Shanghai student attends online classes amid virus-induced school closure

UNTV News   •   March 3, 2020   •   513

Shanghai has required all schools to remain closed amid an ongoing coronavirus outbreak in the country, which has killed more than 2,900 people in mainland China and spread to more than 60 countries around the world.

Time off from school might not be as interesting as Sha Jie, a third grader in Shanghai, thought it would be. He has spent most of his time at home since early January when Chinese authorities started to implement strict policies that limited public activities, including going to school.

Sha Jie said to Reuters: “I still prefer offline lessons because there is more interaction with my classmates.”

Sha’s mother, Zhang Xingmei, worries about the prolonged period of online schooling for her child as she says that normal lessons may only resume on May 1.

“It won’t affect the children much if we have them do online courses for just one or two weeks. At the start he might feel it’s fresh and be full of energy. But if it lasts for one or two months, and you hand over electronic gadgets like the iPad to him, he could easily be wandering,” she said.

She also expressed concern about the shortened class time in the online material provided, as compared to normal classes her child attends in school.

The new coronavirus appears to now be spreading much more rapidly outside China than within, and airports in hard-hit countries were ramping up screening of travellers.

World Health Organization (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said almost eight times as many cases had been reported outside China as inside in the previous 24 hours, adding that the risk of coronavirus spreading was now very high at a global level.

The global death toll exceeded 3,000, with the number of dead in Italy jumping by 18 to 52. Latvia, Saudi Arabia, Senegal and Morocco reported cases for the first time, bringing the total to more than 60 countries with the illness known as COVID-19. (Reuters Connect)

(Production: Xihao Jiang, Fang Nanlin)

Tokyo residents welcome end of state of emergency

UNTV News   •   May 26, 2020

People in Tokyo, Japan on Tuesday (May 26) woke up to their first day with loosened social distancing curbs, after Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe lifted the state of emergency for all areas in the country on Monday (May 25).

Tokyo and the three surrounding prefectures, as well as Hokkaido were the last remaining areas under emergency.

Many residents welcomed the government’s decision to end the emergency, though most said they are still alert for the virus since more people are out on the streets.

“I’m still a bit worried. There may be a second wave of an epidemic so we still need to be alert,” said 45-year-old Naoto Furuki who said the trains were a lot more crowded with commuters this morning.

With the emergency order lifted, Tokyo will move into “stage one” of loosening restrictions, allowing libraries and museums to reopen, and restaurants to stay open until later in the evening. Subsequent stages would see theatres, cinemas and fairgrounds reopen.

Company employee Daisuke Tominaga is happy that the emergency state is over, saying that the Japanese economy will collapse if businesses and people have to continue to live under restrictions.

“I want to go out drinking and attend concerts,” he said enthusiastically.

Many shops and restaurants have restarted operations since the government began lifting the emergency in rural and suburban areas earlier this month, but some stores remain closed. (Reuters)

(Production: Kim Kyung-Hoon, Akiko Okamoto, Travis Teo)

UK PM Johnson backs under-fire aide Cummings

UNTV News   •   May 25, 2020

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson backed his senior adviser Dominic Cummings on Sunday (May 24), despite calls from within his own Conservative Party for the aide to resign for traveling 400km during the coronavirus lockdown.

Cummings, who masterminded the 2016 campaign to leave the European Union, came under pressure when newspapers reported he had travelled from London to Durham in late March, when Britain was under a strict lockdown to combat the coronavirus outbreak.

Johnson’s office said Cummings made the journey to ensure his 4-year-old son could be properly cared for by relatives if he too fell ill.

The journey took place at a time when millions of Britons were staying inside and foregoing contacts with friends and relatives. The government’s order at the time was everyone in a household where anyone had symptoms must not leave home.

With Johnson’s words that he had acted with integrity, Cummings was safe. But the row within the governing Conservatives looked set to ripple on, with those who called for the senior aide’s resignation expected to be marginalized.

The newspapers have since reported that Cummings was seen in northern England on other occasions. The government has denied this.

A number of cabinet ministers and the attorney general have said that the journey was justified. (Reuters)

(Production: Paul Warren, Gabriela Boccaccio, Michael Fiorentino)

IATF approves Phl participation in COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials

Maris Federez   •   May 24, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Upon the recommendation of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) has approved the proposed participation of the Philippines in clinical trials that seek to formulate a potential vaccine against coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Based on IATF Resolution No.39 dated May 22, 2020, the task force has also ordered the creation of a sub-technical working group which will be led by the DOST.

The group will be coordinating with the four collaborating organizations composed of the Department of Health (DOH), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM), and the World Health Organization (WHO) with regard to the said clinical trials.

The IATF has also issued a directive to the FDA to facilitate the processing of necessary permits for the conduct of the clinical trials in the country.

The collaborating organizations for the clinical trials are the Adimmune Corporation, Academia Sinica, Chinese Academy of Science- Guangzhou Institute of Biomedicine and Health, the Sinopharm – Wuhan Institute of Biological Products, and the Beijing Institute.

Once the clinical trials are undertaken, these will be included in the FDA’s requirements for the registration process for the vaccine and the application for certificate of registration to make the vaccine available in the market.

The Philippines has initially participated in the WHO’s clinical trials, which include the testing of off-label drugs that show potential of being effective against COVID-19.

Meanwhile, the IATF has also approved the plans of the DOST to construct research centers for the local vaccine research development.

These include the Virology S&T Institute at the New Clark City in Tarlac and the reactivation of the Pharmaceutical Development Unit of the DOST-Industrial Technology Development Institute. —(from the report of Rosalie Coz) /mbmf

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