Mmegi: Can we soon see medical interventions to try and contain this epidemic like during the SARS epidemic? Chinese Embassy: Putting people’s lives and health first, President Xi Jinping and the Chinese government attach great importance to the prevention and control of novel coronavirus-related pneumonia.
In response to epidemic situation and the travel-rush of people during the Spring Festival holidays, the Chinese government has made the prevention and control of novel coronavirus-related pneumonia a national priority and set up a national joint prevention and control mechanism. Effective and concrete measures have been swiftly put in place against the epidemic. Local governments and medical staff in infected areas are working around the clock to cut off the transmission chain of the spread of the epidemic, diagnose and treat the patients. Especially, with full support of the Chinese government and people across the country, nearly 5, 000 medical personnel from other parts of China have already been in Wuhan to help, and two new hospitals with thousands of beds reserved for infected patients are being built in Hubei Province, the first of which is expected to be used on February 2.
Mmegi: What is the embassy doing to control movements of people to and from China during this time of uncertainty?
Chinese Embassy: The Chinese Embassy in Botswana is making an all-out efforts to prevent the virus from spreading to Botswana. We have been in close communications with the Botswana government and the World Health Organisation (WHO) branch in Botswana regarding the epidemic. We have issued a press statement to brief the Botswana public on the latest development. We have published two consular notices to provide Chinese nationals with information updates and recommendations for epidemic prevention. We have called on the associations of the Chinese community and Chinese business institutions in Botswana to raise the awareness of their members and employees who have returned to China for holidays, guiding them to protect themselves against infection. Those who have returned to the most affected regions in Wuhan and its Hubei Province, are advised to hold off coming back to Botswana until the situation eases so as to reduce the risk of bringing the virus to Botswana. Those who have returned to Botswana from the epidemic hit areas in China are requested to undergo a self-quarantine of two weeks at home, not to go to public places, offices, or any gatherings. If suspected symptoms appear, they are asked to immediately seek medical help and report to the Embassy. The Embassy stands ready to work with the Botswana government to contain and mitigate the impact of the epidemic.
Mmegi: No cases reported in Africa yet, could it be that African countries do not have the appropriate resources to detect this new virus?
Chinese Embassy: The epidemic knows no borders. Individual cases have been confirmed in Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan and countries such as Thailand, Japan, ROK, the United States, Vietnam and Singapore. There is no confirmed case in Africa, but one suspected case was just found in Côte d’Ivoire. To win the battle against this unexpected epidemic requires concerted efforts of the international community.
With an attitude of openness and transparency and a high degree of responsibility for global health security, China timely released the latest epidemic situation and progress in prevention and control, promptly shared the full genetic sequence of the new coronavirus with the WHO, and organised Chinese experts to set up a special team with WHO experts to carry out joint research. China has notified and shared the epidemic information with WHO and relevant countries, and is committed to strengthening joint prevention and control cooperation with African countries including Botswana so as to strictly prevent epidemic import, and jointly maintain global and African public health security.
Mmegi: Is it safe to visit China at the moment in the midst of the corona virus outbreak?
Chinese Embassy: As the worst hit province, the Hubei Provincial Government has launched a contingency response programme for major public health emergencies. In order to stop the spread of the source of the disease, Wuhan City, the capital of Hubei, has suspended the operation of city buses, subways, ferries, and long-distance passenger transportation starting from 10am on January 23, temporarily closing the departure channels of airports and train stations, and requiring local citizens not to leave Wuhan without special reasons.
If you must travel to China, we suggest you make an effort to protect yourself against infection such as avoiding contact with sick people, wearing a mask and washing hands frequently, etc. Those who have returned to Botswana from China are suggested to undergo a 14-day self-quarantine at home. For those in China right now including the Botswana students in Wuhan, please heed the advice from local authorities, take preventive measures and avoid cross infection. The Chinese government is taking concrete actions to guarantee the health and basic needs of each and every foreign citizen in China.
Mmegi: How has the outbreak affected immigration to China of late? How is this outbreak harming China’s international trade so far?
Chinese Embassy: Since 2003 when China responded to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), China has set up a relatively complete national emergency system for the prevention and control of the new infectious diseases and accumulated practical experience of public health incidents by coping with SARS, H1N1 influenza, bird flu, and Ebola hemorrhagic fever in Africa. We won the fights against the above contagious epidemics. Currently, the prevention and control of the new coronavirus is the most important work of the Chinese government and people.
In fact, with the efforts of all walks of life in China, the number of newly confirmed cases in Wuhan City and Hubei Province has recently shown a sign of decrease. We have in China the strong leadership of the Communist Party, the advantage that comes from being able to mobilise all resources for major undertakings, the spirit of a nation united as one and the experiences of fighting the epidemics. We therefore have the confidence, capacity and conditions to win quickly the battle against the new coronavirus epidemic at an early date.