China has stepped up efforts to block the spread of COVID-19 through cold-chain food. Supervised warehouses have been put into use in many cities to ensure food safety.
According to the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), since living novel coronavirus has been isolated from the outer packaging of cold-chain food, contact with such packaging could lead to infection.
Produced by Xinhua Global Service
Prime Minister of Georgia Irakli Gharibashvili has tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) as a result of regular testing.
According to the Georgian governmental administration, the Prime Minister I. Garibashvili feels well, is in self-isolation and continues to work remotely.
Press Service of the Government Administration
EU doubles contribution to COVAX to €1 billion to ensure safe and effective vaccines for low and middle-income countries
The European Union has announced today an additional €500 million for the COVAX Facility, doubling its contribution to date for the global initiative that is leading efforts to secure fair and equitable access to safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines in low and middle-income countries. This new pledge brings us closer to achieving COVAX's target to deliver 1.3 billion doses for 92 low and middle income countries by the end of 2021. Team Europe is one of the lead contributors to COVAX with over €2.2 billion, including another €900 million pledged today by Germany.
Announcing the new contribution at the G7 virtual leaders' meeting, President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, said: “Last year, as part of our Coronavirus Global Response, we committed to ensuring universal access to vaccines everywhere on Earth, for everyone who would need them. COVAX is best placed to help us reach this goal. This is why we decided to double the European Commission's contribution to COVAX, to €1 billion. With this new financial boost we want to make sure vaccines are soon delivered to low and middle-income countries. Because we will only be safe if the whole world is safe.”
Jutta Urpilainen, Commissioner for International Partnerships, added: “We are in a race against the virus and COVAX is our best hope that all our partners, in Africa and elsewhere, have access to safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines. The EU has been leading efforts in international fora, such as the G20 and G7, to guarantee that collectively we ensure that COVID-19 vaccines become a global public good. This is why today we are doubling our support to COVAX.”
Stella Kyriakides, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, stressed: “Humanism and solidarity are essential values for Europe. These values have been our compass since the onset of the pandemic. The EU has invested close to €3 billion to pre-finance the production of safe and effective vaccines, which will benefit not only the EU but citizens across the world. Vaccines produced in Europe are now going all over the world and we as Team Europe are working to share doses secured under our advanced purchase agreements preferably through COVAX with the Western Balkans, Neighborhood and Africa – benefitting above all health workers and humanitarian needs.”
The contribution announced today is composed of a new €300 million EU grant and €200 million in guarantees by the European Fund for Sustainable Development plus (EFSD+) that will back a loan by the European Investment Bank. This is subject to the adoption of the Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI) by the Council and the European Parliament. The EIB loan to be guaranteed by EFSD+ is subject to the approval of the EIB's Board of Directors. These funds will complement a previous €100 million grant and €400 million in guarantees from the EU budget.
To date, a total of 191 countries participate in the COVAX Facility, 92 of them low and middle-income economies eligible to get access to COVID-19 vaccines through Gavi COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC). Most of these are in Africa. Through these contributions, the Commission and its partners will secure purchase options for future COVID-19 vaccines for all the participants in the Facility.
Vaccines will be procured and delivered to countries by the UNICEF Supply Division and the PAHO's Revolving Fund for Access to Vaccines. The fast arrival of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines has shown that multilateralism and multi-actor partnerships work to solve the most pressing problems of our time.
COVAX is the vaccines pillar of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, a global collaboration to accelerate the development, production, and equitable access to COVID-19 tests, treatments, and vaccines.
The COVAX Facility aims to purchase 2 billion doses by the end of 2021, including at least 1.3 billion doses for low and middle-income country. It will help to develop a diversified portfolio of vaccines, negotiated with different suppliers, and covering different scientific technologies, delivery times and prices. The COVAX Facility is a risk-sharing mechanism: it reduces the risk for manufacturers who invest without being sure about future demand, and it reduces the risk that countries would fail to secure access to a viable vaccine.
The European Commission is committed to ensuring that everyone who needs a vaccine gets it, anywhere in the world, and to promote global health. This is why together with partners it has helped raised almost €16 billion since 4 May 2020 under the Coronavirus Global Response, the global action in support of universal access to tests, treatments and vaccines against coronavirus and for the global recovery. Team Europe's contribution was as follows: EU Member States (€3.1 billion), European Commission (over €1.4 billion) and EIB (almost €2 billion pledged in May and €4.9 billion pledged in June).
The EU's efforts to develop and produce an effective vaccine will benefit all in the global community. The EU investment in scaling up manufacturing capacity will be to the service of all countries in need. Through its Advanced Purchase Agreements, it requires manufacturers to make their production capacity available to supply all countries and calls for the free flow of vaccines and materials with no export restrictions. For instance, the pharmaceutical company Sanofi-GSK, with whom the Commission concluded an Advanced Purchase Agreement in September, will endeavour to provide a significant portion of their vaccine supply through the COVAX facility.
Building on the EU Vaccines Strategy, the EU is in the process of setting up vaccine sharing mechanism to allow EU Member States to redirect some of the doses procured under the advanced purchased agreement, preferably through COVAX.
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The news prepared in the framework of the EU project "EU NEIGHBOURS east"
According to the laboratory test results taken in recent days, it has been confirmed that 11 employees from various structural units under the Ministry of Internal Affairs were infected with COVID 19 disease. Out of 11 confirmed cases – 7 have been registered at Border Management and Coordination Main Division of the Patrol Police Department, 3 in Mestia municipality, where firefighter, Security Policemen and Border Police officer tested positive for the disease, while 11th case was confirmed in Tbilisi, to Security Police inspector.
On June 23, 2020, an announcement containing distorted information on the preventive measures implemented in Turkmenistan against the coronavirus infection was placed on the official website of the Embassy of the USA in Turkmenistan. In particular, it is asserted that the citizens with the symptoms of the disease resulting from the new type of infection are going through examination and can be sent to compulsory quarantine without the supervision of conveniences and for undefined period of time.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan emphasizes the invalidity and partiality of such informational fakes. In this regard, the official representatives of the Ministry have repeatedly informed the Ambassador of the USA to Turkmenistan about the unacceptability of spreading biased information which is not supported by facts.
Relying on the principles of openness in international cooperation on combatting the coronavirus pandemic, the Turkmen side regularly holds thematic briefing meetings for the diplomatic corps and foreign journalists during which the most complete information is presented on the preventive measures applied in Turkmenistan on infectious diseases.
Unfortunately, the American side does not take part in such meetings despite of invitations.
Based on the above said, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan announces the counterproductive nature of the actions of the American Diplomatic Mission in Ashgabat.
In its fight to prevent the spread of coronavirus in the country, the Ukrainian government may sacrifice one of the country’s biggest assets since the Euromaidan Revolution, its culture. While the Ministry of Finance plans to cut funding in 2020 by 7 billion hryvnias, UkraineWorld sums up why representatives of the country’s creative industries believe it might lead to a disaster.
On 27 March, thousands of Ukrainians joined an online-protest called "No To the Destruction of Culture". The initiative came as a desperate response to the government's plan to cut state budget expenditure and reallocate money to combat the spread of the coronavirus in Ukraine.
However, those working in the country's cultural sector warn: cutting vital funding for, inter alia, the cinema, books, and development of tourism will turn into a great loss, both on a personal and national scale. Here are some key thoughts from the representatives of Ukraine's cultural sphere, who oppose the decision to cut budget funding of culture:
JULIA SINKEVYCH, GENERAL PRODUCER OF THE ODESA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL
We see that governments in more developed and even less developed countries are creating funds of support, instead of cutting the budget for culture. They even exceed the planned budgets, despite the situation [with coronavirus] in the world.
The UK has unveiled an emergency 160 million pounds response package for its cultural sector, Germany rolled out 50 billion euro aid to support creative industries, Italy allocated 130 million euro aid [for the film and theatre industry -ed.].
MYKOLA KNIAZHYTSKIY, MEMBER OF PARLIAMENTARY COMMITTEE ON HUMANITARIAN AND INFORMATION POLICY
Our Committee has stood unanimously against the budget cuts for Ukrainian culture, regardless of the party that each member belongs to. People who are quarantined should have something to watch and read, besides the fact that other essential sectors need support.
We should remember that, in addition to the virus, we have another war in the East of Ukraine.
It's obvious, if we won't deliver our own cultural product, this niche will be taken by Russian products of culture.
We are aware that many cultural events will not take place due to the quarantine in Ukraine and abroad. These expenses can be cut and allocated for healthcare workers or other social needs. However, we have to support national cinematography in different ways. For example, by launching a competition through the Ukrainian Cultural Fund or the State Film Agency for people to write scripts, and give them the opportunity to prepare future movies.
Last year, the Ukrainian Book Institute allocated 100 million hryvnias for books in libraries. This year, this number was reduced to 20 million hryvnias and only for children's books. No one cares about publishing houses and bookstores.
We also have to think about our regions. Ukraine has cut funding for local budgets, and cutting expenses for culture is the first thing they do at local level.
ANNA MACHUKH, CO-FOUNDER AND THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE UKRAINIAN FILM ACADEMY
The mission of our Academy is the popularization of Ukrainian culture, but now we are talking about saving it in general.
The survival of the nation, with even a short downtime in culture, is under threat. The downtime for even a year might throw us back for a minimum of several years.
From the period of 2006-2010, we had 1-2 movies maximum. In 2011, there was no Ukrainian movie screened in the cinema. In the period of the so-called Renaissance of Ukrainian cinematography, 2010-2019, we had more than 100 movies released. We are not talking about quantity but already about quality. We showed that Ukrainian cinematography has its place on the international landscape.
More than 10,000 people, who work in the movie industry alone, will be left with no means to live without support from the government.
PAVLO SUSHKO, DEPUTY HEAD OF SERVANT OF THE PEOPLEFACTION IN PARLIAMENT
As a member of the Ukrainian Parliament and Chairman of the Cinematography and Advertising Subcommittee, I find the situation with reducing financing of the culture and film sector unacceptable.
When we have just heard about possible cuts, and we are united in the Committee. Here are some of the economic and social consequences that will come:
1) breaking of creative industry enterprises;
2) decrease in export of creative industry goods;
3) increasing unemployment in the field of film production, tourism, book publishing;
4) loss of human potential.
5) reduction of the general level of culture of the population of Ukraine > increase in crime rates and "social" diseases;
6) the lack of perception of the policultural nature of Ukrainian society and a general decline in the level of patriotism;
7) slowing down the processes of development of civil society institutions, etc.
IRMA VITOVSKA, UKRAINIAN ACTRESS
It is like a nightmare from the 90-s. I am an expert of the Ukrainian Cultural Fund, where many projects are now suspended in uncertainty. But cinematography is a difficult sphere in terms of technical assets, which we had grown.
We should look for ways to compromise. Culture creates a moral code, which is important in times of challenge like the coronavirus pandemic. This is a challenge and a marker that will detect many things in society.
We do not know what the atmosphere outside will be, so the moral code that culture gives is important so as not to allow people to fall into despair.
One year of downtime can count for ten for those people working in cinema. It is a question of information security, creativity, and competitiveness. For me, as an actress, the downtime is very critical. We might lose everything we have been acquiring for so long.
Staying under quarantine due to the novel coronavirus poses challenges beyond just wearing masks and working from home. It also probably means you’re in for a lot of boredom, a lot of binge-watching, and a lot of scrolling your newsfeed. We’ve picked up the best Ukrainian online attractions that can help you to spend your quarantine time in Ukraine, wherever in the world you are!
Start with UkraineWOW, an interactive exhibition-trip around Ukraine and with Ukraine as a companion. It features a variety of rare items such as cubist works by Ukrainian-born sculptor Oleksandr Arkhypenko, silver hryvnia coins that date back to the Kyivan Rus, and much more. The virtual tour through the exhibition will not only show you why Ukraine is such a wowing country, but also give you the authentic feel of a journey by train that you may be missing during the quarantine.
- See also: Why Ukrainian Culture Is Interesting
If you are longing for outdoor activities, try going for a virtual walk through Ukrainian open-air museums. This website was created by the Ukrainian Ministry of Culture in cooperation with Google, and features seven open-air museums in different parts of the country. Guests can tour the unique ethnographic collection, learn more about their ancestors' lives, and feel the authenticity of Ukraine.
For those who can't imagine life without travel, there's the Explore Ukraine! movie by Ukrainer, where you can discover the whole of Ukraine from above in 36 minutes with. It will show you how huge, multi-faceted, and undiscovered Ukraine is. You can also take a 360° virtual bike ride in a video by the Ukrainian Institute to explore the main sites of Ukrainian cities.
Art lovers can enjoy a 3D-tour of the Khanenko Museum, the top world art museum in Ukraine. Its collection includes original artworks by outstanding European masters, such as Pieter Paul Rubens, Gentile Bellini, Juan de Zurbarán, Jacques-Louis David, and François Boucher. You can find here beautiful and rare pieces of Iranian, Tibetan, Chinese and Japanese fine and decorative art, as well as small but interesting collections of ancient Greek, Roman, and Egyptian art.
The Odesa Western and Eastern Art Museum also has a large collection including works by Caravaggio, Gerard David, Jan van Scorel, Rubens, Abraham Bloemaert, Frans Hals, and others. Artwork from of China, Japan, India, Iran, and Tibet is also represented in the gallery, so you can discover the art of two continents at once while sitting on your sofa with the virtual tour around the museum.
Fans of performing arts who miss their visits to the theatre can follow the Lviv National Opera YouTube channel, which broadcasts opera and ballet every Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The recordings of operas like Madame Butterfly, Nabucco, and Don Carlos are also available on the channel.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian pop musicians have followed the example of Robbie Williams and Coldplay and staged online shows, so you can listen to "home concerts" by Jamala, O.Torvald, The Hardkiss, MELOVIN, Fiolet, and NK. If you are looking for a more unique sound, also check out the Mariologia concert performed by the contemporary music vocal ensemble Alter Ratio. The concert was organised by the Ukrainian Institute in Vienna in 2019, but now you have a great opportunity to catch up.
In case your watch list is already empty, services that stream Ukrainian films can provide you with some interesting titles. The brand new online Ukrainian cinema site Takflix provides English subtitles for all the films it streams. Its movie library is not large, but already some great films on offer, including "Hutsulka Ksenya," a musical about love and discovery in the Carpathian Mountains, and "Heat Singers," a documentary about utility workers in Ivano-Frankivsk who also love to sing. If you are fond of documentaries, also check out Docuspace. The films on it tell the stories of Ukrainians trying to make positive changes in their country and communities.
The Ukrainian online-TV service OLL.tv also offers some Ukrainian movies for English-speaking audiences. One of these is the famous Ukrainian film "The Tribe" by Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy, which won four prizes at Cannes Film Festival in 2014. The plot of this social drama evolves in Ukrainian boarding school for the deaf people, so the story is told entirely through sign language.
There's no reason to be bored, annoyed, or angry about staying home under quarantine now - take it as a chance to learn more about Ukraine.
One more patient has died from coronavirus in Georgia, bringing the death toll to 5.
According to the latest figures, the number of patients diagnosed with COVID-19 in Georgia has reached 411. 98 patients recovered from the virus.
Three Georgian citizens are brought from abroad for medical treatment.
Currently, 5015 people remain under quarantine and 573 – in inpatient care.
The number of confirmed cases of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) increased up to 195 in Georgia.
The information was recently updated on a special website stopcov.ge created by the Georgian government.
Also, according to the official data, 39 patients have fully recovered from the virus. Two people died of COVID-19 in the country.
There are 4735 people under quarantine and 383 – in inpatient care.
As part of the global response to the coronavirus outbreak, the European Commission stands by Eastern partner countries and has reallocated €140 million for the most immediate needs in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova, and Ukraine. In addition, the Commission will also redirect the use of existing instruments worth up to €700 million to help mitigate the socio-economic impact of the coronavirus crisis.
Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Olivér Várhelyi said: “These are very difficult times not only for the EU, but for our partner countries as well. We are doing all we can to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on human lives and livelihoods. We are responding both to the immediate needs of the health systems, as well as longer term needs to the most vulnerable groups in society and small and medium-sized enterprises, which are the backbone of the economies in the six countries”.
Responding to immediate needs
At the request of the partner countries, the Commission will respond to immediate needs by supporting the supply of medical devices and personal equipment, such as ventilators, laboratory kits, masks, goggles, gowns, and safety suits. The European Commission is working with the World Health Organisation (WHO), and is deploying €30 million to ensure these necessary supplies are jointly purchased and effectively distributed to the health systems of the six countries in the coming weeks. In addition, the funds will support national health administrations to train medical and laboratory staff and carry out awareness raising measures to the wider population.
The Commission has also made available more than €11.3 million in small grants to civil society organisations. These funds are already responding to immediate needs, through the ongoing regional “Rapid Response Mechanism”, such as supporting local schools with distance learning. By the summer, and as part of this package, the Commission will launch the “Eastern Partnership Solidarity Programme” which will target the most affected parts of the populations through civil society support and notably sub-grants to smaller, local organisations.
Mitigating the socio-economic impact of the outbreak
The Commission is working closely with International Financial Institutions (IFIs) and relevant financing institutions from EU Member States as TEAM EUROPE providing a coordinated European response for the real economy, including SMEs, in particular through:
- Launching of a new support programme of €100 million to help SMEs, including self-employed and others to easily access credit and boost their businesses after the crisis;
- Facilitating, simplifying, accelerating, and reinforcing €200 million worth of existing credit lines and grants to SMEs in local currency including through its EU4Business Initiative;
- In addition, in the current crisis the EU has mobilised its major de-risking instrument the European Fund for Sustainable Development (EFSD), worth a total of €1.55 billion, with €500 million being made available for the EU’s neighbourhood. This will rapidly provide liquidity in the EU’s neighbourhood, including through working capital, trade finance, or moratoria on debt service. This support is in addition to the ongoing macro financial assistance support to partners, including Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.
The Commission also stands ready to provide assistance through TAIEX, its peer to peer instrument, by using EU Member States expertise, experience and examples of good practices on assessing emergency preparedness response scheme and health systems.
The outbreak of coronavirus has accelerated the spread of myths and disinformation around it, coming from various sources both within and outside of the European Union. Learn more in the report on Disinformation on the coronavirus.
More information on the European Commission’s coordination of a common European response to the coronavirus outbreak click here.