The coronavirus epidemic in China has had the world’s attention for over two months now. There has been a litany of information which has led to the dissemination of misinformation around the situation in China from multiple sources worldwide. The Consul General of the People’s Republic of China in Johannesburg, Mr Tang joins us in studio to detail what the Chinese government is planning to do to manage the now officially reported 30,004 cases in Hubei Province. How will China manage the shut down city of Wuhan which has 12 million citizens?
The Chinese People Have the Confidence and Capabilities to Win the Battle Against the Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)
The recently past Chinese Lunar New Year is definitely unforgettable for both China and the world. As China has been involved in the fight against the novel coronavirus outbreak which started in Wuhan, the capital city of the central China province of Hubei in early December 2019.
Ever since the first case of virus was confirmed to be the novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) and would be definitely people-to-people transmitted, the Chinese government has decisively implemented the comprehensive and rigorous measures to contain the spread of the virus. On January 20, China NHC (National Health Commission) announced that the novel coronavirus pneumonia could be classified as Class B infectious disease but should be managed and controlled according to Class A disease.
At the early stage of the outbreak, China detected and isolated the virus and sequenced the genome with record-breaking speed, and has provided timely updates. When the possibility of the people-to-people transmission was confirmed, Wuhan Epidemic Prevention and Control Command Center decided to seal the whole city as a quarantine zone, which has shown the great resolution of the local government to cut down the transmission of virus. Since January 21, China NHC has started to publicize the updates of epidemic every day, and later a news briefing with Q&A session has been held on daily basis. All data and information to combat the spread of the epidemic can be obtained and updated on major websites, totally transparent and open to the public.
China NHC published the official statistics on 6th. February that as of 24:00 on Feb. 5, the NHC received 28018 reports of confirmed cases and 563 deaths in 31 provincial-level regions on the Chinese mainland, and in all 1,153 patients had been cured and discharged from hospital. There still remained 24,702 suspected cases. 26,302 patients were being quarantined for treatment (including 3,859 in serious condition). So far, 282,813 people have been identified as having had close contact with infected patients. 186,354 are now under medical observation. And outside China, there are 153 confirmed cases in 23 countries.
Acting with a high sense of responsibility to people’s health and safety, the Chinese national leader, President Xi Jinping has presided meetings in person to review the work on the epidemic prevention and control, to set it as the top priority for China and give unified command and instructions to governments at all levels all overChina, in order to take concerted actions to effectively contain the virus.
In the age of globalization, the Chinese government is fully committed to the international responsibilities and obligations in tackling the epidemic. China shared the genetic sequence of the 2019-nCov and other relevant information about the epidemic with WHO in a timely, open and transparent and responsible manner and invited WHO to send experts to have study visits in Wuhan. On January 28, President Xi met with the visiting WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, reiterating that China stands ready to respond to concerns of all sides actively and enhance cooperation with the international community in order to safeguard regional and global public health security.
The world should be applauding China’s unprecedented, broad and aggressive response to the epidemic. Coordinated by the Central Leading Group for Epidemic Prevention and Control, leading groups at various local levels with liability system have also been put in place. Level I emergency responses – the highest level for a public health emergency –have been launched across the country covering each corner of communities. A joint mechanism led by the State Council of China was established to coordinate the distribution of epidemic prevention materials and ensure those materials go to where they are needed the most. By February 3, governments at all levels in China have accumulated RMB 47 bn (about $6.8 bn equivalent) for the novel coronavirus epidemic prevention and control. All medical science research institutes in China have been mobilized and worked hard around the clock on vaccines and medicines. With the efforts of the Chinese people and the entire government system, the novel coronavirus epidemic can and will be eventually controlled and prevented.
Based on the experience on winning the battle against the SARS epidemic in 2003, China has developed an all-round and multi-layered disease-combating mechanisms all over China. Faced with the tough job of effectively stopping the spread of the virus, the Chinese government has taken every possible measure to create awareness about epidemic prevention and control through media among the public. China CDC edited and published the Guidance for the Novel Coronavirus Pneumonia Prevention. The individuals in the society are strongly advised to stay home, wash hands more frequently, wear masks when going out and avoid parties and close contact with people suffering from acute respiratory infection. The central government also extended the Spring Festival public holidays from 8 to 10 days.
As WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus noted, China is setting a new standard for outbreak response. China has taken the most comprehensive and rigorous prevention and control measures since the outbreak of the epidemic, many of which have far exceeded what International Health Regulations required. WHO has spoken highly of the measures taken by the Chinese government and people, saying China has done great job in detecting the outbreak, isolating the virus, sequencing the genome, sharing information with WHO and the world, and committing to transparency. For the sake of regional and global public health and safety and in the interests of the entire international community, the measures taken by China are not only for China itself but also for the whole world. To declare a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC) is not a vote of no confidence in China. On the contrary, WHO continues to have confidence in China’s capacity to control the outbreak. There is no reason for measures that unnecessarily interfere with international travel.
To ensure the safety and health of all those foreign nationals who have stayed in China is a top priority for China as well. On January 27, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China held a briefing for foreign embassies or diplomatic missions in Beijing on the current situation of the novel coronavirus epidemic and efforts made by Chinese government. China has taken serious approaches to fulfil its international obligations, promptly address the concerns of foreign citizens in China, and ensure their safety in a responsible manner. Chinese diplomatic missions overseas also try to keep close communication with governments of countries of their residence, providing with timely updates on the epidemic prevention process in China, while offering consular services to the Chinese citizens.
Many countries have expressed appreciation and support to China through various means. By February 5, a total of 21 countries, such as South Korea, Japan, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, German, UK, France, Italy, Hungary, Republic of Belarus, Turkey, Iran, the UAE, Algeria, Egypt, Australia, New Zealand, Trinidad and Tobago, and the United Nations Children’s Fund have donated epidemic prevention materials.
Though the virus is cruel and knows no border, there is love among people in the world. China has extended heartfelt gratitude to all those countries and people who have given us sympathy, understanding and support at the critical moment and we will bear that in mind. What is needed urgently in China at present are medical supplies for prevention and control, masks, protective suits and safety goggles among other items.
As always, South Africa is a great friend and valuable partner that China can count on. Ever since the epidemic outbreak started, South African government and people have provided us with understandings and support. Health Minister Zweli Mkhize and high level officials of ANC have spoken highly of China’s efforts in the epidemic prevention and control. We appreciate and value the trust, support and assistance from South Africa.
Acting in a responsible manner, the Chinese community in South Africa has taken measures to protect the public health. For instance, Chinese citizens and SA Chinese have voluntarily cancelled public events arrangements to celebrate the Chinese New Year, many of those who traveled to China for holidays have postponed their scheduled return to South Africa, those who have come back recently stayed home for 14 days self-isolation. Chinese Ambassador to South Africa Lin Songtian held a press conference briefing on what the Chinese government has done in fighting against the epidemic, which is welcomed by South African people.
We have every reason to believe that with the strong support and assistance from South Africa and other countries in the world, China will eventually win the fight against the novel Coronavirus soon.
Written by Tang Zhongdong
Consul General of China in Johannesburg