China holds ceremony to celebrate beating coronavirus

Published September 9, 2020
BEIJING: Army General Chen Wei (left), who led a team working on developing a Covid-19 vaccine, salutes after receiving an award from Chinese President Xi Jinping at a ceremony on Tuesday held to honour the people who fought against the coronavirus pandemic. — AFP
BEIJING: Army General Chen Wei (left), who led a team working on developing a Covid-19 vaccine, salutes after receiving an award from Chinese President Xi Jinping at a ceremony on Tuesday held to honour the people who fought against the coronavirus pandemic. — AFP

BEIJING: China’s leaders held a triumphant ceremony to celebrate beating the coronavirus on Tuesday, as billions of people around the world still suffer the fallout from the pandemic and the global death toll nears 900,000.

The upbeat mood in Beijing comes as concerns grow about a resurgence of Covid-19 across Europe, with France tightening restrictions, cases in Britain spiking and schools resuming around the region in recent days.

Worldwide infections to date now stand at more than 27 million and over 890,000 people have died from the disease, with the pandemic showing no sign of peaking.

But in China the virus has been all but banished through a combination of lockdowns and travel restrictions earlier in the year that have officials touting the nation as a coronavirus success story.

President Xi Jinping said China had passed “an extraordinary and historic test” during an awards ceremony for medical professionals decorated with bugle calls and applause.

“We quickly achieved initial success in the people’s war against the coronavirus,” Xi said.

“We are leading the world in economic recovery and in the fight against Covid-19.” The nation’s propaganda machine has been attempting to seize the narrative surrounding the pandemic, reframing the episode as an example of the agility and organisation of the Communist leadership.

Xi had stern words for China’s doubters, saying “selfish moves, any buck-passing and deeds that confuse right and wrong” risked inflicting damage across the world.

Beijing is also touting progress on its vaccines as a sign of global leadership and resilience.

China put its homegrown Covid-19 vaccines on display for the first time at a Beijing trade fair this week and authorities hope the jabs will be approved for use by year-end.

The vaccines are among nearly 10 worldwide to enter phase 3 trials, typically the last step ahead of regulatory approval, as countries race to stub out an illness that continues to ravage large parts of the globe.

Spain on Monday became the first country in Western Europe to pass half a million infections. The nation had largely gained control over its outbreak but cases have surged since restrictions were removed at the end of June.

In neighbouring Morocco, the government shut all schools and imposed a lockdown on Casablanca on the day classes were supposed to resume after cases surged in the city.

Officials said the virus risked overwhelming the North African country if it was not controlled.

Published in Dawn, September 9th, 2020

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