What future for Hong Kong under China’s new National Security law?

For the people of Hong Kong, recent nights have not brought much sleep. On May 28th, the National People’s Assembly, the closest thing to a Chinese parliament, passed the National Security law, to be introduced to the city’s Constitution without consultation with either its government or its citizens.

The new law, targeting issues of terrorism and secession, as well as any act implicitly or explicitly aimed at attracting foreign interference in China’s internal affairs, is likely to become the new legal ground to prosecute pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong. In the eyes of many, including the U.S. Secretary of State Mark Pompeo, this is the end of the autonomy afforded to Hong Kong under the ‘One Country Two Systems’ framework.  

Although certainly distressing, the news was not entirely unexpected. The law had been on the Chinese agenda since 2003 and was presented to the city’s Legislative Council on several occasions, only to be endlessly postponed due to mass demonstrations. After one year of protests, with Xi Jinping’s image strengthened both in China and abroad thanks to the effective handling of the pandemic, the time was perfect for the Chinese government to finally sort out the Hong Kong issue.

However predictable, the law is still bad news for those who hoped for a democratic Hong Kong: “We dreamed of Taiwan but will end up as a new Macao,” say activists of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University. A powerful image, evoking the range of possible positionings of China’s semi-autonomous regions surrounding Beijing: Taiwan, the democratic and de facto independent “renegade province” on one side, and Macao, the former-Portuguese colony that enjoys Hong Kong’s same degree of autonomy but never makes the news, on the other.

Although both Hong Kong and Macao – and technically Taiwan – are included in the doctrine “one country, two systems”, their historical and development trajectories made them quite different interlocutors in Beijing’s eyes.

In the case of Macao, at the time of the handover those who did not want to submit to Chinese Communist hegemony were allowed to leave and move to Europe. The UK, on the other hand, denied full British citizenship to the people of Hong Kong where civil resistance to Beijing’s encroachments became an existential issue. Besides, due to the different development trajectories Macao is economically more dependent on the mainland than Hong Kong, whose main financial partners are Western democracies. As a result, the civil society movement is virtually non-existent in Macao: an alluring vision for the Chinese leadership who may be planning to level out the differences between the two.

But Hong Kong’s response could be violent: “We must firmly oppose the new law; it is essential not to lose momentum” – say PolyU students. Demosistō, the party founded by Joshua Wong and the other students who led the pro-democracy demonstrations in 2014, in an online appeal to the international community, stressed the need to continue to manifest dissent in any form.

A tug-of-war between the central government and the protesters will probably define the city’s near future. A key variable could be the international response to the issue: The United States has been a strenuous defender of Hong Kong’s autonomy, but as domestic dissent escalates, the Trump administration may be too preoccupied with protests within the USA to defend those protesting abroad.

However, some Hongkongers are convinced, the city will retain a certain degree of autonomy: “Hong Kong is more important to China than China is to Hong Kong”. Cracking down on the civil society may save the Communist Party’s face by restoring a sense of order in the region. But in the long run, China may want to keep on benefiting from Hong Kong as a privileged trading hub, especially in the light of growing rifts with the United States. If that is the case, Beijing may have to silently renegotiate its position.

 

Did China manufacture Covid-19?

The 73rd World Health Assembly began on May 18th – and it soon became yet another battleground between the US and China. Back in March, the Trump administration started repeatedly addressing the coronavirus as the “Chinese virus” or the “Wuhan virus”, causing huge offence in Beijing. Since then, the two countries have been engaging in a mediatic war over who is responsible for the pandemic. The underlying assumption of this blame-shifting is that the virus has been bioengineered to serve as a weapon.

This conversation has proved dangerous on both sides: it not only provoked several attacks in regard to China and Chinese communities abroad, but it also injected a renewed sense of nationalistic pride in the Chinese and eventually reinforced an “East versus West” paradigm and the idea of an inevitable conflict between the two.

Narratives of this kind are as ominous as they are misleading. In the US, it is mainly conservative politicians who speculate that China created their virus out of their biosafety level-four laboratory located in Wuhan, where they suggest the outbreak originated. The first raising questions as to the possibility of a manufactured Covid-19 was American social scientist Steve Mosher, who published an opinion piece on February 22 entitled ‘Don’t buy China’s story: The coronavirus may have leaked from a lab’. Mosher, the president of the Population Research Institute, has also written a book entitled Bully of Asia: Why China’s ‘Dream’ Is the New Threat to World Order, which sheds a bit of light on his stance on the country.

Chinese criticism has been equally sharp but quite different in nature: allegations of a US-manufactured virus were framed more as a (not very) diplomatic response than as an actual inquiry into the American medical research. Xinhua, China State News Agency, has instead released a video advertisement that mocks the U.S. government and blames it for having underestimated the virus and having poorly handled the crisis causing many people to die. A type of criticism that may somehow be more constructive than blaming a government to have deliberately released a new-type disease as a weapon.

What is more important, however, is that none of this is backed by science. Experts worldwide have been debunking theories that Covid-19 originated in a lab. According to a study recently published on the biomedical journal Nature Medicine the molecular features of SARS-CoV-2 that are essential to initiate infection are so perfect that they can only be the result of natural selection and not the product of a genetic engineering process, even if performed by very clever scientists.

In interviews published on Business Insider and Scientific American, Jonna Mazet, an epidemiologist at the University of California, Davis, who has worked with and trained Wuhan Institute of Virology researchers in the past and Wuhan-based virologist Shi Zhengli warn that there are at least four reasons why a leak would be unlikely. Besides the rigorous safety protocols implemented by the lab, it appears that the lab’s samples simply don’t match the new-type corona-virus.

The most likely explanation for the appearance of Sars-Cov-2 may be instead that it was transmitted to humans after a process of natural selection in an animal host – probably bats – that were sold in Wuhan wet-market. This theory has been leading many to mistrust or mock the Chinese for their backwardness and unusual alimentary habits. While part of this criticism is justified – as China grows it should start taking responsibility both over its society and its engagement with the world – it is not reasonable for other countries to assume that China should just abandon its culinary traditions however strange they might sound. At the origin of the pandemic is the problem of unregulated animal markets anyway, not the ingredients of a Chinese soup.

One last consideration: it may be worthwhile to engage in a mental exercise for a second and imagine what would have happened if the virus originated, let’s say, in Italy. Would have the conversation been any different? It suddenly becomes harder to picture anybody accusing the Italian government of having evil plans to conquer the world. A sign that most of the current discourse on Covid-19 might have more to do with politics than with health.

 

 

Stronger UK-China relations? First try and understand China

In 2019, the United Kingdom ranked 9th among the People’s Republic of China’s top trading partners in terms of export sales. That is to say, the UK imported around 62 billion dollars worth of Chinese shipments in 2019 alone. The same year, the PRC ranked 5th among major trading partners of Britain, meaning Beijing imported around 30 billion dollars worth of British products. Against all odds, trade and investment have been peaking after Brexit, with the UK being the first recipient of China’s FDI (foreign direct investment) in the real estate sector in Europe since 2017.

There is more: England is a decisive pawn on the Chinese geopolitical chessboard. The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is a massive plan for infrastructure investments covering the route of the ancient Silk Road to promote trade, diplomacy, and people-to-people exchanges, to exert influence abroad and – according to some observers – to reshape the US-led global order into a Sino-centric one. It is no coincidence that the first-ever “Silk Road train”, inaugurated in 2017, connects London and Yiwu (one of China’s main production hubs). The BRI was also the main sponsor of the 2019 London’s Chinatown Chinese Spring Festival, signalling that China-UK relations go beyond business and trade to cultural exchange.

Looking at data, it seems clear that chances for the UK to thrive without dealing with China are shrinking. However, many in Europe are still sceptical about China being a responsible actor to be entrusted with large shares of power and influence over others. The reason is a legitimate ‘fear of the unknown’: the PRC is an unfamiliar country, geographically, politically, and culturally distant from Western liberal democracies.

Doubts on the eligibility of China as a partner worthy of trust have been the result of both warnings from the United States and lack of knowledge of the Chinese context. Concerns have been raised in many European countries about whether it is acceptable to promote closer ties with the PRC. But given its growing involvement in international affairs, it seems unlikely that – for the foreseeable future – any major country will be able to avoid doing business with Beijing.

What is suggested here is a medicine for uncertainty. That is a need to depart from binary Cold-War-logic in favour of a more comprehensive understanding of the Chinese context, beyond the domain of business and trade. Filling the gaps in knowledge of China’s civilisation, history, society, and institutions is essential to better understand the country’s current strategy and policy-making.

The Chinese are devoted students of Western history, philosophy, and political theory: without relinquishing their identity they managed to take over those aspects of Western thought that they believed would be beneficial to them. Greater understanding of factors of this kind would enhance the ability of Western governments to predict China’s behaviour and, possibly, to find a framework for mutual understanding under which to operate.

The PRC is experiencing impressive economic and technological development. At this pace, the capacity of China’s economy will outstrip the U.S. within the next few decades. Likely, the templates of economic – and eventually, political – power will be shifting from West to East. Greater knowledge of China will provide policy-makers with useful tools to promote national interests through an effective relationship with Beijing.

Furthermore, with power shifting from the U.S. to China, Europe might draw strength from acting as a mediator. In the geographic middle ground, European countries – especially the UK, given its traditional diplomatic ties with the United States – might be in a position to make the best of both worlds. Such a repositioning should start now and be consolidated over time if it is to be an effective reality at the time of the shift.

To this end, it is essential for the UK to get the big picture: if Brexit really does mean that a more independent Britain will have the chance to reboot its foreign policy and build healthier, equitable and ethical bilateral relationships with its international partners, then China would be a good place to start. For this to be possible, a holistic approach to China should be pushed forward to become the bedrock for a new topic of conversation within the English public discourse.  

 

Covid-19: Lessons from the East?

Are there lessons still to be learnt about the way the East has handled coronavirus? As Europe and the US adopt increasingly draconian measures to stop the spreading of the virus, Asia is slowly recovering. Within a similar period of time, the virus has made a greater number of victims in Europe and the US than in Asia. This imbalance is not only a matter of governance or national health systems – a lot of it is cultural.  

The People’s Republic of China, a country of 1.4 billion people, managed to contain the virus in about ten weeks reporting the first day without deaths on April 7th. Vietnam, one of the PRC’s neighbours and home to the first registered case outside of China back in January, has only a few hundred infections within its territory and, seemingly, no deaths. The government in Hanoi was even praised by the World Health Organisation for its performance. South Korea, one of the virus epicentres back in February, managed to slow down the spread and now has about 10,000 cases (one seventh of those registered in the UK) and only 222 deaths.

What made Asian countries’ response to the virus effective? Many have found an answer in the ability of governments to strictly control their citizens. This capacity is seen as the direct result of the presence of authoritarian governments – China, Vietnam – or authoritarian traits within formally established democracies – South Korea – and has been dismissed in the West as something neither possible nor desirable. But this view might be simplistic. As much as a country’s policy-making reflects the nature of its political systems, political arrangements result from the mindset, customs and social behaviour of a people or a society. To put simple, politics rests upon culture.

There are a few societal behaviours shared by China, Vietnam and South Korea that are absent in the Western cultural tradition. First, the general tendency to value the collective over the individual. This fundamental premise is a legacy of Confucianism and an underlying concept to the notion of citizenship in China and culturally proximate countries. Confucius preached that the virtuous individual should be willing to sacrifice for the family, the neighbouring social circles, and ultimately the state.

Valuing the collective over the individual is a two-fold asset at a time like this: first, the Chinese, the Vietnamese and the South Koreans have arguably had less troubles than Europeans or Americans in accepting the idea of suffering any form of discomfort – isolation, in this case – for the common good. As such, they proved more disciplined. This is evidenced by the Chinese experts that were sent to Europe to help fighting the virus: “The main problem is that too many people are still out in the streets,” they declared to China’s State News Agency.

Secondly, the importance conferred by the individual on the state, combined with centralized policy-making, allowed the government to adopt cost-cutting strategies to deal with the crisis. For instance, central governments in China and Vietnam have been able to elude market rules in order to prioritize production of certain goods over others: this allowed to avoid the risk that key products – such as food, surgical masks, and sanitary products – get out of stock or become overly expensive.

Most European countries and the United States have been taking on some of the measures that proved successful in Asia, but recovery is nowhere near in sight. As Westerners, we feed into the idea that this imbalance is the result of the ideological premises of liberal democracy that grant citizens’ individual freedom instead of controlling and restraining them. This might be true. But on closer inspection, we might find that some aspects of existing liberal democracies exceeded those premises: undeterred individualism, the rule of the market, and the lack of state intervention, if unchallenged, may be our doom in the world of the future.

 

The UK should not use Huawei’s technology to develop its high speed internet

The current coronavirus crisis originated in China and has become – quite naturally – the only issue about which most of us care. But there are other China related issues that affect our future, and the overarching crisis should not allow other issues to slip under the wire unchallenged. The most important of which, as far as the UK is concerned, is Huawei, as the following implies:

Huawei’s access to the UK’s 5G network is a political matter – one the UK government shouldn’t underestimate.

Earlier this year, Prime Minister Boris Johnson allowed Huawei to be part of the country’s 5G network, although setting a strict cap of 35% on market share. The decision triggered criticism among Tories, as it was taken whilst ignoring US warnings of alleged links between Huawei’s administration and the Chinese Military. UK citizens may be wondering whether the country should use Huawei’s technology to improve high-speed internet. The answer is no.

Without detracting from Huawei’s technological capacity, it does not seem in the UK’s strategic interests to increase the involvement of the Chinese company in its 5G rollout. Aside from the alleged relationship between Huawei’s CEO, Ren Zhengfei, and the People’s Liberation Army, the reason that should keep Johnson from letting the company free access to the country’s 5G network is the USA.

The race to dominate tech and the cyberspace is part of the trade war between China and the US – a solution to which is nowhere near in sight. Choosing a partner to implement 5G broadband nationwide is thus a matter of picking sides: regardless of the deepening of China-UK relations, the US is still the island’s first trading partner – whereas China ranks fifth – and the US is a traditional political and military ally.

Americans, who are now in a phase of retraction from world economy under Trump’s leadership, might further hold back from engaging economically with partners they don’t consider trustworthy: if that is the case, fast-speed downloads and uploads allowed by Huawei’s 5G coverage might be more expensive than the UK can afford.

 

Impact of coronavirus COVID-19: Latest

Reflections on a catastrophe

As the Coronavirus pandemic reaches epic proportions, and this great leveler takes its toll on the elderly and the weak, William Morris, the Secretary General of the Next Century Foundation, reflects on the implications of this catastrophe. To listen to his podcast use this link.

In case you are not already following the number of confirmed cases . . . 

For authoritative official data and information and latest recommended guidelines for prevention and treatment, consult the websites of JHU CSSE, WHO, and CDC (see bottom of article below).

Stafford Clarry, our senior member in Iraq, continues to send us updates:
1.    PREVENT INFECTION

Slow the outbreak by keeping yourself and others from getting sick

 

2.    PREPARE
Stock up on food responsibly and create a house plan.
 
3.    STAY HOME
Stay at home to protect others, and use these strategies to keep life as normal as possible
 
4.    RECOVER FROM ILLNESS
What to do if you or a family member gets sick

The New York Times
26 March 2020
 
What You Can Do About Coronavirus Right Now
 
By Tara Parker-Pope

You have an essential role to play in slowing the spread of the new coronavirus. The good news is that small changes in personal behavior can buy time — slowing the outbreak, preventing hospitals from becoming overwhelmed and reducing cases until scientists develop treatments and, eventually, a vaccine. Here’s some practical advice from doctors and public health experts to protect yourself and your community.

Slow the outbreak by keeping yourself and others from getting sick.
 

Stock up on food responsibly and create a household plan.

 

Stay at home to protect others, and use these strategies to keep life as normal as possible.

 

What to do if you or a family member gets sick.

 

1.    You Can Prevent Infection

 

Slow the outbreak by keeping yourself and others from getting sick.

Many of us probably will contract the new coronavirus at some point and experience only mild illness. So why not just get sick and get it over with? Because people at higher risk — older people and those with existing health problems — depend on the actions of everybody else to stay safe.

The impact just one person can have on spreading the virus — or tamping it down — is exponential. In the space of a month, one infected person leads to about 400 additional cases, according to Adam Kucharski, a mathematician who specializes in disease outbreaks.

Wash your hands (the right way)

 

Hand washing is the cornerstone of infection control, but we’ve all been doing it wrong. Wet your hands (the water temperature doesn’t matter), soap up vigorously and start counting to 20 as you scrub everywhere, including wrists and fingernails.

One big mistake is that people shake their hands to air dry them. Dry with a paper towel instead to remove any lingering germs, and when you’re done, use the towel to turn the faucet handle so you don’t re-contaminate your hands.

“Your hands carry almost all your germs to your respiratory tract. Keeping them as clean as possible is really helpful,” said Dr. Adit Ginde, a professor of emergency medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. “It would dramatically reduce transmission if people did it well.”

Use hand sanitizer

If you are away from a sink, use alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol, and scrub your hands with the sanitizer the same way you would with soap and water. If you can’t find hand sanitizer, don’t worry. Washing your hands with soap and water is better anyway. (If you see the recipe circulating on social media for homemade sanitizer using aloe vera gel and alcohol, it doesn’t really work. Don’t waste your money and just wash your hands.)

Wash your hands often
As a general practice, think about washing your hands before you leave the house (protect others from your germs) and after you arrive at your destination (to remove germs you picked up from door knobs, elevator buttons, public transportation, etc.) You should also wash your hands before, during and after you prepare food. Wash hands before and after you eat, clean your house and change a diaper (you’re touching a baby!) Wash hands after you touch a shopping cart, use the bathroom, blow you

Break the face-touching habit

 

We know you want to touch your face. Studies suggest that humans touch their faces as a form of self-soothing. For those moments when you must touch your face, keep tissues in your pocket to rub itchy eyes and noses (and then throw them away). Wearing glasses, makeup and gloves can also help.

Clean your home

 

Infectious disease specialists know where germs lurk, so we asked them how to clean. Their advice? In between regular cleaning, focus daily on high-touch areas — door knobs, light switches, television remotes, refrigerator and microwave handles, cabinet and drawer pulls, faucet handles and toilet flushers. If you’ve got a popular favorite spot for mail or a popular family closet, give that area an extra wipe. “I try not to be neurotic about it,” says Dr. Kryssie Woods, a hospital epidemiologist and the medical director of infection prevention at Mount Sinai West in New York. “But wash your hands when you get home and try to clean some of those high-touch areas. That’s good advice even without the coronavirus.”

Use the right cleaning products

 

You don’t need hospital-grade cleaners. Most experts believe that regular household cleaning supplies (which often contain the same ingredients as hospital cleaners) will kill the virus. If your store has run out of disinfectant cleaners and bleach that promise to kill 99.9 percent of germs, don’t panic. Although soap and water won’t kill all germs, scientists say scrubbing with soapy water should get rid of coronavirus on surfaces. You can check the C.D.C.’s page on cleaning recommendations.
Clean your phone
The germs on your hands, your desk and your face are now probably on your phone. Some of those germs are harmless, and some are gross. (A 2011 British study found fecal matter on 1 out of 6 smartphones.) Nobody has documented coronavirus transmission from a smartphone, and if you’re washing your hands frequently, it’s not a big worry. Apple says to wipe your iPhone with a 70 percent isopropyl alcohol wipe or Clorox Disinfecting Wipes. Don’t use bleach or other agents. Avoid sharing your phone with others if you can — touching someone else’s phone is like holding their hand. And try to use a headset or the speaker phone function so your phone doesn’t touch your face.

Cover your sneeze or cough

 

Learn to practice “respiratory etiquette,” says Dr. William P. Sawyer, a physician in Sharonville, Ohio, and creator of HenrytheHand.com, a website dedicated to handwashing and hygiene practices. Respiratory etiquette means being aware of where you cough or sneeze. No matter where you are (even at home) don’t sneeze into your bare hand. If you do, chances are that hand will contaminate a TV remote, a door knob or a faucet handle. Always grab a tissue when you sneeze or cough (no cloth handkerchiefs!), and then throw it away and wash or sanitize your hands immediately. If you don’t have a tissue, sneeze into your elbow. Yes, you’ve contaminated your sleeve, but we don’t usually touch that part of our arms, and germs die more quickly on fabrics than on hard surfaces.
Keep your distance

The main way communities are trying to slow the virus is to practice social distancingTry to keep six feet of personal space in public areas to avoid flying droplets from a sneeze or cough (droplets that carry the virus can travel about that distance). Avoid cramped workspace and standing shoulder to shoulder with people in bars or subways. The C.D.C. recommends no gatherings larger than 10 people in places with minimal to moderate spread and no gatherings of any size in harder hit areas. Hundreds of millions of people in more than a dozen states have been ordered to stay home except for essential trips like getting groceries or walking the dog. Here’s a running list. More states and cities may follow their lead.

While some people are practicing “social monogamy” — socializing with only one set of trusted friends — public health experts are now discouraging even that much contact. “Even if you choose only one friend to have over, you are creating new links and possibilities for the type of transmission that all of our school/work/public event closures are trying to prevent,” said Dr. Asaf Bitton, the executive director of Ariadne Labs at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “The symptoms of coronavirus take four to five days to manifest themselves. Someone who comes over looking well can transmit the virus.”

What does it mean to shelter in place? Can I leave the house?

 

Yes. Even in communities where the authorities have imposed strict rules about leaving the house, you can still go out for essentials. In most cases, it’s also still O.K. to take walks or exercise outside. Families should spend time in backyards and open spaces (avoid playground equipment), while maintaining six feet of distance from people they don’t live with.

Reconsider your travel plans

 

Travel advisories are changing by the day. Borders are closing, airlines are canceling flights — and don’t even think about going on a cruise. You can still travel by plane, train and automobile, but the risk is that the outbreak is moving fast and conditions can change quickly. People over 65 and those with health issues should stay home. You can check for new travel restrictions here.

2.    You Can Prepare Yourself and Your Family

You can stock up on food and supplies without contributing to shortages. And every family should have a plan for coping with an emergency.

Stop hoarding!

 

Panic-buying has prompted some people to fight over toilet paper, pilfer from each other’s shopping carts and even steal sanitizer and masks from hospitals. Make a commitment to your community and yourself that you will not take more than what you need for a few weeks at a time. Be reassured that while there may sometimes be empty shelves and delays, food makers are confident in the supply chain. If you can’t find an item, talk to your grocery or pharmacy manager to find out when new shipments are expected. Remember, if you stockpile supplies, that means someone else — probably more vulnerable than you — won’t have what they need.

Stock up on food the right way

 

Stocking your kitchen to prepare for the unexpected can be daunting. How much food do you need for a two-week emergency supply? How much more food do you need now that everyone is working and studying at home? Whatever your food preferences, it’s important that you eat the recommended amounts of healthy foods to keep your immune system running strong.

Now is not the time to seek comfort in processed foods, junk food snacks and high-sugar packaged foods. Your immune system is powered by a nutrient-dense diet of protein, fruits and vegetables to function at its best. While it can take years of bad eating to develop diabetes or heart disease, the effect of a poor diet has an almost immediate impact on your immune system, said Dr. Mark Hyman, a Cleveland Clinic physician and author of the book “Food Fix.”
·      Have an emergency supply. Two weeks is best, but many of us don’t have the space or the funds for that much food. You don’t need to buy it all at once. When you shop, just pick up a few extra frozen foods, boxed or canned pantry items and long-lasting refrigerated foods. Buy fresh produce when you can for daily life, and save frozen and canned produce for unexpected events, like a two-week home quarantine.
·      Plan for daily nutrition. For optimal health, you need a mix of protein, vegetables, fruits, whole grains and some fats.
o   Protein Eat about 7 to 8 ounces daily (spread across two or three meals) in any combination of meat, chicken, fish, pork eggs, tempeh, tofu, beans and veggie burgers. A serving of protein should be about the size of your palm, said Dr. Hyman. (For a child, it should be the size of a child’s palm.)
o   Produce Eat at least 2.5 cups of vegetables and 1 to 2 cups of fruit a day. (We really should eat twice that much, but we don’t.) Root vegetables (carrots, squash, yams) along with apples and oranges can all last for several weeks in the refrigerator without spoiling. Frozen vegetables taste better and have less sodium than canned vegetables. Pickled foods (kimchi, pickles, sauerkraut) are great for an emergency food stash.
 
o   Grains Avoid processed grains when you can, but for quick lunches and easy dinners you can stock up on 3 to 4 daily servings of whole grains per person, said Lisa R. Young, adjunct professor of nutrition at New York University. Look for quinoa, oatmeal and brown rice, freeze whole wheat tortillas (they take up less space than bread) and try to find whole-wheat pasta or pastas made with lentils or black beans.
 
o   Keep healthy snacks on hand. Nuts, seeds, fruits and nut butters are best. If you run out of fresh fruit, a smoothie made with frozen fruit, yogurt or almond milk with nuts and seeds is a treat. A little dried fruit (don’t overdo it) and microwave popcorn is O.K.
 
o   Dairy and non-dairy products. Non-dairy milks made from almonds, soy and coconut (choose those with no added sugar) tend to last longer in the fridge than regular milk. Regular yogurt can also be frozen.
Don’t forget your pets
It’s a good idea to have a two-week supply of pet food, cat litter and pet medications on hand in case of a quarantine, official restrictions of movement or supply issues.

And have more than one emergency pet plan in place. A close friend and I have agreed to take care of each other’s pets in the case of an emergency. But I’ve also got backup plans with my neighbor and the dog walker, just in case.

Try for a 90-day supply of prescription medications

 

To plan for quarantines or store closings, have an extra supply of prescription drugs.Whether you can do that depends on your prescription drug plan. Some plans allow you to get a 90-day supply by signing up for mail order. Other plans may allow you to request a “vacation override” to get an extra month of medication if you plan to leave town. Talk to your pharmacist and your doctor about how you might stock up on medication and whether any of the drugs you take are at risk for shortages.

Make sure you have a thermometer

 

Given that fever is a common symptom of coronavirus, it’s a good idea to take your temperature with a reliable thermometer. Many stores have sold out of thermometers, but keep trying. Drug stores restock supplies daily, so ask when the next shipment is expected. Or ask a friend if they have one to spare. Just make sure you clean it with alcohol.

Know your hospital

 

In any emergency, would you know how to get to your closest hospital? Is the closest hospital an in-network or out-of-network hospital on your insurance plan? Knowing the answers to these questions now will help you move quickly in any emergency. And it makes sense to rehearse a little — drive by your hospital so you know where the emergency room entrance is.

Get to know your neighbors

 

Only one in four adults knows most of their neighbors, according to a Pew Research Center study. Reach out to neighbors (from a safe distance) about how they are coping with virus worries. Exchange phone numbers so you can help each other out with mail or deliveries or pet sitting if one of you becomes ill or needs to be away for an extended period of time.

Keep an emergency bag

 

Your household plan should include a list of essentials to pack should you need to make a quick exit for any emergency. If possible, you’ll want to bring items like a toothbrush, a bottle of water and a snack (expect long waits) and phone chargers. (An E.R. doctor told me phone chargers are the most-requested item in an emergency room.) While you should not be collecting masks, if you have a mask at home already, the time to use it is on the way to the hospital to protect those around you, including the hospital admission staff.
Keep important documents handy
In case of emergency, is there someone who can retrieve needed documents? And would they be able to find them? Keep a digital file or a lock box with essential documents. This includes things like passport, birth certificate and social security card, but also important health documents, like copies of health insurance and prescription drug cards, a list of any allergies or health worries, a list of prescriptions, family contact information and health care proxies and directives.

Make sure your end-of-life documents are up to date

 

It’s not a pleasant topic, but dealing with end-of-life issues when you are well will take an enormous burden off your loved ones should an emergency arise. The A.A.R.P. has a page dedicated to advanced directives with links to the correct document for the state where you live. You’ll find information about health care proxies, a form to designate someone to make health decisions for you if needed, and living wills, which allow you to decide what kind of care you want at the end of life. Many hospitals now keep health care proxies and advanced directives in a patient’s medical records if you ask. But you should also share copies with friends and family members and keep a copy in your digital or home files.
If you have elderly parents, friends or family members, help them get their end-of-life documents in order now. If you haven’t completed a will, check with a lawyer. A will typically needs to be notarized in person, which can’t happen if notary offices are closed. Some states will recognize a will that hasn’t been notarized as long as it’s signed by witnesses.

3.    Stay Home

 

Based on the pattern of the virus in other countries, many of us are going to be working from home and sheltering in place for weeks or possibly months at a time. Here are some strategies to keep life as normal as possible.

How and when to stay home

 

The rules change by the day, and there’s always a chance local, state or federal authorities will impose more restrictions on movement. Here’s a guide:
·      Social distancing Social distancing is ultimately about creating physical distance between people who don’t live together. At the community level, it means closing schools and workplaces and canceling events like concerts and sporting events. For individuals, it means keeping six feet of distance between you and others while in public (indoors and outdoors) and avoiding physical contact with people who do not share your home. For children, this means no playdates or group sports — other than with siblings who live together. “This is not a snow day!” says Dr. Bitton of Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
·      Shelter in place In a nutshell, this means don’t leave the house unless you absolutely have to. Don’t socialize with people outside your family. Don’t go to a friend’s house for dinner or invite someone over. Go outside only for essential needs: groceries, prescriptions or to walk the dog. Outdoor exercise is permitted, as long as you keep six feet between you and non-family members.
 
·      Self-monitoring Self-monitoring is for people who learn they might have been exposed to the virus but had only distant contact with the infected person. This means regularly checking your temperature and watching for signs of coronavirus infection, including fever, shortness of breath and coughing. A person who is self-monitoring should already be following community rules for staying home and limiting interactions with others.
 
·      Self-quarantine This term is used to separate and restrict the movement of someone who is well but who recently had close contact with a person who later was diagnosed with the virus. A person in self-quarantine should stay home, and avoid going to the grocery store or interacting with the public even on a limited basis for a 14-day period. A person in self-quarantine should sleep in a separate space from family members.
 
·      Self-isolation Anyone who has a diagnosed case or a suspected case based on their symptoms should self-isolate. A person in isolation should stay in a separate room with no or minimal contact with the rest of the household (including pets) and use a separate bathroom if possible.
Don’t neglect fitness
You’re not commuting to work anymore, so consider using that time to build a fitness habit. Exercise is good for your immune system.
·      Health club and fitness classes Most gyms are closed. If you live in a part of the country where gyms are still open, talk to your gym or fitness instructor about plans for live streaming fitness classes if public health officials impose more restrictions on movement. If you are still going to the gym, keep your distance, wipe down equipment, wash or sanitize your hands often. Avoid peak times so you come into contact with fewer people. Bring your own yoga mats and towels and make sure you have six feet of space on all sides.
·      Exercise at home You can invest in home exercise equipment or smart-home exercise systems like Peloton or the Mirror, but that can get expensive. You can find a number of workouts to do at home for free. Beginners can try the Well Six-Minute Workout video series. We’ve got a guide to How to Start Working Out, the 9-Minute Strength Workout and Yoga for Everyone. Taking walks and jogging or running are safe ways to exercise outside, maintain your distance from others and keep you from going stir-crazy at home. Learn more about setting up a space in your home for exercise.

Create structure

 

As someone who has worked primarily from home for 20 years, I know how important it is to maintain a routine similar to how you work at the office. This isn’t just about being more productive (although it helps). A schedule will help you take breaks, preserve family time and avoid letting home-based work take over your weekends. Your children should also have a routine that matches, as much as possible, their school day. Here are some tips:
·      Wake up at the same time each day, shower and get dressed in comfortable clothes (not pajamas).
·      Create a task list and establish working hours. Do the same for your children.
·      Take a lunch break. If your children are at home, schedule lunch and a brief recess for all of you outside, if community rules allow it.
 
·      Take coffee and stretch breaks. It’s much easier to stay sedentary for hours of working at home than in the office because you don’t have meetings and chats with colleagues to break up the monotony.
 
·      Plan check-ins with work colleagues to stay connected.
 
·      Stop work at the end of the work day at the same time you would normally leave the office. Don’t forget to take weekends off!
 
·      Use your normal commuting time for self-care. You’ve just gained a significant amount of free time that in the past you used for commuting. Be mindful of the time bonus and use it for self-care, time with family or pleasure, like reading a book or listening to a podcast.
 
·      Make space. Read Wirecutter’s guide to creating a dedicated home work space.
Use video chats to socialize
FaceTime, Zoom, Google Hangouts or Skype can keep everybody connected. Carol Auerbach of Jupiter, Fla., is using FaceTime to join in virtual cooking sessions with her grandchildren in Seattle. Carolyn Cannuscio, the director of research at the Center for Public Health Initiatives at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, said her children are being home-schooled via FaceTime by her mother, who lives on Long Island, and she is planning art classes with an aunt in Santa Fe, N.M.
Allow young people to connect digitally with friends
While the dramatic changes brought by coronavirus are tough on everyone, they are particularly tough on students who had to abruptly leave school and cancel graduations and proms. Allow children and teens to stay connected via phones and social media, and consider loosening the rules about the amount of time they are allowed to spend with friends online.
“Right now, we can worry less about kids’ time online if they are using social media to maintain positive connections with friends they know in real life,” said Lisa Damour, a clinical psychologist who writes a Times column about adolescence. You can learn more in Ms. Damour’s column about “quaranteenagers.”

Build resilience by supporting others

 

Getting through this crisis will require resilience. While it helps to have a support network of friends and family, you can get an even bigger resilience boost by giving support to others.

Call your friends. Share your stash of toilet paper or hand sanitizer with a neighbor.

Reach out to an elderly person and offer to bring them groceries, teach them how to use FaceTime or Zoom or set up a regular phone call to check in on them. Use precautions when interacting with someone at high-risk, like washing your hands and keeping your distance.

Laurie Archbald-Pannon, a geriatrician and an associate professor of geriatric medicine at the University of Virginia, recently wrote about her concerns and advice for older Americans. “As geriatricians, we promote the benefits of social engagement to our patients; we remind them of the poor health outcomes associated with social isolation,” writes Dr. Archbald-Pannon. “Now, with Covid-19, the times have changed. But along with the risk of coronavirus infection comes the risk of social isolation.” Read more from Jane Brody about countering the loneliness of social distancing.
Don’t wear a mask if you are well

Masks are in short supply and should be reserved for healthcare workers in hospitals, first responders, home caregivers and people who are sick (who should wear them to protect a caregiver). If you have a stash of masks, you can check with your hospital or medical school to see if they will accept donated masks to be used by healthcare workers. You may want to keep a few to use if someone in your home becomes ill.

The guidance on wearing masks has been confusing. The C.D.C. still advises against it. But recent research suggests masks might be protective in crowded spaces, prompting criticism of how mask advice has been communicated. In New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo now says people over 70 and those with underlying medical conditions should wear masks (although he does not offer guidance for how to find them).
Given the conflicting advice, it comes down to personal choice (and whether you even have a mask). If you want to wear a mask to the grocery store, don’t let it give you a false sense of security. You still need to limit trips outside, and be mindful about handwashing and touching your face. And from what I’ve seen, most people are wearing masks incorrectly. People often fidget with the mask, pulling it down off their face and pushing it back up. I saw one couple grocery shopping while wearing masks over their mouths but not their noses (both mouth and nose should be covered).
Linsey Marr, a Virginia Tech scientist and an expert in the transmission of viruses in the air, notes that masks are essential for healthcare workers who are exposed to sick people all the time. “The average person who is practicing social distancing is not likely to encounter high levels of the virus in air, so they probably don’t need one,” she said.

 

4.    You Can Recover From Illness

Many of us may get sick. But most people — about 80 percent — will get mild to moderate symptoms. Even so, many people are frightened about the uncertainty of a new disease and how to seek medical care. Here’s what to do if you get sick.

How do I get tested?

It’s very possible that even if you have coronavirus, you will never be tested. This is frustrating to patients who have symptoms and want to know if they should isolate and warn friends about exposure. But right now, widespread testing of everyone with symptoms is not happening in the United States. People most likely to be tested are those who arrive at emergency rooms with serious symptoms, those at high risk or those who have come in direct contact with a diagnosed case. This could change: Testing could become more common if public health officials adopt a more aggressive testing strategy. Check the C.D.C. website and your local health department for advice about how and where to be tested.

What happens during a coronavirus test?

It’s called a swab test, but this isn’t a Q-tip. To test for the virus, a healthcare worker wearing full protective gear inserts a long, pliable nasopharyngeal swab deep into the nose until it touches the upper part of the throat. Then they twist the swab around a few times to collect the sample. Our own reporter said it was no big deal, while a 17-year-old posted a video of her swab test on TikTok, saying it felt like “being stabbed in the brain.” President Trump didn’t like it either. “Not something I want to do everyday, I can tell you that,” said the president, when describing the experience.

What are the symptoms of Covid-19?

 

The defining symptoms of Covid-19 in adults are a cough, fever and shortness of breath. Some people get sore throats and muscle aches, much like the flu. Many people get gastrointestinal symptoms. A peculiar symptom, for some, is a loss of taste and smell. Temperature checks are a key part of screening at hospitals and airports, so if you have cold or flu symptoms, it’s a good idea to take your own temperature frequently. While it’s tough to distinguish coronavirus from the flu, we do know that common cold and allergy symptoms like a runny nose and sneezing are not typical symptoms of coronavirus in adults. However, reports from China show that a runny, stuffy nose sometimes can be a sign of the illness in children. Given that we are in the midst of a global pandemic, err on the side of caution. If you or your child is coughing, sneezing or has a sore throat, it’s best to stay home and keep your distance from others.

Don’t rush to the emergency room

Hospital emergency rooms are packed with really sick people and overworked staff and doctors. It’s not a place you want to be, and if you show up unnecessarily, you’re taking care away from people who really need it. Before going to the E.R., stop and ask yourself, “Would I go to the E.R. for these symptoms under normal circumstances?” In most cases, the answer is probably no. Coughs, fevers, sore throats and runny noses have rarely been an emergency in the past, and those symptoms, even if due to coronavirus, are not going to be an emergency for most people now.

Call first. Don’t just show up.

 

If you’re worried, and have symptoms that would send you to the doctor during normal times, call your doctor to explain your symptoms and ask for guidance. If you don’t have a regular family doctor and you’re worried, you can call an urgent care clinic or your emergency room and explain your situation. The important thing is that you shouldn’t just show up. Hospitals have plans for the arrival of potential coronavirus patients, to protect staff and other patients, so call ahead.

Learn the warning signs that should cause concern
If you become ill, check with your doctor about your symptoms and when you should seek emergency care. The C.D.C. says the following symptoms should prompt you to seek emergency treatment:
·      Difficulty breathing
·      Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
 
·      Confusion or inability to arouse
 
·      Bluish lips or face
 
·      Any other symptom that is severe or concerning
How do I get to the hospital?
Make a plan for getting to the hospital before you get sick. Ideally a family member who has already been exposed to you can drive you. Keep the windows open, wear a mask and cough into tissues so you don’t infect your driver. You should not take a taxi or public transportation. If you can’t get to the hospital, call an ambulance service. If you have a mask at home, you should wear it to the hospital. If you call the hospital in advance, most hospitals will have a special admissions process to give you a mask and keep you separated from other patients.
Do you have an underlying condition?

Respiratory symptoms are a great cause for concern for the elderly, as well as people with asthma or lung disease or a history of pneumonia, heart disease, kidney disease, diabetes, a compromised immune system due to illness or a drug therapy, or a person has recently been treated for cancer. Patients with these conditions are more likely to be under a doctor’s care already, so it’s a good idea to reach out to your doctor by phone or email at the onset of symptoms. A doctor who knows your situation can help you navigate the system and advise you when to seek treatment for coronavirus symptoms.

How to care for people at home who have symptoms or a confirmed case of Covid-19

 

It’s likely that a person who is diagnosed with coronavirus but has only mild symptoms will not stay in a hospital and instead be isolated at home. If you have all the symptoms of the virus but haven’t been tested, you should assume you have it and take precautions. Caring for someone with mild to moderate symptoms of coronavirus is similar to caring for someone with the flu. Give them supportive care, fluids, soups and over-the-counter cough medicines and pain relievers to ease symptoms. Have them take their temperature regularly. If a person is so sick or weak that he or she can’t eat, drink or go to the bathroom, call a doctor. The World Health Organization has guidelines on home care for patients with suspected coronavirus.

Take special precautions caring for someone who might have coronavirus

 

An ill person should be confined to a separate room with no or minimal contact with the rest of the household (including pets) and use a separate bathroom if possible. Most of the time, a sick person will feel a bit miserable, but he or she can pick up food trays left six feet away (at the door or on a dresser) and sanitize a shared bathroom after using it. If you have masks at home, both patient and caregiver should wear them when in contact with each other.

Make sure that shared spaces in the home have good airflow, by turning on an air conditioner or opening a window. Don’t share dishes, towels or bedding with a sick person. If you are sharing spaces or bathrooms, you should wear gloves and disinfect door knobs, light switches, faucets, toilets and any other high-touch areas the patient has used. Read the C.D.C.’s guidelines on caring for someone with a suspected case of coronavirus.

Can the rest of the family go about its business?
No. If one person is infected or suspects coronavirus, the whole household should quarantine for 14 days, according to public health officials. If you don’t have a confirmed test but the family member is exhibiting all the symptoms of the virus, you should probably err on the side of caution and stay quarantined.

How long will it take for a sick person to recover?

 

Most patients who recover at home will feel better in about a week; people with more serious illness at home and hospitalized patients will take longer. But feeling better doesn’t mean you can go back to your routine. A hospitalized patient will typically be released after two negative tests, 24 hours apart. People recovering at home probably will not receive a follow-up test to determine if they are still contagious.

For those patients, the W.H.O. recommends that they continue to isolate for 14 days after symptoms have resolved. The C.D.C. guidelines are not as strict, now saying patients can leave isolation seven days after symptoms start, but only if you’ve gone three days without fever and other symptoms (cough, shortness of breath) have improved.
When will I be able to get a vaccine?
There is no way to know for sure. Testing on a vaccine has started in patients, but it probably will be a year before we know whether it’s safe and whether it works. If it works, it will take time to develop and distribute. Public health officials have repeatedly said that, at best, a vaccine probably will be available to the public in about 18 months, which is in Fall 2021. And then there’s the question of whether everyone who wants the new vaccine will be able to get it. During past shortages of flu vaccine, flu shots were rationed so that health care workers and at-risk groups like the elderly or people with underlying medical conditions got it first.

     Primary credible sources of data and information:
Johns Hopkins University (JHU) Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE)
Desktop version:
Mobile version:

WHO-personal transmission
WHO-community transmission

UN  World Health Organization (WHO)
Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak

US  Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC)

China’s Concentration Camps hold over one million Muslims

At the request of the British Government, the Bishop of Cornwall (Philip Bishop of Truro) has completed a report on the the persecution of Christians worldwide in which he claims that Christians get the rawest deal worldwide. However, in reality, Muslims are the world’s most persecuted minority in today’s world. Here and now, in this the 75th anniversary of the holocaust, one million (some estimates are considerably higher) Uighur Muslims are in concentration camps in China. And the world continues to ignore the situation and increase trade with China. However, it is not just the Uighur that are persecuted in China. All Muslims are persecuted by the Government of China, wherever they come from. The following tragic example is of one of the Uighur however. It is that of the father of young woman indirectly associated with the Next Century Foundation. She genuinely hopes that publicising his case may help her father:

My name is Aibike Nagyz, I am a student of Nazarbayev University. I am currently a citizen of the Republic of Kazakhstan, but I was born in China. I am writing to request assistance for my father, who is being held in a so-called reeducation camp in China. Please find more detailed information on my father below.

Name: Nagyz Muhammed.
Date of Birth: July 16, 1968.
ID Number: 654322196807160010.
Address: Jinshan Street 46, 2nd entrance, apartment 506, Altay city, Xinjiang, China.

My father worked as a writer in Altay’s State Intangible Cultural Heritage Office. He is also a member of Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region Writer’s Association (XWA). Furthermore, he has published two books which are both collections of poetry. It should be mentioned that none of his work is related to separatism or nationalism.

In 2012, we (my mother, younger brother and I) moved to Kazakhstan especially to avail of educational opportunities there, which was the main reason for my father’s multiple visits to Kazakhstan. Now I am a student of Nazarbayev University.

In early 2018, he underwent surgery in Urumqi because of a heart attack. After the surgery, he came to Almaty so that we could look after him. In March 2018, a colleague called him via WeChat and asked him to go back to work urgently. He returned to Altay and after that he was summoned to the local police station for questioning about his last visit to Kazakhstan. He was arrested, and sadly, we have lost contact with him since then. His arrest was based on a trumped-up charge, possibly a malicious denunciation by a colleague who bore him ill will or sought advancement since colleagues are encouraged to accuse each another.

It is said (according to relatives in China) that he is being held in an alleged re-education camp. Recently it is being reported that he is going to be sentenced to a term of imprisonment even though there is no well-founded case against him. (This was acknowledged by government officials from Beijing who visited Xinjiang.) He is not even allowed to have a lawyer. All the court sessions have been held in closed session (in camera).

What has happened is a serious violation to his basic human rights and has caused harm to our family. It has been about 2 years, and we are very worried about the condition of his physical and mental health.

We implore vindication. We want him to be released since there is no proper charge against him. Please, we really need your helping hand.


For further comment on the Bishop of Cornwall’s report, see the Next Century Foundation Secretary General’s podcast on this link.