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Ali Baba, other stakeholders, give roadmap for Lagos tourism post COVID-19

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Veteran Comedian Atunyota Akpobome, popularly known as “Ali Baba” and other stakeholders on Wednesday enumerated the way forward for tourism growth in Lagos State post COVID-19.

 The stakeholders spoke during a virtual zoom meeting organised by the Lagos State Ministry of Tourism, with the theme: “Resetting the Tourism Sector in Lagos State”.

The comedian said that for the state to be properly positioned for growth, there was need to put in place the needed infrastructure that would drive tourism.

He also advised on organising competitions around entertainment, tourism and culture to attract tourists into the state which would also drive the entertainment economy.

“Lagos is a cosmopolitan state already, with capture of people across the world meaning we have a representation of those to look into Lagos tourism.

“What to be done is to ensure that the needed infrastructure are put in place to drive tourism, like building high-rise sites where people can view some segments of the state.

“We need more art galleries; when President Macron of France visited Lagos, he asked for where local fabrics are sold, we should have places where our local fabrics, arts and crafts are constantly exhibited,” he said.

Also, a Hotel Consultant, Mr Dayo Adesugba, advised the state government to create tourism lottery and special funds for tourism stakeholders as a way to revitalise the industry postCOVID-19.

He said the state government must also think of upgrading tourism sites within the state which were not attractive enough to woo tourists.

Adesugba said that security had been an issue of concern to most tourism practitioners, adding that the state government needed to work on beefing up security to rekindle the confidence of tourists.

“We need to rekindle that sense of security in every intending tourist just by making sure we have effective tourism security personnel in place.

“There should be training and retraining of tourism practitioners and also creation of tourism fund to assist those engaged in small and medium scale tourism businesses to remain in business postCOVID-19,” he said.

Mr Bankole Bernard, former President,  National Association of Nigerian Travel Agencies (NANTA), drew the attention of the state to untapped potential of religious tourism dominant in the state.

He also called for proper tourism education for Lagos residents to understand what tourism means as most people lacked tourism knowledge.

“We have a market for religious tourism growing on a daily basis and we seem not to identify with it.

“Along the whole of Lagos-Ibadan expressway are religious organisations with different programmes held on a daily basis, this is a form of religious tourism we are not grooming.

“Lagos State government need to educate residents on what tourism means and areas they could invest,” he said.

Another tourism practitioner, Mrs Tayo Oladaisi, called for the resuscitation of traditional storytelling culture which was capable of preserving nation’s culture and indigenous languages, among others.

She urged the youths to embrace business ideas in tourism value chain as the industry remained fertile.

Mrs Uzamat Akinbile-Yusuf, Lagos State Commissioner of Tourism, Arts and Culture, appreciated the participants for their brilliant contributions toward the success of the meeting.

She said the state would continue to ensure the security of Lagos residents and visitors relating to tourism.

Akinbike-Yusuf encouraged the stakeholders to work together with the ministry to ensure a common goal of boosting the tourism industry was achieved in due course.

“We will continue to ensure the security of the state. We can together create wealth and employment with tourism. When  tourism and entertainment activities are heightened, crime rate will be reduced.

“I appreciate you all for taking out time for this, let’s continue to stay safe and be hopeful that the final ease of the lockdown will start soon,” she said.

Edited By: Chidinma Agu/Wale Ojetimi (NAN)

Taiye Baiyerohi: is a graduate and a professionally trained journalist, with experience in national news reporting/editing and verification at the News Agency of Nigeria. NNN is a Nigerian online news portal that publishes breaking news in Nigeria, and across the world. Our journalists are honest, fair, accurate, thorough and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting news in the best interest of the public, because truth is the cornerstone of journalism and they strive diligently to ascertain the truth in every news report. Contact: editor[at]nnn.com.ng

Politics

We will make Lagos 4th Mainland Bridge a reality — Sanwo-Olu’s Aide

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Mrs Aramide Adeyoye, Special Adviser to Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu on Works and Infrastructure, says his administration will make the Lagos 4th Mainland Bridge a reality.

The governor’s aide said this during an online CovInspiration Show organised to mark the first year in office of Gov. Sanwo-Olu.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the social media show, moderated by UN Youth Ambassador, Dayo Israel, was stream on Youtube, Facebook and Instagram in compliance with physical distancing rules occasioned by COVID-19.

Adeyoye said: “I can tell you we have begun to see the projects that Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu and Dr Obafemi Hamzat are putting together – projects like Fourth Mainland Bridge.

“I pray that it comes up alive! In December, we opened up bids and after evaluation, 31 people came up.

“It will be my greatest joy when I see that project come alive even if it is not finished in this first four years.”

The special adviser said that the preferred bidder for the project would be made known soon.

According to her, the government is in the process of awarding contract for the regional road project that will be a relieve to the residents along the Lekki Epe Expressway.

Speaking on Sanwo-Olu’s achievements in the last one year in works and infrastructure, Adeyoye said that the governor had done a lot through the Public Works Corporation (PWC).

“The Ojota Road is under construction, four roads will be commissioned in Shomolu, Ladipo and Akinwunmi in Mushin.

“Epeme in Badagry, which is a six kilometer road; this is a road that will boost the tourism potential in Lagos State.

“Also, 31 networks of roads in Ojokoro, all these roads were in the last one year either being commissioned or to be commissioned,” she said.

According to her, work is ongoing on Ijede road in Ikorodu, while the Pen Cinema Bridge and Lagos Badagry Expressway will be completed by July/September, respectively.

Adeyoye, however, urged residents to desist from throwing refuse in drainages and burning tyres on the road, saying it affects the durability of the roads.

Adeyoye also noted that burning of tyres on road did not only affect the durability of road infrastructure, but also led to pollution and environmental hazards.

“It behoves on all to keep the road in good condition and we should all be responsible and take ownership of those assets.

“When drainages are cleaned regularly, the roads are likely to last longer,” she said

On Abule-Egba-Oshodi Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) road, the special adviser said that contractors were working and that the project would be completed.

LAMATA is up and doing on the supervision of the project and it will be completed soon. l assure you that all projects will be completed, government is a continuum,” she said.

Earlier, the host, Israel, said that the decision to host the cabinet members on CovInspiration (Online) show was to ensure sustenance during COVID-19 partial lockdown.

Israel, who is a Board Member of State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB), said that the show afforded cabinet members opportunity to stay in their comfort zones and speak with viewers.

Gov. Sanwo-Olu has announced plans to commission some projects in the state to commemorate his first year anniversary on Friday.

Edited By: Wale Ojetimi (NAN)

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Somalia’s Jubaland forces say kill 4 Shabab militants

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Somalia’s Jubaland forces on Monday killed four al-Shabab extremists in a fierce fight in Dhobley, a town in southern Somalia, a police officer confirmed.

Mohamed Abdullahi, deputy commander of police forces in Dhobley, said that al-Shabab fighters launched an attack on a base used by Jubaland forces in Dhobley, but they were repulsed.

“Al-Shabab extremists attacked a training base for Jubaland forces, prompting an intense confrontation between the army and the attackers,” Abdullahi said.

“We killed four militants during the clashes. Our forces are now controlling the base and the militants have fled to the outside of the town,” he added.

The attack came barely three days after Somali forces killed five al-Shabab militants in Burdhubo, a town in the country’s southern region of Gedo.

Government forces have stepped up operations against al-Shabab extremists in southern regions, but militants still hold swathes of rural areas in those regions, conducting ambushes and planting land mines.

(XINHUA)

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Roundup: Afghans’ ceasefire remains intact as President Ghani promises to release 2,000 more Taliban prisoners

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Afghanistan’s President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani has welcomed the three-day ceasefire announced by the Taliban outfit on Saturday and vowed to set free 2,000 more Taliban detainees to expedite the peace process.

The Taliban leadership on Saturday evening, the eve of Eid al-Fitr, declared a three-day ceasefire, ordering its fighters to stay inside their bases and refrain from fighting.

Afghanistan, like other Muslim countries celebrated Eid al-Fitr on Sunday to mark the end of Muslims’ fasting month Ramadan.

In his short address after offering Eid al-Fitr prayer on Sunday, President Ghani welcomed the Taliban announcement for a ceasefire as a goodwill gesture towards peace and promised to set free 2,000 more prisoners.

Both the Taliban and Afghan government have exchanged more than 1,200 prisoners including more than 1,000 Taliban and some 200 security personnel since inking the U.S.-Taliban peace deal on Feb. 29.

The Afghan president, who ordered his forces to resume offensives on the armed group following deadly attacks on maternity in Kabul and funeral ceremony in Nangarhar weeks ago, also instructed his forces to return to a defensive position to support the ceasefire in the country in his speech on Sunday.

Calling upon the Taliban to reciprocate the release of prisoners and observe permanent ceasefire in the country, Ghani said his negotiating team “is ready to initiate dialogue” with the armed group to end the war in Afghanistan.

Since the observance of the ceasefire in Afghanistan on Sunday, no security incident has been reported.

Zabihullah Mujahid who claims to speak for the Taliban outfit told media that the group’s fighters are in defensive posture during the three-day Eid holidays.

Some countries including the United States, Qatar, Pakistan and India have welcomed the three-day ceasefire observed by warring sides during Eid al-Fitr holidays in Afghanistan.

(XINHUA)

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Foreign

“Significant” Australian bushfires increasing in frequency: experts

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Head of climate monitoring at Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) Karl Braganza has warned that the devastating 2019-20 bushfires were not a “one-off event.”

Braganzaon on Monday fronted the first day of hearings for the landmark Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements.

Braganza said that since 2003 every jurisdiction in Australia has experienced “really significant fire events,” the frequency of which “seem to be increasing.”

“Since the Canberra 2003 fires, every jurisdiction in Australia has seen some really significant fire events that have challenged what we do to respond to them and have really challenged what we thought fire weather looked like preceding this period,” he said.

“These large fire events when you look back over the 19th and 20th century were not as frequent as they were this century.”

More than 10 million hectares of land were burned by the bushfires, which Prime Minister Scott Morrison dubbed the “black summer”, killing more than 30 people and destroying thousands of homes and businesses.

Morrison established the royal commission in February with a focus on Australia’s preparedness for natural disasters and improving natural disaster coordination.

Helen Cleugh, a senior principal research scientist from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), said that climate change was interacting with and exacerbating previous weather systems in a way never seen before, according to The Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

“This means that understanding the interaction between climate variability and these drivers and climate change is very important for building preparedness for the changing nature of climate risks into the future,” she said.

“Perhaps put more simply, climate change means that the past is no longer a guide to future climate-related impacts and risks.”

(XINHUA)

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General news

Gov. Oyetola mourns New Telegraph editor, says death huge blow to journalism

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Gov. Adegboyega Oyetola of Osun has described the death of Alhaji Waheed Bakare, Saturday Editor of The New Telegraph Newspapers, as “a devastating blow and a great loss to his immediate family and journalism in Nigeria”.

Oyetola, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Ismail Omipidan, on Monday in Osogbo, commiserated with Bakare’s family, friends, colleagues, the Journalists’ Hangout family and the management of The New Telegraph Newspapers over the loss.

The governor described Bakare as a hardworking, talented, cerebral and an accomplished journalist that would be sorely missed by all.

“I received with great shock the passing of Alhaji Waheed Bakare, Editor, Saturday New Telegraph.

“His death is not only a loss to his family, but also to the journalism profession.

“As people who believe in God, we should take it in good faith and give gratitude to God that the late journalist ran a good race and gave a good account of himself as a newsroom leader and gatekeeper.

“As a professional and a devout Muslim, Bakare showed class in the discharge of his responsibilities.

“My deep condolences go to the entire family, the New Telegraph management as well as all journalists in Nigeria. He will be sorely missed.

“I pray Allah to forgive his shortcomings and grant him Aljanah Firdaus. I also pray Allah to comfort his bereaved family and loved ones,” Oyetola added.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Bakare died on Sunday after a brief illness.

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China constantly improving Chinese socialist legal system

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China has been constantly improving the socialist legal system with Chinese characteristics, said a top legislature report.

The work report of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC) was submitted to the third session of the 13th NPC for deliberation on Monday. Li Zhanshu, chairman of the NPC Standing Committee, delivered the report.

With a focus on comprehensively advancing the rule of law, the top legislature placed equal emphasis on making new laws, revising existing ones, abolishing those that are unnecessary, and interpreting laws that need clarification, according to the report.

While stressing both quality and efficiency, the top legislature strengthened legislative work in important fields, and made constant efforts to legislate in a more well-conceived, democratic, and law-based manner, the report said.

Since last year, the top legislature has deliberated 48 drafts of laws and decisions, and adopted 34 of them, including five new laws, 17 revisions of existing laws as well as 12 decisions on legal issues and major issues.

It heard and deliberated 39 work reports, inspected the enforcement of six laws, conducted three special inquiries and seven research projects, and passed one resolution. It also approved five bilateral treaties.

(XINHUA)

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Australia announces third stage of mental health response to COVID-19

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The Australian government announced the third stage of mental health funding to COVID-19 on Monday.

Health Minister Greg Hunt said on Monday that the government is providing more than 20 million Australian dollars (about 13 million U.S. dollars) additional funding for research to improve mental health care and reduce suicide rates in Australia.

“It includes funding for coronavirus research in terms of the mental health impacts and it has a particular emphasis on what we’re doing with regards to men’s and boys’ mental health and pharmacogenomics or the tailoring of medicines,” said Hunt.

“Anxiety and depression, other clinical conditions, are associated with the fear that comes with health concerns, the loneliness of isolation, and the deep concern that people have with regards to their employment, or their business,” said Hunt in a press conference in Canberra.

“So the economic consequences of coronavirus can have a huge impact on the mental health, safety, stability and concerns of individuals.”

Hunt also said there are over five consecutive weeks of days in which the growth rate of new cases in Australia has been less than half a percent.

“As of this morning, we are at 7,112 cases and sadly, 102 lives lost,” he said. “Importantly, 6,509 people have recovered, which means there are 501 active cases in Australia.”

According to Hunt, the first stage of mental health package was 74 million Australian dollars (about 48 million U.S. dollars), which addressed in particular outreach services.

The second was 48 million Australian dollars (about 31 million U.S. dollars), which supported the National Mental Health Pandemic Plan.

(XINHUA)

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Foreign

Australia suspends Olympic bid amid COVID-19 recovery

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Australia’s Queensland has suspended its bid to host the 2032 Olympics recently as the state government focuses on economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk confirmed the bid process had been paused.

“It’s just on hold. I wouldn’t read too much into that,” Palaszczuk told reporters last weekend.

“We’re focused absolutely on the economic recovery at the moment.”

The Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) said it fully supported the Queensland government’s position in placing the Brisbane 2032 candidature on hold.

AOC President John Coates said in a recent statement that meetings of the Olympic Candidature Leadership Group (OCLG) scheduled earlier this year were deferred, allowing governments to focus on dealing with COVID-19.

Coates said he’d proposed to OCLG members that the meetings would not proceed while all three levels of governments dealt with the pandemic.

He also told the AOC Annual General Meeting on May 9 that discussions with the IOC on the candidature would resume when appropriate.

“We all understand there are pressing issues of public health and community wellbeing for governments to address,” Coates said.

“The candidature will have its role to play in terms of jobs and growth in the Queensland economy once we have seen our way through the current crisis.”

(XINHUA)

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Australia’s life expectancy stagnates amid worsen social inequality: study

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Despite recording a steady increase for the past several decades Australia’s life expectancy has begun to stagnate, local research disclosed on Monday, with growing social inequality being blamed for the change.

The University of Melbourne led research analyzed data from Australia’s death registry for 2006-2016, identifying socioeconomic status and geographic location as two major contributors to differences in life expectancy.

Australia has one of the highest life expectancies in the world, which in 2016-2018 was 80.7 years for males and 84.9 years for females, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

However, a slowing in the decline of premature deaths among lower socioeconomic and non-urban populations, has tempered growth in the population’s overall life expectancy.

Meanwhile there has been no slowdown in the rate of mortality decline in the highest socioeconomic areas of major cities.

Between the ages of 35-74, the premature death rate for those of worse socioeconomic status was double that of those in the highest category.

Similarly, people living in the most disadvantaged geographic locations suffered a roughly 40 percent higher premature death rate than those in major cities, with the gaps widening in the early part of the century.

Co-leader of the research, Professor Alan Lopez from the University of Melbourne said decisive actions were required from government to address the issue, adding that the ongoing COVID-19 might worsen social inequality.

“Reducing this widening gap in mortality will require a significant shift in policy, with a stronger emphasis on the context and stressors prevalent among regional, rural and low socioeconomic groups,” Lopez said.

“The advent of COVID-19 might well exacerbate this already unfavourable trend due to increased stress and unemployment hitting the least well off hardest, which could well have a flow-on effect in terms of poorer health behaviours and access to health care.”

“This ought to be a key consideration in government policy responses to COVID-19,” he said.

(XINHUA)

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Foreign

Live COVID-19 updates: Outbreaks hit nine facilities in Southern California city

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The following are the updates on the global fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

– – – –

LOS ANGELES — A cluster of COVID-19 outbreaks hit nine facilities in Southern California city of Vernon, the United States, including a meat packing plant in which 153 employees were reported to test positive, authorities said on Sunday.

According to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, five of the nine facilities are meatpacking plants and the largest of the outbreaks was at Smithfield, where 153 of 1,837 employees tested positive for COVID-19.

– – – –

BISHKEK — Kyrgyzstan on Monday confirmed 30 new COVID-19 cases and two new deaths, raising its total number of infections to 1,433 and the death toll to 16.

Among the newly infected are five medical workers, bringing the number of infected medical workers to 280, including 231 recoveries, Deputy Health Minister Nurbolot Usenbaev, said during his daily online news briefing.

– – – –

SYDNEY — Public school students in several Australian states returned to classrooms on Monday, as state leaders unveiled further plans to ease COVID-19 restrictions.

Public schools across New South Wales and Queensland welcomed children back after two months of remote teaching.

– – – –

WELLINGTON — New Zealand reported no new case of COVID-19 on Monday, with the combined total of confirmed and probable cases staying at 1,504, according to the Ministry of Health.

The total number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 remains at 1,154, which is the number reported to the World Health Organization, said a statement of the ministry.

– – – –

SEOUL — A three-day drive-in concert was held over the weekend in South Korea to secure safety and provide comfort for people tired of enduring the prolonged COVID-19 outbreak, Hyundai Motor Company said Monday.

The Hyundai-hosted “Stage X Drive-in Concert” event continued from Friday to Sunday, with 300 vehicles each day parked at a site near Hyundai Motorstudio Goyang in the outskirts of Seoul.

– – – –

NEW DELHI — India’s health ministry Monday morning said 154 new deaths due to COVID-19, besides fresh 6,977 positive cases were reported since Sunday in the country, taking the number of deaths to 4,021 and total cases to 138,845.

This is the highest one day spike in COVID-19 cases so far in the country, showed the data.

– – – –

CHANGCHUN — No new confirmed COVID-19 cases and asymptomatic cases were reported in northeast China‘s Jilin Province on Sunday, the provincial health commission said Monday.

As of Sunday, the province had reported a total of 136 confirmed locally transmitted cases, including two deaths and 109 who had been discharged from hospital after recovery.

– – – –

CAPE TOWN — South Africa will ease the COVID-19 lockdown from level four to level three, beginning from June 1, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced Sunday amid a surge in confirmed cases.

“Moving to alert level three marks a significant shift in our approach to the pandemic,” Ramaphosa said in a televised address to the nation.

(XINHUA)

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Opinion: Post-pandemic world needs better globalization, not less

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Even at a time when the coronavirus pandemic is sweeping the world, beef from New Zealand, red wine from Chile, and detergent from Germany remain just a click away to Chinese customers.

This offers a glimpse of how globalization has led to the creation of a highly integrated world web of interdependence and altered the way of living in many parts of this closely connected global community.

The ravaging pandemic, however, has jolted global supply chains and halted much of cross-border travels. It has also exposed once again some of globalization’s deep-seated deficiencies, and prompted many in academia, politics and the press to debate whether this marks the beginning of an end to this historic process.

It is not the first time that globalization has been questioned or assaulted in times of turbulence. Between the 2008 global financial crisis and this pandemic, sharp criticism against globalization was heard fueled by rising waves of trade protectionism and economic nationalism.

Thousands of demonstrators take part in a rally in Reykjavik, capital of Iceland, calling on the government to resign for the national financial crisis, Nov. 15, 2008. (Xinhua/Guo Lei)

Thousands of demonstrators take part in a rally in Reykjavik, capital of Iceland, calling on the government to resign for the national financial crisis, Nov. 15, 2008. (Xinhua/Guo Lei)

Nevertheless, being a natural process driven by the combined forces of technological breakthroughs, as well as the free flow of people and profit-thirsty capital, globalization has brought down trade and commerce barries, shrunk production costs, stimulated technological cooperation, integrated global markets and financial systems, created inestimable jobs and wealth, and raised living standards throughout the world over the centuries since the Age of Discovery.

These upsides of globalization are unmistakable, and will not be wiped out by a single global crisis. Arjun Appadurai, a U.S. globalization studies expert, argued in an opinion piece published by the Time magazine earlier this month that “globalization is here to stay,” and de-globalization efforts are no more than “wishful thinking.”

Thus the international community, instead of trying to turn inward and break away from each other, should come even closer and make globalization work better for everyone.

Pedestrians’ silhouettes are seen at the Apple store inside the Grand Central Terminal in New York, the United States, Nov. 30, 2017. (Xinhua/Li Muzi)

Pedestrians’ silhouettes are seen at the Apple store inside the Grand Central Terminal in New York, the United States, Nov. 30, 2017. (Xinhua/Li Muzi)

Pedestrians’ silhouettes

The first task should be for countries worldwide to make global production and supply chains more risk-resilient. This pandemic will not be the last one. Other unknown risks and new challenges are likely to emerge in the future.

While some Washington politicians are talking about reshoring the production of critical medical and technological supplies back to the United States, others like Shannon K. O’Neil, a senior fellow with the Council on Foreign Relations, argued that governments and boardrooms should add redundancies to the global manufacturing processes.

Information technologies have also been considered key to rendering future global supply chains more resilient. The World Economic Forum (WEF) suggested in an article published on its website last month that companies should stop recording data like ships’ cargo on paper, and start digitizing their supply chain processes so as to make sure critical information can always be available.

Whatever the proposals — reshoring, multi-sourcing or digitizing, China, with its comprehensive industrial advantages, will remain a critical part of any future global supply chains.

“I don’t think China‘s role as a major source of manufacturing is going to be eliminated. They will continue to be so,” said Morris Cohen, a professor at The Wharton School, told Deutsche Welle last month.

Photo taken on Jan. 7, 2020 shows China-produced sedans at Tesla’s gigafactory in Shanghai, east China. (Xinhua/Ding Ting)

Photo taken on Jan. 7, 2020 shows China-produced sedans at Tesla’s gigafactory in Shanghai, east China.

(Xinhua/Ding Ting)

Secondly, the international community should jointly enhance global economic governance and further boost global free trade.

In mid-April, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) projected that the global economy is on track to contract sharply by 3 percent in 2020 due to COVID-19, probably the worst recession since the Great Depression in the 1930s.

To forestall that nightmare scenario, governments should at the moment better coordinate their macro-economic policies so as to maintain market stability, prop up employment, conduct stimuli proportional to the ongoing pandemic, and restore global growth through such multilateral economic platforms as the Group of 20.

Also, they should give even stronger support to the rules-based multilateral trading system with the World Trade Organization (WTO) at the core. Right now, because of Washington’s intentional obstruction, the WTO’s Appellate Body, which has arbitrated international trade disputes over the past 25 years to ensure fairness, has been left inquorate.

Photo taken on April 12, 2018 shows the abbreviation WTO on the wall of the World Trade Organization headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. (Xinhua/Xu Jinquan)

Photo taken on April 12, 2018 shows the abbreviation WTO on the wall of the World Trade Organization headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. (Xinhua/Xu Jinquan)

The Financial Times, a British newspaper, argued in a recent editorial that the WTO is needed more than ever so that it can “underpin the open global economy we will all need on the other side of the pandemic.”

The U.S. administration should curb its protectionist impulses, and actively and fully back the existing global economic governance system.

The third front should be strengthening international cooperation so that countries worldwide can better respond to their shared non-conventional security challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

Globalization is now far more than just economic integration. As the global village is highly interconnected, the human race needs to ramp up, not to dial down, trans-border cooperation in a bid to jointly tackle common challenges like deadly contagions, climate change, terrorism and cyber attacks, problems no country can solve single-handedly.

The most immediate mission should be stepping up global cooperation against the COVID-19 pandemic and bolster the backbone-role the World Health Organization has been playing in coordinating global endeavor to beat humanity’s common enemy.

The fourth task is to make globalization more inclusive for all. The pandemic has further revealed that globalization has not turned out to be a rising tide lifting all boats, and that it could further widen the global gap between the rich and the poor.

In a WEF research report earlier this month, which focuses on epidemics like H1N1 in 2009, MERS in 2012, and Zika in 2016, and traces out their distributional effects in the five years following each event, the Gini coefficient, a commonly-used index of inequality, has gone up by nearly 1.5 percent on average.

In the United States, the world‘s largest economy, the outbreak recession has kicked millions of the most economically vulnerable Americans out of their jobs, while many are facing a dire choice between protecting their health or their jobs. Also, several racial minority groups account for a disproportionate number of the COVID-19 infections and deaths in the country largely due to lower living and working conditions as well as a lack of access to health care. In Wisconsin alone, a U.S. state with a 6-percent Black population, African Americans account for about half of its outbreak fatalities, according to a recent report by the Washington Post.

A man rides bicycle passing by the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C., the United States, on May 22, 2020. (Xinhua/Liu Jie)

A man rides bicycle passing by the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C., the United States, on May 22, 2020. (Xinhua/Liu Jie)

The pandemic offers decision-makers worldwide a chance to bridge those wealth and health gaps through refashioning policies like reordering tax codes, introducing universal health care coverage, and promoting common development through international cooperation in regions like Africa and the Middle East so as to make sure that the dividends of globalization can be shared by all global villagers.

Following the collapse of the U.S. subprime mortgage markets in 2007, shock waves swept financial sectors in all corners of the world, and the most serious financial tsunami since the Great Depression of the 1930s kicked in. Globalization then encountered a major setback. Yet despite all the second-guessing about it at that time, countries worldwide rose to the occasion and jointly steered the global economy through the uncharted waters and back onto the track of recovery.

Buyers talk with an exhibitor at the 126th China Import and Export Fair, also known as the Canton Fair, in Guangzhou, south China‘s Guangdong Province, Oct. 15, 2019. (Xinhua/Deng Hua)

Buyers talk with an exhibitor at the 126th China Import and Export Fair, also known as the Canton Fair, in Guangzhou, south China‘s Guangdong Province, Oct. 15, 2019. (Xinhua/Deng Hua)

“Our fractured world needs agile governance and smarter globalization,” Klaus Schwab, founder and chief executive of the WEF, once said.

The world will never be the same when this pandemic comes to an end, and neither will the process of globalization. The human race has every reason to repeat what they did in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis and work together to help this unstoppable trend take a turn for the better.

(XINHUA)

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COVID-19 outbreaks hit nine facilities in Southern California city

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A cluster of COVID-19 outbreaks hit nine facilities in Southern California city of Vernon, the United States, including a meat packing plant in which 153 employees were reported to test positive, authorities said on Sunday.

According to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, five of the nine facilities are meatpacking plants and the largest of the outbreaks was at Smithfield (Farmer John), where 153 of 1,837 employees tested positive for COVID-19.

Out of the 153 employees who were positive, a total of 41 Smithfield employees have returned to work, said the department in a statement.

The meat processing company has offered testing to all employees and the positive results span from March through May.

It is unclear if the rise in cases in Vernon’s facilities is due to additional testing or to spread amongst workers, said the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

The department said that it’s supporting the City of Vernon, located around eight kilometers south of downtown Los Angeles, on response and mitigation plans and to ensure that close contacts are identified, and isolation and quarantine orders are issued.

“We are closely monitoring outbreaks within facilities in the City of Vernon, as many of the employees reside in adjacent Southeast Los Angeles communities,” said Barbara Ferrer, director of the county’s Department of Public Health.

“We have assigned an infectious disease doctor to work closely with the Vernon Health Director on response and mitigation plans, and we are engaging in comprehensive contact tracing protocols to ensure that close contacts are identified and isolation and quarantine orders are issued, to keep employees and their families safe,” she added.

Los Angeles County reported 940 new COVID-19 cases and 14 more virus-related deaths on Sunday, raising the countywide total number to 44,988 cases with 2,104 deaths.

(XINHUA)

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Once-in-a-decade storm hammers Australia’s west coast

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Australia’s western coastline endured damaging wind and rain, as a “once-in-a-decade” storm struck on Sunday night and continued into Monday.

Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology warned of abnormally high tides and damaging surf spanning a distance of roughly 3,000 kilometres, from Albany to the Kimberley Coast.

Trees and powerlines knocked down by the storm created hazards and left more than 47,000 homes without power, according to reports by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, while several boats were blown ashore after breaking free from their moorings.

The State of Western Australia (WA) Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) acting assistant commissioner Jon Broomhall warned residents to take particular care securing their homes and property due to the unusual nature of the weather.

“So it’s a once-in-a-decade-type system and it’s from a different angle,” Broomhall said.

“Normally our storms come from the south-west and this will come from the north-west so it will test people’s buildings, sheds and all those unsecured items, so we’re asking people to secure property and make sure everything loose is tied down.”

The storm was the result of a system from ex-Tropical Cyclone Mangga interacting with a cold front over the Indian Ocean.

(XINHUA)

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Tourism industry could benefit from Australian wage subsidy scheme savings: treasurer

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Australia’s treasurer has flagged further support for the nation’s tourism industry amid the coronavirus crisis.

Josh Frydenberg said on Monday morning that some of the 60 billion Australian dollars (39.2 billion U.S. dollars) in savings from the JobKeeper wage subsidy scheme could be redistributed to the struggling tourism industry.

It comes after the Treasury on Friday revealed that the number of Australians accessing the 1,500 Australian dollars per fortnight JobKeeper Payment was almost half the 6.5 million previously estimated, slashing the estimated cost of the scheme from 130 billion Australian dollars to 70 billion Australian dollars.

“When it comes to JobKeeper, we’ll be undertaking a review in the month of June, and we’ll look at how it’s been implemented, what’s happening in various sectors,” Frydenberg told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).

“The tourism sector could be one sector in need of further support. That’s what we’ll look at in the context of the economic situation at the time.

“You’ll continue to see our international borders closed for some time.”

The government has come under pressure to use the savings to extend JobKeeper to casual staff and so on who were excluded from scheme under its initial design.

However, the government have ruled out doing so.

“The estimate was overstated,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters on Sunday. (1 U.S. dollar equals 1.53 Australian dollars)

(XINHUA)

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Commentary: Post-pandemic world needs better globalization, not less

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Even at a time when the coronavirus pandemic is sweeping the world, beef from New Zealand, red wine from Chile, and detergent from Germany remain just a click away to Chinese customers.

This offers a glimpse of how globalization has led to the creation of a highly integrated world web of interdependence and altered the way of living in many parts of this closely connected global community.

The ravaging pandemic, however, has jolted global supply chains and halted much of cross-border travels. It has also exposed once again some of globalization’s deep-seated deficiencies, and prompted many in academia, politics and the press to debate whether this marks the beginning of an end to this historic process.

It is not the first time that globalization has been questioned or assaulted in times of turbulence. Between the 2008 global financial crisis and this pandemic, sharp criticism against globalization was heard fueled by rising waves of trade protectionism and economic nationalism.

Nevertheless, being a natural process driven by the combined forces of technological breakthroughs, as well as the free flow of people and profit-thirsty capital, globalization has brought down trade and commerce barries, shrunk production costs, stimulated technological cooperation, integrated global markets and financial systems, created inestimable jobs and wealth, and raised living standards throughout the world over the centuries since the Age of Discovery.

These upsides of globalization are unmistakable, and will not be wiped out by a single global crisis. Arjun Appadurai, a U.S. globalization studies expert, argued in an opinion piece published by the Time magazine earlier this month that “globalization is here to stay,” and de-globalization efforts are no more than “wishful thinking.”

Thus the international community, instead of trying to turn inward and break away from each other, should come even closer and make globalization work better for everyone.

The first task should be for countries worldwide to make global production and supply chains more risk-resilient. This pandemic will not be the last one. Other unknown risks and new challenges are likely to emerge in the future.

While some Washington politicians are talking about reshoring the production of critical medical and technological supplies back to the United States, others like Shannon K. O’Neil, a senior fellow with the Council on Foreign Relations, argued that governments and boardrooms should add redundancies to the global manufacturing processes.

Information technologies have also been considered key to rendering future global supply chains more resilient. The World Economic Forum (WEF) suggested in an article published on its website last month that companies should stop recording data like ships’ cargo on paper, and start digitizing their supply chain processes so as to make sure critical information can always be available.

Whatever the proposals — reshoring, multi-sourcing or digitizing, China, with its comprehensive industrial advantages, will remain a critical part of any future global supply chains.

“I don’t think China‘s role as a major source of manufacturing is going to be eliminated. They will continue to be so,” said Morris Cohen, a professor at The Wharton School, told Deutsche Welle last month.

Secondly, the international community should jointly enhance global economic governance and further boost global free trade.

In mid-April, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) projected that the global economy is on track to contract sharply by 3 percent in 2020 due to COVID-19, probably the worst recession since the Great Depression in the 1930s.

To forestall that nightmare scenario, governments should at the moment better coordinate their macro-economic policies so as to maintain market stability, prop up employment, conduct stimuli proportional to the ongoing pandemic, and restore global growth through such multilateral economic platforms as the Group of 20.

Also, they should give even stronger support to the rules-based multilateral trading system with the World Trade Organization (WTO) at the core. Right now, because of Washington’s intentional obstruction, the WTO’s Appellate Body, which has arbitrated international trade disputes over the past 25 years to ensure fairness, has been left inquorate.

The Financial Times, a British newspaper, argued in a recent editorial that the WTO is needed more than ever so that it can “underpin the open global economy we will all need on the other side of the pandemic.”

The U.S. administration should curb its protectionist impulses, and actively and fully back the existing global economic governance system.

The third front should be strengthening international cooperation so that countries worldwide can better respond to their shared non-conventional security challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

Globalization is now far more than just economic integration. As the global village is highly interconnected, the human race needs to ramp up, not to dial down, trans-border cooperation in a bid to jointly tackle common challenges like deadly contagions, climate change, terrorism and cyber attacks, problems no country can solve single-handedly.

The most immediate mission should be stepping up global cooperation against the COVID-19 pandemic and bolster the backbone-role the World Health Organization has been playing in coordinating global endeavor to beat humanity’s common enemy.

The fourth task is to make globalization more inclusive for all. The pandemic has further revealed that globalization has not turned out to be a rising tide lifting all boats, and that it could further widen the global gap between the rich and the poor.

In a WEF research report earlier this month, which focuses on epidemics like H1N1 in 2009, MERS in 2012, and Zika in 2016, and traces out their distributional effects in the five years following each event, the Gini coefficient, a commonly-used index of inequality, has gone up by nearly 1.5 percent on average.

In the United States, the world‘s largest economy, the outbreak recession has kicked millions of the most economically vulnerable Americans out of their jobs, while many are facing a dire choice between protecting their health or their jobs. Also, several racial minority groups account for a disproportionate number of the COVID-19 infections and deaths in the country largely due to lower living and working conditions as well as a lack of access to health care. In Wisconsin alone, a U.S. state with a 6-percent Black population, African Americans account for about half of its outbreak fatalities, according to a recent report by the Washington Post.

The pandemic offers decision-makers worldwide a chance to bridge those wealth and health gaps through refashioning policies like reordering tax codes, introducing universal health care coverage, and promoting common development through international cooperation in regions like Africa and the Middle East so as to make sure that the dividends of globalization can be shared by all global villagers.

Following the collapse of the U.S. subprime mortgage markets in 2007, shock waves swept financial sectors in all corners of the world, and the most serious financial tsunami since the Great Depression of the 1930s kicked in. Globalization then encountered a major setback. Yet despite all the second-guessing about it at that time, countries worldwide rose to the occasion and jointly steered the global economy through the uncharted waters and back onto the track of recovery.

“Our fractured world needs agile governance and smarter globalization,” Klaus Schwab, founder and chief executive of the WEF, once said.

The world will never be the same when this pandemic comes to an end, and neither will the process of globalization. The human race has every reason to repeat what they did in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis and work together to help this unstoppable trend take a turn for the better.

(XINHUA)

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Egypt sees daily record of 29 COVID-19 fatalities, death toll hits 764

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Egypt reported on Sunday a new single-day record of 29 COVID-19 deaths, raising the death toll to 764 in the country.

The ministry’s spokesman Khaled Megahed said in a statement that 752 new cases have also been confirmed in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of infections in Egypt to 17,265.

He added that 179 more coronavirus patients were completely cured and discharged from hospitals, raising the total recoveries in the country to 4,807.

During the six-day Eid al-Fitr holiday, which started on Sunday, the evening curfew in Egypt lasts for 13 hours instead of nine to maintain social distancing and avoid gatherings amid the increasing COVID-19 infections.

After the Islamic holiday, the curfew will be reduced to 10 hours for two weeks and then, the government will consider from mid-June easing restrictions and gradually resuming several suspended activities.

Egypt has already started easing restrictions and gradually reopening services and offices that have been halted since mid-March amid the government’s “coexistence plan” to maintain anti-coronavirus precautionary measures while resuming services, businesses and economic activities.

Egypt and China join hands in fighting COVID-19 through mutual support and exchange of medical aid and expertise.

The North African country has received three batches of medical aid from the Chinese government to help its fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

(XINHUA)

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COVID-19 hospitalizations in France slightly up

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The number of patients hospitalized for the COVID-19 infection in France rose by seven to 17,185 in the last 24 hours, the first such increase since mid-April, according to data released on Sunday by the Health Ministry.

The number of patients in intensive care continued the downward trend, falling by 10 to 1,655.

The number of confirmed cases, meanwhile, rose to 144,921, an increase of 115 — the lowest daily increase since mid-March.

The overall death toll in hospitals and in social and medico-social establishments will be updated on Monday.

In the past two weeks of deconfinement, France has maintained almost all coronavirus-linked indicators in green. “But specialists remain cautious about a disease whose incubation time can reach 14 days. The coming week promises to be crucial for the risk of a new wave of contamination,” reported BFM Television.

The government planned to enter a second phase of deconfinement on June 2 if the sanitary situation remains encouraging.

(XINHUA)

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5 killed, 15 injured in Somalia roadside blast

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At least five people were killed and 15 others injured on Sunday in a roadside blast in Baidoa town in southwest Somalia.

A police officer, who declined to be named, said that a land mine exploded near an internally displaced persons (IDP) camp on the outskirts of Baidoa during Eid al-Fitr celebrations.

“The blast occurred near an IDP camp where many people were holding traditional Eid celebrations. We can confirm five people died and 15 others were wounded,” the officer told Xinhua by phone, adding that the casualties could rise as there were many people at the scene.

Ismael Mukhtar Omar, spokesman of the Somali government, confirmed the incident to Xinhua, saying the explosion occurred where people were holding Eid al-Fitr celebrations.

“As we were watching people playing traditional plays, we heard a huge blast sound, and then smoke rose up into the air. We ran to different directions for safety. There were many casualties,” Hani Ibrahim, a witness, told Xinhua via phone.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast.

(XINHUA)

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6 million Australians download “world-leading” COVID-19 tracing app

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The Australian government’s coronavirus tracing app has hit six million downloads, announced Greg Hunt, the Minister for Health, and Stuart Robert, the Minister for Government Services on Sunday, describing the COVIDSafe app as “world-leading.”

“Australia continues to be a world leader in testing, tracing, and containing the coronavirus and I would encourage all Australians to contribute to that effort and download the COVIDSafe app today,” Hunt said in a statement.

The app, which uses Bluetooth to keep a record of fellow users that a person has been in close contact with, was designed to boost authorities’ contact tracing capabilities.

“Remember, as state and territory health officials start to use the COVIDSafe app as part of their tracing efforts, they will only have access to contact information for those people you may have come in close contact with-that is, 1.5m or less for a duration of 15 minutes or more.”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has previously said that in order for the app to be effective at least 40 percent of Australia’s 16 million smartphone users should download it.

As at 3:00 p.m. on Sunday, a total of 7,109 cases have been reported in Australia, including 102 deaths and 6,506 have been reported as recovered from COVID-19, according to Department of Health.

The department also said that the number of new cases in the last 24 hours is four.

(XINHUA)

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Afghanistan closer to realizing peace than ever: FM

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The fast-moving events in recent months have taken Afghanistan closer to peace than ever, but the road ahead is far from smooth, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Sunday.

Wang made the remarks at a press conference on the sidelines of the annual national legislative session.

(XINHUA)

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