China tightens measures to curb import of COVID-19 amid global pandemic outbreak

UNTV News   •   March 17, 2020   •   146

China has stepped up prevention and control measures to curb the import of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) amid the global pandemic outbreak, as the total number of confirmed cases recorded outside China has surpassed the number in the country.

The World Health Organization (WHO) spokesperson Tarik Jasarevic said that a total of more than 83,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been reported outside China as of Monday morning, exceeding the cumulative number of infections in China, reported Xinhua News Agency.

China continues to see a decline in the daily number of newly confirmed cases because its prevention and control measures have worked.

The Chinese health authority said Monday it received reports of 16 new confirmed cases and 14 new deaths on Sunday from the 31 provincial-level regions and the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps.

Among the new confirmed cases, four were in central China’s Hubei Province, the worst hit area of the epidemic outbreak.

The number of imported confirmed cases was 12 on Sunday, and the cumulative number of confirmed imported cases was 123.

With the situation continuing to improve in China, experts on Sunday predicted that a second outbreak of COVID-19 is unlikely to occur, given the strict prevention and control measures.

Cao Wei, deputy director and associate chief physician with the department of infectious diseases at Peking Union Medical College Hospital, made the comment at a press conference in Beijing when she was invited by the State Council Information Office to share experience in the fight against the pandemic as a member of an expert panel.

“Currently, after three months’ fight, the outbreak in China which started from last year’s December, has almost seen its end and I think we will still wait for another month to see and make the final judgment. But for me, a second outbreak, domestic outbreak I mean in China, wouldn’t be a great concern, under such measures of prevention and control. But we all know that another important source of newly onset cases now come from the imported ones, the imported patients from outside China. So it is most probable that the newly reported cases including the imported ones may be kept at a relatively low level, but may last for a certain period of time,” said Cao.

The latest data indicate that 838 patients were discharged from hospital, 1,316 close contacts were released from medical observation and the number of severe cases was reduced by 194 on Sunday.

Among them is 55-year old Zhang, for whom doctors at the critical care medicine department of Hubei Maternity and Child Health Care Hospital introduced the ECMO machine supportive therapy. She was transferred to the hospital on March 3 when the CT scan showed 95 percent of her lungs in pulmonary lesion at the time.

People’s daily life and businesses have gradually come back to normal with the timely and effective control measures being taken in Hubei Province.

Health QR codes have been adopted across the province to facilitate the epidemic control. Instead of filling in health report forms, residents can now show the QR codes at community or expressway checkpoints. Thus, no-contact checks have to be carried out to reduce virus transmission risks.

Meanwhile, with steady increase in the flow of personnel, traffic has also gradually resumed in various cities of Hubei. Xiaogan City on Saturday issued an announcement to allow private vehicles running on roads in the city while imposing the odd-even traffic restrictions.

In Qianjiang City, all traffic control checkpoints in the city area have been removed since 20:00 Friday, except for the main checkpoints for expressways in the city, national and provincial highways, and external passageways of rural roads.

A bunch of hospitals in Wuhan are resuming regular medical services that have been disrupted over the past several weeks.

Though the epidemic has brought impacts to China’s economy, statistics released by the National Bureau of Statistics show that China’s national economy performed in an orderly manner and the people’s basic livelihood was effectively guaranteed in the first two months of this year.

The latest data show that the total value added of the industrial enterprises at the designated size and higher dropped by 13.5 percent year on year. The index of services production declined by 13.0 percent year on year while the emerging service industry sustained development.

The total retail sales of consumer goods dropped, while the sales of daily necessities and the online retail sales of physical goods continued to grow, according to the data.

In the first two months, the newly increased employed people in urban areas numbered 1.08 million. The surveyed unemployment rate rose while the employment for major labor force was generally stable.

Noting that the GDP of 2019 totaled 99.09 trillion yuan (14.38 trillion U.S. dollars), Mao Shengyong, spokesperson for China’s National Bureau of Statistics, said it has provided China with substantial materials guarantee in face of any epidemic outbreak.

“The economic development in the first two months was affected by the outbreak, but from a comprehensive perspective, the impact is short-term, external, and manageable. The virus spread has been basically curbed, and the outlook for epidemic prevention and control is getting positive. The people’s basic livelihood is ensured, the overall situation of society is stable, and the long-term fundamentals and the underlying upward trend of the economy remain unchanged,” said Mao.

Guizhou Province in southwest China has officially reopened schools for junior and senior high school students to start the new term after the local education authorities took multiple measures to prevent and contain the epidemic.

A total of 2,480 schools with about 990,000 students in the province have reportedly resumed class.

The construction of a batch of major projects across the province has resumed while several scenic spots and tourism attractions have reopened to the public.

In the south China city of Guangzhou, work to install cables started on the 1,117.5-meter long and 600-meter-span Xijiang Rail Cable-Stayed Bridge construction project starting from March 15.

East China province of Jiangxi has organized enterprises to produce epidemic-prevention goods. As of March 15, the province had designated 130 enterprises to pool together their resource and manpower to produce protective suites, isolation gowns, masks and disinfectant.

In Shenyang City of northeast China’s Liaoning Province, eight museums including Shenyang Palace Museum, September 18 Incident History Museum and Marshal Zhang’s Mansion will reopen on Tuesday with restriction on the number of visitors.

In southwest China’s Sichuan Province, over 30 percent of Grade A tourist attractions have reopened as of March 11, including the Temple of Marquis Wu and Du Fu Thatched Cottage Museum.

China has also extended a helping hand to other countries to help them curb the fast spread of the virus.

A voluntary team of Chinese experts on Sunday shared expertise on epidemic prevention and control with overseas Chinese and Chinese students in Italy via live streaming.

The team sent by the National Health Commission and the Red Cross Society of China landed in the Italian capital city of Rome on March 12.

A total of 31 tons of medical supplies, including equipment for ICU, medical protective items and plasma donated by cured COVID-19 patients in China have also arrived with the Chinese experts. (Reuters)

China’s parliament approves Hong Kong national security bill

UNTV News   •   May 28, 2020

China’s National People’s Congress’ third session closed on Thursday (May 28) after parliament members voted on a proposal to implement Hong Kong’s national security legislation.

“The session made a decision to establish a legal system and enforcement mechanism for the national security of Hong Kong’s Special Administrative Region,” chairman of the standing committee of the NPC, Li Zhanshu, told delegates at the closing ceremony.

“It will uphold and improve the ‘one country, two systems’ policy. It is in line with the Constitution and Hong Kong’s Basic Law and is in the interest of all Chinese people including Hong Kong people,” he added.

The legislation received 2,878 votes while one voted against and six abstained. The draft national security law has received international criticism with the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declaring that Hong Kong is ‘no longer autonomous.’

Hong Kong, which has freedoms not granted in the mainland such as freedom of assembly and freedom of the press, has experienced months-long anti-government protests which sparked from a now-withdrawn extradition bill. (Reuters)

(Production: Joyce Zhou, Pak Yiu)

Hong Kong leader says security laws will not affect city’s rights and freedoms

UNTV News   •   May 26, 2020

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said on Tuesday (May 26) that Beijing’s proposed national security laws would not trample on the city’s rights and freedoms and called on its citizens to wait to see the details of the legislation.

Beijing unveiled plans last week for national security legislation for Hong Kong that aims to tackle secession, subversion and terrorist activities. It could see Chinese intelligence agencies set up bases in the city.

Thousands poured onto the street of Hong Kong on Sunday (May 24) in a mass protest against the planned new security laws.

Police fired tear gas and water cannons to disperse the crowd and arrested almost 200 people.

More protests are expected in Hong Kong on Wednesday (May 27). (Reuters)

(Production: Joyce Zhou)

Mayor Isko’s offer to all LGUs: free use of Manila’s online tax payment system

Maris Federez   •   May 23, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso has offered the city’s online tax payment system to all local government units in the country for free.

A media advisory released on Saturday, May 23, said Moreno made the offer to help curb the potential exposure of taxpayers to novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

He said his counterpart in local government units nationwide may utilize the City of Manila’s online tax payment system for their respective cities or municipalities.

“Ako po ay nananawagan sa lahat ng mayor sa buong Pilipinas, municipal o city, kung gusto niyo lang, ino-offer namin para sa pangkahalatan na, kung gusto ninyong magkaroon din ng online payment bibigay namin sa inyo ng libre,” Domagoso said in his weekly Facebook Live program, The Capital Report.

In their recently launched website www.cityofmanila.ph, residents of Manila will be able to process their tax payments online.

“‘Yong buong program, ‘yong buong source code, nakuha ko ng libre, kagabi ‘yong may ari ng kumpanya kinausap ko, sabi ko may mga nag-iinquire sa aking mga mayor paano daw magagawa nila sa kanilang localities.  Eh napapayag ko po kagabi,” the mayor said.

He further said, “Sa mga local government units sa Pilipinas, if you want online payment sa tax, sa real property tax, sa business tax and other services kasi pong ito sa amin pati ‘yong healthcare, occupational health clearance, birth certificate, ma-o-online ‘yan, libre ko ring ibibigay sa inyo ‘yong halos na-save namin na daan-daang milyon na gastos.”

The advisory added that the cityofmanila.ph website will also soon offer birth certificates and community tax certificates online services. — /mbmf

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