Coronavirus heaps economic pain on once booming Asia: Live news


 

  • The Asian Development Bank says the economies of ‘developing Asia’ will contract by 0.7 percent in 2020, the first contraction in nearly six decades.
  • The southwestern Chinese city of Riuli has been locked down, with all 200,000 residents to be tested for COVID-19 after two Myanmar nationals were diagnosed with the virus.
  • More than 29 million people around the world have been diagnosed with the coronavirus, and 926,307 have died, according to Johns Hopkins University. Nearly 20 million have recovered.

Here are the latest updates:

Tuesday, September 15

03:40 GMT – COVID-19 boosts healthy eating, plant-based foods in China

Chinese companies are betting on a bright future for plant-based ‘meat’ products as people take their health more seriously in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and other health scares.

Beijing-based startup Zhenmeat, whose products include plant-based meatballs, steak, pork loin, crayfish and dumplings, is one of many small Chinese companies entering the market, and its ‘meatballs’ – made of pea and soy protein – are now available on a trial basis at a Beijing store of Chinese hot-pot chain Hope Tree.

Zhenmeat founder and CEO Vince Lu told Reuters news agency that sales were “up considerably” since June.

China Market Research Group Director Ben Cavender says the key to the future of the plant-based meat market is taste. “When we interview consumers the vast majority say they’re open to trying these products once,” he said. “But the big question is how do they like it? Do they see how they can fit it into their diet on daily basis, whether that’s cooking at home or at restaurants? But if they do like it they’ll keep buying.”

03:20 GMT – China vaccines may be ready as early as November: official

An official with the China Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has told state television, that the coronavirus vaccines the country is developing could be ready for use by the general public as early as November.

Phase 3 clinical trials were going smoothly and the vaccines could be ready for the general public in November or December, CDC chief biosafety expert Guizhen Wu said in an interview with state TV late on Monday.

Wu took an experimental vaccine herself in April and said she has experienced no abnormal symptoms, but did not specify which vaccines she was referring to. China has four vaccines in the final stage of clinical trials, and at least three have already been offered to essential workers under an emergency use programme launched in July.

COVID-19 vaccine: Safety concerns as countries rush for cure

02:30 GMT – Asia’s economies to contract in 2020 for first time since the 60s 

The economies of developing Asia – from the Cook Islands in the Pacific to Kazakhstan in Central Asia – are expected to contract in 2020 for the first time in nearly six decades, throwing tens of millions of people into poverty, according to the Asian Development Bank.

The 0.7 percent drop in gross domestic product compares with the ADB’s previous estimate made in June for 0.1 percent growth, and marks “the first regional GDP contraction since the early 1960s”, the bank said.

The ADB says the region should return to growth in 2021, forecasting expansion of 6.8 percent, but the coronavirus will be key. 

02:20 GMT – South Korea to secure vaccines for 60 percent of population

South Korea’s prime minister Chung Sye-kyun says the country plans to secure a supply of coronavirus vaccines for 30 million people or 60 percent of the country’s population.

02:15 GMT – US official accused scientists of ‘sedition’: New York Times

The top communications official at the US department in charge of combating the coronavirus told his followers in a Facebook Live session that government scientists were engaging in “sedition” in their handling of the pandemic, according to the New York Times.

Michael Caputo, assistant secretary for public affairs at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) claimed, without evidence, that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was harbouring a “resistance unit” determined to undermine President Donald Trump, the newspaper said.

Caputo is a former adviser to Trump’s presidential campaign. 

01:15 GMT – Test rate positivity down in California

Only 3.5 percent of COVID-19 tests came back positive in California over the last seven days, the lowest rate since the state began reporting the data in March, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times. 

The newspaper says its analysis of the data also shows new confirmed cases at the lowest since mid-June and hospitalisations at the lowest since the start of April.  

00:15 GMT – Judge in US rules Pennsylvania restrictions ‘unconstitutional’

A federal judge in the United States state of Pennsylvania has ruled that lockdown measures imposed in March to curb the spread of COVID-19 are “unconstitutional”.

The measures, including the closure of businesses and a limit on the size of gatherings, were challenged in court by several Republican lawmakers and small business owners, who argued the restrictions put their enterprises at risk.

Judge William Stickman ruled in their favour, and said that even if the state’s governor acted with “good intention of addressing a public health emergency”, he did not have the right to infringe on citizens’ fundamental freedoms.

“There is no question that this country has faced, and will face, emergencies of every sort,” the judge wrote. “But the solution to a national crisis can never be permitted to supersede the commitment to individual liberty that stands as the foundation of the American experiment.”

00:00 GMT – Border city in China’s southwest to start mass testing  

The Chinese city of Ruili, which lies on the border with Myanmar, will begin nucleic acid testing of all residents after two people were discovered to have COVID-19 on Sunday. 

The two patients are both from Myanmar and entered China illegally, according to state broadcaster CGTN. They have been isolated in hospital along with five others. Some 190 close contacts of the two have also been put in isolation.

A citywide lockdown has been imposed in Ruili and all residents told to stay at home.

China Ruili

The Chinese city of Ruili lies just across the river from Myanmar’s Shan State. Two Myanmar nationals who crossed into China illegally have been found to have COVID-19 [Ye Aung Thu/AFP]

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Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. I’m Kate Mayberry in Kuala Lumpur.

Read all the updates from yesterday (September 14) here.

Read the full article at: aljazeera.com