The fight against COVID-19 continues in China

Asia and Oceania Coronavirus Watch
  • Pakistan hailed for supporting China;
  • China offers Spain support in COVID-19 fight;
  • Collectivism and Patriotism: China’s weapon against Coronavirus Epidemic;
  • China issues new travel alerts;
  • Indonesian expert praises China’s efforts against Coronavirus disease;
  • Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang’s Regular Press Conference on March 16 and 17, 2020 on COVID-19.

By the end of 17 March there had been 80,894 confirmed cases, including 8,056 patients who were still being treated.

Patients numbering 119 were still suspected of being infected with the virus while the death toll stood at 3,237.

A total of 69,601 people had been discharged from hospital after recovery.

17 March saw:

  • 13 new confirmed cases,
  • 11 deaths —- all in Hubei Province,
  • 21 new suspected cases,
  • 922 people were discharged from hospital after recovery. 
  • 9,222 close contacts were still under medical observation. On Wednesday, 1,014 people were discharged from medical observation.

By the end of 17 March, 167 confirmed cases including 4 deaths had been reported in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR), 13 confirmed cases in the Macao SAR, and 77 in Taiwan, including one death.

According to the WHO’s situation report on 17 March, 8 new countries/territories/areas (African Region[3], Eastern Mediterranean Region[1], Region of the Americas[3], and Western Pacific Region[1]) have reported cases of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours.  Globally there had been 179,112 confirmed (11,526 new) cases, including 7426 deaths (475 new).

As the on-going Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) pandemic continues to develop, WHO is committed to working together with the travel,transport and tourism sectors on emergency preparedness and response.WHO Director-General call on all countries to Test every suspected case. If they test positive, isolate them and find out who they have been in close contact with up to 2 days before they developed symptoms, and test those people too.

Pakistan hailed for supporting China

Chinese President Xi Jinping held talks here on Tuesday with visiting Pakistani President Arif Alvi.

Chinese President Xi Jinping with visiting Pakistani President Arif Alvi

Xi praised Pakistan’s support for China, noting that at the beginning of the epidemic, President Alvi wrote him a letter to convey consolation, and Alvi’s latest trip marks his firm support. The Pakistani side also offered everything within their capabilities to provide China with anti-epidemic materials.

The epidemic is currently erupting at different places around the world. Countries should work together to fight the epidemic, said Xi.

Xi said China will continue to support Pakistan in maintaining national independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, and support Pakistan in pursuing a development path that fits its national conditions.

He called on the two sides to maintain exchanges of visits and meetings between leaders, promote cooperation in key areas and projects, and build the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor into a model of high-quality development within the Belt and Road cooperation. He also urged strengthening communication and cooperation in international and regional affairs.

Alvi said that under the strong leadership of President Xi, China has achieved significant positive results in the fight against the epidemic, to which he expressed sincere congratulations on behalf of the Pakistani government and people.

Alvi said in the face of the disaster, the Communist Party of China and the Chinese government have demonstrated outstanding leadership and strong capability in mobilization. China’s experience and practices provide useful lessons for other countries.

It is believed that after the epidemic, China will become even stronger. The attempts by some forces to use the epidemic to stigmatize and isolate China run against the will of the people and are doomed to fail, said Alvi.

Pakistan and China are ironclad brothers who can go through thick and thin together, said Alvi, stressing that the two peoples feel deep amity toward each other and the bilateral friendship becomes even firmer as time goes by.

The more difficulties there are, the more the friendship and solidarity between Pakistan and China can be displayed, said Alvi, noting the Pakistani side thanks China for its assistance and will stand with China to overcome current difficulties.

Alvi said Pakistan will continue to support China on issues concerning China’s core interests, and is willing to maintain close exchanges with China, deepen cooperation and make efforts in building the Pakistan-China economic corridor. Pakistan will continue to promote bilateral anti-terrorism cooperation and work together to safeguard fairness and justice in the international arena.

China offers Spain support in COVID-19 fight

China will do its best to provide support and assistance to help Spain combat the COVID-19 epidemic, Chinese President Xi Jinping said in a phone conversation with Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez on Tuesday evening.

Pointing out the recent intensifying and spreading trend of the epidemic in Spain, Xi extended sincere sympathies to the Spanish government and people on behalf of the Chinese government and people.

Xi stressed that through the hard work of the whole country, China’s prevention and control measures have achieved positive results, and China has come out of the most difficult and arduous stage.

Noting that the epidemic is now breaking out in many countries and places, Xi said that China is willing to carry out international cooperation with other countries and provide assistance within its capacity.

He expressed hope that the international community will work together to turn the crisis into an opportunity, and withstand the impact of the epidemic with concrete actions of openness and cooperation, so as to jointly safeguard international health security.

Collectivism and Patriotism: China’s weapon against Coronavirus Epidemic

China has stabilized the COVID-19 epidemic situation in a short period of time. It could not have been achieved without the practice of collectivism by the Chinese people.

Under the leadership of Chinese President Xi Jinping, the whole nation has been mobilized in the fight against the virus. People from all walks of life made concerted efforts and fought in unity.

Medical workers, in particular, are devoted to the fighting of the epidemic on the front line, some even sacrificing their own lives. They fully demonstrated the strength of the collectivist spirit.

Facing an epidemic that has proved to be the most difficult to contain in the country since the founding of the People’s Republic of China, the country has applied unprecedented quarantine and isolation measures including the lockdown of Wuhan, a city of more than 10 million at the center of the outbreak. These measures have proved effective as the peak of the epidemic has passed, and new infections have dwindled, from thousands of cases a day, to only a few in the outbreak epicenter.

It is indeed a “people’s war” against the epidemic, which demonstrates China’s ability to mobilize huge resources and its sheer national strength while relying on its people to win.

With the full practice of collectivism and patriotism, the Chinese people have shown national unity and cohesion.

The collectivism embodied by the Chinese people has earned the praise of multinational agencies. Experts with the World Health Organization (WHO) appreciated China’s phenomenal collective action after they concluded a field investigation in the country.

Bruce Aylward, who led a China-WHO joint mission, said every person he talked to in China has a sense that they are mobilized and organized like in a war against the virus, and it is never easy to get the kind of passion, commitment, interest and individual sense of duty that have helped stop the virus.

Dr. Bruce Aylward

When commenting on China’s anti-virus efforts, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he had never seen this kind of mobilization.

The Chinese nation has experienced many ordeals in its history, but it has never been overwhelmed. Instead, it has become more and more courageous, growing and rising up from hardships. Collectivism played a key role in Chinese society in the past, has proved effective today and will continue to be a core component of Chinese society in the future.

China issues new travel alerts

… as medical assistance teams exit Hubei

The first batch of medical assistance teams started leaving Hubei Province early on Tuesday as the epidemic outbreak in the hard-hit province has been subdued.

The 3,675 medical staffers belonging to 41 medical teams from across China have assisted 14 temporary hospitals and seven designated hospitals in Wuhan, the provincial capital and epicenter of the outbreak.

China on Tuesday evening issued a travel alert urging its citizens to keep themselves updated about the novel coronavirus epidemic situation abroad and avoid tours to countries hard hit by the virus.

Chinese tourists are advised to raise their safety awareness and fully assess the risk of infection caused by traveling abroad, according to the notice released by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.

They are told to temporarily refrain from traveling to high-risk countries including Italy, Spain, France, Germany, the United States, Switzerland, Britain, the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Austria, Belgium, Iran and the Republic of Korea.

New quarantine measures for visitors to China

China has imposed stricter screening and quarantine measures on travelers entering the border through flights, trains, ships and roads as coronavirus cases spiraled around the world.

Across checkpoints, passengers are subject to temperature screening, health declaration and epidemiological investigations. Those with fever or other suspected symptoms will be immediately sent to designated hospitals.

The measures were taken as overseas cases have outstripped domestic cases in China where rigorous containment is turning the tide.

More than 83,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been reported outside China as of Monday morning, the World Health Organization said, noting that the virus has spread to 146 countries and regions worldwide so far.

Chinese health authorities said 12 out of the 16 new confirmed cases across the Chinese mainland on Sunday were imported from overseas. By the end of Sunday, China had reported 123 imported COVID-19 cases.

Indonesian expert praises China’s efforts against coronavirus disease

China has earned precious time for the world in the battle against COVID-19 and embodied a high sense of responsibility for global public health, a renowned Indonesian expert has said.

“China has made great progress in fighting COVID-19, which contributed so much to the world because of winning precious time for containing the global spreading of the virus,” Jusuf Wanandi, a senior fellow of Indonesia’s think tank, the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), told Xinhua recently.

China sent medical groups to other countries suffering from the epidemic, which shows a high sense of responsibility for global public health, Wanandi said.

He also highly praised China for its tremendous strength and courage in fighting the epidemic.

Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang’s Regular Press Conference on March 16 and 17, 2020 on COVID-19:

China Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang’s

Q: On March 13, Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio and President Francesco Rocca of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies held a press conference at the headquarters of the Italian Red Cross Association in Rome to welcome a team of Chinese medical experts. Can you tell us more about their work in Italy?

A: To help Italy cope with the COVID-19, the Chinese government decided to dispatch an expert team to Italy. The nine-member medical team, along with medical supplies, arrived in Rome from Shanghai on March 12. The Chinese side already issued a press release on that.

The Chinese medical team has been working non-stop after they arrived. They have shared experiences with the Italian Ministry of Health, the Red Cross, the Advanced Institute of Health and the National Hospital for Infectious Diseases of Rome on treatment, medication, and hospital-acquired infection control. They also exchanged views with the Italian side on raising awareness of self-protection of the public and medical staff and clarifying levels of protection for medical institutions. The Chinese medical team has just begun work for a few days, but their contributions have already been warmly welcomed and highly commended.

The Chinese team also brought along the support of the Chinese government to its citizens living in Italy. Amid their tight schedules, they arranged online consulting sessions with Chinese nationals living and working in Italy including students, introducing the symptoms and features of the COVID-19 and sharing prevention tips and treatment measures. The live streaming video had nearly 700,000 views, and related videos have been reposted by a number of major websites. They also made visits to the Chinese patients who recovered after receiving treatment from the Italian side. They will continue to share their experiences with Chinese nationals there and head north to work in the most affected region in Italy.

Q: Multiple local governments in China have announced stricter control measures for international arrivals recently. Are these measures primarily aimed at returning Chinese nationals or foreigners? Could you give us some idea of how many Chinese nationals are returning to China in recent days compared to foreigners?

A: Recently WHO has declared COVID-19 a pandemic. Against this backdrop, importation of cases from overseas has become a major risk for many localities in China.

In light of local needs for epidemic response and the spread outside China, sub-national authorities have taken some inspection, quarantine, prevention and control measures on international arrivals in accordance with laws and regulations. By doing so, they are not just cementing the epidemic response at home, but also effectively cutting cross-border transmission of the virus. They are being responsible for the safety and health of both Chinese and foreign nationals.

These measures apply equally to Chinese and foreign citizens. The legitimate concerns of those affected will be fully accommodated and they will get necessary service and assistance.

As the situation evolves, such measures will be adjusted promptly to keep up with the changing conditions.

As to the specifics you asked for, like the number of travelers and the proportion, I don’t have them at the moment.

Q: Nobel-prize winning Peruvian writer Mario Llosa wrote in a commentary in El País last week that coronavirus outbreak originated in China, accusing the Chinese government of covering up the epidemic without proper handling. Chinese embassy in Peru said that if Mr. Llosa isn’t contributing to the fight against the virus, he should at least not be spreading irresponsible views. Does the foreign ministry agree with how the Chinese embassy is trying to silence Mr. Llosa?

A: Mr. Llosa’s remarks are extremely irresponsible. China firmly opposes them. Our embassy in Peru has made clear this position. As I understand, the Chinese embassy in Peru has never tried to silence Mr. Mario Llosa.

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, China has acted in an open, transparent and responsible manner in providing timely updates to WHO and relevant countries and regions, sharing with them the genome sequence of the virus, and conducting medical and health cooperation with countries including Peru and Spain to exchange experience in treatment. China’s efforts bought precious time for the world and contributed to the global response to the pandemic. This is the fair conclusion drawn by the international community.

As to the origin of the virus, like we stressed many times, it is a matter of science which requires scientific and professional assessment, and we should wait for findings of the science community. Considering all this, jumping to conclusions won’t help any country and will only cause panic and discrimination.

We hope Mr. Llosa will discard his prejudice and look at the issue in an all-round, correct manner and view China objectively and fairly, doing what is constructive to international efforts against COVID-19.

Q: Yesterday in his tweet US President Trump called the coronavirus “Chinese Virus”. I wonder if you have any comment?

A: Some US political figures have recently been connecting the coronavirus with China. We express strong indignation and objection to such stigmatization.

The World Health Organization and the international community oppose intentional linkage of the virus and specific countries or regions, which is a form of stigmatization. We urge the US to immediately correct its mistake and stop making unwarranted accusations on China.

As the COVID-19 pandemic spreads and worsens all over the world, the urgent task for the international community is to respond with aggressive and concerted efforts. The US should get its domestic issues handled first, and make constructive efforts in international cooperation to safeguard global public health security.

Q: In their teleconference yesterday, the G7 leaders proposed collective efforts on combating COVID-19. As China is not part of the group, does China hope to participate in their efforts?

A: Not long ago, WHO characterized COVID-19 as a pandemic, a challenge faced by all human beings. In an open, transparent and responsible spirit, China will continue sharing know-how and working with the international community in fighting COVID-19.

Days ago I stated China’s five major approaches in international response, which I won’t repeat here. Faced with the pandemic, we believe the international community should stay united and work in concert for an early victory against the disease and the recovery of the world economy as soon as possible.