Russia and China are deploying a campaign of disinformation around the coronavirus outbreak that could have "harmful consequences" for public health around the world, and which challenges “the credibility of the European Union and its partners," according to an April 1 report published by the EU's foreign-policy arm.
The coronavirus epidemic might not have gone pandemic if journalists had been allowed to do their jobs rather than adhering to ruling Chinese Communist Party propaganda directives, said Paris-based Reporters Without Borders in an April 1 statement. "Without the control and censorship imposed by the authorities, the Chinese media would have informed the public much earlier.” (Radio Free Asia)
The Chinese city of Wuhan, where the coronavirus epidemic began, is showing signs of life after a strict two-month quarantine. Some transport services and access to all urban areas in the city opened on March 28. (video, Current Time TV)
Signs are creeping out of a feared but widely predicted "second wave" of the deadly coronavirus outbreak in the country where it all started, with other Asian countries also seeing worrying trends in their battles against the global pandemic.
The Chinese city of Shenhzen has reportedly imposed a ban against consuming cats and dogs as food, effective May 1, becoming the country’s first mainland municipality to enact such a restriction. Authorities presented the decision as reflecting the special relationship between domestic pets and their owners, not as a measure to combat the coronavirus. (in Russian, Current Time TV)
Nini Davlianidze was among the first people on the planet to experience firsthand what life is like under the threat of COVID-19 as a consultant for a Chinese firm in Wuhan. She was quarantined in her apartment beginning on January 23, and over 40 days and nights recorded her experiences in videos and text. She shared her thoughts with RFE/RL’s Georgian Service.
Beginning in late February, Uyghur doctors, nurses, and other personnel from hospitals in China’s northwest Xinjiang province have reportedly been deployed to reside and work in hotels in the city of Ghulja that are serving as makeshift quarantine centers to treat patients infected with the coronavirus.(Radio Free Asia)
Muscovites Prepare For Surveillance, Fearing After The Pandemic, ‘The Concentration Camp’ Will Remain
Critics say a new surveillance system proposed by Moscow city authorities to monitor the spread of the coronavirus would create “not a quarantine, but a digital concentration camp,” likening it “not to Wuhan, but to Xinjiang.” One commentator has said, “Under the guise of the fight with the virus, the Moscow mayor's office is creating a system of total digital surveillance that is unprecedented even by the standards of China, even by the standards of dystopias, and has no legal basis.” The system would require that to leave their residences for any reason, residents of the capital must first submit a request to a government website with an address and photo, and receive a QR code with authorization. (RFE/RL Russian Service)
Ecologists in Russia’s southeastern Siberian city of Khabarovsk have reported sharp ecological improvements due to a decrease in industrial production in China and a reduction in harmful emissions into the region’s atmosphere. One researcher says levels of carbon monoxide in the border areas have decreased five times, but fears the benefits are short-lived and will decline as the spread of the virus does. (RFE/RL Russian Service/Siberia Realities)
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy announced on April 1 the arrival of “several tens of thousands of respirators, as many protection suits, 300,000 rapid tests, and 40,000 pairs of safety glasses” in the latest shipment of medical supplies from China. China has sought to reverse the negative fallout from the virus’s outbreak by providing countries expertise and equipment, some of which has been alleged to be faulty. (RFE/RL Ukrainian Service)
The region's five countries have no more of a common response to the COVID-19 crisis than any other region, but if there is one person actively trying to coordinate efforts, it is Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoev.
With Aigerim Toleukhan, RFE/RL’s Kazakh Service; Shirin Aitmatova, founder of Kyrgyzstan’s anti-corruption movement Umut (Hope) 2020; and Nikita Makarenko, a journalist at Uzbekistan’s gazeta.uz.