China threatens US after Trump passes bills backing Hong Kong protesters

Robie de Guzman   •   November 28, 2019   •   364

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang speaks to reporters during a daily Foreign Ministry press conference in Beijing, China, 28 November 2019. China responds with anger and warns of countermeasures after US President Donald Trump’s signing of the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act on 28 November 2019. EPA-EFE/HOW HWEE YOUNG

Beijing – The Chinese government Thursday threatened the United States with “countermeasures” and “consequences” after the US president signed two bills into law backing Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protesters.

Donald Trump in a statement said he had signed the bills — the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act 2019 and one against crowd control munition exports to the territory — out of “respect” to Chinese President Xi Jinping and the people of Hong Kong.

China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a statement Thursday responded by reminding “the US that Hong Kong is part of China and Hong Kong affairs are China’s internal affairs where no foreign government or force shall interfere. This Act will only further expose the malicious and hegemonic nature of US intentions to the Chinese people, including our Hong Kong compatriots.”

“We urge the US to not continue going down the wrong path, or China will take countermeasures, and the US must bear all consequences,” it added.

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng also summoned US Ambassador to China Terry Branstad “to lodge stern representations and strong protest” to the passing of the Act, state news agency Xinhua reported Thursday.

The two countries are still immersed in negotiations to end their trade war, which could be affected by the bills, however the statement does not specify the countermeasures it intends to apply.

The Hong Kong government also expressed its “strong opposition” to the new laws, saying in a statement that they “contravene in Hong Kong’s internal affairs” and would harm relations with the US.

“The two acts are unreasonable. Although human rights and democracy are mentioned in the title of the Act, some of the provisions in the Act are actually about export control and enforcement of the sanctions imposed by the United Nations in Hong Kong, which are totally unrelated to human rights and democracy in Hong Kong,” a government spokesman said.

The Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act 2019, passed last week by the US Senate, requires the US State Department to conduct a review at least annually as to whether Hong Kong retains enough autonomy from mainland China to qualify for special trade considerations, and threatens sanctions against officials responsible for human rights violations.

Following the approval by the Senate last week, the Chinese government threatened that “China will take strong opposing measures and the US has to bear all the consequences” if it was passed into law. Beijing also reportedly summoned a senior US diplomat over the move.

The second bill signed into law Wednesday prohibits US exports of specified police equipment such as teargas, pepper spray, rubber bullets and stun guns to Hong Kong.

“They are being enacted in the hope that Leaders and Representatives of China and Hong Kong will be able to amicably settle their differences leading to long term peace and prosperity for all,” Trump said.

At the weekend, the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong swept the local elections, winning 388 of the total 452 district council seats up for grabs. The side aligned with Beijing suffered a crushing defeat with only 59 councilors, compared to the almost 300 it had, while independents won five seats in the elections which saw a record 71.2% turnout.

Hong Kong was passed to Chinese sovereignty in 1997, although it still retains a degree of independence from Beijing under the “one country, two systems” formula. According to the handover deal between London and Beijing, this political system — which includes certain legal freedoms not recognized in mainland China — must be preserved until 2047. EFE-EPA

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DOH monitors child from Wuhan, China who manifested flu-like symptoms

Robie de Guzman   •   January 21, 2020

Medical staff transfer patients to Jinyintan hospital where patients infected with a new strain of Coronavirus identified as the cause of the Wuhan pneumonia outbreak are treated in Wuhan, Hubei province, China, 20 January 2020. EPA-EFE/STRINGER

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) on Tuesday said it is monitoring the case of a five-year old boy with a history of travel to Wuhan, China for manifesting flu-like symptoms.

The child, who arrived in Cebu with his mother on January 12, was admitted in a hospital in Central Visayas after he manifested symptoms of respiratory illness such as fever, throat irritation and cough prior to entering the Philippines.

The DOH said the young boy is now in stable condition but still had cough.

Based on samples examined by the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM), the unnamed child tested negative for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). Both diseases are caused by a family of viruses called coronavirus.

But he tested positive for a non-specific pancoronavirus assay, meaning that he is infected with a strain of coronavirus. The sample has been sent to a laboratory in Australia for further testing.

The DOH said the child will remain “a person under investigation” until they could get confirmatory results.

The Bureau of Quarantine is carrying out tracing of air passengers who may have come in contact with the boy during transit.

“We are reminding the airlines that the universal protective kit should be available anytime on board, the passenger locator card, the protocol on handling cases on board and of course reporting of cases on board to the ground crew,” Bureau of Quarantine director, Dr. Ferdinand Salcedo said.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said novel coronavirus causes respiratory infections which may develop into severe cases such as pneumonia, acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and death if left untreated.

Coronavirus, which is a large group of viruses common among animals, may be transmitted through contact with an infected person.

“We are not sure of the source of the virus whether it came from animal or meat and other source. We believe that maybe human-to-human transmission,” WHO Country Representative Rabindra Abeyasinghe said.

The DOH said they are also monitoring three other individuals who manifested flu-like symptoms upon their arrival at the Kalibo International Airport.

The agency said all three travelers, reportedly Chinese nationals, are currently well and are no longer exhibiting any symptoms.

All hospitals and medical facilities in the country have been alerted about cases of coronavirus.

The WHO said there are 222 confirmed cases of novel coronavirus – majority of them are from China while others were from Thailand, Japan and South Korea.

The new strain of coronavirus was first reported in Wuhan, China in December 2019.

The DOH advised the public to always practice frequent handwashing, avoid crowded places and contact with infected person and to thoroughly cook food, especially meat and dairy products. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Aiko Miguel)

China confirms coronavirus can be transmitted among humans

UNTV News   •   January 21, 2020

Medical staff carry a patient into the Jinyintan hospital, where patients infected with a new strain of Coronavirus identified as the cause of the Wuhan pneumonia outbreak are being treated, in Wuhan, China, 18 January 2020. EFE-EPA/STRINGER

Beijing – China’s health commission confirmed Tuesday that transmission between humans of the new coronavirus – which has already caused four deaths and infected more of 200 people in the country – is possible, according to state news agency Xinhua.

Zhong Nanshan, who leads the commission’s team of experts, said at least two patients in the southern province of Canton had contracted the virus through human contact.

“Patients became infected after their relatives traveled to Wuhan [a city of 11 million inhabitants and source of the outbreak] and became infected,” Zhong said.

The latest death, confirmed Tuesday, was that of an 89-year-old man who was hospitalized Friday. The expert added that several health workers had also been infected.

However, Zhong said it only took two weeks to identify the new virus and that a situation such as the one that occurred during 2003’s Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) epidemic is unlikely. SARS caused 813 deaths worldwide, 646 of which were in China.

According to the United Nations health agency, between 14-15 percent of SARS cases end in death, while in the case of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), a related disease also caused by a coronavirus, the mortality rate rises to 35 percent.

So far, there are only six types of this family of viruses known: four of them causing mild respiratory conditions similar to a cold, and the other two responsible for SARS and MERS.

The number of confirmed infections Tuesday morning in China was down to 198, after 25 patients recovered. Thirty-five are in serious condition, while nine are critical. Two other cases have also been confirmed in Thailand, one in South Korea and one in Japan.

The respiratory disease expert explained that the constant detection of new cases indicates that “the epidemic is still at an early stage,” according to Xinhua.

Zhong said increased transmissions are likely the coming days, as Friday marks the start of Chinese New Year holidays – which cause the planet’s largest human migration – but was confident in containing the virus’ spread with rapid diagnoses, proper treatment and quarantine.

Chinese Premier Xi Jinping said Monday he expected the virus to be contained “with determination,” while Prime Minister Li Keqiang announced the creation of a group dedicated to fighting the illness.

The World Health Organization will hold a meeting of experts Wednesday to determine whether the current coronavirus outbreak in China constitutes an international emergency. EFE-EPA

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China confirms 3rd death due to viral pneumonia

UNTV News   •   January 20, 2020

Beijing – A third person was confirmed dead Monday in China following new viral pneumonia similar to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) which over the weekend saw 136 new cases, including two in Beijing and one in Shenzhen, authorities said.

Health authorities in Hubei province’s capital Wuhan – with a population of 11 million and where the outbreak is thought to have originated – said the third death occurred Saturday.

The source also said 36 of the 136 new coronavirus victims are in a serious or critical situation.

Among the newly infected, 70 are women and 66 are men, aged between 25 and 89, and all of them showed symptoms the same symptoms: fever and fatigue, dry cough and – in many cases – dyspnea (difficulty breathing).

According to Hong Kong newspaper South China Morning Post, 198 people have been diagnosed so far, including the three dead.

Of the cases detected outside Wuhan – the first time that China has confirmed cases outside the city – both the Shenzhen patient and the two from Beijing said they had traveled to Wuhan recently.

So far, two cases have also been confirmed in Thailand and one in Japan. There was a further scare in South Korea, but no cases were confirmed in the country.

On the 14th, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that prevention measures had been implemented in hospitals worldwide following this new outbreak.

In addition, United States health authorities began Friday to impose controls on passengers arriving or connecting through Wuhan in airports in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York.

According to the WHO, Chinese laboratories have already sequenced the coronavirus genome and provided that data to the global health community to help diagnose possible cases outside their country.

The outbreak has caused panic in China as the situation is reminiscent of 2003, when severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) spread across the country and caused a total of 646 deaths (813 worldwide), according to WHO figures.

According to the United Nations health agency, between 14 and 15 percent of SARS cases end in death, while in the case of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), a related disease also caused by a coronavirus, the mortality rate rises to 35 percent.

So far, there are only six types of this family of viruses known: four of them causing mild respiratory conditions similar to a cold, and the other two responsible for SARS and MERS. EFE-EPA

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