China tests its soft power in Southeast Asia amid coronavirus outbreak

UNTV News   •   February 20, 2020   •   368

China called for solidarity on Thursday (February 20) in a special meeting to discuss the coronavirus with Southeast Asian nations as it faces criticism for its handling of the outbreak elsewhere.

The hastily-called summit in Laos signaled China is seeking support from smaller neighbors into which it has poured billions of dollars in infrastructure and investment in recent years.

Wang urged Singapore to ease its travel ban on Chinese visitors, with other nations likely to face similar pressure at the meeting with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Even as the meeting kicked off, Thailand on Thursday issued a travel advisory urging citizens to avoid non-essential travel to China and advised those already there to leave, hinting that flights to China could be further restricted

Beijing has been criticized for its handling of the outbreak of the new coronavirus, COVID-19, which emerged from the city of Wuhan in Hubei province in recent months and killed at least 2,000.

Travel restrictions to prevent the spread of the disease have idled much of the world’s second-largest economy and choked key elements of President Xi Jinping’s signature Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) of railways, ports, and highways.

(Production: Jiraporn Kuhakan, Feline Lim)

Swiss graffiti artist pays tribute to frontline worker ‘super-heroes’

UNTV News   •   April 7, 2020

Swiss artist David Perez alias “S.I.D.” paid tribute on Sunday (April 5), to the “everyday super-heroes” working on the frontline during the COVID-19 pandemic, by painting a giant portrait representing a cashier on Gland town’s walls.

“Today, I will especially pay tribute to cashiers. They are on the frontline with nurses and others. So, it is for our everyday super-heroes”, the 35 years-old graffiti artist told Reuters.

All the residents of the Swiss town of Gland, located between Lausanne and Geneva, who pass through this underground tunnel can also admire a portrait of a nurse that SID did two weeks ago.

A few meters away, there is now a cashier wearing a mask and scanning a bottle of liquid soap, which took the artist 5 hours to make.

“The symbolic is very strong and this is really beautiful”, said local resident Coline Bovet, who was on a walk with her husband and had the surprise to find SID at work.

The cashier was modelled by one of SID’s friends, 25 years old Manuela Perrone, who does not work at a supermarket but just wanted to pay tribute to workers in contact with the public and possible contamination.

On the bottle of soap that the cashier is holding, the artist wrote “thank you”.

SID said he plans to draw other giant portraits of workers in the coming weeks, such as construction workers or garbage collectors. (REUTERS CONNECT)

(Production: Cecile Mantovani and Denis Balibouse)

Coronavirus divides lovers, friends at Swiss-German border fences

UNTV News   •   April 6, 2020

Constance, Germany, and Kreuzlingen, Switzerland, are divided cities these days, with a strip of grass and two fences separating them after the countries closed their borders to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

In a park on Lake Constance’s shoreline residents of both cities normally move freely across an invisible line marking where one nation ends and the other begins. But everything has changed: Most Germans cannot come to Switzerland, most Swiss are barred from Germany.

On Sunday, lovers, brothers and sisters, parents and their children, and old friends pressed against the chain links in the spring sunshine, just close enough to say “I love you”, too far apart to touch.

“This is our only chance to stand across from each other, face-to-face,” said Jean-Pierre Walter, a Swiss who drove an hour from Zurich to see his German partner, Maja Bulic. “We can at least speak to each other. That’s something.”

For weeks, they have telephoned or spoken over FaceTime. But fiber optic is no substitute for flesh and blood.

“At some point, you have to see somebody in person,” said Bulic, who drove 2-1/2 hours from near Heidelberg. “It’s difficult, but I know one day it will be different.”

This is a coronavirus no-man’s land. It traces the route of a barbed wire-topped barrier that split Switzerland and Germany during World War Two and that was removed long ago.

The fences have become a meeting point for people divided by the epidemic – and a reminder of its disruption for Europeans accustomed to traveling where they please. Switzerland is not in the European Union, but agreements allow Swiss and the bloc’s citizens to travel virtually unfettered, in normal times. (REUTERS CONNECT)

South Korea reports fewer than 50 new coronavirus cases for first time since February 29 peak

UNTV News   •   April 6, 2020

South Korea reported fewer than 50 new coronavirus cases for the first time since its peak at the end of February as daily infections in Asia’s largest outbreak outside China continued a downward trend.

The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) said on Monday (April 6) there were 47 new infections as of midnight on Sunday (April 5) compared with 81 recorded a day earlier, taking the national cumulative tally to 10,284.

But officials urged even greater vigilance, saying a large epidemic could reemerge at any time, with smaller outbreaks in churches, hospitals and nursing homes, as well as infections among travelers, continuing to arise.

A fall in daily demand for tests to some 6,000 from around 10,000 over the weekend contributed to the decline in numbers, Vice Health Minister Kim Gang-lip said. (REUTERS CONNECT)

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