Some nations have had remarkable success against virus

ANKARA Every country around the world is struggling with the coronavirus pandemic in its own way, but some of them have shown remarkable success. The pandemic caused a worldwide public health crisis, and while European and North American countries suffered heavy losses, some countries in various parts of the world took successful practices that can …

Some nations have had remarkable success against virus

ANKARA

Every country around the world is struggling with the coronavirus pandemic in its own way, but some of them have shown remarkable success.

The pandemic caused a worldwide public health crisis, and while European and North American countries suffered heavy losses, some countries in various parts of the world took successful practices that can be an example in combating the outbreak.

Some countries from Oceania to the Far East, from Southeast Asia to the Middle East, from Africa to South America, have made good progress in fighting the virus their own way.

-New Zealand: Strict, early measures

New Zealand is one of the rare countries in the Oceania region to control the pandemic through confining virus cases and deaths.

In the country, which has a population of 4.8 million, so far there are 1,497 cases confirmed, 21 people have died, and 1,386 people have recovered.

The government, led by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, has tried to prevent the virus from spreading from the beginning of pandemic with a policy of “apply early, apply tight.”

New Zealand closed its all borders on March 19 and stopped all entry into the country, except for its own citizens. All businesses that failed to meet necessary needs were closed, and domestic travel and large gatherings were restricted.

Level 4 quarantine measures started to be implemented on March 25. People were only allowed to have social contact with the people they live with.

Ardern declared victory against the virus on April 27, adding that there would have been an estimated 1,000 new cases a day if they had not implemented quarantine measures.

On May 4, for the first time, no cases in the country were found.

-South Korea: Monitoring single cases stemmed spread

South Korea, two hours from China by plane and the second country to detect COVID-19, got a positive result in the fight against the virus through a strategy of monitoring single cases.

They developed test kits which gave quick results and distributed them to healthcare centers. Additional test centers were set up.

Mobile apps were developed to help people self-diagnose and to get official information about the pandemic.

Tracing individual cases became key to control the outbreak. For instance, this helped them get under control an outbreak of the disease centered around a Catholic church community in the city of Daegu in February.

A woman known as “patient 31” was found to flout the isolation rules and so infected other member of church. In light of this, all members of the church and the people in contact with them were given COVID-19 tests.

In the country, which has a population of 51.6 million, 10,909 cases were found, 256 people died, and 9,632 people recovered.

-Vietnam: Detection, tracing, isolation

In Vietnam, which shares a long land border with China where the outbreak emerged, no deaths from COVID-19 have been so far recorded.

The Southeastern Asian country has a population of 95.5 million but only 288 cases have been confirmed, with 249 so far recovered.

Since the virus was seen in three people who came from Wuhan, China in January, the detection, tracing, and isolation of the cases were done meticulously.

The Vietnamese government gave priority to tests. They tested every person who had gone abroad and the people they were in contact with.

Vietnam has so far given tests to over 261,000 people, giving it one of the smallest case-to-test ratios in the world.

Schools in the country reopened on May 4 and economic life began to return to normal.

-Jordan: Early and systematic action

The Jordanian government set up a committee to combat the outbreak five weeks before it saw its first case.

With the approval of King Abdullah II, the government introduced state of emergency regulations including a curfew and quarantine restrictions to be enforced by the army when necessary.

Schools, businesses, public institutions, and the borders were closed. There was a curfew every day from 6 pm to 10 am. Large gatherings were suspended and mosques closed.

After the quarantine bore fruit, all restrictions on economic activities were lifted on May 3.

While only 540 cases have been seen in the country, nine people have so far died.

-Ghana focused on virus’ geographic footprint

The West African country of Ghana has been distinguished by its effective testing and monitoring processes, despite its limited economic resources. After South Africa, Ghana has carried out the second-largest number of tests in Africa, with over 160,000.

In the country of 29.7 million people, 4,700 cases have been reported and 22 people died. The government quarantined the cities of Kumasi and Accra, where the outbreak was concentrated, after the first cases in the country were seen.

For the government, understanding the virus’ geographic footprint has been key to directing test efforts to the right places.

-Venezuela wages struggle

Despite difficult days before the pandemic due to US sanctions, Venezuela waged a successful fight with COVID-19 compared to other South American countries.

The country, which has a population of 28.8 million, saw only 414 cases of the virus and only 10 deaths, while it did over 512,00 tests for COVID-19.

-Turkey passed major test

The above countries were in advantageous position due to their geographic locations and relatively manageable populations.

Countries with large populations and in geographical locations open to international economic activities and human mobility found themselves in a more vulnerable position. Especially the US and Europe faced large losses due to the pandemic.

Turkey, with a population over 80 million, was also heavily hit by the pandemic due to its central geographic location between Asia and Europe, and economic ties with neighboring countries such as Iran.

Despite that, Turkey saw relatively gave fewer casualties due to its taking measures early and the success of its health system in screening, early diagnosis, and treatment processes.

Turkey has the ninth-largest number of coronavirus cases in the world at 139,771 but kept its number of deaths so far to just 3,841.

Nearly 96,000 have been discharged from hospital after recovery, and some 40,000 are still under treatment.

Since April 24, the number of patients recovering has topped the number of new cases, showing the nation’s success.

Turkey is the number eight country in the world for giving tests for the virus, with over 1.4 million.

After originating in China last December, COVID-19 has spread to at least 187 countries and regions. Europe and the US are currently the worst-hit regions.

The pandemic has killed over 290,000 worldwide, with total infections more than 4.2 million, while recoveries exceeded 1.48 million, according to figures compiled by the US’ Johns Hopkins University.

Source : Voice of South Asia More   

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The renewable energy transition is coming to Asia

Author: Tim Buckley, Institute of Energy Economics and Financial Analysis The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world. It is a truly global threat, ignoring national borders and domestic politics. But this pandemic highlights the need for a global response to a second key global threat: climate change. It is now more important than ever to […]

The renewable energy transition is coming to Asia

Author: Tim Buckley, Institute of Energy Economics and Financial Analysis

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world. It is a truly global threat, ignoring national borders and domestic politics. But this pandemic highlights the need for a global response to a second key global threat: climate change. It is now more important than ever to listen to the advice of experts before it’s too late.

Despite the current global economic shutdown, the global energy transition is well underway. This transition is being driven by renewable energy technology that disrupts incumbent industry business models, much like the rise of the mobile phone and the internet.

The technology disruption is fundamentally reshaping the global energy landscape. A key impetus is the dramatic, ongoing deflation in the cost of solar energy and battery storage. Both have seen costs drop 80 to 90 per cent over the last decade and the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) expects both to halve again in the coming decade. Renewables are now a cheap source of energy generation, beating the costs of new imported coal.

Such a global market transformation has significant implications for energy security.

India, for example, imported some US$250 billion worth of fossil fuels in 2019, both a massive economic drain and a major energy security risk. Leveraging renewable energy resources — wind, solar and hydro — allows for domestic diversification away from imports and helps reduce energy security risks. India is targeting 450 gigawatts of renewables by 2030.

China has been the world’s largest investor in renewable energy in the last decade. The IEEFA expects Chinese renewables to reach grid parity with coal-fired power nationally in 2020 as capacity expansions drive economies of scale and continuing deflation.

While South and Southeast Asia have been renewables laggards, Asia is nevertheless on the cusp of a dramatic pivot. Recent developments across India, China, Japan, South Korea, Vietnam and Taiwan highlight the potential for change.

Back in 2016–17, India’s then Energy Minister Piyush Goyal accelerated the use of online reverse auction tenders for the supply of renewable energy for a term of 25 years with zero indexation, backed by bankable central government contracts.

The result was staggering.

In one year, the price of tariffs dropped by 50 per cent to below Rs 3 per kilowatt-hour (US$40 per megawatt hour). This price was 30 per cent below the cost of existing domestic thermal generation and 50 per cent below new imported thermal power. Since then, India has taken advantage of global investor interest to invest US$10 billion annually in renewable infrastructure.

In the last decade, India has scrapped plans to build 600 gigawatts of new coal-fired power plants, including 46 gigawatts in 2019 alone. Stranded asset losses in the Indian thermal power sector have reached US$60 billion.

This promise of low-cost, domestic, zero-emissions renewable energy is yet to be realised in Southeast Asia. But this will change dramatically, with finance playing a key role.

In the first half of the last decade, global financial giants provided the bulk of debt and equity capital for investment in new coal-fired power plants across Asia. But the global investor push to align with the Paris Agreement has seen coal jettisoned as the most carbon-intensive fuel source and the one easiest to replace. As of today, 129 globally significant financial institutions have formal coal divestment or exclusion policies.

But coal financing is not totally out of fashion yet. In the last five years, government-owned export credit agencies (ECA) of just three countries — China, Japan and South Korea — funded the majority of the world’s new coal-fired power plants.

In 2016–17, China was ‘Going Global’. An IEEFA report in January 2019 revealed Chinese financial institutions had committed US$36 billion for over one-quarter of the 399 gigawatts of coal plants currently under development outside China. Most of the power projects span Asia, from Pakistan to Bangladesh to Vietnam.

But with the energy disruption accelerating globally, the US–China trade war and COVID-19 have massively impacted coal financing.

One analysis demonstrates this dramatic change when looking at China’s commitment to its Belt and Road Initiative. China’s outbound ECA finance for power generation dropped by two-thirds in 2018 from a peak of US$18 billion in 2017 and then dropped again in 2019 to a decade low of just US$2 billion.

Japan has been pivoting away from coal, with the government renewing its commitment to the Paris Agreement. This started in 2018 with a global appeal by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to recognise the disastrous implications of climate change. This was followed by a slowly accelerating exit from thermal coal mining by most Japanese trading houses and financial institutions.

South Korea is also on the move. In April 2020 the ruling Democratic Party won a landslide victory on the back of an announced plan for a Green New Deal, starting with a cessation of global coal financing.

The world’s three largest subsidisers of coal plants are all getting cold feet. The cost and financial risks of continuing to provide subsidised capital for projects are now threatened by cheaper alternatives.

Vietnam’s government announced last month a dramatic reduction in its coal-fired power plant development plans, pivoting towards a greater focus on wind and solar. Vietnam shocked the world in 2019 when it expanded solar capacity 10-fold in one single year.

Taiwan has been a regional leader on climate policy, with plans to roll out 27 gigawatts of renewables to supply 20 per cent of total electricity needs by 2025. Taiwan is also expanding its offshore wind projects, which could progress plans for 100 gigawatts of new offshore wind capacity in Asia.

The global energy transformation is belatedly coming to Asia. The speed of that change is likely to be dramatic and consistent with disruptions seen in Europe, the United States, Australia and India over the last five years.

Tim Buckley is Director of Energy Finance Studies, South Asia, at the Institute of Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA), Sydney.

Source : East Asia Forum More   

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