WeChat in advance and register with their personal information to get a health code.

On their arrival at the Badaling Great Wall, they will have their temperatures checked.

 
 
 



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