Health Silk Road updates

The Belt and Road Institute in Sweden (BRIX) is in the process of exploring and documenting the efforts made along the Health Silk Road around the world in the fight against the COVID-19 Pandemic. BRIX published the first article on this theme earlier this week under the title “China Unleashes the Health Silk Road against the Corona Pandemic!”.

Here is the first update:

Chinese President calls for “a global war” against the Corona virus.

During the March 26 Group of 20 (G-20) summit video conference hosted by Saudi Arabia, Chinese President Xi Jinping called for an “all-out global war against the COVID-19 pandemic. “It is imperative for the international community to strengthen confidence, act with unity and work together in a collective response,” Xi stated. Describing the Corona and other infectious diseases “the enemy of all”, Xi said the international community must comprehensively step up international cooperation and foster greater synergy so that humanity as one could win the battle against the COVID-19.

He proposed that a G20 health ministers’ meeting be convened as quick as possible to improve information sharing, strengthen cooperation on drugs, vaccines and epidemic control, and cut off cross-border infections. He also proposed a G20 COVID-19 assistance initiative for better information sharing and policy and action coordination with the support of the World Health Organization (WHO).

Xi said, that China, “guided by the vision of building a community with a shared future for mankind”, will be more than ready to share its good practices and provide assistance in its capacity to countries hit by the growing outbreak. Xi called on countries to make a collective response for control and treatment at the international level. He said it is imperative that countries pool their strengths and speed up research and development of drugs, vaccines and testing capabilities in the hope to achieve early breakthrough to the benefit of all.

Read the full speech here!


Ali Baba Donating Huge Quantity of Medical Supplies to Ibero-America, Europe and Asia

China’s Alibaba e-commerce company, and its founder Jack Ma, intend to ship a large donation of medical supplies to 24 Ibero-American and Caribbean nations to aid them in combatting the COVID-19 pandemic, Prensa Latina reported March 23.

In a twitter message, Jack Ma announced that the donation to Ibero-America and the Caribbean will consist of two million masks, 400,000 diagnostic reagents (for testing) and 104 ventilators. “One world, one fight,” he wrote, adding that the donations will go to the Greater Antilles, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, the Dominican Republic and Peru, among other nations.

The Alibaba Foundation has already sent similar donations to nations of Africa, Asia, Europe as well as the United States. On March 20, the Alibaba group announced it would donate 500,000 masks to Spain to help fight the spread of coronavirus. The following day, EFE reported, it announced a donation of 1.8 million masks, 210 thousand test kits and 36,000 protective suits, as well as ventilators and thermometers, to several Asian countries such as Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Laos, Maldives, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

Aside from this, Prensa Latina reported, the Chinese government itself is shipping urgently-needed medical supplies to several Ibero-American and Caribbean nations.


China Aid Flooding African Continent

On Wednesday, March 17, a video conference was hosted by the African Union Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which brought 24 African nations together with doctors from the frontline of Wuhan, to educate and strategize.

“Today for the first time, via a video conferencing capacity we have just installed [donated by the Chinese- mpb], our doctors were able to talk one to one with the Chinese doctors who have been handling the Wuhan outbreak,” Health Minister Mutahi Kagwe said after the event, adding that “this is an extremely important step in terms of knowledge share. [The Chinese doctors] gave us a tremendous amount of knowledge which we believe will go a long way in helping our people.”

As part of the mobilization, China has volunteered to build a new headquarters for the Africa CDC, choosing Kenya as the location. No word on when the $83 million 21-story building might be completed, but probably “sooner rather than later”.

Chinese billionaire Jack Ma (CEO of online retailer Alibaba) has donated over 5 million face masks for distribution across the continent, and over 1 million test kits, 40,000 sets of protective clothing and 60,000 sets of protective face shields, according to the Jack Ma Foundation. A Chinese team is already on the ground in Zimbabwe, a country otherwise on the verge of starvation. A $66 million shipment of aid originally slated for the country’s fight against ebola has arrived in the DR Congo, now repurposed for the coronavirus fight.

Jack Ma Donates a Huge Amount of Coronavirus Protective Equipment to Denmark

Alibaba Group co-founder Jack Ma donated a large amount of protection equipment and test kits to Denmark, which has already been received. The Jack Ma Foundation contacted the Danish Business association, which arranged the donation which includes, 500,000 masks, 50,000 test instruments and 5,000 protection suits.

Due to the shortage of such materials in Denmark, there has not been the amount of testing there ought to be, including of healthcare providers, and the government had changed its policy to only test people with serious symptoms.

The chairman of the Danish Association for Anesthesia and Intensive Medicine Joachim Torp Hoffmann-Petersen cried out just before the donation, that Danish hospitals were critically short of protection equipment, with just enough for a few days. After the donation, he stated that the use of protection equipment is gigantic and the donated material will be used up in a matter of days.

German District Administrator Asks Xi Jinping for Direct Help and Collaboration on COVID-19

The March 23 edition of Der Spiegel reports that the local district administrator of the North Rhine-Whesphalia district of Heinsberg, particularly affected by the coronavirus pandemic, is appealing to China for direct help, by-passing the central government. The Heinsberg district administrator Stephan Pusch wrote in an open letter to President Xi Jinping and addressed to the Chinese Embassy in Berlin, according to DPA:

“In the fight against the virus, those responsible in China have repeatedly emphasized the importance of adequate protective material…. As far as the crisis team and the hospitals here cannot get enough protective materials—which is more than difficult—this would have far-reaching serious consequences for the health system in the district of Heinsberg and for the people here. In my function as district administrator I therefore ask the People’s Republic of China for support.” the letter said.

According to Der Spiegel, Pusch also wrote President Xi that since physicians in China apparently also had the most experience in dealing with containment and control of the coronavirus, he would also be interested in an exchange of expertise. In addition, Pusch said, he can well imagine a partnership of the district with “the Chinese province of Wuhan” (sic — Wuhan is the capital of the Chinese province of Hubei) which was particularly affected by the epidemic.

China, Russia and Cuba Help Italy

China, Russia and Cuba are the countries making the biggest effort to help Italy in the war against the coronavirus pandemic. Starting March 29, China will deliver 14 million protective masks (8 million Ffp2-3 respirator masks and 6 million surgical masks) per week. This will help partially cover the total monthly demand of 90 million masks. By March 28, an Italian consortium will start producing masks and be able to cover half the demand in a short time.

Yesterday, 14 giant Ilyushin 76 cargo planes arrived from Moscow at the military airport of Pratica di Mare, near Rome, with military medical personnel and equipment, including mobile diagnosis vehicles and moved north towards Bergamo, where they will be deployed in the new emergency hospital being built. Their trucks were decorated with Italian and Russian flags in the form of hearts, with the superimposed caption, “From Russia with Love/Dalla Russia con Amore.”

On March 24, a brigade of medical personnel from Cuba arrived at the Milan’s airport, and have been deployed in the newly built field hospital in Crema, Lombardy.

After an initial block, some EU countries have also offered help to Italy. Important is the German offer of intensive care beds to help relieve pressure on Lombardy hospital. The first of 8 patients were moved into ICU in a hospital in Dresden on March 24. Saxony Minister President Michael Kretschmer said having the patients there will help German medical caregivers get early experience with treatment of COVID-19.

Chinese-built lab inaugurated in Iraq’s capital to contain coronavirus outbreak

A new laboratory built by Chinese experts was inaugurated on Wednesday in Baghdad. It is part of China’s support for Iraq in containing the coronavirus outbreak. The molecular biological laboratory will be able to conduct 1000 Corona tests per day. Besides the advanced lab and protective materials, China dispatched a team of medical experts who visited several Iraqi districts to meet and instruct health officials on protective and preventive measures against COVID-19. See video report from Xinhua here!

Chinese Experts Hold Video-Conference With Ibero-American, Caribbean Counterparts on Combatting COVID-19.

On March 24, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang reported that 200 experts from China, Ibero-American and Caribbean countries that currently have diplomatic relations with China—interestingly also including Nicaragua which still has ties to Taiwan—participated in a video-conference to exchange view on combatting the COVID-19 novel coronavirus. The Chinese Foreign Ministry and China’s National Health Commission sponsored the event.

Chinese medical experts held a similar videoconference last week with 300 representatives from African nations and regional health organizations for the same purpose and with excellent results.

Geng Shuang reported that officials from the World Health Organization (WHO), the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), the Inter-American Development Bank and UNICEF, also participated in the three-hour videoconfernce. There was a lively exchange, and many question in which China’s medical and other experts discussed at length the trajectory and features of the epidemic and their experience in disease control, clinical treatment, customs administration and community-based quarantine. The Chinese experts stressed the importance of early detection, tracking, isolation and treatment.

The Ibero-American and Caribbean officials welcomed China’s information about its success in containing the virus, and more broadly, how it had contributed to global public health security, Geng reported. They were effusive in their gratitude to China for providing such crucial information, which they urgently need. “They believed this timely, professional and efficient videoconference offered important guidance for their countries. They would like to draw on China’s experience and maintain communication and coordination with China to defeat the pandemic together,” Geng Shuang said.

Geng reported too that China will continue to work closely with Ibero-American and Caribbean countries, so as to “jointly overcome the challenge posed by the virus.” Xinhua reported that the Ibero-American and Caribbean participants said they absolutely intend to stay in close touch with their Chinese counterparts to form a “united front against the common challenge to humanity that is the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Elon Musk Purchases 1,200 Patient Ventilators from China for California.

Elon Musk announced he will be buying 1,255 ventilators for patients from China to be given to the California authorities according to a statement that California Gov. Gavin Newsom made at a March 23 press conference.

Musk replied to a tweet about the purchase: “Yup, China had an oversupply, so we bought 1255 FDA-approved ResMed, Philips & Medtronic ventilators on Friday night & air shipped them to LA. If you want a free ventilator installed, please let us know!” Musk offered praise to Tesla’s China team and to Chinese and U.S. customs officials.

Meanwhile California’s Chula Vista Police Department recently acquired two $11,000 Chinese-made drones equipped with night-vision cameras and loudspeakers from Chinese company DJI in order to help enforce the COVID-19 restrictions. “We have not traditionally mounted speakers on our drones, but … if we need to cover a large area to get an announcement out, or if there were a crowd somewhere that we needed to disperse, we could do it without getting police officers involved…. The outbreak has changed my view of expanding the program as rapidly as I can,” Fox News quoted Chula Vista PD Capt. Vern Sallee as saying March 23.

The drones would also be used for spreading information about the severity of the coronavirus to those who have no other means of receiving information, such as the homeless population in the city. “We need to tell them we actually have resources for them — they are vulnerable right now. It might be impractical or unsafe for our officers to be put into those areas,” stated Sallee. Sallee, has been working with the Federal Aviation Administration to increase drone usage amidst the pandemic. He said, “This crisis could be a catalyst to spur the FAA to free up resources faster.”

The China-phobes in Washington had grounded the U.S. Department of the Interior’s 810 of these drones in January, over alleged fears that Chinese-made equipment could become an espionage tools for Beijing.

Drone makers in the U.S. are also increasing production said Spencer Gore, chief executive of U.S.-based drone company Impossible Aerospace. He said he is “working like crazy” to outfit law enforcement agencies with drones based on hardware that is made domestically. “What we saw in China, and what we’re probably going to see around the world, is using drones with cameras and loudspeakers to fly around to see if people are gathering where they shouldn’t be, and telling them to go home. It seems a little Orwellian, but this could save lives,” Gore said.