Tag Archives: asia

Fresh deadly virus ‘SFTSV’ attacks China; kills 7 after COVID-19 rage

Advertisements

China, where the coronavirus was detected last December, is now facing a new health threat from another virus, that is tick-borne. The virus causes a disease called “Severe Fever with Thrombocytopenia Syndrome (SFTS).

According to reports, it has already killed seven people and infected at least 60, setting off alarm bells among health officials in the country.

Many of the cases reported were concentrated in East China’s Jiangsu and Anhui provinces, local media reported.

While more than 37 people were diagnosed with SFTS in Jiangsu in the early months of 2020, 23 were later found to be infected in Anhui.

Advertisements

While the disease is transferred to humans through tick bites, Chinese virologists have warned that human-to-human transmission of the virus cannot be ruled out.

Unlike SARS-CoV-2 however, this is not the first time the SFTS virus has infected people.

The recent spate of cases merely marks a re-emergence of the disease, IndianExpresss.com reports.

Severe fever with thrombocytopenia syndrome virus (SFTSV) belongs to the Bunyavirus family and is transmitted to humans through tick bites. The virus was first identified by a team of researchers in China over a decade ago. The first few cases were reported in rural areas of Hubei and Henan provinces in 2009.

Advertisements

The team of researchers identified the virus by examining blood samples obtained from a cluster of people exhibiting similar symptoms. According to a report by Nature, the virus killed at least 30 per cent of those infected.

The current case fatality rate rests between approximately 16 and 30 per cent, according to the China Information System for Disease Control and Prevention.

Due to the rate at which it spreads and its high fatality rate, SFTS has been listed among the top 10 priority diseases blue print by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Virologists believe an Asian tick called Haemaphysalis longicornis is the primary vector, or carrier, of the virus. The disease is known to spread between March and November.

Advertisements

Researchers have found that the total number of infections generally peaks between April and July.

Farmers, hunters and pet owners are particularly vulnerable to the disease as they regularly come in contact with animals that may carry the Haemaphysalis longicornis tick.

Scientists have found that the virus is often transmitted to humans from animals like goats, cattle, deer and sheep.

Despite being infected by the virus, animals generally do not show any symptoms associated with SFTSV.

Advertisements

What are the symptoms of the SFTFS virus?
According to a study conducted by a team of Chinese researchers in 2011, the incubation period is anywhere between seven and 13 days after the onset of the illness.

Patients suffering from the disease usually experience a whole range of symptoms, including, fever, fatigue, chill, headache, lymphadenopathy, anorexia, nausea, myalgia, diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain, gingival hemorrhage, conjunctival congestion, and so on.

Some of the early warning signs of the disease include severe fever, thrombocytopenia or low platelet count and leukocytopenia, which is low white blood cell count.

The risk factors observed in more serious cases include multi-organ failure, hemorrhagic manifestation and the appearance of central nervous system (CNS) symptoms.


#Newsworthy…

COVID-19: Nine dies after ‘drinking hand sanitizer’ in India

Advertisements

Nine people have died in India from drinking alcohol-based hand sanitiser after liquor shops in their town were closed due to virus restrictions, police said Friday.

The group lost consciousness after consuming a “high quantity” of hand sanitiser mixed with water or soda, Siddharth Kaushal, police superintendent for Kurichedu town in Andhra Pradesh state told Media (known to Noble Reporters Media).

They were rushed to hospital but declared dead on arrival, he said.

The group turned to hand sanitiser “as a substitute” for liquor after supplies were cut off when authorities ordered a lockdown of the town to combat the coronavirus, he added.

An investigation into the nine deaths has been launched, he said.
Advertisements

Hundreds of poor people die every year in India due to alcohol poisoning, mostly from consuming cheap hooch.

An Indian official uses a hand sanitiser on July 27, 2020. Dibyangshu SARKAR / AFP

Bootleggers often add methanol — a highly toxic form of alcohol sometimes used as an anti-freeze or fuel — to their home-brew liquor to increase the alcoholic content.

The deaths in Kurichedu occurred shortly before India’s coronavirus death toll passed 35,000 on Friday, overtaking that of Italy.

Total infections in the world’s second-most populous country are now 1.63 million, surpassed only by the US and Brazil, both of which have much smaller populations.


#Newsworthy…

Zambia request debt relief from China

Advertisements

Zambia’s President Edgar Lungu has requested debt relief and cancellation from China due to the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic, his office said.

Lungu made the appeal in a telephone call with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping on Monday.

“President Lungu called for debt relief and cancellation in light of reduced revenue due to the negative impact of the pandemic, as well as competing needs for the country, to secure adequate resources to fight the pandemic and to stimulate the economy,” the presidency said in a statement released late Monday.

Advertisements

Africa’s second largest copper producer is one of China’s prominent debtors, owing billions of dollars.

“Chinese project finance loans to Zambia amount to between US$6 billion and US$9 billion, based on unofficial sources,” said Robert Besseling, director of risk assessment firm EXX Africa.

A photo combination of Zambia’s President Edgar Lungu and Chinese President, Xi Jinping, created on July 21, 2020.

“However not all the funds have been disbursed, while the Zambian government itself has been unable to account for its obligations to China. An official audit has been withheld for several years,” he said.

Advertisements
Zambia’s external debt is projected to soar above 60 percent of GDP this year.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) last week predicted that Zambia’s economy will contract by five percent in 2020, compared to growth of 1.5 percent posted last year, due to the coronavirus pandemic and severe drought.

To date the country has recorded 2,980 coronavirus cases, including 120 deaths.

EXX Africa expects Zambia’s debt rating to “deteriorate significantly in 2020” and says it will remain “one of Africa’s worst country risk performers in the year ahead”.

Advertisements

“Zambia’s sovereign has been unable to maintain payments on various loan agreements and contractor commitments over the course of 2019,” said Besseling.

Mining revenue dropped nearly a third between February and April this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to the country’s mining chamber.

Nearly half of the country’s tax revenues goes towards debt servicing


#Newsworthy.

Just in: Rare Ring of Fire solar eclipse to dim Africa, Asia

Advertisements

Skywatchers along a narrow band from west Africa to the Arabian Peninsula, India and southern China will witness on Sunday the most dramatic “ring of fire” solar eclipse to shadow the Earth in years.

Annular eclipses occur when the Moon — passing between Earth and the Sun — is not quite close enough to our planet to completely obscure sunlight, leaving a thin ring of the solar disc visible.

They occur every year or two, and can only been seen from a narrow pathway across the planet.

Remarkably, the eclipse on Sunday arrives on the northern hemisphere’s longest day of the year — the summer solstice — when Earth’s north pole is tilted most directly towards the Sun.

The “ring of fire” will first be seen in northeastern Republic of Congo at 5:56 local time (04:56 GMT) just a few minutes after sunrise.

Advertisements

This is the point of maximum duration, with the blackout lasting 1 minute and 22 seconds.

Arcing eastward across Asia and Africa, it will reach “maximum eclipse” — with a perfect solar halo around the Moon — over Uttarakhand, India near the Sino-Indian border at 12:10 local time (6:40 GMT).

More spectacular, but less long-lived: the exact alignment of the Earth, Moon and Sun will be visible for only 38 seconds.

“The annular eclipse is visible from about two percent of Earth surface,” Florent Delefie, an astronomer and the Paris Observatory, told AFP.

Advertisements

“It’s a bit like switching from a 500-watt to a 30-watt light bulb,” he added. “It’s a cold light, and you don’t see as well.”

Good weather key
Animals can get spooked — birds will sometimes go back to sleep, and cows will return to the barn.

The full eclipse will be visible somewhere on Earth during just under four hours, and one of the last places to see a partially hidden Sun is Taiwan before its path heads out into the Pacific.

People hundreds of kilometres on either side of the centreline across 14 countries will also see light drain from the day, but not the “ring of fire”.

Advertisements

Weather conditions are critical for viewing.

“Good weather is the key to successful eclipse viewing,” astrophysicist Fred Espenak, an expert on eclipse prediction, commented on the NASA Eclipse website. “Better to see a shorter eclipse from clear sky than a longer eclipse under clouds.”

A solar eclipse always occurs about two weeks before or after a lunar eclipse, when the Moon moves into Earth’s shadow. Lunar eclipses are visible from about half of Earth’s surface.

There will be a second solar eclipse in 2020 on December 14 over South America. Because the Moon will be a bit closer to Earth, it will block on the Sun’s light entirely.

Advertisements

It will take less than 100 minutes for the path of this eclipse to move across the continent.

Even if the day has darkened, looking at a solar eclipse with the naked eye is dangerous.

Sunglasses — which don’t filter out UV rays — do not offer any protection, Delefie warned.

“The Sun is so bright that even when there’s only a tiny portion visible, it is still dangerous for the eyes,” he said.


#Newsworthy…

Advertisements

China-India Border War: Flashes in Southern Asia

Advertisements

Deadly violence in Himalayan region after thousands of troops from both sides face-off for weeks.


At least 20 Indian soldiers have been killed after a violent confrontation with Chinese troops in the Himalayan region of Ladakh in the deadliest clash in nearly 50 years, with experts warning of a new geopolitical flashpoint in South Asia.

New Delhi blamed Beijing for Monday’s clash in Galwan Valley near the Line of Actual Control (LAC) where the Chinese and Indian troops have been engaged in a standoff since early last month.

The heightened tensions between the two nuclear-armed countries have drawn international concerns, with the UN urging both sides “to exercise maximum restraint”. The two sides previously fought a brief and bloody war over the demarcation of the border in the region in 1962.

India’s External Affairs Ministry on Wednesday accused the Chinese side of attempting “to unilaterally change the status quo” in Galwan Valley – a key geostrategic junction in the Himalayan region where India is building a road to connect to an airstrip close to China.

The Indian army in a statement said “the violent face-off took place” on Monday night during “the de-escalation process” in the Galwan Valley. It said there were casualties “on both sides”.

Advertisements

China has not officially commented on the casualty figures on its side.

India said since early May thousands of Chinese troops have crossed to the Indian side of the LAC, the 3,488km (2,167-mile) de facto border between the two neighbours, at several places – Pangong Tso Lake, Galwan Valley and Demchok in Ladakh, and Nathu La in Sikkim – and built bunkers and brought armoured trucks and artillery.

Neither side has released a detailed account of Monday night’s fighting as both governments have shared little information with the media.

Indian officials, however, said no weapons were used in the clash, with soldiers engaged in brutal hand-to-hand fighting with clubs and staves about 4,270 metres (14,000 feet) above sea level amid sub-zero temperatures.

China blamed India for the violent clashes and insisted it did not want the situation to escalate. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said on Wednesday the border situation was “stable and controllable”.

Advertisements

Outrage in India
The killing of Indian soldiers, including a colonel, has caused outrage in India with people calling on the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to boycott Chinese products. Beijing is India’s biggest trading partner, with annual bilateral trade worth $92bn.

On Wednesday, Rahul Gandhi, the leader of the opposition Congress party, questioned Modi’s silence on the biggest border tension in decades. “Enough is enough, we need to know what happened. How dare China kill our soldiers, how dare they take our land,” he wrote on Twitter.

Enough is enough. We need to know what has happened.

How dare China kill our soldiers?
How dare they take our land?

Later on Wednesday, Modi assured that “the sacrifice of our jawans [soldiers] will not go in vain”.

“For us, the unity and sovereignty of the country is the most important … India wants peace but it is capable to give a befitting reply if provoked,” said Modi’s statement carried by the local ANI news agency.

Meanwhile, in a sign of de-escalation, foreign ministers from both countries spoke via telephone and agreed to “cool down” tensions.

Advertisements

Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi spoke to his Indian counterpart, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, on Wednesday and expressed his willingness for “a diplomatic solution” to the border crisis, China’s foreign ministry said in a statement.

The ministry said Jaishankar also expressed his country’s desire to “peacefully resolve the border conflict and relieve regional tensions through dialogue”.

Chinese concerns, interests
Analysts said the current standoff is a result of China’s pushback against India’s construction of military infrastructure in border areas in recent years.

“I believe China has been concerned at Indian road building along the LAC particularly one road that was completed last year that essentially allows connectivity from Leh, the capital of Ladakh, all the way to Karakoram Pass,” said Michael Kugelman, deputy director of the Asia Program at The Wilson Center.

Advertisements

The 255km (158-mile) Darbuk-Shyok-Daulat Beg Oldie (DSDBO) road was inaugurated last year. China has objected to the extension of a branch of the DSDBO.

China’s economic corridor to Pakistan and Central Asia passes through Karakoram, which is close to the Galwan Valley. The disputed area is close to the Aksai Chin plateau, which is under Chinese control but claimed by India.

“Ladakh and eastern Ladakh is crucial for China’s access to Central Asia and CPEC project with Pakistan in which they [China] have invested billions of dollars [about $60bn],” said Happymon Jacob, professor of international relations at Jawaharlal Nehru University based in New Delhi.

“China is worried about it [India’s border military infrastructure] because you have a situation where China has lots of interests in that particular region.”

Advertisements

Jacob and Kugelman believe geopolitics is at play with China, a rising superpower, taking on India. “I think that is the message that China is trying to convey through this confrontation to the other states [in the region],” Jacob told Al Jazeera.

New Delhi’s decision to revoke the special status of Indian-administered Kashmir last August also angered Beijing. Indian defence experts say China demanded New Delhi reverse its decision on the status of Kashmir.

India repealed Article 370 of its constitution that guaranteed a measure of autonomy to Kashmir and subsequently carved out Ladakh from Kashmir and made it into a federally-administered territory.

China, along with its close ally Pakistan, condemned India’s move and raised the issue at the UN Security Council (UNSC).

Indian army trucks move along a highway leading to Ladakh, at Gagangir in Kashmir’s Ganderbal district [Danish Ismail/Reuters]
Kugelman said geopolitical factors played a role in the latest escalation. “I think any conversation about Chinese motivation for its recent provocation has to address the repeal of Article 370.”

“I think it’s clear, Beijing responded strongly and quickly after India made that move last year. I think China looks at [the] Article 370 repeal similarly to Pakistan that India made a unilateral move that affected territory China claims [as] its own. I do think the Article 370 is very much a part of China’s broader thinking,” he said.

Advertisements

India and Pakistan have fought three wars over Kashmir – a Muslim-majority Himalayan region that has witnessed armed rebellion against Indian rule.

Strong US-India ties
Kugelman said the other major geopolitical factor at play is the US-India-China triangle.

“While the US-China relationship has been collapsing, the US-India relationship has been rapidly growing. I think China understands that. Its message to India: ‘If you want to get closer to my rival, that’s fine, but look what we can do to you in return’,” he said, adding that US support to India has been “much more public and robust” this time.

Jacob, the foreign policy professor, said India should reach out to the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, known as Quad, with Japan and Australia. India and the US are the other members of this group.

Advertisements

“If the USA makes noises in favour of India and strengthens the Quad, it will send a message to China that we will take aggressive steps and will defend our interest,” he said.

“They [Quad] should conduct more joint military exercises in [the] Indian ocean region where Chinese have major economic and commercial interests.

“Even they [the US] share fraction of information with India, the Indian planning vis a vis Chinese will improve drastically.”

As the two sides prepare for dialogue, their entrenched positions on controlling strategic areas in one of the harshest frontiers in the world might become an impediment to finding resolution to the border standoff.

Advertisements

Galwan area – a key strategic junction – is particularly important for India due to its proximity to the Nubra valley, which is a feeder station for the Indian forces deployed in Siachen glacier.

Pakistani forces are also deployed at in parts of Siachen – dubbed the highest battlefield in the world at 6,000 metres (20,000 feet).

Jacob says China would demand concession from the Indian side. “They might say that Indian infrastructure in certain areas should not continue,” he said.

“Chinese control of Galwan Valley could in the future threaten India in Siachen glacier.”

For Modi, a Hindu nationalist who won re-election in May 2019 following military conflagration with its foe Pakistan, the border crisis comes at a time when New Delhi is facing an economic crisis as it struggles to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Advertisements

Regional tensions
Modi’s neighbourhood-first policy seems to be in tatters as it is now locked in border disputes with three of its neighbours, including its traditional friend Nepal. New Delhi and Kathmandu are engaged in what experts have called cartographic war.

“There is no question about the fact that India neighbourhood policy in last few years have been in complete failure,” Jacob, the foreign policy professor, said.

“Even Bangladesh has issues with India after how ruling party leaders have been going on talking about Bangladeshi immigrants in India as ‘termites’.

“I think we are facing very tight situation at this point of time. On the one hand the major power in the region, China, is against India and on the other hand, smaller neighbours, which have been traditionally very friendly to India, are also negatively disposed to India. I think that is the major policy failure,” he said.


#Newsworthy…

Advertisements

Just in: China defends COVID-19 at WHO assembly.

President Xi Jinping says Beijing has always been transparent and promises $2bn in global COVID-19 aid.


  • World leaders have spoken at the virtual meeting of the World Health Assembly, as many countries have called for an independent probe into the pandemic.
  • Chinese President Xi Jinping says Beijing has always been transparent about the outbreak and will support a probe once the pandemic is under control.
  • India reports 5,242 new cases of coronavirus, taking the country’s infection tally to more than 96,000, the highest in Asia.
  • Globally, there have been more than 4.7 million known cases of COVID-19, and nearly 315,000 people have died, according to Johns Hopkins University. More than 1.7 million people have recovered.

#Newsworthy…

Advertisements
Advertisements

[United States] There May Be Revenge For COVID-19 – Rage As Trump Threatens China.

Advertisements

US President Donald Trump suggested he may seek damages from China over the coronavirus pandemic which began in the Chinese city of Wuhan and spread around the world, prompting a furious response from Beijing on Tuesday.

Beijing and Washington have clashed repeatedly over the outbreak as tensions have soared between the world’s two biggest economic powers.

“We are not happy with China,” Trump said at a White House briefing Monday. “We are not happy with that whole situation because we believe it could have been stopped at the source.

Advertisements

“It could have been stopped quickly and it wouldn’t have spread all over the world,” he said, saying there were many options to “hold them accountable”.

Trump was asked about a recent German newspaper editorial which called on China to pay Germany $165 billion in reparations because of economic damage due to the virus.

Asked if the US would consider doing the same, Trump said: “we can do something much easier than that.”

Advertisements

“Germany is looking at things, we are looking at things,” he said. “We haven’t determined the final amount yet,” Trump said.

In Beijing, a foreign ministry spokesman on Tuesday accused US politicians of “telling barefaced lies”, without naming Trump specifically, and of ignoring their “own serious problems”.

“American politicians have repeatedly ignored the truth and have been telling barefaced lies,” Geng Shuang told reporters at a regular press briefing.

Advertisements

“They have only one objective: shirk their responsibility for their own poor epidemic prevention and control measures, and divert public attention.”

Geng said US politicians should “reflect on their own problems and find ways to contain the outbreak as quickly as possible.”


Tensions and doubt


There have been nearly a million infections with more than 56,000 coronavirus-related deaths in the United States and the pandemic has shut down huge swathes of the economy.

Advertisements

In China, the outbreak seems to be under control with no new deaths reported for 13 straight days and the toll standing at 4,633 — although several countries have cast doubt over whether the numbers are accurate.

Trump and his Secretary of State Mike Pompeo angered Beijing last month by repeatedly referring to “the Chinese virus” when discussing the COVID-19 outbreak — although they later appeared to drop the term.

But a foreign ministry spokesman in Beijing later suggested that it was the US military which brought the virus to Wuhan — prompting angry claims from Trump that China was spreading misinformation.

Advertisements

Since then the US president has repeatedly attacked China’s lack of transparency and the slowness of its initial response to the outbreak.

Claims from the US that the virus actually originated in a virology institute in Wuhan with a high-security biosafety laboratory have also been angrily refuted in China.


#Newsworthy…

Advertisements
Advertisements

Nigerian govt react to alleged mistreat of citizens in China.


The Federal Government has reacted to the alleged maltreatment of Nigerians in Guanzhou, China in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a press conference on Tuesday in Abuja, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, blamed the maltreatment on poor communication by the Chinese authorities.


Onyeama explained that a thorough investigation carried out by the Chinese and Nigerian authorities revealed that a group of Nigerians in the last flight to Guanzhou tested positive for COVID-19 including a Nigerian lady who owns a restaurant in the city.

While noting that the Chinese government insisted they be quarantined with strict measures, the minister stressed that the videos circulating online were of Nigerians who flouted the strict measures and the measures to check them were misinterpreted.


According to him, a Nigerian national who tested positive for the virus wanted to leave the hospital after a week of quarantine and when he was restrained, he bit a nurse.

He noted that Nigerian officials have met with Chinese officials to register their displeasure and the Chinese government assured them that they have zero tolerance for racism, adding that they were on top of the situation.

He added that the Chinese government especially the Guanzhou authorities should have communicated with the Nigerian consulate in China.

Onyeama is of the view that efforts towards the quarantine of Nigerians who tested positive to coronavirus, coupled with strict measures to be adopted following the flouting of the quarantine should have been a joint effort between both countries.


#Newsworthy…

COVID-19: India extend lockdown till May 3.


India’s nationwide coronavirus lockdown, the biggest in the world covering 1.3 billion people, will be extended until May 3, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Tuesday.

The move comes despite complaints
millions of poor, a vast underclass who have been left almost completely without support as jobs have vanished and incomes dried up.

“From the economic angle, we have paid a big price,” Modi said. “But the lives of the people of India are far more valuable.”

“From the experiences of the last few days, it is clear that the path we have chosen is correct.”

India’s current three-week-old lockdown, in force since March 25, had been scheduled to end at midnight Tuesday.

Modi said there would be “limited relaxations” from April 20 for districts with no cases, and new guidelines for industry and agriculture would be released on Wednesday.

The announcement comes as debate rages around the world on how to lift restrictions so that the economic carnage of the pandemic can be eased without a new spike in infections.

Official figures suggest South Asian nations have so far been relatively unscathed by the epidemic, with around 10,000 cases and 339 deaths in India.

Some experts say India has not conducted enough tests and that the true number of infections is much higher.

And with some of the most crowded cities on the planet, there are fears that numbers could take off and overwhelm the shaky healthcare system.

Several states including Maharashtra — home to Mumbai and with the highest number of cases — Tamil Nadu and Odisha have already announced lockdown extensions.

The World Health Organisation Tuesday praised India’s decision to extend the lockdown, saying “it would go a long way in arresting the virus spread”.

“Despite huge and multiple challenges, India has been displaying unwavering commitment in its fight against the pandemic,” WHO regional director Poonam Khetrapal Singh said in a statement.


India’s poor


The shutdown, with strict limits on activity, has been devastating for the economy — and in particular for India’s poor.

Millions of daily wage labourers suddenly lost their jobs, forcing hundreds of thousands to travel hundreds of kilometres (miles) back to their home villages, often on foot.

Some died on the way, while others were shunned by locals when they made it back. One clip that went viral on social media showed a group of migrants being hosed down with chemicals by local officials.

Others have been stranded in cities in cramped, unsanitary conditions where the virus could spread quickly.

New Delhi alone is providing hundreds of thousands of free meals.


Snarl-Ups


Farmers have complained of a lack of workers to harvest crops while snarl-ups of thousands of trucks not allowed to move because of the lockdown have hampered food transport.

“We have tried to keep the interests of the poor and the daily wage workers in mind while making these new guidelines,” Modi said in his 24-minute address.

“The central and state governments are working together to ensure that the farmers don’t face any problems.”

Reserve Bank of India governor Shaktikanta Das has called the coronavirus an “invisible assassin” that could wreak havoc on the economy.

A restaurant industry group, a sector that employs millions of people nationwide, warned Monday there could be “social unrest” if it did not receive financial relief.

The commerce ministry has also reportedly urged the government to consider opening more activities “with reasonable safeguards” even if the lockdown is extended.

Even before the pandemic, the Indian economy was stuttering, with the highest unemployment for decades.

Growth had slowed to about 5.0 percent before the pandemic and some analysts say it could slump to 1.5-2.0 percent this year — way below the level needed to provide jobs for the millions coming into the labour market each month.


#Newsworthy…

We didn’t maltreat African residents – China denies.


For the second time in less than one week, the Republic of China has again restated its commitment to warm relationship with African countries.

Zhao Lijian’s, its Foreign Ministry spokesperson made the remarks in a statement issued last night in Abuja, against the background of alleged discriminatory practises against Africans resident in the city of Guangdong.


The Speaker of the House of Representatives Honourable Femi Gbajabiamila had last week summoned the Chinese Ambassador in Nigeria, Zhou Pingjian, to express displeasure over similar maltreatment of Nigerians resident in another Chinese city, Guangzhou.

But the spokesman of the Chinese Embassy in Nigeria claimed that those raising concern over maltreatment in Guangdong were foreigners bent on observing in the breach China anti-epidemic measures.


While insisting that there was no discriminatory practises, Lijian’s further argued that the deadly scourge could only be combated by mutual cooperation of China and nationals of other countries resident in China.

The statement read in part: ”During our fight against the coronavirus, the Chinese government has been attaching great importance to the life and health of foreign nationals in China. All foreigners are treated equally. We reject differential treatment, and we have zero tolerance for discrimination.


“Since the outbreak, the authorities in Guangdong attach high importance to the treatment of foreign patients, including African nationals.

Specific plans and proper arrangements are made to protect their life and health to the best of our ability, thanks to which we were able to save the lives of some African patients in severe or critical conditions.


“The Guangdong authorities attach great importance to some African countries’ concerns and are working promptly to improve their working method.

The measures include: to provide health management services without differentiation, to designate hotels for the accommodation of foreigners required to undergo medical observation and adopt price adjustment for those in financial difficulties; to set up effective communication mechanism with foreign consulates-general in Guangzhou; and to reject all racist and discriminatory remarks.


“The Chinese people always see in the African people partners and brothers through thick and thin. China-Africa friendship is unbreakable as it is deeply rooted in this land. African friends can count on getting fair, just, cordial and friendly reception in China.

The foreign ministry will stay in close communication with the Guangdong authorities and continue responding to the African side’s reasonable concerns and legitimate appeals.


“The virus knows no borders. The pandemic, a challenge to all mankind, can only be defeated through concerted international efforts. With mutual understanding, mutual support and cooperation, we are ready to continue working with African friends to achieve the final victory.”

The statement further recalled assistance given to States in the continent in the past during the outbreak of Ebola Virus and the recent pandemic, Coronavirus.


“China and Africa are good friends, partners and brothers. Our friendship is forged on the basis of joint efforts to seek national independence, liberation, economic development and better livelihood in the past decades. Such time-tested friendship is a treasure for both Chinese and African people. Humanity shines through the darkness of the epidemic.

After the Ebola epidemics broke out in three West African countries in 2014, the Chinese government provided assistance at the earliest time possible and fought side by side with the African countries and people.


“Now faced with the COVID-19 pandemic, China and Africa are again tiding over difficulties hand in hand, and our friendship is again elevated. We will not forget the support from Africa during our most difficult times. While overcoming difficulties at home, we also give love and care to all African citizens in China, especially African students.

As the situation is getting more severe in Africa, the Chinese government and people have urgently delivered batches of supplies to the continent. Our assistance, conveying deep friendship for our African brothers and sisters, demonstrates our fine tradition of mutual assistance and mutual support, and has been highly acclaimed by African countries and the African Union.

While arduously fight the virus at home, China has donated large amounts of test kits, masks, protective suits, goggles, face shields, forehead thermometers, medical-use gloves, shoe covers, ventilators and other supplies to the African Union and African countries. We will continue helping our African brothers to the best of our ability.”


#Newsworthy…

COVID-19: China confirm 99 new cases.


China recorded 99 new cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) on Sunday.

97 of these cases were said to have been imported into the country from abroad.


The 97 imported new cases of Coronavirus in China represents the highest daily increase in imported cases recorded, surpassing the previous record of 67.

New confirmed cases in mainland China reached 99 on April 11 from 46 the previous day, with all but two involving travellers from abroad. In commercial hub Shanghai, 51 Chinese nationals flying in on the same flight from Russia tested positive.


“The risk of imported cases has increased dramatically,” Wen Guohui, mayor of Guangzhou, an economic hub in Southern China, told a news conference on Sunday.

Guangzhou is enforcing anti-virus measures on anyone who enters the city from across the national border, regardless of nationality, race or gender, foreign affairs official Liu Baochun said at the same event.

“We hope foreigners can strictly abide by anti-virus rules as Chinese do,” he said.

In the northeastern province of Heilongjiang, which reported 21 new, Russia-imported cases on April 11, the local government said its Suifenhe border with Russia will remain closed after April 13. The border was temporarily closed on April 9 to contain the epidemic, and was scheduled to open next week


#Newsworthy…

WHO calls for China, US unity to fight COVID-19


The World Health Organization on Wednesday urged the United States and China to join forces to fight the coronavirus pandemic, saying there would be “many more body bags” without international unity.

“The United States and China should come together and fight this dangerous enemy,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a virtual briefing in Geneva, following criticism from US President Donald Trump that the UN health body “blew it” and was “very China centric”.


#Newsworthy…

COVID-19: Chinese doctors, nurses to arrive Nigeria.


The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, on Friday, said that Chinese doctors, nurses and medical experts would arrive in Nigeria in a few days to assist in the fight against COVID-19.

The minister said this during a briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 in Abuja.

Cases in Nigeria have reached 210 as the global figure also surpassed one million mark. He said Nigeria was also exploring the possibility of producing some medical equipment after key stakeholders met in Abuja on Thursday.

The coming of the Chinese medical experts was announced just as the Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, said efforts to contain COVID-19 in Nigeria were being limited by finance, manpower and other indices despite the support from government and individuals.

Ehanire said, “The global number has crossed one million mark, barely three months after the first cases were first reported in Wuhan, China. It is an indication that it is a public health challenge that we must not take lightly.”

He continued, “We are already seeing what may be the indication of community transmission, in that 30 per cent of the cases have incomplete epidemiological information. 51 per cent are imported cases and 19 per cent are through contacts of known cases.

“Directors of the Federal Ministry of Health had discussions with the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment and Manufacturers Association of Nigeria to explore the potential for local production of medical consumables such as face masks, gloves, sanitisers and even ventilators.

“This is in view of looming global shortages of medical supplies for the response due to high demands from all countries. Clinical trials and other processes are ongoing to validate various therapeutic for COVID-19 treatment.”

After the briefing, Nigeria recorded 20 new cases: 11 in Lagos State, three in FCT, three in Edo State, two in Osun State and one in Ondo State.


Chinese medical supplies coming


Ehanire said he had been notified of medical supplies from China courtesy of a group of Chinese companies working in Nigeria.

“A special cargo aircraft shall leave Nigeria in a few days to collect the items which include Personal Protective Equipment and ventilators.

“Of great interest is that an 18-man team of medical experts from China, including doctors, nurses and medical experts shall come along with the flight to assist us,” he said.


More COVID-19 cases expected


The minister said more cases might be detected during the remaining days of the lockdown window, calling on officials to speed up their work.

He said, “We are using the small window of opportunity remaining to intensify investigation to identify cases and sources. This is one of the purposes of the lockdown of the two states (Lagos and Ogun) and the FCT.

“Lagos and other parts will need to speed up their activities to detect and isolate COVID-19 patients.

“We expect to see an increase in cases during the lockdown as a measure of improvement in case finding. If all measures and social distancing are followed, the incidence of positive cases can be controlled.”


Efforts limited by money, manpower


However, at the briefing, NCDC Director-General, Chikwe Ihekweazu, said the major focus of the government was to increase capacity for testing more samples in the next few days while also lamenting limitation of finance, infrastructure and human resources.

He said, “We are not just limited by funds and infrastructure, but the biggest limitation is human resources; the people that are already trained in bio-nuclear diagnostic testing. This is not something you can take up people and ask them to volunteer and go into the laboratory and start testing.”

Ihekweazu noted that so far, Nigeria had tested samples from about 4,000 people, with more laboratories being added to the existing ones.

He added, “Today, we have tested about 4,000 people and we will continue to drive up this number. We have fulfilled every requirement for a test so there is nobody that has come forward (without being tested). There has been some delay but every single sample that has come forward has been tested.

“Currently, we have added one more laboratory. We now have eight testing laboratories. We have three laboratories working independently in Lagos; the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Nigerian Institute for Medical Research and the Biosecurity Centre in Lagos that used to work with LUTH. It has been completely separated.

“Ibadan and Abakaliki test centres have been activated already. Today (Friday), we are activating the second laboratory in Abuja to support everyone around the area. The next town is Kano; between Sunday and Monday, it will be activated for the northern part of Nigeria.”

Stating the contribution of the private sector, Ihekweazu said, “We have some exciting proposals that we are working through with private sector. They have come on board to support us in doing this.

“Some public sector organisations that have private-sector affiliations like the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Fund Authority are working with us on the proposal to increase laboratory locations in Nigeria. There is a lot of work going on in the background to increase our testing capacity.

“I want to remind everyone that testing will not solve this problem. There is a lot of focus on testing and energy going into it and research at a global stage to validate rapid diagnostic test kits that are being sold around the world. We are waiting for those results. Once they are validated, we will start offering it, until then, we cannot offer it.”

The NCDC DG debunked the insinuation that high-profile people were being favoured in the testing procedure, saying case definition was being followed strictly.


6,700 contacts identified


Ihekweazu said in terms of contact tracing, the NCDC had identified about 6,700 contacts cumulatively.

“Some of them have graduated out; when you follow a contact for 14 days and he does not become ill, we graduate the case out of the contact list. As of yesterday (Thursday), we have followed up on 71 per cent of that,” he said.


Jack Ma kits under validation


Ihekweazu also noted that the test kits donated by Chinese billionaire, Jack Ma, had yet to be used because they were being validated. He said this on the backdrop of insinuation that some Chinese kits were faulty.

He noted, “We will never deploy a test kit until we validate it. That process is ongoing. We are still using the kits we had before the donation from Jack Ma came in.

“Once we are sure that they (the kits) will provide answers equivalent to the test case we have, then we will deploy them.”


Lagos, Abuja to have mobile testing centres


On the need to increase testing, Ihekweazu said the mobile testing centres currently being used in South Africa would soon be in use in Lagos and Abuja. He, however, explained that they were only going to be used to collect samples.


FG mobilises evacuation of foreign-based Nigerians


The Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 has said the Federal Government in collaboration with the foreign missions and that embassies are taking steps to effect the evacuation of Nigerians in the Diaspora amid the global coronavirus pandemic.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, who spoke during a live briefing of the PTF in Abuja on Friday, said the Federal Government would ascertain the number of affected Nigerians before deciding on its approach for evacuation.


FG reviews flight protocol, allows crews rest


Meanwhile, the Federal Government has reviewed its protocol on flights amid the lockdown in Lagos, Ogun and the Federal Capital Territory over the coronavirus.

The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, had, during a live briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 on Tuesday, made exemptions for diplomatic flights, aircraft carrying food, medical equipment and other humanitarian items, as well as those in distress, among others.

He, however, added that all pilots and crew would be required to remain on board.

But during a similar briefing of the PTF in Abuja on Friday, Sirika noted some changes to the protocol for flights.


Ogun third case now negative —Abiodun


Ogun State Governor, Dapo Abiodun on Friday, said the 62-year-old third case of coronavirus in the state had been tested negative and would be discharged on Friday night.

Abiodun said the male patient, who returned to Nigeria from the United Kingdom on March 17, and tested positive for COVID–19, had been tested twice.


Oyo records five new suspected cases


The Oyo State COVID-19 Emergency Operation Centre indicated on Saturday that a total of five suspected cases had been received at the centre in the last 24 hours.

As of the time of filing this report, there were a total of 50 suspected cases of the viral infection in the state, while a total of 50 samples had been taken for test.


#Newsworthy…

COVID-19: UK announces high death, overtakes China.


The UK announced 684 more coronavirus deaths on Friday, more than the 569 on Thursday.

The new fatalities take the national total to 3,605, far ahead of China with 3,322 deaths.


NHS England, which collects data on the deaths said 604 of the new fatalities happened in its hospitals, with patients aged between 24 and 100.

Thirty-four of the patients had been healthy before they caught COVID-19 and they ranged in age from 27 and 92.


The figures show that young people with no long-term illnesses can still be killed by the infection.

Since Tuesday, the UK has been announcing more victims on daily.


In just one week, the number of people dead from COVID-19 rose five-fold from 759 on 27 March.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the fatality figures next week may likely be worse.


Scientists said the increases being seen each day are ‘expected’ and they are the consequences of the country going late into lockdown.

Public Health England said 173,784 people have been tested for the coronavirus.

Out of the lot, 38,174 tested positive.


#Newsworthy…

COVID-19: China ban eating of snakes, frogs, dogs, cats, others.


The legislation was yesterday passed by lawmakers in Shenzhen, a city of around 13 million people, and will take effect on May 1, according to a government notice.

The news comes after China banned all trade and consumption of wild animals, a practice, which scientists believe is responsible for the deadly virus infecting and killing people globally.


The officials described the new regulation as the ‘universal civilisation requirement for a modern society’ and said the aim is to ‘further satisfy the daily needs of the people’.

According to the document, nine types of livestock are suitable for people to eat. They are pigs, cows, sheep, donkeys, rabbits, chickens, ducks, geese and pigeons.


Residents are also allowed to dine on aquatic animals permitted by law.

Before the law was passed, one spokesperson said the authority wanted to make it easier for people to know what can be eaten.


‘There are so many animal species in nature. In our country alone, there are more than 2,000 kinds of protected wild animal species.

‘If the local authority is to produce a list of the wild animals that cannot be eaten, it will be too lengthy and cannot answer the question exactly what animals can be eaten,’ the official said.

In China, coronavirus has claimed 3,312 lives and infected more than 81,500 people since the outbreak started in Wuhan


#Newsworthy…

COVID-19: China’s measure may have prevented 700,000 cases.


China’s control measures during the first 50 days of the COVID-19 epidemic may have delayed the spread of the virus to cities outside of Wuhan by several days and, by interrupting transmission nationwide, prevented more than 700,000 infections across the country, according to an international team of researchers. The findings, published today (March 31) in the journal Science, could be useful to countries that are still in early phases of the COVID-19 outbreak.

“The number of confirmed cases in China by day 50 (February 19) of the epidemic, was around 30,000,” said Christopher Dye, visiting professor of zoology and visiting fellow at the Oxford Martin School, University of Oxford. “Our analysis suggests that without the Wuhan travel ban and the national emergency response there would have been more than 700,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases outside of Wuhan by that date. China’s control measures appear to have worked by successfully breaking the chain of transmission—preventing contact between infectious and susceptible people.”


The researchers used a unique combination of case reports, human movement data and public health intervention information to investigate the spread and control of COVID-19. They examined the movements of 4.3 million people out of Wuhan before the travel ban, the types and timing of control measures implemented across the cities of China and the numbers of COVID-19 cases reported each day in every city.

“One fascinating aspect of our work is that it shows the power of novel data streams such as cell phone mobility data,” said Ottar Bjornstad, distinguished professor of entomology and biology, Penn State. “Since the time period we studied included the Spring Festival holiday and Chinese Lunar New Year, we were able to compare patterns of travel into and out of Wuhan during the outbreak with cell phone data from two previous spring festivals. The analysis revealed an extraordinary reduction in movement following the travel ban of January 23, 2020. Based on this data, we could also calculate the likely reduction in Wuhan-associated cases in other cities across China.”


The team’s model also analyzed the specific effects of the Wuhan shutdown and found that it delayed the arrival of COVID-19 in other cities by several days. “This delay provided extra time to prepare for the arrival of COVID-19 in more than 130 cities,” said Huaiyu Tian, associate professor of epidemiology, Beijing Normal University.

These cities banned public gatherings, closed entertainment venues and suspended public transport, among other actions. As a result, they reported 33% fewer confirmed cases during the first week of their outbreaks than cities that did not implement a Level 1 Response.


While the control measures taken thus far have reduced the number of COVID-19 infections to very low levels, China, is by no means out of the woods.

“Given the small fraction of the Chinese population that has been infected, a much larger number of people remains at risk of COVID-19,” said Tian. “We are acutely aware that resident or imported infections could lead to a resurgence of transmission.”

Bjornstad noted that SARS-CoV-2 may establish as a human endemic globally in the years to come.

“It is critical to keep in mind that this virgin epidemic likely will affect people of different ages and susceptibilities, and therefore have different fatality levels, than possible subsequent seasonal epidemics,” he said.


#Newsworthy..

COVID-19: 14% of recovered patients in China test positive again.


Up to 14% of recovered coronavirus patients in China have reportedly tested positive again after being discharged from the hospital.

Doctors at a hospital in Wuhan, China, where the virus emerged reported that between 3 and 14% of cured patients became reinfected with the illness, though it’s unclear whether they were contagious the second time, the South China Morning Post reported.


The news comes as experts raised an alarm that China is facing a second outbreak due to the increasing number of imported cases as well as the ‘silent carriers’ who show no symptoms.

Tongji Hospital, which identified the first COVID-19 case, confirmed that five of 145 patients, a little over 3% tested positive again in nucleic acid tests, according to state broadcaster CCTV.


“So far there is no evidence to suggest that they are infectious,” said Wang Wei, the hospital’s president.

According to him, five patients who tested positive again did not have any symptoms and none of their close contacts had been infected.


He added that surveillance of similar patients showed that 80 to 90% had no trace of the virus in their system one month after being discharged from the hospital, according to the report.

But he said: ‘these are just “small samples” and “not enough to assure us of the validity of our initial findings. We need a large-scale epidemiological study to guide our disease surveillance and prevention works.”

Health news outlet Life Times, which is affiliated with state-run newspaper People’s Daily also reported that other quarantine facilities in Wuhan have seen about 5 to 10% of their recovered patients test positive again.


#Newsworthy…

COVID-19: China shut her borders at Non-nationals.


China will close its borders to most foreigners starting Saturday, the government announced Thursday, amid continued concerns over rising imported cases of novel coronavirus.

Foreign nationals currently holding Chinese visas or residency permits will be temporarily banned from entering the country until further notice, according to a statement from the foreign ministry and the national immigration authority.


The government is also suspending all visa-free transit and visa-on-landing programs. People holding diplomatic passports are exempted from the new rule.

Foreign nationals who must visit China out of necessity need to apply for new visas, and holders of Chinese visas issued after Thursday will be allowed into the country, the statement added.


#Newsworthy…

COVID-19: Case returns to China.

79 new cases in China – NHS

1 case in wuhan


Mainland China saw a doubling in new coronavirus cases, including one in the central city of Wuhan, where the pandemic started late in 2019.

Infected travellers arriving from abroad caused the jump in cases.


And for the first time in days, locally transmitted cases crept into the daily tally. .

China had 78 new cases on Monday, the National Health Commission said, a two-fold increase from a day earlier.


Of the new cases, 74 were imported infections, up from 39 a day earlier.

Wuhan, capital of Hubei province and epicentre of the outbreak in China, reported one new case, the National Health Commission said on Tuesday, following five days of no new infections.

Other parts of the country reported local infections.


#Newsworthy…

Hantavirus: Nigerians react to another virus kill man in China.

despite the multi killing of coronavirus.

Hantavirus comes up, kill 1 in China


A man from China’s Yunnan Province has died of Hantavirus, a new virus, while on his way to Shandong Province for work on a charter bus on Monday. NobleReporters

He tested positive for the virus, while 32 other people on the bus were also tested according to reports.


Hantavirus is currently trending on social media, following the death.

Ortho-hantavirus is a single-stranded, enveloped, negative-sense RNA virus in the family Hantaviridae of the order Bunyavirales.


These viruses normally infect rodents, but do not cause disease in them.

Humans may become infected with hantaviruses through contact with rodent urine, saliva, or feces.


The Coronavirus currently ravaging the world first emanated from Wuhan Province in China, and has since spread to 197 countries.


#Newsworthy…

COVID-19: 6 more suspected cases quarantined in Nigeria.


The Lagos State Government says it has quarantined 6 more suspects of Coronavirus while a set of 3 contacts of the index case who have been isolated Lagos tested Negative

Among the new suspects are a family of four children and their teacher who recently returned from the United States of America. They are now at the Biosecurity Facility of the Mainland Infectious Disease Hospital, Yaba.


Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Professor Akin Abayomi who disclosed this on Wednesday evening while giving an updates on Coronavirus in Lagos stated that the 4 children and their teacher got in close contact with someone who had Coronavirus infection.

Senate sets up Joint Committee as Nigeria prepares for worse oil prices
Though the first test carried out on them turned negative, the Commissioner said confirmation tests will still be repeated to determine the next point of action.


He explained that the index case is responding well to treatment adding that his viral load is going down significantly with no symptoms exhibited. He however stated that he cannot be released into the community now until the virus is undetectable and cannot infect others.

On the second confirmed case, Abayomi noted that he is doing well with no major symptoms but only exhibits minor aches and pain.

Meanwhile, the 2 passengers on the Turkish Airline who could not be traced because of wrong information have also been found within 24 hours after their names were published by the media.


#Newsworthy…