UN calls for global ceasefire as coronavirus rages on

Marje Pelayo   •   March 25, 2020   •   160

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres holding news conference on COVID-19. United Nations (March 23, 2020)

REUTERS – Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday (March 23) called for a global ceasefire so the world can focus on fighting the coronavirus pandemic.

“It is time to put armed conflict on lockdown and focus together on the true fight of our lives,” Guterres told a virtual news conference.

So far more than 337,500 people have been infected and over 14,600 have died, according to a Reuters tally.

The spread of the the highly contagious COVID-19 respiratory illness has drawn comparisons with painful periods such as World War Two, the 2008 financial crisis and the 1918 Spanish flu.

“The virus does not care about nationality or ethnicity, faction or faith. It attacks all, relentlessly. Meanwhile, armed conflict rages on around the world,” Guterres said.

“The most vulnerable – women and children, people with disabilities, the marginalized and the displaced – pay the highest price,” he said. “They are also at the highest risk of suffering devastating losses from COVID-19.”

The United Nations has been trying to mediate an end to conflicts in countries including Syria, Yemen and Libya, while also providing humanitarian assistance to millions of civilians.

Guterres warned that in war-torn countries health systems have collapsed and the small number of health professionals left were often targeted in the fighting.

“End the sickness of war and fight the disease that is ravaging our world,” he said. “It starts by stopping the fighting everywhere. Now. That is what our human family needs, now more than ever.” (Production: Dan Fastenberg)

China advises foreign diplomats to stop coming to Beijing

UNTV News   •   April 3, 2020

Foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying

China’s foreign ministry is advising foreign diplomats to stop coming to Beijing, after the country temporarily banned most foreigners from entering to prevent a resurgence of a coronavirus epidemic, a spokeswoman said on Friday (April 3).

Foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters during a daily briefing that the ministry was aware of confirmed coronavirus cases among foreign diplomats in China.

Mainland China reported 31 new confirmed coronavirus cases, 29 of which were imported from overseas, the country’s National Health Commission said on Friday.

The total number of infections now stands at 81,620 and 3,322 deaths have been reported from mainland China to date. (Reuters)

(Production: Shubing Wang, Irene Wang)

Coronavirus turns Japan business mood negative for first time in 7 years

UNTV News   •   April 3, 2020

Japanese manufacturers turned pessimistic for the first time in seven years in the three months to March, the central bank’s “tankan” survey showed on Wednesday (April 1), as the coronavirus pandemic pushed the economy closer to recession.

Non-manufacturers’ sentiment also worsened to levels not seen in seven years as travel bans, event cancellations and social distancing policies hurt consumption, clouding an already darkening outlook for the economy. The data underscores the challenge Prime Minister Shinzo Abe faces in stopping the pandemic wiping out the benefits his “Abenomics” stimulus policies have brought to the economy.

The headline index measuring big manufacturers’ sentiment worsened to minus 8 in March from zero in December, the survey showed, compared with a median market forecast of minus 10. It was the first time in seven years the big manufacturers’ index turned negative.

The pandemic has hit an economy that had already suffered the fastest contraction in 5-1/2 years in the December quarter due to last year’s sales tax hike and the U.S.-China trade war. (Reuters)

(Production: Kohei Miyazaki, Hideto Sakai, Akiko Okamoto)

Philippines eyes COVID-19 mass testing on April 14

Marje Pelayo   •   April 3, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The national government is planning to kick start a massive testing for persons suspected with coronavirus disease (COVID-19) on April 14.

This is according to the chief implementer of the national action plan against the disease, Secretary Carlito Galvez, during a briefing on Thursday (April 2) at Camp Aguinaldo following certification issued by Research Institute on Tropical Medicine (RITM) for several hospitals to run as COVID-19 testing centers.

“We are also determined to fast track the accreditation of subnational laboratories so we can start the massive testing of PUIs and PUMs,” Galvez said.

“We expect that by April 14, we shall be able to start massive testing,” he added.

Galvez said massive testing is expected to help curb the spread of COVID-19 while noting a slow- down in infection in the recent days.

“If you’ll see the data, the increase of the new cases has been 322, which is lower than the highest cases that we have last few days ago of 538,” Galvez said.

“This is a good sign that we are gaining the battle despite the many tests that we have right now,” he added.

In the next 10 days, the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) expects the completion of the conversion of several government establishments into COVID-19 quarantine facilities in Metro Manila including the Rizal Complex, the World Trade Center, the Philippine International Convention Center, and the Cultural Center of the Philippines.

At present, the country has a total of eight Accredited COVID-19 Testing centers:

  • Research Institute for Tropical Medicine
  • Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center
  • San Lazaro Hospital
  • Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center
  • Southern Philippines Medical Center
  • University of the Philippines-National Institute of Health
  • Lung Center of the Philippines
  • Western Visayas Medical Center

The Department of Health (DOH), meanwhile, reported a number of healthcare facilities seeking approval for COVID-19 testing to help identify suspected carriers and immediately address their conditions.

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