Malacañang: Duterte likely to visit China, Japan anew this year

Robie de Guzman   •   March 25, 2019   •   3478

President Rodrigo Duterte. | ACE MORANDANTE/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte will possibly visit China and Japan anew this year.

Malacañang said on Monday the President may travel to China late next month to attend the second Belt and Road Forum in Beijing.

While on May, Duterte will most likely visit Japan to primarily attend a regional conference.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo made the statement after the Japanese media reported that Duterte will be attending the 25th International Conference on the Future of Asia.

The event is reported to be held on May 30 and 31 in Tokyo.

Panelo told reporters at a press briefing that he has yet to confirm the said visit, but if it pushes through, this will be Duterte’s third time to visit Japan since becoming president in 2016.

Duterte, meanwhile, has yet to make a visit to the United States of America since his rise to power. Panelo said this is because the President cannot stand the cold temperature in the U.S.

“I think the relationship between the U.S. and China remain cordial and healthy. So, with America, the only reason perhaps the President has not considered visiting is because of the temperature. He couldn’t stand very cold temperature, he gets sick,” he said. – Robie de Guzman (with details from Rosalie Coz)

China’s embassy in Kazakhstan warns citizens of pneumonia deadlier than COVID-19

Robie de Guzman   •   July 10, 2020

China’s embassy in Kazakhstan has warned its citizens on Thursday (July 9) to take precautions against an outbreak of pneumonia in the country that it says is more lethal than COVID-19.

It said in a statement on its official website late on Thursday that there had been a “significant increase” in cases in the cities of Atyrau, Aktobe and Shymkent since mid-June.

On Friday (July 10), however, Kazakhstan’s healthcare ministry branded Chinese media reports based on the embassy statement as “fake news”.

The ministry said its tallies of bacterial, fungal and viral pneumonia infections, which also included cases of unclear causes, were in line with World Health Organisation guidelines.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian declined to comment on the issue directly during a Friday (July 10) briefing in Beijing, instead referring media to “the relevant authorities in Kazakhstan”.

“China also hopes to obtain information on this,” Zhao said.

Kazakhstan, which imposed a second lockdown this week to rein in the coronavirus pandemic, has a tally of almost 55,000 COVID-19 infections, including 264 deaths. The number of new cases rose on Thursday to a daily record of 1,962.

On Tuesday (July 7), state news agency Kazinform said the number of pneumonia cases “increased 2.2 times in June as compared to the same period of 2019”.

In its statement, the Chinese embassy had said pneumonia in Kazakhstan killed 1,772 people in the year’s first half, with 628 deaths in June, including Chinese citizens.

It is unclear whether the said pneumonia it referred to was caused by a virus related to coronavirus or a different strain. (Reuters)

(Production: Shubing Wang, Fang Nanlin)

Tokyo 2020 expects to secure all venues for Games — local media

UNTV News   •   July 9, 2020

Tokyo Olympics organizers expect to be able to use all the venues as originally planned at next year’s rearranged Games, several Japanese media outlets reported on Thursday (July 9).

Securing venues was a top priority for organisers after the Games were pushed back to 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and Kyodo and NHK, citing unnamed sources, said they were now confident they would be tied down for Olympics use again.

However, at his regular weekly news conference, Tokyo 2020 spokesman Masa Takaya said the reports were “optimistic” and that nothing had been announced.

Last month, Tokyo 2020 CEO Toshiro Muto said 80% of all venues needed had been secured, with the Athlete’s Village and Tokyo Big Sight, the planned media centre, among those yet to be fully secured.

Thursday’s reports also said the competition schedule would remain largely unchanged and that all tickets holders would be eligible for refunds, and that organisers would seek approval of these decisions from the IOC’s General Assembly on July 17.

Asked to confirm those details, Takaya said nothing had been decided and Tokyo 2020 did not expect to seek approval from the IOC next week. (Reuters)

(Production: Jack Tarrant)

Malacañang admits shortcomings in not building more laboratories soon enough

Aileen Cerrudo   •   July 9, 2020

Malacañang admitted the government had shortcomings in not building more coronavirus disease (COVID-19) testing laboratories to boost the country’s response against the pandemic.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the country only began having more testing laboratories last March, adding that the country should have already boosted its testing capacity when the first COVID-19 case was reported.

Inaamin po natin na medyo naging mabagal ang proseso sa lumipas po na dalawang buwan (We admit the process has been slow in the past two months),” he said.

“If I were to look back, what could have we done better? Siguro po noong nagkaroon tayo ng unang kaso imported case ng COVID, dapat pinalawak na natin ang testing capacity natin agad (When we had the first imported case of COVID-19, we could have already boosted our testing capacity), Roque added.

The country only had one COVID-19 laboratory in January. As of July 7, licensed RT-PCR laboratories across the country have reached 78. The Palace official said the government is improving its COVID-19 testing, treatment, and contact tracing to better the response against the virus.

The Duterte Administration also called on the public, local government, and business establishments to be more responsible in following minimum health standards including social distancing, wearing face masks, and hand washing.

Roque also announced the government will further boost its targeted testing.

Bukod po sa 10 million na naorder natin at 1 million na na-deliver na PCR testing, magkakaroon ng mas malawak na targeted testing na iaanunsyo po natin sa mga darating na panahon (Aside from the 10 million we ordered and the 1 million PCR testing that has been delivered, there will be wider targeted testing which we will announce soon), he said. –AAC (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

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