South Korea, China, Japan to hold video meeting on coronavirus

South Korea, which suffered the first major outbreak outside China, has been held up as a coronavirus mitigation success story. (Reuters)
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Updated 15 May 2020

South Korea, China, Japan to hold video meeting on coronavirus

  • Meeting is the first between top health officials of the East Asian neighbors

SEOUL: The health ministers of South Korea, China and Japan will get together by video conference on Friday to discuss ways to work together in the global campaign against the novel coronavirus, South Korean officials said.
The meeting is the first between top health officials of the East Asian neighbors since the outbreak emerged in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year.
“The ministers will exchange views on the latest COVID-19 situation and related policy of each country,” South Korea’s Vice Health Minister Kim Gang-lip told a briefing, referring to the disease caused by the new coronavirus.
“We’re planning to introduce our work on information sharing, special entry procedures and large-scale treatment facilities.”
All three countries are optimistic they have got their outbreaks under control and are looking to get their economics back on track while keeping a wary eye out for any second waves of infection.
China’s Wuhan is seeking to test all of its 11 million residents for the coronavirus after a small cluster of new cases stoked fears after a long lockdown was lifted.
Japan lifted a state of emergency in large swaths of the country on Thursday but major cities remain under restrictions and new testing indicated the outbreak in Tokyo was wider than the figures showed.
South Korea, which suffered the first major outbreak outside China, has been held up as a coronavirus mitigation success story, bringing its daily rate of cases down to near zero without major disruptions, thanks to intensive testing and contact tracing.
But a recent spike in infections linked to nightclubs and bars in some Seoul nightlife districts has led to the re-closing of some night spots and the postponement of the opening of schools by a week.
The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) on Friday reported 27 new cases as of midnight on Thursday, taking the total to 11,018. South Korea’s death toll remained unchanged at 260.
Seventeen of the daily tally were traced to the clubs, while five were imported cases, Kim said.
Authorities are scrambling to find some 2,000 nightclub customers with the help of mobile phone location data and CCTV footage after information many of them provided in line with quarantine rules turned out to be incomplete or false.
“We’re seeing secondary and tertiary infections linked to the clubs,” Kim said.
“If you hide your movements or provide inaccurate accounts, it will slow our efforts to find infections, spread community transmissions and make it difficult for us to maintain our current management system.”


Civilians, soldiers clash leaving 127 dead in South Sudan

Updated 12 August 2020

Civilians, soldiers clash leaving 127 dead in South Sudan

  • The violence in Tonj began after several armed youths got into a disagreement with soldiers
  • An initial armed confrontation was brought under control, but local youths subsequently mobilized for an attack on the army position

JUBA: Clashes between soldiers and civilians during a disarmament exercise in the central South Sudanese town of Tonj have left 127 dead, the army spokesman said Wednesday.
Major General Lul Ruai Koang told AFP that the fighting erupted on Saturday as security forces carried out an operation to disarm civilians in the area which has seen deadly inter-communal clashes.
More than six years after a civil war broke out in the country, and in the absence of a functioning government, many communities are flush with weapons, which they keep for protection or defense against cattle raids.
The violence in Tonj began after several armed youths got into a disagreement with soldiers. An initial armed confrontation was brought under control, but according to Koang the youths mobilized others for an attack on the army position.
“On the latest, the number of those killed, I can confirm to you that it rose to 127,” Koang said, adding that 45 of those killed were security forces and 82 were youths from the area.
A further 32 soldiers were injured.
Koang said two military officers involved in “triggering the clashes” had been arrested, and that the situation in Tonj had calmed down.
South Sudan is emerging from a six-year civil war that left 380,000 dead and millions displaced, and disarmament is a major stumbling block.
Experts have warned against operations that coerce people to lay down their guns without proper planning, as some communities could find themselves unable to protect themselves after their weapons are removed.
“The clashes should be an opportunity to rethink the approach to disarmament. What is the point of removing guns without addressing what drives folks to arms themselves?” Geoffrey Duke, head of the South Sudan Action Network on Small Arms, said on Twitter.
“We can take guns away this week & they buy a new one next week (as) long as they still see the need to have (one).”