Since the first infection was diagnosed in Wuhan, the outbreak of the novel coronavirus has not only started a nationwide battle against the epidemic in China but also become a common concern of the international community.
Like many others, I’m following the development of the epidemic every day and worried about the increasing number of people infected. Though the five suspected cases of the novel coronavirus in Botswana have been confirmed negative, the Chinese Embassy will continue to work with the Botswana authorities on the prevention of the epidemic.
At the same time, we are also paying close attention to the status of the 21 Botswana students who are in Wuhan. At present, they are all healthy and safe. We highly appreciate the timely and proper handling of these matters by Botswana health institutions as well as the calmness of the local communities under the current circumstances. Sometimes panic can do more harm than the epidemic itself.
Prevention and control of the outbreak is now the most important work for the Chinese government and people. Since the onset of the outbreak, China has taken unprecedentedly strict prevention and control measures, many of which have far exceeded WHO recommendations and the International Health Regulations requirements.
As WHO Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus noted, the Chinese government has taken extraordinary measures to contain the outbreak, setting a new standard for epidemic response. As China mobilises the whole nation to effectively control and mitigate the epidemic, visible progress has been made. Starting from February 1, the number of people cured has exceeded that of deaths. As of the end of February 5, altogether 1, 153 patients were cured and discharged, almost twice as many as those who died of the virus.
Since the SARS in 2003, China has continuously increased public health investment and successfully established the world’s largest emergency response system for acute infectious diseases. Since the novel coronavirus epidemic broke out, China has taken full advantage of the system, dispatched 68 medical teams with more than 8,000 professionals from other parts of the country to Wuhan and Hubei, and delivered at the same time through the “green channel” large quantities of medical supplies and daily necessities for epidemic control and the 9 million residents and foreign nationals
China also has full capability in winning the battle against the epidemic. Three new specialised hospitals, namely the 1,000-bed Dabieshan Regional Medical Centre, the 1,000-bed Huoshenshan Hospital and the 1,500-bed Leishenshan Hospital were constructed and put into full operation in just 10 days to handle infected patients. As of February3, a total of US$6.7 billion has been provided by central and local governments for epidemic control. Within a month, Red Cross and charitable agencies in Hubei received over US$600 million and 5.29 million pieces of materials, which provided strong support for the battle.
The new millennium has witnessed the outbreak of a number of epidemics, natural disasters or other acute incidents in China, but we are never daunted by difficulties. In 2003, China contained and tackled SARS, making a great contribution to global public health.
During the 2013 Avian influenza A (H7N9) epidemic, China was commended by WHO for rapid response and transparency “which could serve as a model of emergency response to similar events”. In 2014, the Chinese government and people took the lead in helping Africa fight Ebola, which was highly commended by the international community.
As the then Chinese Ambassador to Sierra Leone, I was fully engaged in the battle against Ebola, and witnessed the bond of brotherhood between China and Africa in a difficult time. With the previous rich and useful experience, China has full confidence to overcome the epidemic.
Virus knows no borders or races, so fighting the novel coronavirus is indeed a battle for mankind. Faced with such a battle, we all need support and encouragement from each other. Base on experts’ analysis, the epidemic may reach the inflection point in a couple of days. I have no doubt that with joint efforts of the international community in a spirit of solidarity and cooperation, we will win the battle against the novel coronavirus at an early date.
*Dr. Zhao Yanbo is Chinese Ambassador to Botswana