By Li Bijian, Consul General of China in Karachi
Ever since the outbreak of the pandemic COVID-19 in China and across the world, lies, rumors, fake news, and all kinds of conspiracies have been widely spread on the social and other media. Most of these fabricated stuff points at China as the target.
The first is that China covered up and did not share the relevant information with other countries in time. The time line of China releasing information on COVID-19 and advancing international cooperation fully demonstrates that what China has been doing is open, transparent and responsible. Dec. 30, 2019, Hubei Provincial Health Commission issued urgent notice of unknown coronavirus. Starting Jan. 3, China has been regularly informing the WHO, relevant countries and regions including the US and China’s Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan about the pneumonia outbreak. Jan. 4, Head of the China CDC talked over phone with director of the US CDC about the pneumonia outbreak. Jan 9, an expert team from the NHC made public of the pathogen, saying a new type of coronavirus was initially identified as the cause of the viral pneumonia in Wuhan. China informed WHO about the epidemic, sharing with it the initial progress in determining the cause of the viral pneumonia in Wuhan. Jan. 12, the NHC shared with the WHO about information on the genome sequence of the novel coronavirus.
China CDC communicated with the US CDC on epidemic prevention and control. Jan. 19, American CDC exchanged views with the Chinese side on the epidemic. Jan. 20, experts in China confirm the people to people transmission of the virus. NHC started to update via its official website and its new media platform the epidemic information of the previous day on a daily basis. It had updated 71 times by March 31. Starting on Feb. 3, the English official website of the NHC started releasing epidemic information simultaneously, updating the data for 58 times by March 31. Jan. 21, WHO announced at its website about WHO’s expert team visited Wuhan from Jan. 20-21. Jan. 22, the US reported the first confirmed case of the epidemic to China. Jan 23, Wuhan shut down the city. Jan. 25, the US closed its Consulate in Wuhan and evacuated its personnel. Jan. 28, FMA held the first briefing on the epidemic for the diplomatic missions based in Beijing. Jan. 29, Yang Jiechi, a member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, also head of the Office of the Foreign Affairs Commission of the CPC Central Committee, spoke over phone with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. As of Feb 3, China has given the United States briefings on the epidemic information and control measures in China for 30 times. Feb. 7, President Xi Jinping had a telephone discussion with US President Donald Trump and exchanged views on the epidemic situation. Feb. 11, experts from the China and US CDC held a conference call, discussing and sharing epidemic prevention and control information. Feb. 16, the China-WHO joint expert team started a nine-day field visit in China.
The team consists of 25 experts from China, Germany, Japan, Republic of Korea (ROK), Nigeria, Russia, Singapore, the United States and WHO. Feb. 27, the second China-EU special teleconference on COVID-19 was held. Feb. 27, the US shut down borders to all Chinese nationals, and foreigners who have been to China in the past 14 days. China has timely shared with the world the whole gene sequence, primers and probes of the coronavirus, and shared diagnosis and treatment guidelines and other technical documents with more than 100 countries and over 10 international and regional organizations around the world. China has also carried out timely technical exchanges with international and regional organizations, such as the WHO, ASEAN and APEC, as well as Japan, Russia, Germany, the United States and other countries through expert discussions and teleconferences to share China’s epidemic prevention and control experience and guidelines.
The allegation of under-reporting aimed at down-play the efforts by government and people of China to successfully contain the pandemic. As of April 18, the COVID-19 related cases in mainland China cumulatively was: infected 82735, cured 77064, death 4632, traced close contact 724850. The mortality rate is very low and the cured rate is very high. As I mentioned many times in my previous articles and interviews that the only way to avoid the contraction of the COVID-19 virus is to cut off all transmission chains by isolation and tracing back on the close contact before we find a vaccine. China’s experience of successfully contained the virus based on the belief that the pandemic is preventable, controllable and treatable, and four earlys: early tracing, early reporting, early isolating and early treatment.
Some of the tips of China’s successful story are: First, strong leadership. Under the leadership of the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core, China has taken the most comprehensive, stringent and thorough measures to combat the outbreak. The efficiency and fast mobilization of the whole society, and the implementation of the people centered policy and the smooth operation of the social and economic system fully reflects the strong governance of China.
Second, a disciplined and rule-observing population. The 1.4 billion Chinese people have pulled together in their tenacious fight against the virus, and have paid a tremendous price and made great sacrifices. The most majority of our population strictly respect and observe the government orders of isolation in a most disciplined and orderly manner.
Third, the people first policy. Chinese citizens have been enjoying a national health care coverage. When the pandemic happens, every one is looked after by the state and provincial governments. No one is left out. Ever since the outbreak of the pandemic, government ordered all hospitals across China to receive every patient and provide treatment, and the state covered all expenditure of testing, isolation and treatment. According to the statistics by some experts, the average cost for minor patients was 30000USD per person, and that for the critical sick patients was as high as 100000USD per person. Fourth, collective efforts. If one party is in trouble and all parties will provide support. This is our Chinese nations’ time-honored fine tradition. More than 40000 medical personnel were sent to Wuhan to address the problem of shortage of medics. The major companies across China provided billions and billions USD of fund to purchase life necessities to patients, medics, and the citizen under the lock-down.
As for the allegation of China created the virus in a lab in Wuhan, this is groundless, ill motivated, witch-hunting, scapegoating and stigmatizing. After the outbreak of the pandemic of COVID-19, the experts and scientists around the world have been conducting researches in full swing to identify the zero patient and the origin of the virus. Till now there has been no conclusion at this regard. Some researches by experts from Italy, America and UK etc., found that the patients with the similar symptoms of COVID19 may had already been existing, transmitting and spreading in some communities in Italy and the US far before the outbreak in Wuhan. Furthermore, preliminary founding of the strains of COVID-19 may be traced to many places around the world. The researches are going on and we shall give more time for the experts and scientists across the world to tell us the true picture. Before we find a conclusion on the origin of the virus of COVID19 in a scientific, open, and transparent manner, politicising, smearing, and figure-pointing are all wrong and shall disrupt the efforts by the whole world to contain the pandemic and save more lives. What we need now are unity, solidarity and working together.
Some explains of revision of the numbers of cases and fatalities in Wuhan. On April 17, The Wuhan municipal Headquarters for the COVID-19 epidemic prevention and control issued a notification on revising the numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases and fatalities in the city in accordance with the relevant State and Provincial Laws and Regulations. The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Wuhan as of April 8 is revised up by 325 to 50333, and the number of fatalities up by 1290 to 3864. The data discrepancies are due to the following reasons: First, a surging number of patients at the early stage of the epidemic overwhelmed medical resources and the admission capacity of medical institutions. Some patients died at home without having been treated in hospitals. Second, during the height of their treating efforts, hospitals were operating beyond their capacities and medical staff were preoccupied with saving and treating patients, resulting in late, failed and mistaken reporting. Third, due to a rapid increase of designated hospitals for treating COVID-19 patients, including those administered by ministries, Hubei Province, Wuhan city and its districts, those affiliated to companies, as well as private hospitals and makeshift hospitals, a few medical institutions were not linked to the epidemic information network and failed to report their data in time. Fourth, the registered information of some of the deceased patients was incomplete, and there were repetitions and mistakes in the reporting. The revision is a common practice across the world. A few days ago, New York State of the US also made revision of the relevant numbers.
As for the wishful thinking by some corners that China shall be held responsible for the spread of COVID-19 and pay for other countries, this is ridiculous, no conscience, and immoral as human beings. When we read the human history, it is a long listed chronicles by human beings to fight with the infectious diseases of various kinds. If we go by this dangerous logical, H1N1 and HIV/AIDS etc. were first found in the US, and hundreds of thousands of peoples across the world were infected and millions of people died, shall we claim compensation from the US? In the years to come, humans will run across many more infectious diseases. If they occur in some countries, and the people of those countries shall be held responsible to pay for others, all people around the world will be the victims. On the background of the big changes faced by human beings unseen in a century, all humans living in the global village shall join hands to fight the infectious diseases rather than stick to the cold-war mentality, racial discrimination, and the game of blaming. The virus respects no borders or races. Only with solidarity and cooperation can the international community defeat the outbreak and protect our common home.