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Interview: China a trustworthy partner in COVID-19 pandemic, says political analyst



China has proved to be a trustworthy partner during the COVID-19 pandemic, a Kyrgyz political expert told Xinhua on Friday, noting that China‘s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) will play a role in helping reviving the global economy after the pandemic.

Noting that China was the first country in the world to face the COVID-19 outbreak, Aibolot Aidosov, director of the Public Foundation of the Kyrgyz Media Center, said China was able to localize the spread of the virus in less than three months.

“The countermeasures system, which was developed by Chinese experts during its fight against the epidemic, is now successfully applied in many countries of the world,” he said.

The expert praised China as a reliable partner in fighting the pandemic. For example, Chinese doctors have visited dozens of countries in Asia, South America, Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States to offer humanitarian aid and bring medical masks, medicines, and protective equipments, he said.

In addition, China also provided financial assistance to developing countries affected by the virus, Aidosov said.

Even when China itself was still in a difficult situation facing the epidemic, China has been “pursuing an open policy and is very willing to respond to challenges and trends that are gaining momentum in a pandemic,” he said.

Noting that a pandemic has shown that international economic relations are vital to overcome global crises, the political analyst believed that the BRI, designed to boost global connectivity and trade, would gain new traction.

Kyrgyzstan “has always demonstrated its commitment to this project and its readiness for close cooperation. The world is waiting for new initiatives and projects after the pandemic, and this initiative (the BRI) will undoubtedly be one of the main ones,” he said.

The expert also spoke highly of the Chinese government’s continuous efforts to combat poverty, which have been recognized by the United Nations as a successful example of poverty eradication.

Praising the highly efficient organization and administration of the world‘s most populous nation to help its people achieve prosperity, even during the pandemic, Aidosov said “we see that China will consistently continue to work in this direction.”


Olawale Olukoga: 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]


Interview: Scholar says national security legislation key to tackling turmoil in Hong Kong



“It is urgent and important to end the chaos in Hong Kong through stronger national security legislation,” a Kenyan scholar has told Xinhua during a recent interview in Nairobi.

The recent violence in Hong Kong exposed loopholes in its legal system and the lack of effective enforcement mechanisms in maintaining national security there, as well as lack of legal means to effectively control the riots, said Gerishon Ikiara, an economics scholar at the University of Nairobi.

A draft decision on establishing and improving the legal system and enforcement mechanisms for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) to safeguard national security was submitted Friday to the third session of the 13th National People’s Congress (NPC) of China for deliberation.

Young people hold up China‘s national flag during a flash mob in Hong Kong, south China, Sept. 17, 2019. (Xinhua/Li Gang)

Young people hold up China‘s national flag during a flash mob in Hong Kong, south China, Sept. 17, 2019. (Xinhua/Li Gang)

Ikiara, a former permanent secretary in Kenya’s Ministry of Transport and Communication, said it’s important that the NPC exercises the necessary powers conferred by the Constitution to fix the legal loopholes in order to protect the national sovereignty and security for both the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong.

He said that Hong Kong is a special administrative region of China, and the “one country, two systems” principle has been and continues to be an important prerequisite for its long-term prosperity and stability.

However, external support for anti-China riots and engagement in activities that endanger China‘s national security is likely to pose challenge to the key principle, he noted.

Regarding some Western politicians discrediting and attacking China‘s decision to establish and improve the legal system and enforcement mechanisms, the scholar pointed out that “the issue of safeguarding national security legislation is China‘s internal affairs, and no foreign country has the right to interfere with it.”

The interference was partly responsible for last year’s violent protests, Ikiara noted.

Photo taken on Nov. 17, 2019 shows the fire set by rioters next to a police vehicle outside the Hong Kong Polytechnic University in south China‘s Hong Kong. (Xinhua)

Photo taken on Nov. 17, 2019 shows the fire set by rioters next to a police vehicle outside the Hong Kong Polytechnic University in south China‘s Hong Kong.


Stressing that “one country” is the prerequisite and a basis for effective implementation of the “two systems,” he said under the umbrella of the Basic Law, a combination of Hong Kong‘s original system, economic model, and close links with the mainland have strengthened the region’s ability to withstand financial crises and major disasters, and its status as an international financial, shipping, and trade center.

Establishing and improving the legal system and enforcement mechanisms of the HKSAR to safeguard national security will help improve the practice of “one country, two systems,” which is crucial for Hong Kong to end the chaos, restore order and make the Pearl of the East shine again.

Tourists visit a scenic spot at Tsim Sha Tsui in Hong Kong, south China, Nov. 14, 2019. (Xinhua/Zhu Xiang)

Tourists visit a scenic spot at Tsim Sha Tsui in Hong Kong, south China, Nov. 14, 2019.

(Xinhua/Zhu Xiang)

Ikiara said he believes that as China continues its deepening of reform and opening up, and its promotion of the Belt and Road Initiative, Hong Kong is expected to have more opportunities to achieve long-term economic and social prosperity.


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Interview: Expert says equality key feature of Chinese diplomacy



China believes in equality among countries and strives to pursue equality in international relations, a Kazakh expert has said in an exclusive interview with Xinhua.

Anton Bugayenko, chief expert of the Chinese and Asian studies program at Kazakhstan’s Institute of World Economics and Politics, said that by adhering to the principle of equality, China has been able to win more support from the international arena.

Over the past years, China has been engaged closely in global issues, increasing its gravity in international relations, he added.

The expert noted that under the leadership of the Communist Party of China, China has traveled a journey of tests and global challenges and walked on its path towards national rejuvenation. The COVID-19 epidemic would not waver the country’s determination to achieve the goal, he said.

Bugayenko said China has not only tamed the virus, but actively promoted global cooperation. “China has become a key player in promoting coordination in the anti-virus efforts at the international level,” said the expert.

As COVID-19 rocks the world, China‘s pursuit of cooperation is in stark contrast to the U.S. approach which has defected to isolationism and tried to shrug off its international obligations, said Bugayenko, adding that China‘s call for global cooperation has won more and more recognition internationally.


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Interview: British professor confident about China’s attainment of poverty eradication goal



A British expert has expressed confidence that China will achieve the goal of poverty eradication on time.

Kerry Brown, a professor of Chinese studies and director of the Lau China Institute at King’s College, London, told Xinhua via email recently that it will be a tough period for China and everywhere, but the postCOVID-19 period is also full of opportunities.

Despite the economic impact exerted by COVID-19, at this year’s annual two sessions, China again stressed confidence in achieving its goal of eradicating poverty this year.

Although every country, including China, suffered a huge economic impact from COVID-19, Brown stressed that there is still a chance to face it by trying to innovate and do things in a different way in terms of balance, sustainability and environmentally friendliness.

“There are opportunities in terms of collaboration as well as achieving a new set of reforms because of the urgency of the crisis that faces us,” said Brown.

New industries and sectors may emerge to replace some of the lost employment in other more traditional areas, he added.

Talking about China‘s poverty alleviation story, he still remembered the time when he travelled around the rural areas of Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region in the mid 1990s. “In places like Sizi Wangqi, I remember power cuts were common, and people were living a sort of farming life that hadn’t changed probably for centuries,” he recalled.

However, these days, that area has highways and new buildings, so different that it almost seems another place. “Even (the autonomous region’s capital city) Hohhot is almost unrecognizable from the place I knew so well a quarter of a century ago,” he added.

He attributed the success of China‘s poverty alleviation largely to the agricultural reforms in the late 1970s and early 1980s when the productivity in the agricultural sector was improved radically, freeing up people to work in Town and Village Enterprises.

This hybrid form, he said, is a combination of innovation and control proven successful till today. The question is what sorts of innovations in the future will maintain this momentum.

“Now the achievement of China‘s poverty alleviation is vast, and it’s something that the outside world needs to give China credit for,” said Brown.

It has been the key contributor to the global improvement in literacy levels, fall in malnutrition and poverty levels, improvement in access to clean water, and in generally improving basic human wellbeing, he added.

Brown said this is one of the main reasons why, despite so much pessimism in the world currently, people are living longer, more healthily, and with more prosperity. “China‘s lifting so many people from poverty accounts for much of this,” he said.

In Brown’s eyes, any plan that does not include a fifth of humanity is not going to be serious, but the poverty eradication is one of them.

“The era in which China and the outside world need to create a sustainable and stable template to accept each others differences but work equitably, with reciprocity and fairness with each other is now on us,” he said.


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Interview: Chinese anti-COVID-19 engagement in Africa exemplary act of global solidarity: UN official



Chinese engagement and support to African governments and Pan-African institutions, such as the African Union (AU), in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic should be emulated by countries across the globe as part of the global solidarity against the COVID-19 pandemic, a senior United Nations (UN) official said Saturday.

Speaking exclusively to Xinhua on Saturday, Antonio Pedro, Director of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) Sub-regional Office for Central Africa, stressed that the global community should strengthen solidarity in order to effectively contend the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic across the globe as well as to build back better after the coronavirus pandemic.

The ECA Director, who emphasized the crucial imperative of deepening global solidarity in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, also singled out China as a major player in propelling the much-needed global partnership and collaboration towards combating the virus.

“We see the Chinese engagement and the support that it is providing to African governments and to the African Union in terms of access to medical supplies, masks and other things as part of the global solidarity against the COVID-19 pandemic,” Pedro told Xinhua on Saturday.

“This should be continued; and we very much look forward to see more and more countries to emulate the Chinese example because it’s only through global partnerships, with collaboration, and with supporting each other that we will be able to combat this virus,” he affirmed.

According to the ECA official, the global solidarity against the COVID-19 “is important because if we do not address the pandemic in Africa, it will affect the entire planet earth.”

The ECA official also stressed that the UNECA is exerting its efforts to engage with international financial institutions, the Group of 20 (G20) and others “in recognition to the fact that we need global engagement and global support with a view to address the impact of COVID-19.”

Pedro also singled out the South-South collaboration modality as an important global partnership platform in addressing the adverse impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, with particular emphasis given to addressing the negative impacts of the pandemic on the socioeconomic and healthcare aspects of the African continent.

“The South-South collaboration modality as part of the global partnership is important to address this pandemic, especially in the context of Africa because of the vulnerabilities exacerbated by the COVID-19,” Pedro said.

The South-South cooperation a global platform that promotes an exchange of resources, technology, and knowledge between developing countries.

The ECA director also stressed that the global solidarity against the COVID-19 “goes beyond the short term imperative of curing people that have been affected and ensuring that people don’t infected, but also building back better.”

According to the latest figures from the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), the number of confirmed COVID-19 positive cases across the African continent surpassed 103,933 as of Saturday, while the death toll also surpassed 3,183.

Some 41,473 people who have been infected with the COVID-19 have recovered across the continent as of Saturday, according to the Africa CDC.


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Interview: China’s domestic economic drivers are strong: U.S. scholar



The domestic drivers for the Chinese economy are looking much better and Chinese domestic economic activity has picked up “dramatically” in the last month or so, a U.S. scholar has told Xinhua.

In a video interview on Wednesday, Geoffrey Garrett, dean of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, said “obviously China is several months ahead of the West, and it looks like Chinese domestic economic activity has picked up dramatically in the last month or so,” referring to China‘s recovery from the impact of COVID-19.

He believed the problem for China now will be global demand. “The fact that there will be no global demand in the second half of this year will obviously slow down China‘s recovery, but so, the domestic drivers for the Chinese economy are looking much better and better every day.”

China on Thursday raised the curtain for its annual political high season. This year’s “two sessions” are expected to highlight China‘s final push in poverty alleviation and completing the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects. Such progress is expected to boost its economic growth.

Deputies to the 13th National People’s Congress (NPC) walk towards the Great Hall of the People for the opening meeting of the third session of the 13th NPC in Beijing, capital of China, May 22, 2020. (Xinhua/Xing Guangli)

Deputies to the 13th National People’s Congress (NPC) walk towards the Great Hall of the People for the opening meeting of the third session of the 13th NPC in Beijing, capital of China, May 22, 2020. (Xinhua/Xing Guangli)

Garrett said “2021 was going to be a very big year for China, with a bunch of goals, to be delivered on by that time.”

He explained that though “2020 is just going to be an incredibly difficult year for every economy in the world,” “we should just never lose sight of the fact that what’s happened in China since 1978 is probably the greatest economic miracle in the history of the world.”

“Lifting 700 million … people out of poverty in three or four decades is just extraordinary,” he said in reference to China‘s poverty alleviation efforts.

Talking about international cooperation in the COVID-19 pandemic, the expert said, “I would expect that China could and should be a leading player in any international responses to the pandemic.”

He believed that international collaboration has been absent so far in response to the pandemic. “And I hope we can change that. Of course they have got to be national responses too, but I think coordinated international action is really important,” he said.


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Interview: COVID-19 crisis has limited impact in long term, says German expert



Professor Michael Zuern, director at Berlin Social Sciences Center, believed that the ongoing coronavirus-triggered crisis has a limited long-term impact on the world, and the globalization will not end after the crisis.

“I do not expect that the crisis will change the general setups in society after it is over. We will return to many of the practices that were stable before,” said Zuern in an interview with Xinhua.

Zuern, who also works at the Free University of Berlin, said the ongoing crisis will lead only to an acceleration of some existing developments, for example, the digitalization of society and more state control of the medical industry in the near future.

Those developments, he said, have already appeared before the crisis and they will be strengthened in the short term after the crisis. But after the crisis, “we won’t see an end of globalization.” There is no question that there are alternatives to global production and supply chains. And a partial re-nationalization of business processes is possible.

However, this leads to increased costs and considerable welfare losses. “When normalcy returns, the enormous public and private debts will grow everywhere. We will be in a global recession. The cost pressure will then be particularly high,” he said.

“How to produce in the most efficient and cheapest way? In that situation, globalization will go back. That is the reason why it won’t end,” said Zuern.

Zuern said that mankind has certainly learned lessons from pandemics in history so that the health system has been built and people are more prepared. However, pandemic comes at a certain point that people cannot know in advance, not to mention that pandemics are based on different viruses.

Therefore, Zuern believed that after the pandemic people will be more careful in the way they approach each other, so that it will be fewer handshakes and kisses, and the health system may be better prepared for a crisis, but there is no way to prevent all crises.

“The virus will be controlled with vaccines, so mankind will return to normal again. But a new virus will come in an unknown form and at an unknown time.”

When it comes to politics, Zuern said the crisis did not make a change but accelerated some tendencies that have already emerged before the crisis, for instance, the growing difficulties to organize international cooperation and the change of the global balance of power in favor of China.

Regarding the future of global governance, one outcome of the crisis may turn out to be especially important. Populist governments have criticized global governance the most.

“In comparison, those countries with populist leaders perform the worst in handling the virus, thus possibly weakening the populist thoughts. That might be a positive change the coronavirus brings to the world,” said Zuern.


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Interview: Good relationship with China critical to Australia, says agriculture expert



A good relationship with China is critical to Australia, especially the country’s agricultural sector, said Fiona Simson, president of the Australian National Farmers’ Federation.

“I think it’s critical that relationships are built in the good times because that’s what you go back to in the bad times,” Simson told Xinhua earlier this week, adding that many farmers “believe that this relationship (with China) is a relationship worth investing in.”

Simson is the first female president of the NFF. After four years on the job, she has been a highly effective advocate for the sector’s peak body.

Over the past two decades, China has risen as a key market for Australian exporters, especially for those in the agricultural sector.

As China has become Australia’s largest export destination in recent years, “Australian farmers have matured and become a lot more customer and consumer focused,” Simson said.

“Perhaps we’re helped along by China as a market which is intrinsically like that, where buyers are interested in the technical aspects of produce and consumers are more concerned about quality,” Simson said.

Meanwhile, “it is incredibly important to realize Australia can’t take anything for granted,” she cautioned.

“Whilst Chinese consumers are very fond of Australian produce, most of the things we produce they can get from elsewhere,” she noted, highlighting the importance of bilateral relations.

“This is critical, the relationship needs to be deep, it’s just not enough to have one person who has a good relationship with China, it actually needs to be multi-tiered and multi-pronged,” she emphasized.

“Farmers are very astute businesspeople,” said Simson. “They are very open-minded and accepting of a wide range of people in their communities, because their communities are diverse, they are very aware of building relationships and the importance of trade.”

Although Australia and China have many differences in their cultures and traditions, Simson believes that “at the end of the day we’ve had a very fulfilling trade relationship and that’s built on shared needs and shared outcomes.”

“It’s worth it for both countries to keep working together,” she said.


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Interview: Former U.S. legislator calls for embracing China with respect, friendship



It’s hoped that the international community would be wise enough to “embrace China with respect and an offered hand of friendship” rather than “a sense of rivalry, suspicion and fear,” a former U.S. state legislator has said.

Greg Cusack, a former member of the Iowa House of Representatives, spoke “very positively” of China‘s efforts to help other countries fight the COVID-19 pandemic, and of the country’s vision of building a community with a shared future for mankind.

“Wouldn’t a ‘community of shared future for humankind’ be great? That was the kind of dream that fueled my efforts throughout my life,” Cusack told Xinhua in a recent interview.

Earlier in March in an article published by Shanghai Daily earlier, he noted that the pandemic reminded people of “how we are intimately linked as human beings despite our being of different nationalities.”

“How I wish we could extend this lesson to other fields as well: we all have so much to gain by working together for common goods rather than engaging in futile quarreling,” wrote the politician.

He also believed that what China has done over the past 50 years is “one of the greatest success stories of which I know,” and the world need to “learn a few things from China.”

“What China has done in the past 50 years is incredible, moving from a largely rural society of great poverty and suffering from decades of war to already substantially becoming a ‘moderately prosperous’ society,” he noted.

Specifically, Cusack mentioned that China‘s pledge and determination to reduce poverty has impressed him greatly.

“One of the most impressive things about China‘s goals has been how its leaders have publicly pledged to severely reduce, if not entirely eliminate, poverty within just a few years,” he said.

“In such a society … I believe that far more of the people will genuinely prosper, attaining the realization of what Thomas Jefferson called the pursuit of happiness,” he added.

Overall, the former official pointed out that China‘s “government-directed approach to tackling poverty and encouraging wide-spread development” should be studied by other countries.

In terms of global issues, he hopes China will continue to encourage the rest of the world to build the kind of working partnership “we desperately need if we are to have a chance” in combatting global warming.

As China‘s annual “two sessions” are underway, Cusack said he follows the subjects discussed in the meetings and is curious to see “how recent developments are handled and what resolution or action steps come from them.”

The “two sessions” are the country’s key annual political sessions of the National People’s Congress and the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, which have been postponed until this week because of the COVID-19 epidemic.

“Since China has risen to such prominence in the world already, every decision China makes has significance for, and probable impact upon, the rest of us,” he said.


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Interview: Africa-China ties continue to grow despite COVID-19, says official



Southern Africa anticipates that Africa-China cooperation will continue to grow despite COVID-19, due to their long-standing strong relationship, Southern African Development Community (SADC) Executive Secretary Stergomena Lawrence Tax has said.

Tax said recently that China will continue to be an important partner for Africa and the SADC region in particular.

“In fact, the challenges associated with COVID-19 should be viewed as opportunities to bring us closer together to jointly address the pandemic,” said Tax.

There are many lessons that Africa can learn from China‘s handling of this pandemic, including the speedy identification of the COVID-19 genome sequence, timely sharing of the genome sequence with the world to help develop testing capacities, and the efficient way in which China curbed the spread of the virus inside the country, Tax said.

She said Africa expects this cooperation to be scaled up so China and Africa can continue to benefit from each other’s knowledge and experience in managing this pandemic.

“Beyond COVID-19, we look forward to sharing experiences and expertise in addressing future pandemics, particularly from disaster risk reduction and socio-economic perspectives,” she added.

“We appreciate the solidarity of China in our collective efforts as a continent, to limit the spread of the coronavirus,” she said.

“As China moves towards full control of COVID-19 on its territory, we also expect that it will continue to avail some of its expertise to Africa to help contain COVID-19,” Tax added.

Besides, Tax said the threat against multilateralism that in turn threatens global partnerships is a growing concern.

“SADC is particularly concerned with the growing trend of unilateralism whereby some countries are promoting protectionism and isolationism,” she said, adding the SADC views unilateralism as a direct threat to the integration of the family of nations.

“Africa cannot afford not to cooperate and trade with other African countries, and non-African countries, given our fairly small markets and the fact that we trade in few commodity products,” said Tax.

African countries need to continue to take advantage of their diversities in terms of both absolute and comparative advantages, and work and cooperate with global partners for mutual benefits.

The SADC, established in 1992, aims to promote socio-economic cooperation and integration as well as political and security cooperation among 16 Southern African countries.


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Interview: Int’l collaboration “the only way” to address COVID-19 crisis, says UK scholar



International collaboration is “the only way” to combat the COVID-19 pandemic as sharing best practice, data and helping less developed countries are vital to address the global crisis, a British scholar has said.

“I think collaboration with all countries is the only way to look at this, and that is coordination with all countries globally: sharing best practice, sharing systems, sharing accurate and timely and transparent data and information and that’s the most important thing,” said Mark Eccleston-Turner, a lecturer in law at Keele University, in an interview with Xinhua.

Specializing in the field of international law and infectious diseases, he said Britain, and other Western countries, should also look to help other countries strengthen their health systems to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus, as opposed to adopting a unilateral approach.

Whereas Britain, China and the European Union (EU), among others, have agreed to a collaborative global effort to combat the coronavirus, U.S. President Donald Trump has threatened to permanently cut its funding to the World Health Organization (WHO) and reconsider the U.S. membership in the organization.

Eccleston-Turner believes the United States move would be a huge blow for any sign of international collaboration in the fight against the coronavirus.

“It’s a big blow to multilateralism. It’s a big blow to collaboration. When you look at something like a pandemic of this sorts, it’s a public health emergency of international concern and what that means is it’s an extraordinary event which warrants a coordinated international response.”

The World Health Assembly (WHA), decision-making body of the WHO, opened its first-ever virtual session on Monday, calling for unity, a stronger WHO role and equity amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

At the WHA, EU, Britain, China and others have endorsed the principle of making any COVID-19 vaccine produced in the near future globally accessible.

Eccleston-Turner said that is a very good thing, and it was fundamental that if Britain had successfully developed a vaccine, it would make it available for all.

According to a recent statement from the British government, the University of Oxford has agreed a global licensing agreement with AstraZeneca, a British-based pharmaceutical company, for the commercialization and manufacturing of their potential vaccine.

This means that, if the Oxford vaccine is successful, AstraZeneca will work to make up to 30 million doses available by September for people in Britain, as part of an agreement to deliver 100 million doses in total, the government said.

“The agreement will deliver 100 million doses in total, ensuring that in addition to supporting our own people, we are able to make the vaccines available to developing countries at the lowest possible cost,” said Business Secretary Alok Sharma.

“The real point of collaboration, the real test of collaboration and a real test of the UK’s role within the global community will be what happens if we develop a vaccine,” Eccleston-Turner said.

He said there is important reasons for such collaboration.

“Number one is that a reservoir of COVID-19 anywhere in the world remains a threat to the rest of the world. Even if COVID-19 no longer exists in the UK, if it’s endemic in other regions then it can very easily come to the UK and spread through Europe again — and spread through what we think of the global north again,” said Eccleston-Turner.

Secondly, Britain has a moral duty to share the vaccine with the world, he said.

“Individuals, regardless of wherever they live in the world, need equitable access to a vaccine against the coronavirus and just because we happen to live in a country that can afford this vaccine and can develop this vaccine doesn’t mean that we should deny other people in the rest of the world this vaccine,” he said.


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Interview: Manchester University to build “even stronger” partnership with China, says vice-chancellor



Universities have a particularly important role in helping build international relationships and should continue to play a key role in supporting partnerships despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, said president and vice-chancellor of the University of Manchester.

In a recent interview with Xinhua, Professor Nancy Rothwell, the first female president and vice-chancellor of the largest single-site university in Britain, said the university will continue to build an “even stronger” partnership with China after getting through the pandemic.


Enjoying a long history of strong relationship between the city of Manchester and China, the University of Manchester now has the biggest number of Chinese students in all the European universities.

After the outbreak of COVID-19, the university set up an emergency response group in February, long before the lockdown imposed by the British government, and quickly made the decision to move nearly all of the teaching online.

The vice-chancellor said they also effectively closed most parts of the university while maintained a presence on campus, particularly supporting students in the residences, which include a number of Chinese students. And the university kept things going including mental health support, counselling service, catering for students in residences, and put in place regular contacts with students whether in Britain or overseas.

According to the number offered by the Chinese consulate general in Manchester, about 3,000 — half of the total number of Chinese students — are staying in Manchester after the virus outbreak.

“We have regular discussions with Chinese Students and Scholars Association, as well as the Chinese consul general and his staff in Manchester. We ask them to alert us if there are students that may be struggling but we weren’t aware of,” she said, adding that the Chinese students are always doing well in supporting each other through their strong community and the big indigenous Chinese community in Manchester has always been very supportive.

As the British government published its plan to gradually ease the lockdown restrictions, the universities in Britain are also considering steps to ensure both the safety of students and education quality.

“We are starting to open some parts of the campus and research labs as a test area. We are looking at extra cleaning and keeping social distancing. We believe that in the autumn, most of the lectures will still be online, but we are hopeful the smaller group teaching, the tutorials, will be allowed to be face to face, depending on if that will being safe,” said Rothwell.


Rothwell, also a professor of physiology, co-chair of the Prime Minister’s Council for Science and Technology and president of the British Science Association, has visited China many times during the past 20 years, including two visits with former British prime ministers David Cameron and Theresa May.

She told Xinhua that she was deeply impressed by the “strong and incredibly fast” development in China‘s higher education and scientific research sectors.

“From being a number of years, I would say, China was well behind the West, but now it is no longer behind at all. In fact, in many areas it is leading on. The research institutes and universities are among the best in the world,” she said, adding that she witnessed many partnerships being built between the University of Manchester and universities and businesses in China.

She particularly noted the university’s strong relationship with the Chinese city of Wuhan, a sister city of Manchester, especially during the battle against coronavirus.

“We had sent protective equipment out to Wuhan and they sent it back again to help us. We also have been working with doctors in Wuhan. They have been teaming up with doctors in Manchester to share their experience and advice in dealing with patients with COVID-19, which is really helpful,” she told Xinhua.

Besides, the institute has COVID-19-related researches with joint efforts from Chinese partners. One example is the on-going work with the Peking University in genetics trying to understand all the things in human genes that make some people more likely to get infected while others more likely to recover quickly, she said.


The vice chancellor noted that the University of Manchester has always played a leading role in enhancing Britain-China ties, therefore she sees the prejudice and some unfriendly voices emerged in the British society against China since the COVID-19 outbreak “unhelpful”.

“I think it’s unhelpful. I see the university as having a key role in international relations generally in building bridges and in supporting partnerships. Together with the Chinese community in Manchester and the Manchester China Institute, we’re not listening to these voices. We are going to build up strong relationships, even stronger, once we are through the worst of it,” she said.

She especially mentioned the Manchester China Institute, which was established on campus particularly for promoting mutual understanding and learning between the two cultures. It is now having a study looking around the social impact of the pandemic, to explore how the British and Chinese public have responded to it.

She reaffirmed that the university is looking forward to welcoming more Chinese students on campus and building a stronger partnership with China in the future.

The university is developing Innovation District Manchester, an ambitious world-class innovation park in the heart of Manchester, which has already attracted big interest from Chinese companies.

“As soon as we start to get back to normal, we will not only start building our existing links, but also developing new ones,” she said.


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Interview: U.S. to “fly in the dark” if expanded testing not in place, says expert



“If we do not have expanded testing in place, we will be flying in the dark, once again. We have already seen how that comes out,” a leading U.S. epidemiologist said Sunday.

Robert Schooley, a professor of medicine with the Division of Infectious Diseases and Global Public Health at the University of California, San Diego, told Xinhua in an interview that the biggest challenges facing the United States are having the patience and the wisdom to wait long enough to reopen, and having enough testing in place to react quickly if a flare in transmission occurs.

As many states across the United States are lifting stay-at-home orders and reopening businesses, many experts are concerned that the failure to flatten the curve and drive down the infection rate in places could lead to many more COVID-19 deaths.

“I fear that we will see flares as we race to get back to work in places where the number of new cases has not fallen sufficiently,” Schooley said.

Recently, many influential COVID-19 models cited by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have raised death projections.

The National Ensemble Forecast suggests that the number of cumulative reported COVID-19 deaths are likely to exceed 100,000 by June 1.

“State-level ensemble forecasts indicate that states with low numbers of deaths reported to date are not likely to see a rapid rise in the coming weeks, while states with high numbers of deaths reported to date are likely to see substantial increases,” said the CDC.

The model produced by the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation of the University of Washington, often cited by the White House, projected 147,040 COVID-19 deaths by Aug. 4.

New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and Michigan are projected to have the highest cumulative COVID-19 death tolls through August.

Schooley said projections regarding COVID-19 case rates have continued to fluctuate for a number of reasons.

“There are still areas in the United States where testing is more limited than it should be which has artificially held down the case reporting rate,” he noted.

Furthermore, as a number of states reopen their economies and allow a resumption of a number of activities, it would not be a surprise to see the result be a reversal of the epidemic curve, Schooley said.

This has been observed in a number of places in which people resumed activities when virus was still circulating, he said, citing countries including Singapore, Japan and South Korea.

“There is a good chance that we will also see some of this in the United States,” Schooley added.

Without a vaccine or cure, staying away from infected people is the effective way to stop the virus. Across the country, states that instituted stay-at-home orders have seen plateaus or slower-than-expected declines in COVID-19 cases.

“The restrictions really do work when people follow them assiduously,” Schooley said.

New Zealand and Australia are the most recent examples of how successful distancing can be if people take it seriously and do it for long enough, he told Xinhua.

Still, many states, after weeks of shutdown measures, are already moving to loosen these measures before the first wave of coronavirus has abated.

“Our biggest challenges are having the patience and the wisdom to wait long enough to return to work and school, and having enough testing in place to react quickly if there is a flare in transmission,” Schooley noted.


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Interview: Africa-China ties remain close amid COVID-19 pandemic, says scholar



Ties between China and Africa remain close despite the coronavirus pandemic and would become even closer once the crisis is contained, a Kenyan scholar has said.

Gerrishon Ikiara, a senior economics lecturer at the University of Nairobi, told Xinhua in a recent interview that the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted trade and economic activities between the two sides, as China is an important source of key raw materials and consumer goods for many African countries.

“With the globally imposed restrictions on passenger and cargo transportation, both exports and imports between China and Africa have been heavily disrupted,” said Ikiara.

Data from China‘s General Administration of Customs showed that between January and April, trade value between China and Africa in terms of U.S. dollars declined by 16.8 percent year-on-year, with China‘s exports to Africa down by 9.3 percent and its imports from Africa plunging 24.4 percent.

Ikiara said Kenya’s trade with China has grown rapidly in recent years with imports from the Asian nation currently accounting for 23 percent of Kenya’s total goods shipped in, up from 13 percent in 2013.

The expert added that Chinese companies have become main contractors on major projects in Africa ranging from railway systems to geothermal and mining activities, with China supplying the required equipment, skilled personnel and relevant technologies.

“It is expected that when the pandemic is effectively controlled worldwide, the trajectory of rapid trade in a wide range of products and services including tourism and consultation will be resumed,” said Ikiara. “Chinese individuals like Jack Ma have been active in donating equipment and materials to assist African countries to manage the pandemic.”

The virus, he said, has had a great impact on African countries, many of which have weak health systems.

Ikiara noted that existing close ties between China and Africa would strengthen after the pandemic through platforms like the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation.

“The friendship has already been experienced in the ongoing assistance to African countries by China in form of medicines, key equipment like ventilators, and personnel. Even in the earlier Ebola outbreak which hit Africa, especially West Africa, Chinese assistance in personnel, medical equipment and medicines was outstanding and Africa has continued to show great appreciation,” he said.

“The warm and friendly relationship between Africa and China in the last few decades will most likely be stronger in the postCOVID-19 era. Many people in Africa regard the continued and strengthened relationship between Africa and China as critical and will need to be nurtured in the years and decades to come,” he said.

Ikiara said the numbers of COVID-19 infections and deaths are still low in Africa compared to those in Asia and Europe, but figures may rise in the coming months depending on Africa’s response.

“This could pose a major challenge to the continent in view of the continental stock of essential medical facilities (and) related health infrastructure in general,” he said.

Africa’s confirmed COVID-19 cases stood at 72,336 as of Thursday morning, with the continent recording 2,475 deaths and 25,268 recoveries, according to the Africa Center for Disease Control and Prevention.


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Interview: Aussie lawmaker views COVID-19 as chance to rethink way of working



In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Australian politician Anika Wells found out that she was expecting twins, meaning as well as serving in federal parliament she will soon have three children under the age of four to raise alongside her husband.

Since 2019, Wells has served in Australia’s House of Representatives, the same chamber as the prime minister, representing her electorate of Lilley in the state of Queensland.

Like millions of other Australians, with the onset of COVID-19, Wells’ life took on a radically different structure, balancing online meetings with caring for her young daughter and planning her pregnancy, and spending much less time in the office and more in the domestic sphere.

Seeing families like her own spend the twilight hours together, rather than commuting from work, Wells got thinking that maybe it was the right time to assess how Australians approach work and home-life, and use COVID-19 as an opportunity for change.

“What COVID-19 has done is force everyone except essential frontline workers to work from home for a couple of months which has demonstrated hopefully to many employers out there, that their workers are perfectly capable of being happy and productive from home and that more flexible arrangements are possible,” she told Xinhua.

Australians have the right under current legislation to request more flexible working arrangements, however most are knocked back by employers citing operational reasons, according to Wells.

“All these things are legally possible but when it actually comes to it, it’s the decision of your manager, and people kind of live and die by whether or not their manager is amenable,” Wells explained.

“We have that loose structure in place but we need to change the culture around this.”

Not all jobs can be done remotely and not all those who can would choose to work from home, possibly taking the daily commute as the price for social engagement, collaboration and a work-conducive setting.

But Wells said that there are many like herself who would greatly benefit from having the option to tailor their work hours more to their family and lifestyle.

“Our system is designed around the industrial age notion that you need to turn up to a communal workspace between nine and five in order to be a productive worker, and also that you have someone at home having dinner ready for you when you commute back,” Wells said.

“The difficulty at the moment for working parents is that even if they do make the decision that they want to work part time, they want more time with their young children, they don’t have the ability to secure that,” she said.

“And that’s where our industrial relations system should be, and that’s where culturally I think lawmakers should be doing more.”

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison recently said that he considers industrial relations reform as a key priority coming out of COVID-19, and Wells intends to put forward the reforms she believes workers want.

“He might be prioritizing company tax cuts and changes to the award system, but if you ask workers what reform they need to make their lives easier and to be more happy and productive, I think what many working parents around the country will say is they need more flexibility,” Wells said.


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Interview: UK expert sceptical about chances of substantial UK-U.S. trade deal in near future



The chances of a serious UK-U.S. trade deal remain slim in the near future, even though “a symbolic agreement” between the two sides is a possibility, a British trade expert told Xinhua in a recent interview via email.

Struggling in crucial talks with the European Union (EU) after its departure from the bloc on Jan. 31, Britain started the negotiation of a free trade agreement (FTA) with the United States last week by video conference amid the coronavirus pandemic.

In the view of Peter Holmes, trade expert and fellow of the UKTPO (UK Trade Policy Observatory) at the University of Sussex, “a symbolic agreement” between the two countries still looks to be “the most likely outcome” in the near future.

He noted that, from an economic perspective, Britain will have “very small gains” even under optimistic assumptions, citing the British government’s own analysis published in March.

The British government has published its negotiating objectives with the U.S. side, estimating that a post-Brexit trade deal between the two countries could increase Britain’s gross domestic product (GDP) in the long run by around 0.16 percent under the best scenario.

Despite the possibility of embracing “political and symbolic” benefits, namely to show “Global Britain” could achieve something, Holmes believes that the government would also have a “political price to pay” for that.

“U.S. aims are focused on regulations as well as more lucrative access to the pharmaceutical markets,” Holmes explained, but the British government has declared that it would not allow a deal with the United States to undermine the country’s labour or environmental standards or the principles of the NHS (National Health Service), whose status in the British society has become even more important recently.

Meanwhile, there are rising concerns in Britain that the trade deal would lower barriers to controversial U.S. exports such as chlorine-washed chicken and hormone treated beef. Farm leaders have called on the government to make a clear statement on food imports to the country in post-Brexit trade deals.

“Cheaper food is one obvious aim (for the government) but farmers are now very vulnerable,” said Holmes.

“Britain is well aware of the importance of value chains and the risks that regulatory alignment with the U.S. might affect smooth access to the EU market,” he added, noting that “proximity and history matter a lot.”

In the long run, in Holmes’ view, the current British government may still hope to reorient business to the U.S. market, but “the approach of the (Donald) Trump administration makes this less appealing.”

“The U.S. is neither a popular nor a reliable ally,” he said, “a tilt towards the U.S. will bring (British government) pressure to follow U.S.’ policy.”

A research paper jointly released Monday by the Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government at the Harvard Kennedy School and the King’s College London, also argued that even though a “mini-deal” between Britain and the United States is a possibility, it poses an important strategic dilemma for the British government, with a looming risk of drawing the country into an emerging U.S. foreign and economic policy based on anti-China bilateralism and closing the door on “Global Britain”.

The paper, titled “Will prioritising a UK-U.S. free trade agreement make or break Global Britain?–Transatlantic trade and economic cooperation through the pandemic“, is based on interviews with senior government officials, trade and sector experts in both countries before and during the COVID-19 pandemic.


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Interview: UN humanitarian chief concerned about “spillover effects” of COVID-19 on poorest countries



The United Nation’s humanitarian chief on Thursday said that he was greatly concerned about the “spillover effects” of the COVID-19 pandemic on the poorest countries where the pandemic peak’s is set to arrive in three to six months.

UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock has called for “swift and determined action” to avoid the most destabilizing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

He released a 6.7 billion U.S. dollars appeal and an updated global plan to fight coronavirus in fragile countries, which is the second gigantic UN response plan following the 2 billion U.S. dollars global humanitarian response plan on March 25 to fight COVID-19 in some of the world‘s most vulnerable countries.

“One of the consequences of having such a big economic contraction and such big growth in hunger and all the associated diseases that go with it is that you tend to get instability and social unrest in lots of countries and that can spill over from one country to another,” Lowcock told Xinhua in a virtual interview.

The UN humanitarian chief warned that extremist and terrorist groups might seize the chance to “occupy land” and create other chaos.

“We know from past experience that the best and cheapest way to respond to those kinds of problems is quickly and generously. Otherwise, things will get out of control,” said the UN humanitarian chief.

“They last longer, and it’s harder to deal with them,” he said, adding that the updated response plan needs a lot of money.

COVID-19 has now reached every country, with nearly 3,596,000 confirmed cases and over 247,650 deaths worldwide.

“The peak of the disease in the world‘s poorest countries is not expected until some point over the next three to six months. However, there is already evidence of incomes plummeting and jobs disappearing, food supplies falling and prices soaring, and children missing vaccinations and meals,” it said.

Noting that the most devastating and destabilizing impacts of the pandemic will be felt in the world‘s poorest countries, Lowcock said that these countries face “a double whammy,” namely, the direct health impact and the impact of the global recession and the domestic measures taken to contain the virus.

“We must be prepared for a rise in conflict, hunger, poverty and disease as economies contract, export earnings, remittances and tourism disappear, and health systems are put under strain,” he said.

“This pandemic is unlike anything we have dealt with in our lifetime. Business as usual will not do. Extraordinary measures are needed. As we come together to combat this virus, I urge donors to act in both solidarity and in self-interest and make their response proportionate to the scale of the problem we face,” he said.

Lowcock said that there are humanitarian operations in about 50 countries already and spoke highly of the great devotions of aid workers.

“The aid workers are willing to put their lives at risk by going to these places and working to save other people,” he said.

However, he said humanitarian operations are facing “big challenges” in countries like Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, Sudan, South Sudan, Ethiopia and Somalia.

“So, we are setting up a number of field hospitals and special facilities for aid workers to make it possible for them realistically to do the important work they do,” the UN humanitarian chief noted.


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Interview: Tunisia satisfied with Tunisia-China cooperation in fighting COVID-19: health minister



Tunisian Minister of Health Abdellatif Mekki on Thursday expressed satisfaction with Tunisia’s cooperation with China in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Tunisia-China cooperation “was one of Tunisia’s best experiences in terms of cooperation with foreign countries to cope with the spread of the virus,” Mekki told Xinhua in an interview at the headquarters of Tunisian Health Ministry.

“This pandemic threatens not only one country, but also all humanity,” Mekki said, adding that Tunisia has cooperated with many countries through the World Health Organization to contain the spread of the virus.

The Tunisia-China cooperation in the fight against the novel coronavirus has been done “in many forms including the scientific level, where we have recently organized several video-conferences between Tunisian and Chinese experts, and the commercial level with the acquisition of medical supplies,” the minister said.

“We are satisfied with this cooperation, and we hope that it will develop further in the future,” he said.

Mekki stressed that the Tunisia-China medical cooperation “is not occasional, but dates back to decades.”

China dispatched the first medical mission to Tunisia in 1973, and since then, 1,000 Chinese doctors have been sent to Tunisia to help the country in the fields including general surgery, gynecology, obstetrics, radiography, pediatrics, orthopedics, cardiology and acupuncture, the minister noted.

The Chinese medical teams have provided health screening services for more than 5.7 million Tunisian patients, medical treatment for over 880,000 patients in Tunisian hospitals, and 320,000 surgical interventions, he added.

On Tunisia’s fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, the minister said that his country has controlled “the first wave of the spread of the coronavirus.”

“Tunisia is among the countries that have recorded a low number of confirmed cases of COVID-19,” Mekki said.

On Wednesday, Tunisia reported three new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number of the infections in the country to 1,025.

“In order to confront this pandemic, Tunisia took early preventive measures on the health and socio-economic levels,” Mekki said.

However, he warned of a possible second wave of the virus’ spread in Tunisia.

“Despite the positive results that we have recorded, we must remain wary of the possibility of a second wave, especially after the start of partial lifting of lockdown which allows hundreds of thousands of workers and employees to return to work in the public and private sectors,” said Mekki.

Amid the improvement of the situation, Tunisia started on May 4 partial lifting of the lockdown, which includes three stages, from May 4 to 24, from May 24 to June 4, and from June 4 to 14.

On April 29, the Tunisian government listed the sectors involved in the first phase of the partial lifting of lockdown as transportation, health, food, self-employment, artisans and services.


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Interview: Lockdown exit plan key to UK job support scheme’s sustainability, says expert



As the British government plans a “gradual” winding down of its ambitious Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), question has been raised about the sustainability of the unprecedented job support scheme if it is prolonged beyond its expiry date on June 30.

How the government executes the exit strategy from the lockdown is key to the sustainability of the CJRS, an expert told Xinhua in a recent interview.

When the lockdown restrictions were first put in place in Britain in March, the British government had to quickly sort out a complex package to keep the country’s economy ticking, including the CJRS which opened for applications on March 20.

According to the CJRS, announced by Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak, the government would cover 80 percent of workers’ wages, up to 2,500 pounds (about 3,109 U.S. dollars) for a period of three months ending at the end of May, if they were to be put on leave by their employer, or “furloughed”.

The scheme’s duration was then extended by one extra month until the end of June after being announced.

Earlier this week, British airline industry bosses urged the government to extend the CJRS, saying that airlines hit by novel coronavirus would face “a renewed cash crisis” should the scheme be withdrawn prematurely.

Geraint Johnes, professor of economics at Lancaster University Management School, believes extending the scheme beyond June could bring problems in terms of the package’s sustainability.

“For three months, the CJRS is sustainable, but it includes an increase in government debt,” Johnes told Xinhua, “as the time period for when this needs to be in place increases, it becomes less sustainable.”

The biggest question looming over the CJRS is what it means for the wider economy in the long-term, said Johnes, citing the CJRS’s first installment was likely to cost around 40 billion pounds (about 50 billion dollars).

“That’s a one shot 40 billion pounds…but it does increase the national debt and there does come a point where the national debt is increasingly unsustainable,” he explained.

On Monday, Sunak told MPs in the House of Commons that he is planning a “gradual” winding down of the scheme, in an attempt to avert a surge in unemployment after its scheduled expiry on June 30.

Johnes stressed how Britain exits the lockdown is key to how sustainable the scheme will be.

He believes the exit will take the form of a “partial exit in the first instance” with the definition of key workers being expanded to allow more people to go back to work.

But even then, Johnes said that it is likely that pubs, restaurants, theaters and sporting venues will be held until near-last to be reopened. It means that the CJRS will still have to be in place to cover workers in those sectors’ income.

“How we come out of this (scheme) will govern how sustainable it will be. Because it will govern how much this will cost,” he said.


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Interview: West scapegoating China to divert attention from its own incompetence, says Russian expert



The West is blaming China for the COVID-19 pandemic to divert attention from its own incompetence in fighting the global threat, a Russian expert said on Monday.

“The example of China has shown everyone that defeating the coronavirus epidemic is possible. And this, of course, will have a serious impact on the position of many people in the world,” Alexei Mukhin, director general of the Center for Political Information think tank, said in an interview with Xinhua.

Mukhin also said China and Russia are fighting the disease effectively, as well as providing diverse support to other countries, including sending teams of virologists and planeloads of protective equipment to countries severely hit by the pandemic.

“The United States generally demonstrates a pattern of selfish behavior and it has long left the legal field, which requires additional analysis and conclusions of the world community,” Mukhin said.

He gave the example of the United States attempting to purchase data from German scientists who had made progress in the creation of an anti-coronavirus vaccine, “only for the United States of America.”

“This demonstrates an extremely abominable position of the leadership of the United States,” Mukhin said.

“And that is why Western propaganda will now blame China and Russia for anything with the sole purpose of diverting attention from the West and its problems and from the ignominious actions of a number of politicians,” Mukhin added.


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Interview: China’s medical aid “very valuable” to Sri Lanka as medical workers boosting test for COVID-19: official



The medical aid donated by China including test kits is “very valuable” to Sri Lanka as the country is boosting test for the COVID-19 virus, a health official said here Monday.

In an interview with Xinhua, Director General of Health Services at the Health Ministry Anil Jasinghe said Sri Lanka has in recent days witnessed an increase in the number of confirmed cases of the COVID-19 as the country has begun testing to identify more patients.

Jasinghe, also vice chairman of the executive board of the World Health Organization, said Sri Lanka has not detected any community transmission of the virus so far.

Jasinghe was speaking on the sidelines of a ceremony held at the Health Ministry premises in capital Colombo, where China handed over its latest batch of donation of medical aid to Health Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi to support the country in fighting the pandemic.

“The support from China is very valuable because these are donations and this is the second consignment we have received, and we have been informed the third consignment is going to come soon. Getting these supplies at the moment is a big bonus for us,” Jasinghe said.

He noted that quality of the medical equipment and test kits from China are good and medical workers have not faced any problems with them.

Sri Lanka has so far reported over 550 confirmed COVID-19 cases and recorded seven deaths.

Jasinghe said it is difficult for medical workers to predict the number of the COVID-19 cases in the coming days but the situation is well under control in the island country.

The authorities, medical workers and military personnel, among others, are working round the clock to ensure the safety of all citizens and limit the spread of the virus while a curfew is in place in four districts including capital Colombo which has been identified as “high-risk zones.”

Jasinghe said there are no Chinese nationals detected with the virus in Sri Lanka now.

He urged to stop stigmatization concerning the COVID-19, noting that the COVID-19 is a global issue.

Looking forward, Jasinghe said there is hope that Sri Lanka could eliminate the virus soon as no community transmission has been detected.

He said health staff and supportive staff have been deployed across the country and contact tracing is underway.

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