At the beginning of the lunar year of the rat, a sudden outbreak of pneumonia caused by a novel coronavirus hit the Chinese city of Wuhan, disrupting the normal life of the Chinese people and having a profound impact on the world. Many people have been in panic about the fast development of the epidemic, and a few countries overreacted by imposing bans on normal flow of people with China. At present, we should remain rational and respond jointly to the pandemic in a scientific way.
Since the outbreak of the virus, the Chinese government has taken the most comprehensive and rigorous prevention and control measures with an open, transparent and responsible manner. With Wuhan and Hubei in the center, a joint prevention and control system from central to local levels has been established. All-out efforts has been made to cure the infected, information about the epidemic released timely, concerns of all sides responded to promptly, and cooperation with the international community undertaken actively. Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO, expressed his full confidence that China will overcome the outbreak, praising that China has taken measures well beyond the World Health Regulations and WHO’s recommendation, thus setting up a new standard for outbreak response.
The Chinese people are engaged in a serious fight against the epidemic. President Xi Jinping issued important instructions on many occasions, and Premier Li Keqiang went to Wuhan in person to lead the fight against the epidemic. Medical resources from the military and other parts of the country have been mobilized in support of Wuhan, and the efforts to prevent and control the epidemic have been effective. Although the confirmed cases are still growing, the number of newly reported suspected cases has declined. The novel coronavirus is highly infectious, but it has quite low fatality rate (2%), far less than that of other epidemics such as Ebola (40%), H1N1(17%), SARS (10%) and MERS (35%). The number of cases cured has notably exceeded the number of fatalities. The rapid increase in the number of confirmed cases in recent days is due to the new methods which help to quickly and efficiently identify the infected. Medical experts expect the coming week to be crucial for the quarantine measures to take effect, and the outbreak to peak within 7 to 10 days before it can be effectively controlled. In general, the outbreak is preventable, controllable and curable. The Chinese government has strong determination and high mobilization capacity to overcome the epidemic. This novel coronavirus has been classified as a category-B disease, but is tackled with Category-A measures in China. As of 5 February, over 24,000 cases were confirmed in China, while there were only 202 confirmed cases in other countries with one fatality. This fully shows the effectiveness of China's isolation and quarantine measures. China’s efforts have not only safeguarded the life and health of the Chinese people, but also contributed to the public health of the world.
When the WHO declared the outbreak of the novel coronavirus a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC) on January 30, it stressed that PHEIC does not mean accusing China of not taking adequate measures, but is mainly out of concern for the countries with weaker health system. The WHO Director-General made it clear that unnecessary travel and trade restrictions against China be not recommended.
Every government is obliged to enforce prevention and control measures to protect the health and safety of its people. However, some countries with strong medical and healthcare systems have overreacted with additional measures, which clearly runs counter to the International Health Regulations and WHO recommendations. Such measures shall not be more restrictive of international traffic and not more invasive or intrusive to persons than reasonably available alternatives that would achieve the appropriate level of health protection. In my view, as long as effective prevention and control measures such as enhanced quarantine for international passenger, isolation and public health observation are in place, the spread of the virus to other countries can be minimal and slow. Therefore, there is no need to resort to political means to cut off the normal movement of people with China.
Faced with the challenge of the novel coronavirus outbreak, we are in the same boat. It is hoped that all countries can remain objective, calm and rational, and work together to win the fight against the epidemic in the spirit of the community of shared future for mankind.