China confirms coronavirus can be transmitted among humans

UNTV News   •   January 21, 2020   •   837

Medical staff carry a patient into the Jinyintan hospital, where patients infected with a new strain of Coronavirus identified as the cause of the Wuhan pneumonia outbreak are being treated, in Wuhan, China, 18 January 2020. EFE-EPA/STRINGER

Beijing – China’s health commission confirmed Tuesday that transmission between humans of the new coronavirus – which has already caused four deaths and infected more of 200 people in the country – is possible, according to state news agency Xinhua.

Zhong Nanshan, who leads the commission’s team of experts, said at least two patients in the southern province of Canton had contracted the virus through human contact.

“Patients became infected after their relatives traveled to Wuhan [a city of 11 million inhabitants and source of the outbreak] and became infected,” Zhong said.

The latest death, confirmed Tuesday, was that of an 89-year-old man who was hospitalized Friday. The expert added that several health workers had also been infected.

However, Zhong said it only took two weeks to identify the new virus and that a situation such as the one that occurred during 2003’s Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) epidemic is unlikely. SARS caused 813 deaths worldwide, 646 of which were in China.

According to the United Nations health agency, between 14-15 percent of SARS cases end in death, while in the case of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), a related disease also caused by a coronavirus, the mortality rate rises to 35 percent.

So far, there are only six types of this family of viruses known: four of them causing mild respiratory conditions similar to a cold, and the other two responsible for SARS and MERS.

The number of confirmed infections Tuesday morning in China was down to 198, after 25 patients recovered. Thirty-five are in serious condition, while nine are critical. Two other cases have also been confirmed in Thailand, one in South Korea and one in Japan.

The respiratory disease expert explained that the constant detection of new cases indicates that “the epidemic is still at an early stage,” according to Xinhua.

Zhong said increased transmissions are likely the coming days, as Friday marks the start of Chinese New Year holidays – which cause the planet’s largest human migration – but was confident in containing the virus’ spread with rapid diagnoses, proper treatment and quarantine.

Chinese Premier Xi Jinping said Monday he expected the virus to be contained “with determination,” while Prime Minister Li Keqiang announced the creation of a group dedicated to fighting the illness.

The World Health Organization will hold a meeting of experts Wednesday to determine whether the current coronavirus outbreak in China constitutes an international emergency. EFE-EPA

jt/lds

China says willing to join arms treaty if U.S. reduces its nuclear arsenal

UNTV News   •   July 8, 2020

If the United States were willing to reduce its nuclear arsenal to China’s level, China would “be happy to” participate in trilateral arms control negotiation with the U.S and Russia, a senior Chinese diplomat said on Wednesday (July 8).

The U.S. has repeatedly called for China to join in trilateral negotiations to extend a flagship nuclear arms treaty between the U.S. and Russia that is due to expire in February next year.

Fu Cong, head of arms control department of Chinese foreign ministry, reiterated to reporters in Beijing on Wednesday that China has no interest in joining the trilateral negotiation. (Reuters)

(Production: Martin Pollard, Wang Shubing)

Heavy security as China opens national security office in Hong Kong

UNTV News   •   July 8, 2020

A special office to oversee national security in Hong Kong officially commenced operations on Wednesday (July 8) amidst heavy security.

The Office for Safeguarding National Security of the Central People’s Government, charged with overseeing implementation of the controversial new national security law for Hong Kong, held a ceremony in the early hours of the morning.

The new law punishes crimes of secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces with up to life in prison, heralding a more authoritarian era for China’s freest city.

There was a heavy police presence outside the Metropark Hotel in Hong Kong, which will serve as the temporary headquarters of the new office. Police had erected water barriers and put in place crowd control measures overnight, restricting residents and foreign media from observing the ceremony.

Residents in the area expressed surprise about the rapid speed of opening in the new office, and the apparent lack of advance notice to the community.

“Everything that they have organized is quite secret”, said one resident, a 62-year-old interior designer giving his name as John Lee. “They have to let the citizens be informed earlier.”

The Metropark Hotel in Causeway Bay is located opposite Victoria Park, home of the annual candlelight rallies in memory of China’s bloody 1989 Tiananmen Square democracy crackdown. (Reuters)

(Production: Aleksander Solum)

Trump notifies Congress to withdraw US from WHO

UNTV News   •   July 8, 2020

U.S. President Donald Trump has formally notified Congress that the United States has officially moved to withdraw from the World Health Organization (WHO), Democratic Senator Bob Menendez said on Tuesday.

“Congress received notification that POTUS officially withdrew the U.S. from the @WHO in the midst of a pandemic,” tweeted by Menendez, ranking member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.

“To call Trump’s response to COVID chaotic and incoherent doesn’t do it justice. This won’t protect American lives or interests – it leaves Americans sick and America alone,” he added.

Citing a senior administration official, The Hill reported the same day that the United States had submitted its withdrawal notification to the United Nations secretary-general.

Trump and his administration repeatedly assailed the WHO for months and threatened to cut ties with the organization. Experts and Democrats criticized that the Trump administration was trying to shift blames of its mishandling of COVID-19 response and would be counterproductive to addressing the public health crisis.

Trump said in late May that his country is “terminating” its relationship with the WHO. In a letter to WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus earlier that month, Trump threatened to permanently cut off the nation’s funding to the WHO and “reconsider our membership” if the international body does not commit to what he called “substantive improvements within the next 30 days.”

Trump announced in mid-April that his administration would halt U.S. funding to the WHO.

The United States has reported more than 2.96 million COVID-19 cases with over 130,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. Both figures are far higher than those in any other country or region. (Reuters)

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