|Larry Hogen, right in the screen, governor of the U.S. state of Maryland, speaks during the Cities Against COVID-19 2020 summit session on Tuesday. Screen capture from YouTube|
By Kim Se-jeong
Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon proposed the creation of a new international organization to facilitate inter-city cooperation in responding to future infectious diseases during an online meeting with 42 city mayors, Tuesday, which was part of the Cities Against COVID-19 2020 (CAC2020) Summit.
"Taking this opportunity, Seoul proposes to build an inter-city network to brace for future disasters and infectious disease outbreaks with the joint efforts of our partner cities," Mayor Park said.
The participating mayors endorsed the proposal which was later put into the Seoul Statement that read: "Understanding a general agreement on the necessity of city-to-city solidarity, we wish to build an intercity network which enables prompt joint responses to emerging infectious diseases."
The new organization will focus on detecting new infectious diseases, sharing information, providing resources to partner cities, cooperating in people-to-people exchanges, and reducing barriers to travel and economic activities between cities.
The city didn't say much about its plans for the new organization, except that more details would be worked out in future meetings among the mayors.
The initiative indicates Seoul's interest in taking the leadership in dealing with pandemic outbreaks.
The city with a population of 10 million is currently experiencing COVID-19 spikes linked to certain bars and small churches, yet overall it is handling the situation successfully without enforcing lockdowns, unlike other cities that have completely shut down.
As of Tuesday, Seoul has reported 895 coronavirus cases with four deaths.
The capital's relative success is, according to the mayor, attributed to early and aggressive testing and tracing to find potential patients, and social distancing.
On April 9, the city posted all its COVID-19 measures on its website, drawing 7 million views from around the world ― which also helped Seoul to host the CAC2020 Summit. Mayor Park said many city governments from around the world have reached out to Seoul for information.
Among the mayors and other leaders who participated in the summit were Governor Larry Hogan of the U.S. state of Maryland who acquired testing kits from Korean company LabGenomics, Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan, London Mayor Sadiq Khan, Delhi Mayor Mira Aggarwal and Lima Mayor Jorge Munoz.
The governor of Maryland said his current priority was to ensure enough beds were available for COVID-19 patients and to supply personal protection gear for medical service providers who are experiencing shortages.
Hogan underlined the importance of solidarity and cooperation, saying his frequent meetings with other state governors and legislative bodies in his state were helping him address pandemic-related issues.
London Mayor Khan said his city was preparing for a second wave of the pandemic with measures such as providing sufficient and affordable stocks of masks, and connecting consumers with small businesses through crowdfunding sites so that they can order goods in advance.
The summit will continue online through Friday.