Covid-19: China vows to win, meets postponed

By DG Staff

WUHAN, China 11 March 2020: Chinese President Xi Jinping has vowed to win that war against the novel coronavirus, Covid-19, during his inspection in the outbreak epicentre Wuhan, central China’s Hubei province.

According to the Xinhua News Agency, Xi called for “firm, solid and meticulous prevention and control efforts to defend Hubei and Wuhan.”

The Chinese President was reported by the agency as saying that the situation in Hubei and Wuhan has shown “positive changes with important progress”.

However, Xi noted, prevention and containment tasks “remain arduous”, said Wam.

WTO suspends meetings until March 20 after coronavirus case

GENEVA: The World Trade Organisation (WTO) has suspended all meetings until March 20 after a staff member was confirmed to have coronavirus.

The Geneva-based organization, in a statement by WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo, said that all meetings would be suspended effective Wednesday and that situation would be reviewed before the end of next week.

“We take the health of Secretariat staff and our members very seriously which is why we have taken this unprecedented step,” Azevedo said. “We are monitoring the situation very closely and will take whatever measures are necessary to protect health and safety.”


ITU reschedules two key conferences

Given the global Covid-19 outbreak, the International Telecommunication Union(ITU), and its partners have decided to postpone the dates for the upcoming World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), Forum (originally in April and now from 31st August to 4th September, 2020), as well as the AI for Good Global Summit (originally in May and now from 21st to 25th September, 2020).

Both events will take place at the same venue – the ITU Headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, according to the organisers.

Open only to representatives of the member States, sector members and to chairmen and vice-chairmen of study groups, the Telecommunication Development Advisory Group meeting, originally scheduled to be held from 24th to 27th March, will be postponed to 2nd to 5th June, 2020. Likewise, the 17th World Telecommunication/ICT Indicators Symposium, originally planned for 15th to 17th April 2020, will also be postponed and the new dates will be communicated shortly.

The dates and venue for the Global Symposium for Regulators (1st to 3rd September, 2020) remain unchanged.

On Friday, 28th February, 2020, the Government of the Swiss Confederation announced and put into effect a ban on large-scale events which involve more than 1,000 people. The ban is slated to last until 15th March at the earliest and the upcoming weeks are uncertain at best. In response, the ITU and its partners are proactively shifting the dates of events.

IAEA to support countries in detection of COVID-19

VIENNA: The International Atomic Energy Agency(IAEA), will provide diagnostic kits, equipment and training in nuclear-derived detection techniques to countries asking for assistance in tackling the worldwide spread of the novel coronavirus, Covid-19, Director-General Rafael Mariano Grossi announced.

The assistance, requested by 14 countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, is part of intensified global efforts to contain infections. The diagnostic technique, known as Real-Time Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR), can help detect and identify the novel coronavirus accurately within hours in humans, as well as in animals that may also host it.

“The Agency takes pride in its ability to respond quickly to crises, as we did in the recent past with the Ebola, Zika and African Swine Fever viruses,” said Mr Grossi in a statement to the IAEA Board of Governors. “Contributing to international efforts to deal with the coronavirus will remain a priority for me as long as the outbreak persists.”

The first training course in detection techniques will take place at the Joint IAEA/Food Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, FAO, Animal Production and Health Laboratory in Seibersdorf, Austria, in two weeks’ time and will include medical and veterinary experts from Cambodia, Republic of Congo, Cote d´Ivoire, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mongolia, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam. Additional regional courses will be organised for other countries, including from Latin America and the Caribbean.