Tag: Global Pandemic

China rejects an international resolution demanding to investigate the origin of COVID-19
Asia Pacific Focus

China rejects an international resolution demanding to investigate the origin of COVID-19

In the last days, more than 120 countries have supported a resolution to be presented at the next legislative assembly of the World Health Organization, which will be held between today and tomorrow, to ask for an independent investigation on the management of the coronavirus by the international community. The efforts of the promoters, including mainly western countries, have angered the Chinese government, which sees the resolution as an attempt to blame China for the global spread of the pandemic.

The motion will be presented during the annual World Health Assembly, the WHO legislative body, which will be held by videoconference. If approved, it could legitimize the creation of an independent commission of inquiry which aims to identify the zoonotic source of the virus and its path of transmission to humans, as requested in the resolution. “The origin of the virus is a serious scientific problem and should be handled by scientists and experts rather than politicized,” Chinese Foreign Minister spokesman Geng Shuang said on Monday.

China fears that the investigation could bring further damage to the country and legitimize some conspiracy theories, on the laboratory origin of the virus, openly supported by the US President Donald Trump. The scientific community currently doesn’t believe that the coronavirus has been created in a laboratory and spread among the civilian population due to an error, but it’s also true that the patient zero has never been found, and the hypothesis that the virus was born in the Wuhan market still raises some concerns.

The resolution is currently supported by 122 countries as it was written by the Australian government, led by a majority aligned with the US. The first draft explicitly named China and its alleged role in the early stages of the pandemic, but the text was modified after diplomatic pressures of the European Union, which in recent weeks has been rather careful not to complicate its already difficult diplomatic and commercial relationship with China.

It is not the first time that China receives criticism for the lack of transparency of its government, led by Xi Jinping for about seven years. Freedom of opinion and the press is not guaranteed in China, and getting information from the government is often extremely complicated, even for members of the international organizations and scientists. China is trying to avoid the resolution, pushing for an international investigation led by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Latin American governments are turning autocratic during the quarantine
Americas

Latin American governments are turning autocratic during the quarantine

Amnesty International has condemned the repressive measures used in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic in Latin America, which has disproportionately impacted marginalised groups.

Amnesty International came out to condemn the use of excessive force and repressive measures being used across the Americas in order to enforce the quarantine. It cited over 60 incidents collected with its Crisis Evidence Lab and regional experts in the region over the past seven weeks to illustrate the point. This includes arbitrary detention of people seen defying quarantine, use of unnecessary force in enforcing lockdown and imposing mandatory quarantine under inhumane conditions. These measures are affecting marginalised people like the homeless, refugees and migrants disproportionately.

“The footage we have verified from across the Americas since late March provides worrying indications that governments are reverting to the kinds of repression we documented in 2019 and earlier, but this time to enforce pandemic-related public health measures,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International. “While COVID-19 affects us all, it does not affect us all in the same way. Many of those who face repression in the Americas are marginalized people who need access to food, healthcare and other necessities, not criminalization and ill-treatment. Governments are mistaken if they think repressive measures will protect people from the disease.”

The state of emergency declared in various Latin American countries to quell the spread of the pandemic has given security forces powers of arbitrary arrest, which has become a first resort than the last. The Dominican Republic, for example, has made nearly 27,000 arrests in a month for not adhering to evening curfews. There is also scant information about the conditions in which those arrested are being held and whether they are being given access to lawyers.

Many have been arrested in those countries like El Salvador, Mexico and Puerto Rico as well for stepping out to buy medicine or food and sent to government containment centres. This is especially worrying since many in these countries live day to day and are compelled to venture out in order to be able to eat and provide for their families. The governments here, while taking these punitive measures against them, have not come forward to ensure the availability of food and necessities to all so that they could realistically adhere to the lockdown.

Ongoing protests for lack of food, water and other facilities have continued in many countries despite the pandemic and these are being put down with increasing brutality. In countries like Haiti and Venezuela, which are at the most risk of famine-like conditions, the security forces have been using excessive force to silence dissent, under the garb of preventing public gatherings in light of the pandemic. In Honduras, peaceful protestors have been met with tear gas and firearms.

The conditions of mandatory quarantine of people who either break lockdown or who are returning from other countries have been less than satisfactory in many of the countries in the region. “While authorities may legitimately impose mandatory quarantines in response to COVID-19, governments must ensure humane and non-discriminatory conditions for people subjected to those measures, enact an effective monitoring and review system that safeguards against ill-treatment, and grant those affected access to independent medical advice and legal assistance,” Amnesty has said.

Many of these centres are not appropriate for quarantine, lacking basic necessities of shelter, water and sanitation. Those not even tested are being held with those who may be infected, potentially putting them in harm’s way.

How the Emirates protect workers amid coronavirus
Middle East & Africa

How the Emirates protect workers amid coronavirus

The United Arab Emirates represents a worldwide model in protecting workers during the pandemic of COVID-19. Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (SEHA), in collaboration with local authorities, has introduced a new screening facility and medical centers in industrial areas, such as Musaffah, to further support the National Screening Project to facilitate extensive COVID-19 testing.

The National Screening Project is an initiative launched to test 335,000 residents and employees in the Musaffah area and increase their awareness of the preventative measures needed to minimize the risk of contracting the virus, as well as what to do if they start experiencing symptoms. To protect migrant workers, the initiative also ensures that they have access to trained medical teams and volunteers who speak their languages.

All the screening facilities in the Musaffah area work together to ensure that all those who present symptoms, have associated risk factors such as age or chronic diseases, or have come into contact with a confirmed case have quick and easy access to safe testing facilities and world-class, quality care. According to the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development, ADDED, these services are free of charge and available to everyone, including those who violate the residency regulations.

Other initiatives, introduced by UAE in the response to the COVID-19 outbreak, include the establishment of mobile clinics that examine residents and workers in their areas, and three field hospitals in readiness for a potential influx of confirmed cases, the establishment of Al Rahba Hospital and Al Ain Hospital as facilities to exclusively treat coronavirus and quarantine patients, and the development of a dedicated WhatsApp bot, to immediately respond to the community’s coronavirus-related concerns or inquiries.

Amidst the coronavirus pandemic, the Emirates have invested great efforts to make everyone feel like at home and to make sure that local communities and workers know the risks, the preventive procedures and the services available, by sending text messages on their phones and instructions in all languages. Institutional sites and major public interest activities have also been translated into 14 languages.

Workers living in Abu Dhabi are also set to benefit from a range of in-kind contributions coordinated by the Authority of Social Contribution – Ma’an’s ‘Together We Are Good’ programme. UAE authorities announced on Wednesday meals will be provided to workers during Ramadan, thanks to Ma’an’s ‘Together We Share’ initiative launched this week. The programme will provide nutritious meals to workers across 35 complexes in Abu Dhabi.

In addition, Ma’an will organise the distribution of 6,410 blankets generously provided by Etihad Airways, as well as thousands of boxes of tissues for workers living in Workers Residential City in Mussafah and a complex in Hameem. Four fully kitted-out caravans will also be provided for use as office space to enable staff to adhere to social distancing measures more easily. The gift bags include hygiene kits, towels and other items that will improve workers’ morale. The products supplied by Fine Hygienic Holding will benefit 15,000 labour workers in Mussafah and 9,000 labour workers in Hameem.

30.000 medical masks manufactured by inmates have been distributed to workers and healthcare facilities in the UAE. This initiative was launched to mark the ‘Zayed Day for Humanitarian Action’ and to contribute to the ongoing efforts aimed at containing the spread of coronavirus. The masks, manufactured as per the highest international standards and specifications of the Ministry of Health and Prevention, were produced as part of the Interior Ministry’s rehabilitation programmes, to the workers in industrial areas.

Workers in the UAE have access in their phones to free entertainment applications, including switch TV to watch programs, series and movies. Local authorities provided free TV screens to workers in industrial areas to protect their mental health during the curfew. Many online initiatives were also launched during the pandemic, such as series of live streaming concerts with Bait Al Oud, Instagram photo contests, virtual tours of museums, festivals, natural and heritage attractions in the Country.

UAE made great efforts to protect workers during Coronavirus pandamic
Middle East & Africa

UAE made great efforts to protect workers during Coronavirus pandamic

NCEMA launched the Business Continuity Readiness Guidelines for UAE Organisations aiming to sustain business continuity

United Arab Emirates performed great efforts to guarantee that employees received adequate protection during the COVID-19 pandemic, providing them with the needed medical care and all other necessities. UAE officials spent particular attention defending migrant workers in the private sector. Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation ensured that employees of private sector establishments, infected with COVID-19, were considered as sick cases entitled to ill leave, calling on companies and employers to not terminate the co-operation with any employee for this reason.

According to the UAE Federal Law No. 8 of 1980, an employee who has completed more than three months of service, after the completion of a probation period, is entitled to sick leave for a period not exceeding 90 days for every year of service, wherein he should be paid a full salary for the first 15 days and half salary for the subsequent 30 days. The country showed great keenness on getting the worker to obtain a wage even in case the worker got infected with the virus and receiving treatment.

UAE provided comprehensive and free healthcare services to citizens and residents alike during the COVID-19 pandemic. Local authorities called upon the private sector to document employee leaves, note any amendments to business contracts, and ensure the payment of salaries through the Wages Protection System (WPS). The MoHRE granted early leave as part of COVID-19 countermeasures to document leaves as a temporary amendment to business contracts available through its website and smartphone’s app. The option of taking an early leave allowed migrant workers to return to their country temporarily until the end of the crisis.

The National Emergency Crisis and Disasters Management Authority (NCEMA) developed a national plan for responding to the pandemic, focusing on the consolidation and maintenance of laws, policies, and procedures of emergency and crisis management at the national level. On March 14th, the NCEMA launched the Business Continuity Readiness Guidelines for UAE Organisations aiming to sustain business continuity for organizations across preventive measures, preparing and increasing readiness, and handling of cases, while planning for business continuity. During outbreaks features leadership, remote work strategy, staff distribution, flexibility of procedures, monitoring and evaluation of suppliers, and supply chain readiness.

The guidelines clearly explained ways to address the risks arising from the outbreak of epidemics in the organizations that may directly affect business continuity and community stability. UAE organizations at federal, local, and private levels adopted this approach by assessing risks, threats, weaknesses, and consequences thereof.

Scenarios, assumptions, and considerations were developed in an integrated manner to guide the process of planning at all levels as related to points of improvement, and the potential impacts of risks and threats. NCEMA also launched a new website, Weqaya, providing information to workers and local communities, on preventative health and safety measures to curb the spread of COVID-19. Through this platform, users have the opportunity to communicate with medical and health experts by sending their questions.

At the same time, to support the workflow and its efficiency in the government, taking advantage of the sophisticated technological infrastructure available, the UAE Federal Authority for Government Human Resources (FAHR) has issued five guidelines for employees working remotely. Employees covered under the system include pregnant women, mothers of children under grade nine whose duties do not require their presence in the workplace, people of determination, and those with chronic diseases, immune system dysfunction, and respiratory symptoms, as well as employees who are 60-years-old and above. Employees operating via the remote work system in the UAE demonstrated strong work ethics, maintaining the confidentiality of information and documents, and using their work hours to accomplish the tasks required.

The UAE Securities and Commodities Authority (SCA) has introduced several measures to reassure investors and support the stability of the local financial markets, as well as providing listed public joint-stock companies (PJSCs) with further flexibility and relief from certain reporting and meeting requirements in light of current quarantine and social distancing rules.

The Integrated Transport Centre, ITC, implemented a large number of precautionary actions since the outbreak of COVID-19 in the country, including the extensive cleaning and sterilization of the public transport modes and its facilities to protect the society and public transport users.

To guarantee social distance in public transportations, authorities in the UAE added hundreds of buses and trips to their public networks on routes with high demand during peak hours. ITC, for example, introduced five services during morning and four services during evening peak hours in Abu Dhabi City, adding 36 buses and 122 trips to its public bus network on routes with high demand.

Operating additional buses and improving the number of trips, reduced the crowding and helped passengers in maintaining social distances. The supplementary services also diminished their frequency and decreased waiting times.

The UAE leadership proved readiness and expertise in managing the crisis. UAE authorities put workers protection and everyone’s health at the top of their priorities, while ensuring the country’s production continuity and minimizing the related-pandemic financial risks. That’s why the UAE is overpassing the global emergency stronger than before.

Lockdown, internal conflict cause double blow to Afghanistan’s recovery.
Asia Pacific Focus

Lockdown, internal conflict cause double blow to Afghanistan’s recovery.

COVID-19 pandemic lockdown is gravely damaging economies across the globe. More so for countries like Afghanistan, which has been embroiled in civil war for almost four decades. The country has a fragile political system; the peace process has been staggering, with no definite outcomes. The lockdown is proving to be a significant blow to the fragile country’s economy.

According to a report on 4 May, corona cases in the landlocked country is close to touching the 3000 marks. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) warned yesterday that the deadly virus might infect about 80 percent of the country’s 35 million.

Reports add that the infection rate among Afghan nationals might be one of the highest. And to make the situation more precarious, the nation has to safely bring back more than 250,000 citizens from neighbouring Pakistan and Iran; a similar lockdown in Pakistan and Iran triggered the return of hundreds of migrants back to their home country.

About 4.1 million people affected by the internal conflict live in urban and rural areas where the necessary facilities are lacking. These displaced people with no access to hygienic living conditions, remain vulnerable to contract COVID infection.

The civil war and prevailing security situation pose a severe risk for health officials to reach out to patients in the remote area for testing.

For Afghanistan, the road to fighting back the disease and to recovery is going to be long and challenging. The country’s public health care system is frail, and NGOs do not have access to several remote parts of the country.

Children and women will be more prone to exploitation and abuse due to lockdown and the economic hardship; the lockdown is going to impose.

The government is unstable as it remains embroiled in the debate over who won the last year’s presidential election. The US has frozen transfer of funds due to political uncertainty. The country would need economic aid and more relief as the landlocked country has a low tax base.

Taliban’s refusal to stop violence in pockets of Afghanistan has delayed the peace process.

Community chiefs and influential religious leaders must step in to spread awareness about the disease and help the marginalized.

Covid Pandemic: Top Five trends which hint at reshaping of geopolitics
Geopolitics

Covid Pandemic: Top Five trends which hint at reshaping of geopolitics

The Covid -19 pandemic has brought in unprecedented seismic changes in global and national politics, the economies, social behavior, and the way people work, and almost everything. Has the crisis drawn new geopolitical faultiness or just deepened the cracks which had developed over the years? Are we going to see a new world order emerging at the end of this crisis? Too early to conclude that. Are we going to be witness to the change in the status of superpowers in the power hierarchy? Could be it all depends on how states make a comeback during and after the pandemic crisis.

The COVID pandemic could be the first global crisis, which is “global” in nature. It has impacted almost every part of the globe, Global North as well South. In such circumstances, there is speculation about how the post-COVID world looks like. We attempt to share ten trends which are likely to have an impact on reshaping the geopolitics –

  • Building US-China tension – Tension between the US and China has only grown clamorous ever since the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the COVID pandemic. There are threats by the US and Chinese rebuttal. Beyond rhetoric, relations between the countries are likely to witness significant changes in the coming months.
  • The backlash against China – It’s not just the US; other European countries have voiced their concern over how China has handled the coronavirus infection. Australia, too has expressed its concern and called for an inquiry.
  • Foreign industries threatening to move out of China – There is a strong economic angle to the blame game, and China is under fire from its neighbours South Korea and Japan to shift away from its businesses from Chinese hubs.
  • Hunt for alternative manufacturing hubs – Taiwan, India, Vietnam, and other countries are trying to woo foreign companies, which are planning to shift bases from China with incentives.
  • Multilateral Institutions Might not be the same – After the US President Donald Trump withdrew funding and snapped association with WHO, the multilateral body might not be the same. The US has been the largest donor to the health agency.

Watch this space for more as we cover the pandemic crisis unfolds.

Landlocked Paraguay advancing in global political discourse
Americas

Landlocked Paraguay advancing in global political discourse

While the world grapples the Coronavirus pandemic, South America’s landlocked country of Paraguay has emerged to be a success story in the region. Imposing strict lockdown and aggressive social distancing measures in early March, the country recorded the least number of cases as compared to nations in South America. As the citizens remain in total quarantine, police and military kept a stringent watch over the streets and punished those violating the lockdown restrictions.

However, the economy and income of several people was hit hard due to shutdowns. In an attempt to mitigate the implications of the pandemic, the government raised $1 billion in sovereign bonds as an aid to finance the health emergency. The Parliament also approved a anti-crisis fiscal package which includes investments on programs catering to health and social protection, support to small businesses and a subsidy for informal workers. After being able to effectively curb the spread of COVID-19 virus in the country, the Paraguay government is planning on easing its lockdown by May through a ‘smart quarantine’.

It is important to note that before the pandemic hit the globe, the country was effectively recovering from the weather-induced recession in 2019. While Paraguay is vulnerable to domestic economic slowdown due to the ramifications of nationwide lockdown, the country’s economy is expected to recover and grow by 2021. According to a report by the World Bank, the landlocked nation has a strong macroeconomic framework based on flexible exchange rate mechanism, inflation targeting, and fiscal rules. Recently, the IMF also approved the disbursement of USD 274 million to support the country’s fight against the Coronavirus outbreak.

Prior to the pandemic woes, Paraguay stood out as an emerging-market democracy, receiving appreciation from US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for its transition to democracy which has served as an inspiration to the South American region. Over the past few years, the small landlocked country has went through some notably economic and political reforms. Over the past decade, its economy has grown at an annual average of 5%, which is significantly higher than those of its neighbours. It has worked with the United States to tackle illicit cross-border activities including improving counter-narcotics cooperation.

Taking their friendly relations ahead, the US and Paraguay signed a trade and investment framework agreement in January 2017.
Furthermore, at the December 2019 White House summit meeting, US President Donald Trump and Paraguay President Mario Abdo Benitez expressed joint commitment to deepening the partnership between the two countries. They also agreed upon strengthening their defence and security cooperation.

In conclusion, the relationship between the US and Paraguay is progressing in world politics and will continue to do so with the joint efforts.

Can herd immunity really save Us from the coronavirus pandemic?
Americas

Can herd immunity really save Us from the coronavirus pandemic?

The United States President, Donald Trump is all set to addressing mass gatherings focused at his own presidency preparations sooner than expected. He plans to do that in June 2020. But doctors and epidemiologists have warned him that mass meetings are a death trap because the vaccine to combat Covid-19 is not going to be out any time sooner than end of June 2020.
The US has reported the maximum deaths at the hands of the Covid-19 virus exposure.

The question remains: Is Trump banking on the herd immunity concept? As a concept, it looks like a desirable way for a couple of nations to open up lockdowns and giving their economies the much needed thrust. According to Los Angeles Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer, “Herd immunity means that many people in the community have already seen the virus, and they have developed what we call antibodies to the virus, so they have some protection, should they see the virus again.”

“Depending (on) how contagious an infection is, usually 70% to 90% of a population needs immunity to achieve herd immunity,” says a research by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Stockholm believes its 30 percent population has achieved herd immunity it hopes the whole population to be covered by end of May 2020.

When a population of more than 50 percent has been exposed to the virus, there is no place of the virus to thrive. So infected bodies start to automatically develop antibodies to fight it. As it travels from one person to another, it becomes ineffective, till the time it has hit the whole population. By then, there might be no need for a vaccine.

Many countries are worried because of their dwindling economies and are desperately looking for ways to open up the pandemic driven lockdowns. Countries with huge population and ethnic spreads like India and US cannot take a chance with herd immunity. Nutrition levels and immunity differs hugely amongst the different ethnic groups in these nations.

Further, it is worth noting that the virus is extremely new and one does not know whether first time exposure develops immunity for life. Unless more than 60percent population in any country does not receive a vaccine, herd immunity may not work at all. Instead, it can prove disastrous.

For Stockholm, the concept of herd immunity could be working well. But this formula cannot work well for all nations.

The whole idea goes against the whole lockdown guideline which many countries are following to contain the spread of the virus. The theory of herd immunity can only work when people can (willfully) maintain the protocol of social distancing of two feet so that the Covid-19 virus does not spread. But because the nature of the human being is like any other animal species; to group, to mingle to meet and then stay together, it is not easy to achieve social distancing as it looks.

In late March, the United Kingdom had retracted from the idea of herd immunity. They had initially planned to close down the country in bits and pieces. The strategy was to build ‘herd immunity’ and allowing ‘enough of us who are going to get mild illness to become immune,’ Sir Patrick Vallance, the U.K. government’s chief scientific adviser shared with the media.

But that would have worked if the virus was understood and not so unknown. The risks of Covid-19 were very high because this enemy was unknown. It therefore became technically impossible to bring about herd immunity by allowing the disease to run rampant through a population. Over the few months since January, evidence has shown that that scenario would have lead to high rates of hospitalization and need for critical care, straining health service capacity past the breaking point.

Scientists worldwide are still trying to understand the virus; but until a vaccine is developed, herd immunity must not be a risk to take. This is more application to nations which might have mixed populations, weak or low medical infrastructures, frail economies or difficult weather conditions .

What if the lockdown is released too early? The case of Hokkaido
Asia Pacific Focus

What if the lockdown is released too early? The case of Hokkaido

For Hokkaido, one of the four major islands of norther Japan, the so called “phase 2” of the new coronavirus pandemic has turned into a worrying déjà-vu, or déjà-flu, it’s the case to say. After exemplary and early containment of the COVID-19 epidemic, the local authorities decided to relaxing the lockdown in response to economic pressures. But 26 days later the announcement, the island found itself hit by a second wave of infections, even worse than the first. So, Hokkaido had to shut it all down again, for a second time. What went wrong?

To follow the story for ‘The Time’ is Dr. Kiyoshi Nagase, head of the Hokkaido Medical Association, the hope is that what happened on the Japanese island will serve as a warning to countries that are attempting a reopening after weeks of lockdown. Nagase’s self-criticism is that the Northern Japan island eased the restrictions too early and too quickly. This, together with a false sense of security given by the decrease in number of cases, would have favoured a new spread of the virus.

Hokkaido is inhabited by 5.3 million people over a vast mountainous area known for its natural beauty. On January 31, 2020 two million people met in Sapporo for the traditional Snow Festival, a winter carnival that also attracts many Chinese tourists on holiday for the lunar new year. This is thought to have been the catalyst for the virus outbreak. During the festival, Hokkaido doctors rescued a first patient, a Wuhan woman with severe symptoms. There were sixty-six COVID-19 cases on February 28, and Governor Naomichi Suzuki declared the state of emergency.

Schools, cafes and restaurants have been closed, as most gyms and other businesses – and this, despite the fact that invitation to lockdown cannot be imposed legally in Japan. It’s up to the obedient citizens to join it. Hokkaido was a virtuous exception. The Japanese national government has been highly criticized for the late response to the COVID-19 emergency, with the first lockdowns taking place in other prefectures only on April 7. According to Worldometer, Japan now records more than 13736 cases of infection, but the outbreak has doubled in the past two weeks.

As for many other countries, the lockdown had disastrous effects on the economy, in particular on two sectors-driving the economy of the island of Hokkaido, agriculture and tourism. With restaurants and schools closed, about fifty companies involved in food processing have gone bankrupt, and with the ski areas closed and travel restrictions, hotels have seen virtually all reservations canceled. On March 18, with a situation no longer sustainable and the number of new single-digit cases, local authorities decided to withdraw the state of emergency. Many schools remained closed as well as several public facilities, and residents were asked to limit social interactions. But experts worked without sufficient information on the spread of COVID-19, considered similar to that of influenza. And while controlling external tourism, they did not consider the boomerang effect of domestic tourism.

The announcement of restrictions’ end was given on the eve of a long weekend, during which citizens assembled on the streets and restaurants to celebrate the end of the lockdown. Many Japanese took advantage of the more relaxed rules that had been imposed in Hokkaido to reach it, and the same was done by students, after the cancellation of lessons in the rest of Japan, and the seasonal workers who arrive usually in Hokkaido during this period from Tokyo or Osaka.

According to experts, domestic migration probably brought COVID-19 back to the Japanese island. On April 9, three weeks after the end of the lockdown, 18 new cases were recorded in a sole day, on April 14 there were 279 cases, 80% more than in mid-March. On April 22, 495 cases were documented. Now Hokkaido is preparing for a longer shutdown. Hokkaido can be a lesson for other parts of Japan and, generally, for the world. The risk of an imprudent relaxation of restrictions is the return to an even worse situation. The risk is having to do it all over again.

COVID-19 outbreak: US-China cooperation need of the hour
Geopolitics

COVID-19 outbreak: US-China cooperation need of the hour

The world is facing a never-seen-before global health pandemic in the face of the novel Coronavirus. At this taxing time, there is a need for some degree of cooperation between the two superpowers of the world – the United States and China.

Notably, the relations between Washington and Beijing have already been challenging even before the virus outbreak. However, with the advent of the Coronavirus pandemic – which began in China’s Wuhan city in December 2019 – relations between the two countries have been becoming more distressing with each passing day.

From China falsely attributing that Coronavirus originated from the US military to the Trump administration bad-mouthing the Mainland for the lack of transparency over the extent of the COVID-19 outbreak in its country, the war of words between the US and China has developed new rifts in their relations in the geopolitical discourse. The altercation between the countries further increased after Trump cut the funding to the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Trump and his officials termed COVID-19 as the “Chinese virus” and “Kung Flu”.

Nevertheless, such concerning circumstances call for the United States to cooperate with the Chinese government, not only to stem the Coronavirus outbreak but also to revive the world economy from a global recession, among other comprehensive issues. Many experts and high-level government officials have also expressed agreement towards the need for US-China cooperation.

Fundamentally, both sides should work to de-escalate the propaganda war in the middle of another war against a health pandemic. Furthermore, the countries should prepare to work co-ordinately towards impending future waves of the pandemic after the first wave settles down. Poorer countries who are unable to survive the health and economic ramifications of the pandemic outbreak are at higher risk. This calls for the United States and China to provide financial aids to the United Nations’ COVID-19 fund that will be open to countries across the world. Beijing and Washington need to formulate a cooperative action plan for the greater good.

As per recent media reports, US Secretary Mike Pompeo and top Chinese officials called for mutual cooperation in the fight against the Coronavirus pandemic, in an attempt to defuse tensions between the two countries amid the global health crisis.

According to the statement, both countries have expressed their commitment to tackle the pandemic outbreak and to restore global health and prosperity. Furthermore, China also agreed to continue sharing its information and experience on the pandemic prevention and control with the United States.

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