China ‘to prioritize Philippines for virus vaccine’

A security guard wearing a protective suit to help prevent the spread of the new coronavirus checks the temperature of a visitor entering the Department of Agriculture compound in Metro Manila, Philippines, Wednesday, June 10, 2020. (AP)
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Updated 13 June 2020

China ‘to prioritize Philippines for virus vaccine’

  • Xi expressed gratitude for the Philippines’ support for China’s own fight against COVID-19, including the “goodwill donation to the city of Wuhan,” describing it as “an act of kindness that shall be returned”

MANILA: Chinese President Xi Jinping has vowed to make the COVID-19 vaccine China is developing a “global public good” and said that the Philippines will be a priority recipient once it becomes available.

Xi made the commitment during a phone call with President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday, on the eve of Philippines’ Independence Day celebrations.
Malacacang, the presidential palace, said the phone call lasted 38 minutes, during which the leader extended his warm wishes to Duterte and the Filipino people, who are celebrating 122 years of independence.
The two leaders also reviewed diplomatic relations between the countries, and agreed to work together to fight COVID-19 as part of international efforts to contain the virus.
According to Malacacang, Duterte received Xi’s full support on ensuring supply chain connectivity.
This will focus on critical medical supplies and equipment, promoting the free flow of goods and resuming construction of priority infrastructure cooperation projects in the Philippines, the palace said.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said: “The president mentioned to his Chinese counterpart the need for cooperation in research trials for COVID-19 vaccine development and underscored the importance of making the vaccine accessible and affordable to all countries, including the Philippines.”
He added: “President Xi, on the other hand, assured us of his country’s commitment in making the vaccine available for all, adding that the Philippines, as a friendly neighbor, would be a priority.”
Xi expressed gratitude for the Philippines’ support for China’s own fight against COVID-19, including the “goodwill donation to the city of Wuhan,” describing it as “an act of kindness that shall be returned.”
Meanwhile, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, protests in the Philippines denounced China’s alleged aggression and a controversial Manila anti-terror bill on Friday.
Demonstrators called on the government to defend the Philippines’ rights in the West Philippine Sea and stop the anti-terror bill, which they say threatens freedom of speech.
Opposition Sen. Risa Hontiveros was among leaders of the Independence Day protest.
Streaming live via her Facebook page, Hontiveros, along with advocacy groups and celebrity influencers, called for the government to prioritize the welfare of Filipinos.
The senator cited the Chinese government’s “brazen defiance of the law, evident in its continued aggression over the country’s exclusive economic zone in the West Philippine Sea.”
She also opposed the controversial bill, which follows the mass arrests of citizens and critics of the government’s COVID-19 response.
Hontiveros said the failure of the government to provide adequate health care and a comprehensive response to COVID-19 has continued to harm the public, including commuters, overseas nationals, and both non-medical and medical staff.


Sri Lanka prison riot over coronavirus leaves 6 dead

Updated 49 min 12 sec ago

Sri Lanka prison riot over coronavirus leaves 6 dead

  • Inmates have staged protests in recent weeks at several prisons as the number of coronavirus cases surges in the facilities

COLOMBO: Inmates unhappy about the coronavirus threat at an overcrowded prison near Sri Lanka’s capital have clashed with guards who opened fire, leaving six prisoners dead and 35 others injured, officials said Monday. Two guards were critically injured, they said.
Pandemic-related unrest has been growing in the country’s prisons. Inmates have staged protests in recent weeks at several prisons as the number of coronavirus cases surges in the facilities.
More than a thousand inmates in five prisons have tested positive for the coronavirus and at least two have died. About 50 prison guards have also tested positive.
Senaka Perera, a lawyer with the Committee for Protecting Rights of Prisoners, said the inmates at Mahara prison near Colombo had been frustrated because their pleas for coronavirus testing and separation of infected prisoners had been ignored by officials for more than a month.
Sri Lanka has experienced an upsurge in coronavirus cases since last month when two clusters – one centered at a garment factory and other at a fish market – emerged in Colombo and its suburbs.
Confirmed cases from the two clusters have reached 19,449. Sri Lanka has reported a total number of 22,988 coronavirus cases, including 109 fatalities.