New Year, or Spring Festival, an epidemic of novel coronavirus pneumonia (COV-ID-19), which started in Wuhan city, the provincial capital of Central China Hubei province, propagated all over the country.
It is a major public health emergency that has spread in the fastest speed, caused the most extensive infection and is the most difficult to contain in China since the founding of the People’s Republic. Under the strong leadership of H.E. President Xi Jinping and with the unity and painstaking efforts made by the Chinese people, the epidemic control in China has been yielding good results.
As of 29 February, in mainland China, the number of daily new confirmed cases has decreased around 90% compared with the peak number (3887), which appeared on 4 February; over 20 provincial-level administrative regions have been reporting zero new confirmed cases for several consecutive days; the number of cured cases has exceeded the number of new confirmed cases for 12 straight days; altogether 41,625 patients have been cured and discharged from hospitals with a nationwide cure rate of 52.1%, and the cure rate in regions outside Hubei is as high as 80.8%; for the first time the number of suspected cases fell below 1,000.
Many Tanzanian friends commended China for its marvelous work in epidemic control, and asked me what the reasons are behind. The answer lies in the notable strength of China’s state and governance systems.
Firstly, the greatest strength of the socialism with Chinese characteristics is the leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC). In the battle against the epidemic, the CPC has played the role of assuming responsibility for the overall situation and coordinating the efforts of all quarters.
The CPC General Secretary Xi Jinping has been making plans and taking command of the battle by himself, including establishment of working mechanisms and adoption of relevant policies. Party institutions at various levels responded to Xi’s calls rapidly and a nationwide system of joint prevention and control was quickly established.
The over 90 million CPC members volunteer for battle and play an exemplary role as pioneers. Secondly, coordinating national activities and mobilizing various resources for big undertakings are not only the strength of China’s governance system, but the key to effective prevention and control of the epidemic. China has conducted unprecedented mobilization and reallocation of resources at the national level.
To contain infection at the source, China imposed lockdown in Wuhan, a megacity with over 11 million populations. To assist other cities in Hubei province, 19 provincial level administrative regions are paired with these cities. More than 330 medical teams and 41,600 healthcare workers coming from different parts of China, including the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), gathered in Hubei to fight the disease.
Daily necessities and medical supplies are sent to Wuhan from various parts of the country in large quantities. Within two weeks, two hospitals, namely Huoshenshan and Leishenshan, were built to treat COVID-19 patients. Currently, to win the battles in Hubei and Wuhan, China focuses on two key aspects: epidemic prevention and control, and treatment of the patients. After 9-day field trip in China, Dr. Bruce Aylward, head of the international expert panel of the WHO-China Joint Mission on COVID-19, said,
“What they (the Chinese) have done has only been possible because of tremendous collective commitment and will of the Chinese people from the most bottom-level community leaders we met and talked to, to the governors at the top. It was an extraordinary, what we call all-of-government, all-of-society approach, but it is rare to see.”
Thirdly, the strength also comes from the people-centered approach pursued by the CPC and the Chinese Government. China’s battle against the epidemic is for the people and depends on the people. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, President Xi Jinping has repeatedly stressed that people’s lives and health should be put in the first place and the epidemic prevention and control is China’s most important task.
In this “smokeless war”, the whole Chinese nation has been mobilized, and the 1.4 billion Chinese people are united as one. People stay at home, as schools and universities closed, and the work in factories and construction sites postponed. They even canceled their New Year calls on relatives and friends, an ancient and unchanged tradition during the Spring Festival. Many citizens make donations to support the people in Wuhan.
Healthcare workers are praised for their great sacrifices. Up to now, over 20 doctors and nurses have lost their lives in the fight against the epidemic. Some old-aged medical experts like Dr. Zhong Nanshan and Prof. Li Lanjuan have been taking the lead in conducting scientific research on the disease and curing the seriously ill patients.
Fourthly, China has been doing a remarkable job in shouldering its responsibilities to contain the spread of the virus, which is a vivid demonstration of China’s efforts to build a community of a shared future for the mankind. Virus respects no boundaries. In the face of the COVID-19 outbreak, the mankind is a community with a shared future, bound together by common interests. From the very beginning, China has been publicizing information of the epidemic on a daily basis in the fastest, opens and the most transparent manner.
It has also shared with the WHO and the rest of the world the genetic sequence of the virus, and carried out cooperation in clinic medical care, medicine and vaccine research. The Chinese Government has been protecting foreigners in China as if they were its own citizens and caring for over-seas students studying in China as if they were the children of the Chinese people.
Tanzanian students and those from other foreign countries have been well looked after and considerate arrangements have been made. For instance, special hot lines have been set up to solve the problems that international students have encountered, and online teaching and learning are being conducted. By far, none of the over 5,000 Tanzanians in China has been infected with the COVID-19.
Just as what WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, “We would have seen many more cases outside China by now – and probably deaths – if it were not for the government’s efforts, and the progress they have made to protect their own people and the people of the world.” When asked by the WHO Mission on COVID-19 why they are willing to stay at home for weeks, ordinary citizens in Wuhan replied, “This is our duty. We want to protect the whole world.”
That is why Dr. Aylward touchingly responded, “Thank you, people in Wuhan. The world owes you a debt.” The unprecedented measures taken by China to fight against the virus has won extensive admiration from the international community and wide sup-port from the friends across the world. Heads of more than 170 countries and 40 international organizations, including President of Tanzania H.E. John Pombe Magufuli, have expressed their condolences and support to China and dozens of governments and their people have extended helping hands by continuously sending various supplies to Wuhan.
I was moved when H.E. President Magufuli told me that as long as Chinese brothers are in need, we would dispatch doctors to help fight the virus in China at any time. Every day I am immersed by such touching and encouraging words as “Tuko pamoja kila wakati” and “Baki imara China” from our Tanzanian friends to support us. Although the situation of the epidemic is still serious on the global scale and some countries are facing severe challenges, the practice of China in preventing and controlling the epidemic has offered an important lesson to other countries.
Just as what President Xi Jinping pointed out, China will further strengthen international cooperation in epidemic prevention and control, continue close communication and collaboration with the WHO and other countries, and share with them China’s experiences. China’s practice has fully demonstrated that the COVID-19 is preventable, controllable and curable.
As we are in March, I would like to say, “The winter has passed and the spring is coming.” With the approach of relying on science and rationality and adhering to openness and transparency, and in the spirit of building a community of a shared future for the mankind, in this promising spring China and the world at large will finally win the battle against this epidemic.