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World battling Against Covid-19 Pandemic

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The World is undergoing serious economic, social and health crisis as the Covid-19 outbreak originating from Wuhan China, has spread to almost all the continents of the World except Antarctica – the Unhabitated Continent.

Hundreds of People died in china, Iran, France, South Korea and Italy. Italy has been severely gripped by a coronavirus. The Covid-19 after bringing catastrophe in Asia reached Europe and Africa.

Though Africa has limited cases as reported but given the alarming and catastrophic situation rising every day. The South Asian countries i.e. Pakistan, India, Bangladesh though ill-prepared to fight against this Pandemic have done a tremendous job in terms of preparations and taking preventive measures to limit the spread of the fatal Covid-19. 

As hundreds of cases are reported positive, fear, economic crisis, education and health effects have played havoc to the countries to fight Covid-19. The World Health Organizations (WHO) has declared it pandemic asking countries to follow the precaution or preventive measures as circulated by WHO and Isolation facilities for those diagnosed positive.

The States have started diverting their funds towards fighting this novel Virus and having set up Emergency Health  Centers and Isolation Centers for quarantining those arriving from worst-affected countries i.e. China, Iran, France, America and Italy. 

Sindh has been the worst affected by this Virus with 413 confirmed cases as most of the cases are imported from Iran via Taftan.

These include those pilgrims (Zairian) who are returning from Iran after visiting holy places. CM Sindh has so far done a marvelous job by setting up Isolation and Screening Camp at Sukkur to diagnose and keep them at the facility to avert any possibility of contraction to their families.

Punjab Stands 2nd with growing cases of  312 and the number is rising .KP stands 3rd with sudden appearance of 121 cases since these confirmed cases are also imported through Taftan border as the affected patients had recently returned from a pilgrimage from Iran. Baluchistan is on 4th Number with 119 confirmed cases, AJK/GB 82 and Islamabad capital with 20 cases.

 The media is regularly breaking and updating news every moment regarding the novel coronavirus, adding the rise to the concerns regarding the sudden outbreak of the pandemic to more countries. The concerns and feelings of fear run high amid cancellations and postponement of all sporting activities, education, colleges, universities and Wedding or public gatherings.

 Companies such as Google, Yahoo, Twitter, Microsoft and Apple have advised their employees to stay at home and work from their home. They also circulated the WHO guidelines among their employees and avoid gatherings of more than 10 people as announced in the latest guidelines of WHOM.

Countries are strictly following the preventive measures communicated to the people by WHO experts and putting bans on unnecessary travel in the city or out of city or borders.

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It is the alarming and panicking situation since No vaccine nor has injection been made to treat those affected with the novel coronavirus. WHO cautions the countries having limited facilities to conduct tests and treat the patients advising states around the world especially the Asia and Europe to take preventive measures until the vaccine to treat this deadly virus could be discovered by Medical scientists and microbiologists? 

 At the moment Covid-19 has caused more deaths than Ebola outbreak in African countries, especially in Congo. According to reports that as per, the calculations based on the Center of disease control, the scenarios suggested that as many as  2.4 million to 21 million people in the U.S. could require hospitalization, potentially crushing the nation’s medical system, which has only about 925,000 staffed hospital beds as reported by Media.

The number is very low to house the huge number of affected people from covid-19. It may bring a panicking situation in a developed country like the USA. Less than a tenth of those are for people who are critically ill.

 It would be disastrous to deal with the pandemic given the Medical facilities available at the US and the African states.

At the moment, China is the worst hit with 3287 deaths due to novel coronavirus followed by Italy with 7503 deaths, South Korea with 107 deaths, Iran with 2000 deaths.

Luckily, the situation Africa is under control since so far there are a few reported cases but there is no confirmation of the Virus cases yet. 

The African nations have started preparations for fighting this deadly virus, they have one advantage of fighting with the Ebola virus and the lessons learnt from dealing with that epidemic such health and hygiene requirements.

Though African countries have limited resources and facilities yet they have started following the  WHO Precautionary measures to deal with  Possible outbreak of the deadly virus that has spread all over the world.

Its implications are dreadful and catastrophic for the world at large. The world has been struggling to deal with this pandemic as Schools, colleges, universities, restaurants; religious Places have been shut over the fears of this Pandemic.

People are advised through the media campaigns and instructions circulated by WHO to adopt the precautionary measures to remain safe from this disease. Though the symptoms include fever, cough, close breathing affecting lungs, the precautionary material is being aired on Media to apprise people of this deadly virus that has been spreading at a massive scale.

Unfortunately, the medical scientists and microbiologists have not been able to discover any antidote to control it from the spread and contain it. Even WHO appears to be helpless against this disease rather circulated precautionary measures to remain on the safe side until a vaccine could be made for the treatment of the virus?

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The physicians have been advising the common treatment for fever such as Paracetmol ,cough syrup and self-isolation to recover from this pandemic as preventive measure .

Till date, there are 100 reported cases in African Countries with two deaths happened in Morocco and Egypt each.  

According to statistics of WHO the  Country wise break up of reported cases of Virus  covid-19: Algeria -20,  Burkina Faso-2, Cameron-2, Democratic Republic of Congo -1, Egypt highest number of cases  -59  includes one death, Morocco -3 with one death, Nigeria 2, Senegal 4, South Africa -13, Tunisia -5 and Togo -1. So far, the situation in African countries is normal only Egypt has the maximum number of cases reported.

The African Countries have been well prepared to contain the outbreak that has played havoc around the world specifically in Asian countries i.e. China, Iran and Europe. There are at least 471742 reported cases worldwide and over 21297 deaths owing to this deadly virus  including  3287 deaths in china alone followed by 7503 deaths in Italy and Spain 3647.

The Ebola Experience has enabled the African nations to develop a comprehensive plan to fight this Novel Corona Virus. There are about 100 cases have been reported in 11 African Countries while there were only two deaths.

Most of the cases in Egypt are those passengers who had travelled from abroad and the crew members of the ship coming from the countries which are being worst or moderately affected by the deadly coronavirus. The reported cases are just imported out of Africa as there is not any domestic viral outbreak.

However, apart from the rest of world, African states have done a tremendous job to contain Covid-19 by adopting strict preventive measures by completely banning Travel from the countries which are the worst affected by the  Corona Virus.

In this connection, Rwanda has not reported any case, yet it has advised the citizens to maintain hygiene in the country. Rwanda has installed hand Washing Taps and sanitizers to defeat the viral outbreak in the country.

Similarly, Kenya has not reported any cases, yet it has established the 120-bed Quarantine centre and two Testing facilities at Nairobi.

Nigeria has also made mandatory to use hand sanitizers while visiting banks, restaurants, Office and supermarkets to limit the spread of deadly Novel Corona Virus.  

Even several health workers have been deployed by the Government of Nigeria at the international Airports to screen the passengers to avert any possibility of a contracting virus.

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According to News reports that the Experience of Nigeria’s dealing with the Ebola Virus has enabled the African Nations to adopt the preventive measures to limit the contraction of Novel Coronavirus in the country. 

 All the Airline companies have suspended their flights over the fears of Covid-19 that include Rwanda Air, Kenyan Airlines, and Royal Air Morocco.

The lessons learnt from the Ebola virus have strengthened the preparation of African Nations to fight Novel coronavirus effectively since they have focused on maintaining hygiene in light of their dealing with the Ebola outbreak.

 They have learnt that hand washing is the first line of defence against any viruses. The case studies of Ebola have furthered their defence.

On the other hand, China has been able to overcome the outbreak by bringing the number to single digits. WHO has also recommended learning from China how it faces this pandemic.

Chinese Experience should be utilized to help control the pandemic in Italy as it has been worst hit by Covid-19 where the death toll crossed 7503 People and Iran 2000 people.

Even WHO should take experts from African countries, China and Europe to develop a strategy to fight this pandemic.  The pandemic has been contracted in India with confirmed cases of 665, Pakistan with confirmed cases of 1067 as per the latest information available. The numbers are constantly growing increasing concerns of people regarding the preparedness of various nations against this Pandemic.

Though, the cases reported and confirmed in South Asia are mainly those who travelled to Iran, Syria, and China. There is so far no confirmed case of domestic nature though 8 death cases have reported  in Pakistan ,13 deaths in India ,5 deaths in Bangladesh.  

Luckily, after a long time, SAARC Leadership held the online Video conference to exchange level of readiness against this Novel Corona Virus. The Video Conference was held on the request of Indian PM Narendra Modi. Dr Zafar Mirza proposed a regional Mechanism to fight covid-19 and even demanded to lift Curfew in IOK over the concerns of Novel Corona Virus.

Finally, it is essential to follow WHO prescriptions to remain secure until the vaccine could be developed for this deadly virus. Medical experts claim that the vaccine may take 18 Months to be available to fight this Pandemic.

WHO has cautioned the developing countries around the world to take preventive measure to prevent people from falling prey this pandemic especially those who have limited resources and ill-prepared to fight this Deadly Covid-19 effectively.

The Circumstances in Sindh are very alarming, Government of Pakistan must take strong measures of screening at Taftan border with the composition of experts from Health Ministry both Public and Private Sector to fight this Pandemic and contain it from spreading rapidly.

Lockdowns have been announced throughout Pakistan as per WHO Guidelines  for Social Isolation to limit the covid-19 outbreak in the country . The Situation is under control but violation of  Lockdown have been reported as people are nonserious despite  Sindh CM’s strict directions  regarding Preventive measures .

PM has  also announced  a Hefty Relief Package to tackle the  issue of Economic Slowdown owing to covid-19 and providing relief to People engaged on daily wages whose livelihood has been on risk .

 On the other hand  , hantavirus  has started ringing alarm bells  as  one death has been reported in china . Hantavirus is caused by mice waste and  have similar symptoms as we have been told about  Covid-19 but luckily , it does not spread like covid-19 . 

China

Stronger Contractionary Monetary Policy Needed to Achieve ‘Stabilizing Expectations’ for China

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The escalation to war in Ukraine and the series of sanctions against Russia by Europe and the United States has acerbated the volatility of the global financial and energy markets. The increased geopolitical risks have also had a serious impact on the global economy. International institutions such as the IMF and the World Bank have issued warnings one after another that China’s economy will face new challenges as energy supply and demand fluctuate and supply chain distortions intensify. This change in the situation has already affected

China’s domestic capital market. Recently, the common stock market (A-shares) has been volatile, reflecting investors’ gloomy outlook on the capital market and China’s economy. According to the theory of behavioral economics, changes in expectations will affect future economic activity.

This is not only an issue of economic confidence but it also affects the behavior of residents and enterprises in the future on economic activities such as consumption and investment, which will have a substantial impact on the micro and macroeconomy. ANBOUND researchers believe that China will need to adjust and respond to macroeconomic policies, especially to promote further easing of monetary policy in taming market concerns and provide substantial support for “steady growth”.

At The Two Sessions this year, the government’s Work Report put forward the goal of achieving economic growth of 5.5% this year, and at the same time emphasized increasing macro-policy to support the economy. According to the current market reaction, some scholars and research institutions believe that the economic growth target of 5.5% has fallen significantly compared to last year’s economic growth rate of 8.1%.

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However, due to the chaos brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, the average growth rate in the past two years was only 5.1%. Therefore, when the impact of the pandemic is removed and the economy returns to “normal”, it is challenging to achieve the economic growth target of 5.5% this year. The further formation of endogenous power is needed and it also requires macro-policy support to stabilize demand.

Some researchers have mentioned that the current target of 5.5% has a positive effect on enhancing market confidence and expectations, but to achieve the economic growth target, the main path is to build infrastructure to support the economy and wait for the real estate market to stabilize.

It is anticipated that the pandemic control measures might be reduced, allowing consumption to rebound. However, the market emphasis point remains primarily dependent on whether the real estate market is improving, and there is little “enthusiasm” about the expansion infrastructure. Under this situation, the “stabilizing expectation” effects of positive fiscal policy are still limited. Judging from the latest CPI and PPI data, the consumer price level continues to be depressing while the production price level has risen.

This represented the fact that the development of China’s domestic consumer demand and investment needs is continually diminished, while the pressure on business expenses from PPI stays constant. Coupled with the recent continuous fluctuations in the A-share market, various situations show that changes in market expectations still reflect the contradictions on the demand side.

This means that China’s overall economic growth will still be a process of “drilling the bottom”. Although fiscal spending will expand this year, in terms of China’s current economic size, its intensity is still in the “steady” category, and the support and coordination of monetary policy are still needed to unleash the effectiveness of the easing policy.

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At the same time, ANBOUND also pointed out that the Russia-Ukraine crisis has further worsened the international geopolitical environment and increased the uncertainty of the global economy. Changes in the current economic situation show that the market still has an urgent need for macroeconomic policies, especially monetary policy support. Therefore, researchers at ANBOUND believe that it is still necessary to further ease monetary policy at present to help the economy achieving a “soft landing” as soon as possible by releasing policy space.

Since the fourth quarter last year, monetary policy has turned to ease and has provided substantial support for economic stability through comprehensive reduce moderately the Required Reserve Ratio (RRR) and interest rate.

However, following China’s Spring Festival, the rate of this continual easing decreased and market liquidity was recycled. On the one hand, the market needs to digest the impact of the easing policy and improve the effectiveness of the policy; on the other hand, it is also a signal for the policy to remain stable, to avoid misleading the market causing “waterfall”.

However, in terms of the forward-looking, precise, and sustainable monetary policy, considering the new situation and changes in market expectations, monetary policy needs to be adjusted promptly, seize the time window, and further reduce market interest rates to stabilize short-term market expectations and prevent panic in the capital market that would cause chain reaction.

Judging from the current changes in the capital market, the RMB exchange rate still shows a strong tendency to appreciate despite the intensified international geopolitical risks and the rebound of the U.S. dollar index. This may be the case though the Federal Reserve may end its balance sheet reduction and start raising interest rates in March. Appropriately lowering the interest rate level will not have a significant impact on the RMB exchange rate under the turbulent international situation.

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Promoting further easing of the currency will help release the pressure of RMB appreciation and increase the profitability of Chinese export enterprises. Increasing currency liquidity and reducing financing costs are also beneficial to the domestic capital market, helping to stabilize asset prices and improve corporate profitability.

With the stability of China’s economic fundamentals, the stable income of its domestic capital market will remain attractive to international capital. Under such circumstances, the impact of changes in the international policy environment on China is still manageable.

Most crucially, by releasing signals to consolidate the macroeconomy through monetary policy changes, the capital market and economic principals can turn their bearish expectations around. According to China’s existing conditions and stages, this will be the crucial key.

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China moves closer to Russia, but wary on Ukraine

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China and Russia set off alarms in the West this month with the most robust declaration of their friendship in decades but Beijing has signalled it would not back Vladimir Putin if he sent troops in to invade Ukraine.

The February 4 joint statement by the neighbours included unprecedented support from Beijing for Moscow’s opposition to the expansion of NATO, and came as Washington and its allies were warning of full-scale Russian military action against Kyiv.

It was “quite a quantum shift from what has been a steady intensification, elevation of the content of Russia-China declarations over the last 20 years”, former Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd said during an online discussion co-hosted by the Atlantic Council think tank and the Asia Society.

“It is China becoming a global security actor in a way that I personally have not seen before.”

China’s unusually direct position on NATO and support for Moscow’s “reasonable” security concerns have, however, placed it on a diplomatic tightrope, forcing it to balance its close Russia ties with major economic interests in Europe.

With more than 150,000 troops massed on the border with Ukraine, Russia has demanded guarantees that Kyiv will never be allowed to join NATO — a position in stark contrast to China’s long-standing stated foreign policy red line: no interference in other countries’ internal affairs.

When asked if there was a contradiction, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told the Munich Security Conference via video link Saturday that the sovereignty of all nations should be respected.

“Ukraine is no exception,” he said.

That position was tested in just two days.

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Russian President Putin on Monday recognised two “republics” in Ukraine held by pro-Moscow separatist rebels, and ordered the deployment of troops there.

The United States and its allies blasted Russia for violating the sovereignty of Ukraine at an emergency UN Security Council meeting, but China was circumspect, urging restraint by “all sides”.

Putin has “denied the territorial independence and sovereignty — indeed, the very existence — of Ukraine”, Ivo Daalder, former US ambassador to NATO, wrote on Twitter.

“Both were core… (tenets) of China’s approach to the crisis. Putin has blown both to bits.”

This is not the first time China has had to strike a delicate balance between its interests and a major international escalation by its strategic partner Russia.

When Moscow annexed Crimea in 2014, China did not join Russia’s veto of a UN Security Council resolution on the issue, instead abstaining and mainly offering economic support.

Eight years later, experts say there are again limits to what Beijing can — or wants to — do for Moscow.

Among the key factors are trade and financial links with Europe. Overt backing of any Russian belligerence could also threaten the major investment deal Beijing is trying to seal with the bloc.

Further, some analysts say China may not want to escalate already high tensions with the United States.

“The Ukraine crisis… carries significant risk of the bottom falling out of (China’s) relationships with the EU and the US,” wrote Bill Bishop in the Sinocism China Newsletter.

“I do not believe that Xi and his team want to see Russia invade Ukraine, as they understand the risks from the expected reaction to any invasion.”

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Others said that, with its support for Moscow’s concerns about NATO, Beijing may be looking to its own future security interests.

By implicitly siding with Moscow, Beijing gains “considerable diplomatic leverage” and “presumes that Russia will act likewise when China finds itself in a critical security situation”, Richard Ghiasy, an expert at the Hague Centre for Strategic Studies, told AFP.

Despite Beijing’s guarded language on Ukraine, observers say the China-Russia joint announcement is still a stark challenge to the United States and its allies beyond the current crisis.

The statement contained challenges to the definitions of democracy and human rights, which Moscow and Beijing have been accused of violating by the West for years.

This prompted scathing criticism in Europe, with some accusing two authoritarian regimes of trying to redefine universal concepts to suit their agenda.

“It’s an act of defiance,” EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said at the Munich Security Conference on Sunday.

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Oil breaks $90/bbl for the first time since 2014 on Russia tensions

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NEW YORK: Oil touched $90 a barrel for the first time in seven years on Wednesday, supported by tight supply and rising political tensions in Russia that raised concerns about further disruption in an already-tight market.

Brent crude rose $2.02, or 2.3%, to $90.22 by 11:21 a.m. EST (1621 GMT), the first time the global benchmark has broken $90 since October 2014. US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude was up $2.09, or 2.4%, to $87.69.

US President Joe Biden said on Tuesday he would consider personal sanctions on President Vladimir Putin if Russia invades Ukraine. On Monday, Yemen’s Houthi movement launched a missile attack on a United Arab Emirates base.

“World inventories have continued to decline as producers have struggled to restore production to pre-pandemic levels,” said Andrew Lipow, president of Lipow Oil Associates in Houston. “Mix that in with geopolitical tensions between the United States and Russia over Ukraine and prices have continued their march upward.”

Oil broadly stable as tight supply counters falling US markets

The tensions have only added to worries about the various factors contributing to an already tight market. OPEC+ is having trouble meeting monthly production targets as it restores supply to markets after drastic cuts in 2020, and the United States is more than a million barrels short of its record level of daily output.

At the same time, demand remains strong, suggesting that inventories may continue to decline.

“Historically, markets led higher by tightening product and crude inventories are difficult to solve absent a demand destruction event or an injection of supply. Neither appear on the horizon, currently,” wrote Michael Tran, commodity strategist at RBC Capital Markets, in a note.

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The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies, known as OPEC+, meets on Feb. 2 to consider another output increase.

Inventories in the United States rose in the most recent week, with crude stocks up by 2.4 million barrels, against expectations for a modest decline in stocks. Gasoline inventories rose to their highest levels in almost a year – a needed salve for the market.

US refined product supplied – a measure of demand – surged again, putting the four-week moving average at 21.2 million barrels per day, ahead of pre-pandemic trends. The increases have been led by consumption of distillates like diesel, as gasoline use has fallen off modestly in recent weeks.

Investors across the markets are awaiting the coming policy update from the US Federal Reserve at 2 p.m. EST. The Fed is expected to signal plans to raise interest rates in March as it focuses on fighting inflation.

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