China’s COVID-19 Strategy: A Model For The World?

Workers manufacture hand sanitizer at a factory in Hanoi on February 14, 2020 amid concerns of the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak. Nhac NGUYEN / AFP

 

The head of the World Health Organization believes China’s battle with the coronavirus offers a beacon of hope, but others question whether Beijing’s strategy can be followed by other countries — particularly Western democracies.

China has reported only one new local infection over the past four days, a seemingly remarkable turnaround given the chaos that surrounded the initial outbreak in the city of Wuhan.

While some experts caution against accepting Beijing’s figures at face value, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus insisted China’s success “provides hope for the rest of the world”.

But China is a particular case — a centrally-controlled, top-down, one-party authoritarian state that allows no dissent and can mobilise vast resources on a single issue.

– Close down and contain –

In January, China effectively shut down Wuhan and placed its 11 million residents in effective quarantine — a move it then replicated in the rest of Hubei province, putting 50 million people in mass isolation.

READ ALSO: China Embarks On Clinical Trial For Coronavirus Vaccine

Across the rest of the country, residents were strongly encouraged to stay at home.

Hundreds of millions of Chinese live in closed residential complexes where neighbourhood committees can police movement in and out — meaning compliance could be closely monitored.

“Containment works,” Sharon Lewin, professor of medicine at the University of Melbourne, told AFP. “Two weeks after the closure of Wuhan, which is exactly the incubation period, the number (of infections) started to drop.”

Extreme social distancing and home quarantines have been used to differing degrees by a rising number of European countries, with some US states following suit.

But an Imperial College London study warned that while that strategy appeared to have succeeded to date in China, it carried “enormous social and economic costs” in the short and long term.

“The major challenge of suppression is that this type of intensive intervention package …. will need to be maintained until a vaccine becomes available (potentially 18 months or more),” it said.

If the intervention is relaxed, transmission rates “will quickly rebound”, it added.

– Mass mobilisation –

At least 42,000 doctors and medical personnel were sent to Hubei province to shore up the province’s health services which had, according to public health professor Zheng Zijie from Peking University, essentially “collapsed” under the strain of the fast-spreading epidemic.

Health experts from China’s Red Cross are currently helping overwhelmed hospitals in Italy, which has fast overtaken China as the worst hit country in terms of coronavirus deaths.

China’s ability to mobilise small armies of medical workers did not come with protection from contagion. More than 3,300 medical staff were infected across the country and 13 have died from COVID-19, according to health ministry figures published early March.

Government efforts in China were backed by an arsenal of propaganda, with messages repeated incessantly in the media and large street banners calling on citizens to be hygienic and stay home.

In an extraordinary effort — trumpeted by state media — two new hospitals with a total capacity of 2,300 beds were built in Wuhan within 10 days.

– Masks and checks –

In cities, it quickly became necessary to wear a mask as apartment blocks, businesses and even parks barred entry without one.

Widespread mask use may have helped slow the spread of the disease, “particularly when there are so many asymptomatic virus carriers”, Zheng said.

During the crisis China produced up to 1.6 million N95 respirator masks per day, according to the official Xinhua news agency. These are considered the most effective protection, but need to fit correctly and be changed often.

To boost detection rates, temperature checkpoints were installed outside buildings and shops, or in public places.

“If it’s higher than 37.3 degrees Celsius (99.1 Fahrenheit), you are put in isolation,” one guard at the entrance to a park in Beijing told AFP.

And in the high-tech country where privacy is limited, many localities require citizens to show a QR code on their phone that rates them as “green”, “yellow” or “red”.

This assessment — based on tracking of whether they visited a high-risk zone — is now an entrance requirement for many businesses.

Government announcements have made clear that the coding system will remain in use in some form even after the pandemic subsides.\

AFP

Britain To Unveil New Counter-Terrorism Strategy

Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May, (C), Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, (L), and Britain’s Home Secretary Sajid Javid hold floral tributes during a commemoration service on the first anniversary of the London Bridge terror attack, at Southwark Needle on London Bridge, London on June 3, 2018.  Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP

 

Britain on Monday was to unveil a new counter-terrorism strategy under which it will boost intelligence cooperation between the domestic MI5 service and police as well as the private sector.

The plan, to be dubbed Contest, will seek to ensure “that there are no safe spaces for terrorists, no safe spaces internationally, in the UK or online,” Home Secretary Sajid Javid was expected to say in a keynote speech.

“The threats are evolving. We must evolve too,” he will say to an audience of counter-terrorism experts, according to excerpts released by the Home Office.

The new strategy “incorporates the lessons learned from the attacks in 2017 and our responses to them”.

Under the new blueprint, the security services will be alerted to suspicious purchases more swiftly.

The government wants firms to raise the alarm as quickly as possible if they have evidence of unusual transactions — such as someone stockpiling large amounts of chemicals or acting suspiciously when hiring a vehicle.

Javid will also identify “extreme right-wing terrorism” as an increasing threat and note similarities to the Islamic State group.

It will be his first major speech on security since becoming home secretary in April following the resignation of Amber Rudd over the Windrush immigration scandal.

The son of Pakistani parents who emigrated to Britain in the 1960s, he will touch on his own background to address the issue.

“There’s one other thing that Islamists and the far right have in common,” he will say. “As a Home Secretary with a name like Sajid Javid — I’m everything they despise.

“So the way I see it, I must be doing something right.”

AFP

Gov Dickson Swears-In Commissioner And Special Advisers

gov seriake dicksonThe Governor Of Bayelsa State, Seriake Dickson, wants the newly sworn in Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Mr. Esueme Dan-Kikile and two Special Advisers to generate sound ideas that would further consolidate on the achievements of the government.

The Special Advisers are, Dr. Seiyifa Koroye on Strategy, Documentation and Community Relations and Barr. Lloyd Ineye-Owonaro, on Local Content Matters.

Governor Dickson, while congratulating the newly sworn in officers, urged them to demonstrate absolute commitment to the ideals enshrined in the restoration agenda of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)

Addressing the new Commissioner, Governor Dickson urged him to re-engineer the Ministry to achieve effective dissemination of government policies and programmes as well as enlighten the people on their civic responsibilities.

Highlighting the dangers of inadequate information on the government’s activities in the state, the Governor noted that mischief-makers who indulge in blackmail and propaganda for parochial gains would misguide the citizenry.

Governor Dickson enjoined Mr Lloyd Owonaro to liaise with the Nigeria Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB), to enable the state derive maximum benefit.

He also expressed the need for the Special Advisers to evolve programmes to promote the growth of local businesses and entrepreneurs to take advantage of the opportunities in the oil and gas industry.

Kano Police AIG Urges Officers To Be Moderate During Elections

policeThe Assistant Inspector General (AIG) in charge of zone one in Kano State, Tambari Yabo, has urged the Police officers not no use forceful means to achieve compliance during election.

The AIG said at a two day sensitization workshopthat the shift in election dates would help the Police to re-strategise forces towards successful election in the country.

Mr. Yabo said that the Police was more prepared to ensure a credible election in the country.

The workshop is to sensitize all area commanders in zone one, on what they should do during the election period.

He said that the Police, with reference to their constitutional responsibility, have been making provision to ensure a peaceful election in the country, adding that the adjustment of the election dates creates an opportunity to put finishing touches to preparations for a successful election.

The area of concentration by the Police includes accidental discharge, the use of force by the polling centers.

The AIG noted that the use of firearms by policemen on election duty is absolutely unnecessary unless an officer really needs to. The issue of inappropriate activities aimed at achieving compliance was also considered prohibited by the Police.

He also said that in the last two months, he has been meeting with critical stakeholders, especially the political leaders on the need to conduct themselves in accordance with the law.

Analyst wants Economic Summit Group to develop competitive strategy

A public affairs analyst and lecturer at the Pan African University, Austin Nweze on Tuesday said the National Economic Summit Group (NESG) is yet to develop a clear competitive strategy that will make Nigeria one of the top economies in the world.

Mr Nweze, who was a guest on Channels Television’s programme, Sunrise Daily, said since Nigeria’s economy dominates others in West Africa, the country needs to develop a strategy that will show this dominance.

“I want them to come out of this Summit with a clear strategy that two three areas where Nigeria can compete,” he said.