Important updates by Chinese Embassy in Zimbabwe on COVID-19

Asia and Oceania Coronavirus Watch
  • Update on Wuhan
  • A call for coordinated scientific research on COVID-19
    • Science as a powerful weapon
    • Saving lives as a most pressing task
  • WHO commends China on sharing COVID-19 experience
  • China employs the antibody diagnosis method for novel coronavirus detection
  • Over 6.7 thousand inbound travelers detected showing symptoms since Tuesday
  • Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian’s Regular Press Conference on March 2 and 3, 2020 on COVID-19

The Chinese Embassy in Zimbabwe says by the end of March 3, 2020 there had been 80,270 coronavirus confirmed cases while 520 people were still suspected of being infected with the virus.

The death toll stood at 2981 while a total of 49,856 people had been discharged from hospital after recovery.

March 3 saw:

  • 119 new confirmed cases,
  • 38 deaths —- 37 were in Hubei Province and one in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region,
  • 143 new suspected cases,
  • 2,652 people were discharged from hospital after recovery. 
  • 436,432 close contacts were still under medical observation.

 On Tuesday, 6,250 people were discharged from medical observation.

By the end of 3 March, 100 confirmed cases including two deaths had been reported in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR), 10 confirmed cases in the Macao SAR, and 42in Taiwan, including one death.

According to the WHO’s situation report on 3 March, eight new Member States (Andorra, Jordan, Latvia, Morocco, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, and Tunisia) reported cases of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours.

Globally there had been 90,870 confirmed (1,922 new) cases, including 10,66 confirmed (1792 new) cases in 72 countries (8 new) and 166 deaths (38 new) outside China.

Countries outside China with reported laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 cases. Data as of 3 March:

  • South Korea: 4812 confirmed cases;
  • Japan: 268 confirmed cases;
  • Singapore: 108 confirmed cases;
  • Australia: 33 confirmed cases;
  • Malaysia: 29 confirmed cases;
  • Italy: 2036 confirmed cases;
  • France: 191 confirmed cases;
  • Germany: 157 confirmed cases;
  • Spain: 114 confirmed cases;
  • UK: 39 confirmed cases;
  • Switzerland: 30 confirmed cases;
  • Norway:25 confirmed cases;
  • Thailand: 43 confirmed cases;
  • Iran: 1501 confirmed cases;
  • Kuwait: 56 confirmed cases;
  • Bahrain: 49 confirmed cases;
  • Iraq: 26 confirmed cases;
  • United Arab Emirates: 21 confirmed cases;
  • USA: 64 confirmed cases;
  • Canada: 27 confirmed cases;
  • Diamond Princess cruise ship: 706 confirmed cases;

Update on Wuhan

The proportion of patients who have recovered from COVID-19 in the virus-hit city of Wuhan, other places in Hubei Province, and other provincial-level regions in China outside Hubei, has increased for 19 consecutive days as of Tuesday, Mi Feng, a spokesperson for the National Health Commission (NHC), said Wednesday.

By the end of Tuesday, the cure rate in the epicenter Wuhan had ascended to 50.2 percent, while the number has reached 76.8 percent in the rest of Hubei Province, Mi said at a press conference in Beijing.

Outside Hubei, China has seen 87.3 percent of the confirmed cases recovering from the disease by Tuesday, Mi said.

Mi added that the country will consolidate upon its successes, continue to strengthen treatment for patients with severe symptoms while adhering to the combination of traditional Chinese medicine and Western medicine to enhance the cure rate.

A call for coordinated scientific research on COVID-19

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Monday stressed coordinately advancing the scientific research on novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) to provide support for winning the battle against the epidemic.

Chinese President Xi Jinping

Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, made the remarks during his visit to the Academy of Military Medical Sciences and the School of Medicine at Tsinghua University in Beijing.

During his visit, Xi learned about the progress of research and application of the vaccines, anti-bodies, medicines and fast testing kits.

On behalf of the CPC Central Committee, Xi extended sincere gratitude and greetings to frontline science and technology personnel.

Science as a powerful weapon

“Science and technology are the most powerful weapon in humanity’s battle against diseases,” Xi said. “Mankind can not defeat a major disaster or epidemic without scientific development and technological innovation.”

Xi said the COVID-19 research must be taken as a major and pressing task, calling for accelerating its progress and overcoming major difficulties in epidemic prevention and control at an earlier date.

On Monday afternoon, Xi first went to the Academy of Military Medical Sciences, where he heard a report on the academy’s COVID-19 scientific research and inspected a contingency medicine research lab for major epidemic outbreaks.

Xi stressed the pivotal role of science and technology in curing more patients, reducing mortality and eventually defeating the epidemic.

Since the COVID-19 outbreak, the academy’s contingency scientific research efforts have delivered positive results, he said.

Xi urged prompt efforts to develop safe and effective vaccines, drugs and testing kits to help fight the virus.

He also called for more core technologies with own intellectual property rights and strong products after the tough battle against the coronavirus.

While inspecting the School of Medicine at Tsinghua University, Xi noted coordination between the frontline battle against the epidemic and scientific research and material production.

He called for accelerating the development of new-type testing kits, antibody medicines, vaccines, and diagnosis and treatment plans.

Xi also required efforts to reinforce the national surveillance network for major epidemics, improve the legal and regulatory system, promote the research of cutting-edge technologies and cultivate top-notch professionals to raise the country’s ability to respond to major public health emergencies.

Saving lives as a most pressing task

Chairing a symposium at Tsinghua University, Xi heard reports and gave an important speech.

He noted the progress made by the country’s scientific and technological front in just over a month, saying it has provided forceful support to epidemic prevention and control.

At the moment, winning the people’s war against the epidemic still requires hard work, Xi said, stressing more efforts to seek solutions through science.

“Saving the lives of more patients is the most pressing and important task,” he continued.

Xi stressed linking the research on medicines and medical equipment with clinical treatment as well as giving priority to the clinical application of scientific research achievements.

Treatment should combine traditional Chinese medicine and Western medicine, more effective drugs be applied and new treatment methods explored to prevent patients with mild symptoms from becoming severely ill, he said.

Advanced treatments using convalescent plasma, stem cells and monoclonal antibodies should also be applied to treat severe and critically ill patients, he added.

On vaccine, Xi said it is vital to epidemic prevention and control, with its safety the top priority.

He called for speeding up the vaccine research and development while closely tracking the progress of related research overseas.

Xi urged early clinical trial and application of vaccines, as well as linking research and development with industrial-chain production.

He also required building a national reserve system for vaccines.

Xi stressed the importance of coordinating research on virus source tracing and transmission routes and evaluating whether some suspected animals are intermediate hosts.

Xi pointed out that new technologies, including artificial intelligence and big data, should be applied to epidemiological investigation and virus source tracing to figure out where the virus comes from and how it will develop.

Xi also underscored psychological intervention to help patients recover.

Double down on key, core technologies

Bio-security should be included in the overall national security as an important part, Xi said, calling for strengthening the system and capacity building of epidemic prevention and control and scientific research on public health.

Xi called for improving the epidemic warning and forecast systems to gather information in a timely manner and quickly take response measures.

He emphasized concentrating nationwide resources to double down on key and core technology research and urged breakthroughs in developing high-end medical equipment to accelerate fixing the country’s “weak link” in this sector.

Xi also emphasized resolutely eradicating the bad habit of eating wild animals to promote a civilized, healthy and environmentally-friendly lifestyle.

Public health security is a common challenge faced by humanity, and all countries should join hands to cope with it, Xi said.

Noting that the COVID-19 outbreaks have emerged in many countries, Xi said it is important to step up communication and exchange with the World Health Organization and carry out scientific research cooperation on source tracing, drugs, vaccines, testing and other fields with other countries, especially those hit hard by the virus.

Xi called on countries to share research data and jointly work out response strategies to contribute to building a community with a shared future for humanity.

WHO commends China on sharing COVID-19 experience

Having China share its experiences with other countries on containing the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, is nothing short of excellence, experts from the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Tuesday.

Maria van Kerkhove, technical lead for the WHO’s Health Emergencies Program, said at a daily briefing that China’s experience in fighting COVID-19 needs to be shared, referring to China’s latest support in terms of experts and medical equipment to Iran.

Maria van Kerkhove, technical lead for the WHO’s Health Emergencies Program

“This is an excellent example of peer-to-peer sharing what has been done, what can be done in other countries, and having direct interaction with another country,” said Kerkhove.

She underlined it’s important for China to share experiences in cases and contacts finding, caring and management of patients, on how to ready hospitals and personal protective equipment, as well as in infection prevention and control.

“That direct interaction is what we want to see more and more happen. So having China share its experience with other countries is nothing short of excellence,” she added.

Michael Ryan, executive director of WHO Health Emergencies Program, said that experts from China and the WHO are at the time “probably sitting together to discuss” the COVID-19 situation in Iran. “The Iranian government is very keen that the Chinese expert team and the WHO team come together as happened in China,” he said, adding that the experts will share experience, double their impact, and have a joint approach against the outbreak in Iran.

China employs the antibody diagnosis method for novel coronavirus detection

China has added the antibody diagnosis method for the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and its relevant criteria in the country’s latest diagnosis and treatment scheme.

Patients who test positive for IgM and IgG, two antibodies specific to COVID-19, in their blood serum are confirmed infected with the virus, according to the scheme, the seventh of its kind, released Wednesday.

Patients whose IgG antibody turns positive from negative or whose IgG antibody level in the recovering phase rises four times or higher than in the acute phase are also confirmed infected with the virus, the scheme showed.

China’s National Health Commission on Wednesday unveiled the latest version of the national diagnosis and treatment plan for the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), which includes the results of autopsies of COVID-19 victims and pathological observation based on needle biopsies.

The results have shown various degrees of pulmonary mutations as a result of the epidemic, as the patients’ spleens significantly shrank, while their myocardial cells also suffered degeneration and necrosis. The latest version marked the sixth time the plan was updated.

Over 6.7 thousand inbound travelers detected showing symptoms since Tuesday

China’s customs had detected 6,728 inbound travelers with illness symptoms as of Tuesday, the General Administration of Customs said Wednesday.

Among them, 779 were suspected of being infected with COVID-19, and an additional 75 were confirmed patients.

On Tuesday alone, customs found 227 inbound travelers displaying respiratory illness symptoms. Five travelers later tested positive for the novel coronavirus, including four in Shanghai and one in Beijing.

As numerous countries have reported a rising number of confirmed infections, China’s customs have ramped up measures to stifle the spread of the virus over the past few weeks, including disinfecting inbound vehicles and beefing up screenings of travelers from virus-hit countries and regions.

Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian’s Regular Press Conference on March 2 and 3, 2020 on COVID-19

1). Q: On February 28, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus announced that the WHO has increased its assessment of the risk of COVID-19 in terms of spread and impact to very high at a global level. How does China see the overseas spread of the virus?

A: We have noted relevant reports. China is closely following the global developments of the COVID-19 epidemic. We relate to the difficulties some countries are going through as the situation there is getting more severe. The virus is a common challenge for humanity which calls for the joint response by the international community. Upholding the spirit of a community with a shared future, China will work actively with other parties at regional and global levels and participate more in international public health governance. We will also continue to work closely with the WHO and maintain close communication with relevant countries to share experience and coordinate response in a joint effort to safeguard regional and global public health security.

2). Q: Many localities in China have strengthened their prevention and control measures on foreigners entering China. What is your comment?

A: Considering the current circumstances and the local needs for epidemic prevention and control, examination, quarantine and other prevention and control measures have been taken for people coming from countries and regions with grave epidemic situation, like temperature checks, quarantine at home or medical observation at designated places. These measures accord with Chinese laws and regulations. As a necessary part of our prevention and control measures, they are effective in stemming the cross-border spread of the virus and conducive to prevention and control efforts in China and other countries as well.

As the epidemic situation evolves, local governments in China will adjust their measures on foreigners after their entry accordingly. We treat Chinese and foreign nationals alike. We will implement these measures without any discrimination, take full consideration of the legitimate concerns of the persons involved and offer them necessary guarantees and assistance. The measures China has taken against the epidemic have effectively slowed down its spread, contained human-to-human transmission, and won well-deserved recognition from the WHO.

We hope that we can have the full understanding and cooperation of those coming from countries severely affected by the epidemic. Altogether we should guard against the relevant risks and protect the health and safety of ourselves and those around us.

3). Q: We noted that Iran and Italy have seen a significant increase in the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths. State Councilor Wang Yi spoke by telephone with foreign ministers of both countries over the weekend. Could you give us more information? Does China plan to provide assistance to the two countries?

A: You may refer to the press releases of State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s phone calls with Iranian and Italian foreign ministers.

What I want to say here is that when the epidemic broke out in China, both Iran and Italy expressed sympathy and support to China. What they did demonstrates what it means to stand together in times of adversity and we will never forget that.

We certainly relate to what the Iranian and Italian people are going through at the moment and expresses sincere condolences to them. China is ready to provide assistance as its capacity allows in terms of prevention and control of the epidemic and medical treatment in light of the needs of Iran and Italy. As I understand the Chinese side has urgently donated nucleic acid testing kits and medical equipment to the Iranian side. A team of five experts from the Red Cross Society of China arrived in Tehran, capital of Iran, on February 29. We are ready to enhance communication with Italy in professional fields and exchange experience and technology in epidemic prevention and control.

4). Q: Recently, some passengers came to China from Russia or transited through Russia have contracted COVID-19. Has China informed Russia of this situation immediately?

A: According to information released by epidemic prevention and control headquarters of relevant Chinese provinces and cities, several patients confirmed of COVID-19 infection transited through Moscow on their way back to China. China immediately informed Russia of this situation in an open, transparent and responsible manner. China will continue to strengthen cooperation on prevention and control efforts with Russia and the rest of the world to timely share information and overcome the challenges altogether.

5). Q: There have been more than 8,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases outside China. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said yesterday that the number of cases reported outside China over the past 24 hours is almost nine times of that in China. You said yesterday that the overall situation in China is getting better and that China is working actively with others at regional and global levels. I wonder what assistance China has offered to affected countries?

A: We note the remarks by Director-General Tedros. China is following closely the global developments of the epidemic and relates deeply to the difficulties of some countries where the outbreak is getting more severe.

As we speak, China’s prevention and control efforts have produced visible progress, but this is no time to relax as we are still in a critical stage. Currently, cases have been reported in many countries, and some of those countries are facing an increasingly severe situation. It is of greater importance and urgency for countries to enhance communication and cooperation in public health security. China has been in communication with other sides. We have provided testing reagents to Pakistan, Japan, the AU, among others and shared diagnostic and therapeutic solutions with many countries. The Red Cross Society of China and many Chinese enterprises delivered reagents to Iran and African countries. We also sent a volunteer expert team to Iran. While fighting the epidemic at home, we will continue working with other sides and offer them assistance to the best of our capabilities.

China stands ready to step up cooperation in the health sector with the WHO and relevant countries, especially the ones seriously affected by COVID-19. We will fight together for the final victory over the virus.