China pledges medical supplies to Spain, Philippines over coronavirus
Updated 11:04, 16-Mar-2020

Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Sunday pledged to provide medical supplies to Spain as the European country is bearing the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Spain has recorded a total of 193 deaths and 6,250 infection cases so far. Italy reported 368 more deaths bringing the total to 1,809, and the nationwide number of positive cases rose to 24,747. France reported a total of 127 deaths, and more than 5,423 cases have been identified.

Governments across Europe have imposed restrictions on the movement of citizens and tightened borders. The World Health Organization (WHO) has now declared Europe the "epicenter" of the pandemic.

The Chinese foreign minister said China has decided to urgently provide a batch of medical supplies based on the needs of Spain and open commercial channels for the country to import urgently needed personal protective equipment and medical materials.

Wang made the remarks during a telephone conversation with Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs Arancha Gonzalez Laya.

Earlier, China has sent medical experts and supplies to Italy to help the country contain the virus


Spain appeals for help amid state of emergency

Gonzalez said the Spanish government is taking strong measures to contain the spread of the disease, while the country faces difficulties such as the shortage of medical supplies.

On Saturday, Spain put its 47 million inhabitants under partial lockdown, as part of a 15-day state of emergency to combat the epidemic in Europe's second worst-affected country after Italy.

Earlier, schools across the country were closed for a fortnight and the regional governments of Madrid, Murcia, Galicia, Cantabria and Asturias ordered the closure of all non-essential shops.

Streets in Madrid and Barcelona were deserted on Sunday. All major newspapers carried a front-page wrapper emblazoned with a government-promoted slogan: "Together we'll stop this virus."

Gonzalez said she hoped the Chinese government could provide support including medical supplies, saying that her country is willing to hold video meetings for the two countries' medical specialists and is ready to learn from China's experience in fighting the coronavirus.

Gonzalez spokes highly of the positive progress China's made.

The Chinese foreign minister expressed sympathy to the Spanish people over the outbreak, saying China is ready to enhance experience sharing, coordinate and arrange video conferences between medical experts from the two sides and consider sending medical expert groups at an appropriate time.

Wang said China has made important progress in fighting the epidemic and victory of eventually defeating the disease is in sight.

The virus has no borders, and China, in an open and transparent manner, has been committed to international cooperation on the COVID-19 battle, and acts responsibly for the health and security of both the Chinese people as well as people all over the world, he said.

Army troopers use a thermal scanner to check the body temperature of people entering the metropolis at a checkpoint on the outskirts of Quezon city, the Philippines, March 15, 2020. /AP

Army troopers use a thermal scanner to check the body temperature of people entering the metropolis at a checkpoint on the outskirts of Quezon city, the Philippines, March 15, 2020. /AP

Philippines requests help as deaths toll rises

The Philippines has recorded 12 coronavirus deaths and a total of 140 infections. On Sunday, authorities placed the entire capital Manila under "community quarantine" for about a month.

In Sunday's phone talks with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang, the Philippine Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin said the Philippines is now in a difficult time in its fight against the epidemic and is facing a shortage of medical supplies and facilities.

Locsin said he hoped China will lend a helping hand and actively consider sending medical experts to the Philippines.

Wang said China is willing to do its utmost to help the Philippines fight against the virus.

China has decided to provide the Philippines with urgently-needed medical materials such as test kits and protective clothing, and will actively coordinate dispatching medical experts, Wang said.

(Cover: A woman walks past the Royal palace in downtown Madrid, Spain, March 15, 2020. /AP)