China rules out SARS as cases of ‘mysterious viral pneumonia’ climbs to 59
Marje Pelayo • January 6, 2020 • 1609
PHILIPPINES – Health authorities in China on Sunday (January 5) reported that the number of individuals infected by the so-called ‘mysterious viral pneumonia’ has already climbed to 59, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
China however, said that the viral disease is not the contagious, flu-like virus dubbed as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) that killed hundreds of people during an outbreak in 2002 to 2003.
Health authorities, likewise, clarified that the virus was neither the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) or avian influenza.
The said viral pneumonia, whose origin and cause still unknown, has infected workers at a fresh seafood market in the Central China city of Wuhan, in Hubei province.
The Wuhan Health Commission, as cited by the WHO, said all patients are being treated in quarantine and none have died so far.
Also, no obvious evidence of human-to-human transmission has been found so far, the Commission said, but investigations are ongoing to identify any other cases or contacts of the disease.
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)
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)
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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