Tag Archives: East China

China’s population on ‘edge of reduction’ as births fall further.

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The data also comes after the Covid-19 pandemic wreaked havoc in the global economy, with many families nervous about job security.

China’s number of registered births in 2020 dropped by nearly a third from the total births reported the year before, in the latest sign that relaxations in the country’s strict family planning policy are failing to spark a baby boom.

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After decades of a “one-child policy”, Beijing changed the rules in 2016 to allow families to have two children as fears grew about China’s fast-ageing population and shrinking workforce.

Figures from the Public Security Ministry released Monday showed there were 10.04 million registered births in 2020, which is 15 percent down from the figure of registered births reported early last year for 2019.

In the same month, the official statistics bureau reported a higher figure of 14.65 million babies born in 2019 — more than 30 percent above the latest birth data reported this week.

The data also points to a fourth consecutive year birth numbers declined.

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The number of registered births is typically lower than the actual number of births later announced in China, as not all parents register their children immediately.

The gender balance was 52.7 percent boys and 47.3 percent girls, according to the data.

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One user on China’s Twitter-like Weibo platform noted the birth figure was “lower than the number of people taking the college entrance examination”, adding that ageing was going to become more serious in decades to come.

Another called the low rate “the biggest crisis the Chinese nation is facing”.

China introduced the one-child policy in the late 1970s in a dramatic effort to slow rapid population growth, before reversing it in 2016.

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But the change has not yet resulted in a baby boom, with empowered Chinese women often delaying or avoiding childbirth and young couples blaming rising costs and insufficient policy support for families.

“If the whole society regards childbearing as a pain, then there is a problem in this society,” cautioned another on Weibo.

The data also comes after the Covid-19 pandemic wreaked havoc in the global economy, with many families nervous about job security.

In November, China started a once-a-decade census, with much of the attention on whether it indicates any population bump from the relaxation of family planning rules.

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Demographic experts have estimated it could take 15 years for the two-child policy to have any noticeable effect on population numbers. Chinese retirees, meanwhile, are expected to number 300 million by 2025.

Chinese state media in December quoted civil affairs minister Li Jiheng as saying the country’s fertility rate has “dropped dangerously”, well below the population replacement rate of 2.1 births per woman.

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#Newsworthy

WHO-China’s COVID origin probe ‘unsuccessful’ – New step taken!

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In France, a row is brewing over restrictions on cultural institutions, with one local mayor allowing museums to reopen despite a nationwide ban.

A much-anticipated inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic wrapped up its mission in China on Tuesday with no breakthrough discovery, as investigators ruled out a theory that Covid-19 came from a lab but failed to identify which animal may have passed it to humans.

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While the coronavirus likely jumped to humans from animals, it is still unclear which species first transmitted it, said Liang Wannian, who headed up the Chinese contingent of an inquiry carried out jointly with World Health Organization (WHO) experts.

The WHO mission — which China repeatedly delayed — was dogged by fears of a whitewash, with the US demanding a “robust” probe into the origins of the pandemic in late 2019, and China firing back with a warning not to “politicise” the investigation.

During the closely monitored mission — which included a visit to a propaganda exhibition celebrating China’s recovery — reporters were largely kept at arms’ length from the experts.

Liang, supported by WHO expert Ben Embarek, said there was “no indication” the sickness was circulating in Wuhan before December 2019 when the first official cases were recorded.

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Embarek, who said identifying the virus’ pathway from animals to humans remains a “work in progress”, also scotched a controversial theory that the virus had leaked from a lab, calling it “extremely unlikely”.

‘Martyrdom’ of health workers
As investigators have struggled to pinpoint the origins of a virus that has now killed more than 2.3 million people, governments are continuing to grapple with its daily consequences.

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Vaccination campaigns are gaining pace worldwide, with Iran the latest country to begin its rollout of Russia’s Sputnik V jab.

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said the vaccination was being carried out in “memory of the martyrdom of health workers”, as medics at Tehran’s Imam Khomeini hospital received the first shots.

Peter Ben Embarek (3rd-R) and Marion Koopmans (2nd-R) attend a press conference to wrap up a visit by an international team of experts from the World Health Organization (WHO) in the city of Wuhan, in China’s Hubei province on February 9, 2021. (Photo by Hector RETAMAL / AFP)

Iran is also expected to receive 4.2 million doses of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccines under the Covax scheme, which intends to ensure jabs are distributed across the world and not hoarded by richer nations.

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The AstraZeneca vaccine makes up the bulk of initial Covax deliveries to some 145 countries but it suffered a setback in recent days with a trial showing it only offers minimal protection against the coronavirus variant first detected in South Africa.

The results forced South Africa to delay the start of its vaccinations, but the WHO insisted Monday that the AstraZeneca shot remained vital to the global fight against Covid-19.

Richard Hatchett, head of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), said it was “vastly too early to be dismissing this vaccine”.

“It is absolutely crucial to use the tools that we have as effectively as we possibly can,” he told a WHO press briefing.

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AstraZeneca has stood by its vaccine, and said researchers are working on an updated version that can be effective against the new variants. WHO authorisation for the shot is expected next week.

‘Let’s get used to it’
Despite the vaccine rollouts, life is far from back to normal for most people.

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The pandemic and associated restrictions have crushed entire sectors of the global economy, laid waste to sports and cultural calendars and confined hundreds of millions to their homes.

In France, a row is brewing over restrictions on cultural institutions, with one local mayor allowing museums to reopen despite a nationwide ban.

“There is a virus and it will be with us for a long time,” said Louis Aliot, the far-right mayor of the southern city of Perpignan. “Let’s get used to it and start by trying things out.”

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As the pain of shutdowns has bitten hard, governments have turned to other measures to try to facilitate reopening — mass testing campaigns and quarantines for travellers are still prominent tools.

Britain is the latest country to order international travellers to undergo several tests while under quarantine.

But the surest sign that the world is far from back to normal comes from Tokyo, where organisers of this summer’s Olympic Games have issued a 33-page booklet of rules on social distancing.

Athletes’ time in Japan will be minimised to reduce the risk of infection and those staying at the Olympic Village will be expected to “avoid unnecessary forms of physical contact”.

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Despite this, organisers told AFP on Tuesday that they still plan to hand out roughly 150,000 free condoms to athletes.

“If you have been to the Games before, we know this experience will be different in a number of ways,” the guidebook warns, adding that breaching the rules could result in expulsion.

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#Newsworthy

Breaking: Thousands infected with ‘Brucellosis’ after China lab leaks.

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Thousands of people in northwest China have tested positive for a bacterial disease after a leak from a state-owned biopharmaceutical plant making animal vaccines last year.

Health officials in Lanzhou city said 3,245 people had contracted brucellosis, a disease often caused by close contact with infected animals or animal products that can bring about fevers, joint pain and headaches.

Another 1,401 people tested as an early positive for the disease, and health authorities said there was no evidence of person-to-person transmission so far.

Chinese authorities found a biopharmaceutical plant had used expired disinfectant in its production of Brucella vaccines for animals between July and August last year — meaning the bacteria was not eradicated in its factory exhaust.

Contaminated gas from the China Animal Husbandry Lanzhou Biopharmaceutical Factory in Lanzhou formed aerosols containing the bacteria, and this was then carried by wind to the Lanzhou Veterinary Research Institute, infecting nearly 200 people there as of December last year.

More than 20 students and faculty members of Lanzhou University, some of whom had been to the institute, subsequently tested positive as well, according to Xinhua news agency.

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Lanzhou’s health commission said Friday that sheep, cattle and pigs were most commonly involved in the spread of the bacteria.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, person-to-person transmission of brucellosis is “extremely rare” but some symptoms may reoccur or never go away.

These include recurrent fevers, chronic fatigue, swelling of the heart or arthritis.

The factory — which apologised earlier this year — has had its brucellosis vaccine production licence revoked, Lanzhou authorities said.

Compensation for patients would start in batches from October, according to local authorities.


#Newsworthy…