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2020-12-26 08:46:55

SHANGHAI — As the coronavirus outbreak continues to batter societies globally, cities must take preemptive actions to navigate the risks posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, scholars from China and Japan said at a conference in Shanghai.

The conference, organized by Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences and Asian Growth Research Institute, on Saturday was aimed at drawing lessons from both countries’ fight against COVID-19 and confront the challenges amid the pandemic. Dozens of experts from China and Japan shared their visions for rebuilding cities and economies hit by the pandemic during the three-hour conference.

Liu Liang, researcher at the academy’s Institute of Applied Economics, said cities should learn lessons and take precautions to rebuild medical and urban management systems to prevent future public health risks.

“While paying attention to the negative impact of the pandemic, we should also see new opportunities to turn crises into opportunities to facilitate favorable economic and social transformation,” he said.

Across the world, several countries are again witnessing a spike in coronavirus cases in recent months. As of Saturday, more than 79 million people have been infected with the virus globally, as the death toll is approaching the 2 million mark.

In China, the contagion has been largely under control apart from some sporadic clusters. However, authorities are calling for vigilance ahead of the Lunar New Year travel rush in February to avoid possible outbreaks.

“Controlling the epidemic according to law is an important experience for China to quickly and successfully control the spread of COVID-19,” Yao Jianlong, director of the Institute of Law at Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, said during the conference.

Meanwhile Japan is experiencing another surge in COVID-19 cases, with the country reporting a daily high topping 3,800 on Friday.

Kazuhiko Togo, former director of the Institute of World Affairs at Kyoto Sangyo University, said that the pandemic has dealt a great blow to the country’s societal development, disrupting its consumption. Japan’s economy was badly hit by the pandemic earlier this year, though it has shown signs of recovery in the last quarter.

“After the pandemic, cities should not only focus on improving hygiene but also pursue a freer city without any restrictions,” said the retired professor who attended the conference virtually, referring to the need for more public spaces that will allow people to move freely.

In Japan, the impact of the pandemic was also reflected in determining its character of the year, an annual tradition since 1995. This year, the country has picked the kanji character “mitsu” — it translates as “dense” or “crowded” in English — that has been widely used in local campaigns to contain the coronavirus.

(Header image: People Visual)