BEIJING, Feb. 13 (Xinhua) — As the number of new confirmed cases of novel coronavirus pneumonia (NCP) in China outside the epicenter of Hubei Province has been dropping for nine consecutive days, China’s tough measures to contain the virus outbreak, to some extent, have paid off.
According to China’s National Health Commission (NHC), a total of 312 new confirmed cases were reported on Wednesday outside of Hubei, compared with 890 on Feb. 3.
“Measures in China (are) incredible, unprecedented, from which we can learn a lot of how this kind of outbreak is handled,” said Soumya Swaminathan, chief scientist of the World Health Organization (WHO).
The disease broke out in January, just days before the Chinese Lunar New Year holiday, of which family reunions play a central role. During that time, people across China were busy travelling back home, some for thousands of miles.
Wuhan, capital of China’s central Hubei Province and with a population of over 10 million, soon became the epicenter of the outbreak. On Jan. 23, the city was locked down. All public transportation — including city buses, subways, ferries and long-distance coaches — was suspended, while outbound channels at airports and railway stations were also closed.
Shortly after the nationwide outbreak, all 31 provincial-level regions in China activated top-level response measures to contain the epidemic. The State Council, China’s cabinet, extended the seven-day Spring Festival holiday, scheduled to end on Jan. 30, to Feb. 2. The Education Ministry postponed the beginning of the 2020 spring semester for schools.
Sazaly Abu Bakar, professor and director of the University of Malaya Tropical Infectious Diseases Research and Education Center said he believes China has been resolute in making decisions to contain the spread of the disease.
The Chinese people “are protecting the world from an even faster spread through their willingness to make sacrifices and their commitment,” said Michael Schumann, head of the German Federal Association for Economic Development and Foreign Trade. “They deserve our respect and our active and energetic support.”
“The world is grateful for your efforts to discover how to best treat (patients) and prevent the spread of the virus,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Sunday.
EFFECTIVE MOBILIZATION, COORDINATION
Chinese President Xi Jinping, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, said on Feb. 3 when chairing a leadership meeting on epidemic control, that party committees and governments at all levels should firmly follow the unified command, coordination and arrangement of the CPC Central Committee.
To “concentrate resources to solve major problems,” as Chinese often describe it, is a notable advantage of China’s socialist system that has helped the country overcome major challenges over the past decades. The novel coronavirus is no exception.
Chinese health authorities have sent more than 11,000 medics to Wuhan so far, including the country’s best ICU staff. Over 4,000 commissioned medical officers from the army have also been dispatched on the ground.
Frozen pork reserves and fresh vegetables were trucked to Hubei from across the country. Meanwhile, workers in face mask and medical gown factories were called back to work early from the holiday break to resume production to alleviate the supply shortage.
And two makeshift hospitals — Leishenshan and Huoshenshan, with a combined 2,600 beds — were built within days after thousands of construction workers worked shifts around the clock, with machinery operating 24/7. Some of Wuhan’s gymnasiums and sports centers were also converted into temporary hospitals to accomodate people with mild symptoms, adding another 10,000 hospital beds.
“I have never seen, in my life, this kind of mobilization,” Tedros said.
It is indeed a so-called “people’s war” against the epidemic, which demonstrates China’s ability in mobilizing on a large scale and its sheer national strength.
Solly Mapaila, first deputy general secretary of the South African Communist Party, said the CPC and the Chinese government have displayed outstanding leadership in face of the epidemic under the leadership of Xi, which reflects the advantages of a socialist system.
At the early stage of the spread, Chinese experts detected this new type of coronavirus and shared the genetic sequence with the WHO once completed, which the latter said was of great importance for other countries’ development of diagnostic kits.
This week, a WHO team arrived in Beijing before joint China-WHO discussions on and evaluation of the novel coronavirus epidemic and its containment, while invited Chinese representatives briefed a WHO-led forum in Geneva on China’s research on the outbreak.
“We need international solidarity. We’re all in this together. And when we work together, we can beat and overcome these challenges,” UN Under-Secretary-General Fabrizio Hochschild said, expressing his appreciation for China’s efforts in the fight against the outbreak.
Since late January, Chinese leaders have held phone conversations with their worldwide counterparts, briefing them on the latest developments on the outbreak and they also received recognition and support from the international community.
Russian President Vladimir Putin told Xi in a phone call that relevant Russian departments will work closely with their counterparts in China to eliminate this common threat, while Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan said his country is willing to mobilize all the country’s medical supply reserves to assist China.
Medical team members of the Third Xiangya Hospital of Central South University gather at Changsha South Railway Station in Changsha, central China’s Hunan Province, Feb. 8, 2020. (Xinhua/Chen Zeguo)
China has received supplies and other assistance from at least 30 countries and various international organizations so far.
A community with a shared future, a concept first brought up by China, offers the best solution to the outbreak. Cooperation of this kind buys the world time to learn about and cure this illness.
China’s active cooperation with the international community demonstrates its high sense of responsibility for global welfare, said Speaker of the Parliament of Sri Lanka Karu Jayasuriya.
“China has set a new standard for other countries to prevent and control the epidemic, while no other country has the scale, speed, transparency and openness comparable to China,” said Margaret Chan, former director-general of the WHO.
(Xinhua reporters Liu Qu, Lin Hao, Ling Xin, Xia Yuanyi, Wang Jiangang, Ma Xiao, Tang Lu, Gao Jie, Zhu Yuxuan contributed to the story.)