In order to inform current global circumstances of COVID-19 to CityNet members and to share responses from key members, the CityNet Secretariat organized a Webinar session titled “Consultation Series on rapid responses for COVID-19 Confirmation” on April 10, 2020 in response to the outbreak of the COVID-19 that has overtaken our cities all around the globe. CityNet’s members, including urban stakeholders and city governments’ officials, were invited to the session to learn about and present the current situation of the COVID-19 epidemic in their city.
In addition to covering the current situation, the session examined the implications and consequences for CityNet members created by the COVID-19, as well as opening a discussion about various cities response to the virus. The webinar provided a great opportunity to share and promote solidarity among cities on handling the COVID-19 pandemic, and committing to support public health by sharing various measures at the city level on how to tackle the virus.
Mr. Vijay Jagannathan, Secretary General of CityNet made an introduction highlighting three key areas of interests for handling the COVID-19 pandemic—the central role of cities; the interconnectedness of urban services; and the management of the urban poor. He emphasised the need of implementing solutions such as social distancing, reinforcing the health care services, and other health system mitigation measures. Mr. Geunheyong Yim, Chief Executive Officer at CityNet, Mr. Kendra Hirata, Director of Programs at CityNet Yokohama Office, and Mr. Gordon C. H. Yang, Executive Director of International Affairs Advisory Council, Taipei City Government each gave a short presentation on the current status of the epidemic in cities across Asia. This was followed by commentary from Ms. Mary Jane Ortega, Special Adviser to CityNet, and Dr. Wen-yen Wang, Director-general of Department of Public Health, Taoyuan City Government, who also all took the opportunity to describe the situation currently faced by their cities, and to highlight some of the measures that are currently underway to resolve the situation. Ms. Mary Jane Ortega also extended to CityNet Members a letter (attached below) detailed The San Fernando, La Union Experience in Times of COVID-19.
Some of the key points highlighted by the speakers included building trust among governments, citizens, and health workers as a crucial part to deal with the impact and preparation of the virus. Moreover, local and central governments need to provide timely guidelines, data, and details with the public through websites, mobiles apps, text messages, etc. Success is also based on the collaboration of citizens who are also responsible to follow government’ measures and guidelines for social distancing and sanitary measures.
Building upon this successful first discussion among CityNet members about their currents needs facing COVID-19, the CityNet Secretariat will be preparing and soon host the second installment of the webinar series focusing on areas where members expressed specific demands to learn more about.