Fighting Coronavirus: The Progress So Far

Asia and Oceania Coronavirus Watch Top Stories
  • President Xi Jinping in Wuhan;
  • A call for international cooperation to prevent cross-border infections;
  • New cases of COVID-19 entering single digits in China;
  • Temporary hospitals closing in Wuhan;
  • Foreign companies resume operations in China;
  • Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian’s Regular Press Conference on March 9, 2020 on Covid-19

By the Chinese Embassy in Zimbabwe

By the end of March 9, 2020, there had been 80,754 confirmed cases, including 17,721 patients who were still being treated; and 349 were still suspected of being infected with the virus. There were 3,136 deaths.

A total of 59,897 people had been discharged from hospital after recovery.

March 9 saw:

  • 19 new confirmed cases, 17 deaths – all in Hubei Province and 36 new suspected cases.
  • 1,297 people were discharged from hospital after recovery while 16,982 close contacts were still under medical observation.

On Monday, 4,148 people were discharged from medical observation.

By the end of March 9, 115 confirmed cases, including three deaths, had been reported in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR), 10 confirmed cases in the Macao SAR, and 45 in Taiwan, including one death.

According to the World Health Organisation’s situation report on March 9, three new countries/territories/areas (Bangladesh, Albania and Paraguay) reported cases of Covid-19 in the past 24 hours. Globally, there had been 109,577 confirmed (3,993 new) cases, including 28,673 confirmed (3,948 new) cases in 104 countries (three new) and 686 deaths (202 new) outside China.

Countries outside China with reported laboratory-confirmed Covid-19
cases (data as of March 9):

  • South Korea: 7382 confirmed cases;
  • Japan: 488 confirmed cases;
  • Singapore:150 confirmed cases;
  • Australia: 77 confirmed cases;
  • Malaysia: 93 confirmed cases;
  • Italy: 7375 confirmed cases;
  • France: 1116 confirmed cases;
  • Germany: 1112 confirmed cases;
  • UK: 277 confirmed cases;
  • Switzerland: 332 confirmed cases;
  • Norway: 169 confirmed cases;
  • Netherlands: 265 confirmed cases;
  • Austria: 112 confirmed cases;
  • Sweden: 203 confirmed cases;
  • Iceland: 55 confirmed cases;
  • Belgium: 200 confirmed cases;
  • San Marino: 37 confirmed cases;
  • Thailand: 50 confirmed cases;
  • India: 43 confirmed cases;
  • Iran: 6566 confirmed cases;
  • Kuwait: 64 confirmed cases;
  • Bahrain: 79 confirmed cases;
  • Iraq: 60 confirmed cases;
  • UAE: 45 confirmed cases;
  • USA: 213 confirmed cases;
  • Canada: 62 confirmed cases;
  • Diamond Princess cruise ship: 696 confirmed cases;

President Xi Jinping in Wuhan

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday went straight to Huoshenshan Hospital after arriving in Wuhan, the epicenter of the Covid-19 outbreak, for inspection.

President Xi Jinping at Huoshenshan Hospital in Wuhan

Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, learned about the hospital’s operations, treatment of patients, protection for medical workers and scientific research.

He also visited patients who are being treated there and sent regards to medical workers who have been fighting the epidemic on the front line day and night, encouraging them to firm up confidence in defeating the epidemic.

Huoshenshan is a 1,000-bed makeshift hospital built from scratch in just 10 days to specially treat Covid-19 patients.

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday visited residents who are quarantined at home at a community in Wuhan, the epicenter of the Covid-19 outbreak, following a stop at Huoshenshan Hospital, for epidemic prevention and control inspection.

Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, learned about community-based efforts for epidemic prevention and control and ensuring people’s daily necessities supply.

He sent regards and expressed gratitude to community residents and frontline workers.

A call for international cooperation to prevent cross-border infections

A leading group of China’s Covid-19 response on Monday made arrangements for deepening international cooperation on epidemic prevention and control and pushing for substantial results in relevant work.

The group, led by Premier Li Keqiang, stressed continuous efforts to curb the cross-border spread of the epidemic and to resume work and production in an orderly manner so as to coordinate epidemic control and economic growth, according to a meeting of the group held Monday.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang

Li, also a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, presided over the meeting. In the face of the challenges posed by the spread of the disease overseas, China will enhance international cooperation, noted the meeting, adding that implementing epidemic prevention measures at borders is conducive to the orderly and safe flow of people between countries.

Inbound travelers who are confirmed or suspected of being infected with the virus or are close contacts will be checked, treated and quarantined according to relevant rules, said the meeting, noting the particular importance for ports with high numbers of entries and exits such as Beijing to work meticulously on epidemic prevention.

China will also work with relevant countries to suspend or reduce the two-way flow of personnel such as students studying abroad. Guidance and assistance will be provided to Chinese citizens in other countries.

The meeting also warned against practices of formalities for formalities’ sake and bureaucratism in epidemic prevention and control, promising incentives for officials with outstanding performances.

It noted that epidemic prevention and control in the country has continued to improve, especially in the epicenter city of Wuhan where the rapid rise of the epidemic has been contained.

Efforts should be continued to expand positive signs and take differentiated and precise prevention and control measures to prevent a rebound of the epidemic, according to the meeting.

New cases of COVID-19 entering single digits in China

The Chinese mainland, excluding Hubei Province, reported no new indigenous cases of the novel coronavirus disease (Covid-19) on Saturday and Sunday, said the country’s health authorities Monday.

The daily number of the newly confirmed indigenous cases on the mainland outside Hubei Province, the epicenter of the outbreak, has been in single digits since February 27, said Mi Feng, an official with the National Health Commission, at a press conference.

The situation of epidemic prevention and control in China continues to improve, Mi said, noting that there were no new confirmed cases in all cities except Hubei’s capital city of Wuhan for four consecutive days.

In Wuhan, the number of newly confirmed cases dropped to below 50 for two days.

China will focus on strict prevention and control and medical treatment for the next step to prevent the outbreak from rebounding, Mi added.

Of the around 80,000 reported cases of Covid-19 in China, more than 70 percent have recovered and been discharged, the chief of World Health Organisation (Who) said on Monday.

Among the countries with the most cases, China is bringing its epidemic under control, Who Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a daily briefing.

Tedros stressed that the transmission of coronavirus can be slowed down and infections can be prevented through decisive and early actions.

He called on all countries to take a comprehensive blended strategy for controlling their epidemics and pushing this virus back.

China has successfully used the best scientific ways and most advanced technologies in all the stages of dealing with the Covid-19, said an Egyptian renowned microbiology professor, who first diagnosed a similar coronavirus in 2012, in a recent interview with Xinhua.

Ali Mohamed Zaki, professor of microbiology and immunity at the Faculty of Medicine of Ain Shams University, who contributed to the discovery of a similar coronavirus named Mers (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) when he worked in Saudi Arabia in 2012, explained that China had gained a lot of expertise from dealing with Sars (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) in 2002.

He emphasized that China “did a great job” in its very early detection of infected cases, decoding Covid-19, knowing its complete sequence and sending it to the GenBank, which helped scientists worldwide do diagnostic kits.

Zaki pointed out that both Mers and Sars were coronaviruses transmitted from animals to humans, and expressing his belief that Covid-19 is comparatively less fatal than Sars and Mers.

The Mers fatality rate was as high as 34 percent and that of SARS was about 10 percent, while the Covid-19 fatality rate is less than 3.4 percent so far, but the final percentage will be stated after the epidemic is over, Zaki said.

The professor described China’s measures in combating the novel coronavirus as “excellent,” noting that the giant Asian country makes best use of technology in all stages of dealing with Covid-19 and immediately shares all the information it reaches.

He expressed hope to find a vaccine for Covid-19, noting that the epidemic might even vanish before a vaccine is made.

The good news, according to the Egyptian microbiology professor, is that “the infection rate of the epidemic is getting stable and its curve is starting to be horizontal inside China. This is an indication of the virus decline and the beginning of its end.”

Temporary hospitals closing in Wuhan

Wuhan, the epicenter of the novel coronavirus outbreak in central China’s Hubei Province, on Monday suspended another public-facility-turned temporary hospital as the number of Covid-19 patients continued to drop in the city.

The last batch of 34 patients walked out of the temporary hospital of Jianghan at 3 p.m., waving farewell to the medics.

The closure of the temporary hospital of Jianghan, which was converted from the existing international exhibition center of Wuhan, has brought the number of closed temporary hospitals in the city to 14.

To treat patients with mild symptoms and isolate the source of infection, Wuhan converted public venues such as exhibition centers and gymnasiums into 16 temporary hospitals.

Some 12,000 patients were treated in these temporary hospitals, according to the city’s Covid-19 control headquarters.

The conversion work of the temporary hospital of Jianghan began at 5 p.m. on February 3, and it was delivered to Wuhan Union Hospital and put into operation at 5 p.m. on February 5.

With a total of 1,564 beds, the temporary hospital of Jianghan received its first patient at 9 p.m. on February 5. Twenty-one medical teams from other provincial-level regions and six hospitals from Wuhan had worked in the hospital.

Over the past 34 days, the temporary hospital of Jianghan received a total of
1,848 patients, saw 521 patients being transferred to other hospitals and 1,327 patients discharged. It had the most available beds, admitted the most patients and saw the most discharged patients among all the temporary hospitals in Wuhan, according to sources with the Wuhan Union Hospital.

The other two temporary hospitals remaining in operation are expected to close Tuesday, the headquarters said.

Foreign companies resume operations in China

As China goes all out to contain the novel coronavirus outbreak, authorities have stressed efforts to help foreign-funded companies resume production and operation in an orderly manner.

Thanks to unremitting anti-virus efforts, multinational companies and joint
ventures across the nation are demonstrating their confidence in the Chinese market as their business activities have gradually recovered in the world’s second-largest economy.

Lyondell Basell, one of the largest plastics, chemicals and refining companies in the world, signed an agreement with the Liaoning Bora Enterprise Group through the Internet on Friday.

The two companies will invest 12 billion U.S. dollars over the next 10 years to build a petrochemical industry base in the city of Panjin, northeast China’s Liaoning Province. The partnership will make the city a world-class production base of chemicals and drive the development of industrial chains including plastic packaging and building materials.

Executives from both companies witnessed the online signing ceremony in six cities worldwide including Shenyang, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Houston in the United States and Rotterdam in the Netherlands.

As the world’s second-largest economy, China’s solid and stringent measures to curb the epidemic have helped cultivate a good business environment for foreign investors and offset the negative impact caused by the deadly pathogen.

Among those measures, local governments arrange chartered buses, trains and flights to bring employees of foreign-funded enterprises back to work, and implemented preferential taxation policies to reduce firms’ production costs.

In January, China’s foreign investment law went into effect. Approved by the national legislature in March 2019, the landmark legislation will provide stronger protection and a better business environment for overseas investors.

While carrying out effective epidemic prevention and control measures, Chinese authorities are also putting this law in place to better protect the legitimate rights and interests of foreign investors at such a difficult time, Zhang the chief researcher said.

The World Health Organisation on Monday, declared Covid-19 a pandemic, as the novel coronavirus continues to spread worldwide.

“Now that the coronavirus has a foothold in so many countries, the threat of a pandemic has become very real,” Who Director-General Tedros Adhanom
Ghebreyesus said at a daily briefing.

But it would be the first pandemic in history that could be controlled, he added.

Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian’s Regular Press Conference on March 9, 2020 on Covid-19:

Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian

Q: During a press interview on March 6, US Secretary of State Pompeo
called the novel coronavirus “the Wuhan coronavirus”. I wonder if you
could comment on that?

A: Despite the fact that the Who has officially named this novel type of coronavirus, certain American politician, disrespecting science and the Who decision, jumped at the first chance to stigmatise China and Wuhan with it. We condemn this despicable practice.

Q: Secretary Pompeo also said that China’s sharing of the information is not the way America works with the transparency and openness that needs to take place, which has put the US behind the curve. Do you have any comment?

A: Since the Covid-19 broke out, China has been providing timely updates to the Who and countries and regions including the US in an open, transparent and responsible manner.

We have shared with them the genetic sequence of the virus, responded to their concerns and strengthened international cooperation. The world has already reached the clear, fair consensus that China’s contribution bought precious time for the international community to enhance preparedness. Mr. Pompeo’s attempt to smear China’s efforts will not succeed.

Q: To support the ROK government and people’s fight against the COVID-19 outbreak, the Chinese government has decided to send a batch of medical supplies including 100,000 N95 respirators, one million surgical masks and 10,000 protective gowns. It is also offering to provide testing reagents enough to test 50,000 people. This stands in stark contrast to some foreign media reports that say China prohibits the export of surgical masks and related raw materials because of the epidemic. Do you have any comment on it?

A: The Chinese embassy in the ROK has released information on China’s donation of medical supplies including 1.1 million masks to the ROK. We have been updated that the first batch of assistance materials will arrive soon. We noted that this act of kindness has been warmly received in the Republic of Korea (South Korea).

Based on my information, apart from the central government, local governments and businesses in China have also expressed sympathy and support to the ROK and offered assistance to the best of their capabilities. As of March 8, local governments in Shanghai, Shandong, Zhejiang, Jiangxi and Jilin have donated supplies through their sister cities in the ROK. Localities like Anhui, Jiangsu and Henan are also planning to make donations. Since the outbreak of the epidemic, the ROK government and people from all walks of life have offered China strong support and assistance, for which we are deeply grateful.

As close neighbors, it’s natural for us to be there for each other during testing times. In the spirit of solidarity and mutual assistance, we are ready to share information and experience with the ROK and strengthen communication and cooperation in joint prevention and control to strive for an early victory against the epidemic. As for the export of surgical masks and their manufacturing materials, the Commerce Ministry has already made it clear.

The Chinese government has not placed any restrictive trade measures on the export of surgical masks and their manufacturing materials. Companies are free to trade them in line with market principles. As things stand, due to the strong need of prevention and control efforts, especially as normal work and production activities are being resumed nationwide, masks are in high demand and there is a shortfall in supply, so it may be quite difficult to source masks from China at this moment.

However, humanity shines through the dark cloud of the epidemic. While overcoming difficulties at home, we are ready to provide other countries with masks and other medical supplies to help them fight the outbreak so that together we can secure a final victory for all.

Q: We note that China has announced a 20-million-dollar donation to Who. Is it for any designated purpose? When will Who get the money? What purpose does China aim to achieve by this donation at this moment?

A: On March 7, Ambassador Chen Xu, Permanent Representative of the People’s Republic of China to the United Nations Office at Geneva and other International Organisations in Switzerland conveyed to Who Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus that the Chinese government has decided to contribute 20 million US dollars to Who’s international cooperation against Covid-19.

Director-General Tedros expressed thanks and appreciated the Chinese government’s generous support for other developing countries at a critical moment in global response despite its own difficulties.

He also said Who will continue to strengthen coordination and cooperation with China for substantial progress in international cooperation on epidemic prevention and control. Since the outbreak of the epidemic, Who, under the leadership of Director-General Tedros, has played an important role in terms of raising awareness against the epidemic, promoting a science-based response, and boosting the medical and health care system of relevant countries.

This has been widely recognized and commended by the international community. The epidemic has broken out in multiple localities around the world and is still spreading, giving greater urgency to a coordinated response at the global level. By donating this fund, China is responding to Who’s call with a concrete action.

We believe this will help give full play to its professional and coordinating role in the global response against the epidemic, especially in helping small and medium-sized countries with vulnerable public health systems to shore up lines of defense.

The donation is meant for designated purposes like Covid-19 prevention and control and improvement of public health systems in developing countries.

The details will be finalized through consultation between the Chinese government and Who and acted upon as soon as possible. The virus respects no borders. In the spirit of solidarity and mutual assistance, China will continue to actively support and participate in the international cooperation to fight against the epidemic, contribute its strength to regional and global public health security, and promote the building of a community with a shared future for mankind.