Coordinated National Response in Epidemic Prevention and Control
At the meeting held on February 3, 2020 by the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, Xi Jinping instructed that there should be a coordinated national response in epidemic prevention and control.
To ensure a coordinated national response, the centralized and unified leadership of the CPC Central Committee must be strengthened. Party committees and governments at all levels must resolutely follow the unified command, coordination and deployment of the CPC Central Committee, and ensure strict enforcement of orders. All localities and government departments must think in big-picture terms and take a holistic perspective, and resolutely obey the command of the Central Leading Group for COVID-19 Prevention and Control and the Joint Prevention and Control Mechanism of the State Council. When devising epidemic control measures, they should take into account both the needs of their areas and sectors and the potential impacts on key regions and the whole nation.
Since the outbreak of the epidemic, under the unified leadership and command of the CPC Central Committee with Xi Jinping at its core, various localities and government departments have performed their duties, coordinated efforts, taken joint actions, and acted promptly with all their strength. A large number of medical workers from all over the country assembled and rushed to the rescue of Wuhan. By working non-stop shifts, thousands of builders raced against the clock and completed the Huoshenshan Hospital in 10 days. The PLA efficiently delivered anti-epidemic materials and dispatched medical personnel to join the rescue. The manufacturers operated at full capacity to maximize the production of materials for national unified distribution.
As WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom said, “The speed with which China detected the outbreak, isolated the virus, sequenced the genome, and shared it with WHO and the world are very impressive, and beyond words.”
All of these have fully proved that by ensuring a coordinated national response, China can arouse the enthusiasm of all parties and concentrate resources on major initiatives. This forms a strong guarantee for the country to win the war against the novel coronavirus, and also demonstrates great strengths of China’s state institutions and governance system.
All Donations to Be Used for Epidemic Control Without Delay
Since the outbreak of the epidemic, Wuhan and other places in Hubei have received a large number of donations from around the world. At a meeting of the Commission for Comprehensive Law-based Governance of the CPC Central Committee on February 5, Xi Jinping pointed out that the donated property must all be used without delay for epidemic control to fulfill the wishes of the kind donors. This reflects the CPC Central Committee’s efforts in enhancing legislation, law enforcement, judicial justice, and observation of the law to provide a strong legal guarantee for epidemic prevention and control.
According to the Chinese law, the donee shall promptly make public the true information about all the donations received and the use and management of the donated property, and distribute the property for disaster relief without delay; and the charities shall use the donation to fund charity activities, fully and efficiently. The law also stipulates that the donee shall be subject to government and public scrutiny, and the law violators in charity activities shall be held accountable.
If Wuhan Wins, Hubei Wins. If Hubei Wins, the Whole Country Wins.
Wuhan and Hubei are the top priorities in China’s epidemic prevention and control, and the main battlefield of the war against the virus. On February 10, in a video call with a hospital in Wuhan which treats severe cases, Xi Jinping pointed out, “If Wuhan wins, Hubei wins. If Hubei wins, the whole country wins.”
Since the outbreak of the epidemic, the CPC Central Committee with Xi Jinping at its core has been concerned about the anti-epidemic work in Hubei and Wuhan. Xi has chaired more than one meeting of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee to study and discuss epidemic prevention and control. He emphasized that Hubei must put epidemic prevention and control at the top of the agenda. He also made deployments for Hubei and Wuhan in their combat of the virus.
The CPC Central Committee has sent the Central Guiding Team to Wuhan to comprehensively strengthen guidance on the front line, and to fight side by side with the people of Wuhan and other parts of Hubei province. More than 40,000 medical workers from all over the country came to assist Hubei, about 35,000 of whom worked in Wuhan. Practices have proved that the situation of the whole country will become stabilized if the epidemic in Wuhan and Hubei is put under control.
Treating the Infected in Dedicated Facilities by Senior Medical Professionals from All Over the Country and with All Necessary Resources
The meeting held on January 25 by the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee laid down a guiding principle of “treating the infected in dedicated facilities by senior medical professionals from all over the country and with all necessary resources.” Severe cases must be gathered into designated medical institutions with strong treatment capabilities, and all confirmed cases must be received by hospitals without delay.
Gathering the patients for medical treatment is an important means to prevent the spread of the epidemic and to provide effective treatment to confirmed cases. With the infected people being received in dedicated facilities, medical observation and treatment can be carried out at the same time, which can highly facilitate the allocation of resources. Also, patients can get treatment as early as possible, thus reducing the possibility of deterioration. Plus, gathering the patients together can prevent cross-infection among healthy people.
Following this guiding principle made by the CPC Central Committee, Hubei has gathered the four groups of people: confirmed cases, suspected cases, febrile patients and close contacts. This has made it possible to accurately learn of the number of confirmed cases, suspected cases, symptomatic cases in fever clinics, and symptomatic cases in close contacts. It is also possible to get accurate information about the number of beds available, occupied or vacant in relevant hospitals, isolation centers and temporary treatment centers.
Assembling medical experts and concentrating all necessary resources are important measures to deal with the epidemic. Medical materials from all over the country have been collected to help Wuhan treat severe cases, and new medical institutions in the city that are designated to receive severe patients have been taken over wholly by appointed medical teams. On this basis, an array of working mechanisms such as academician visits, multidisciplinary comprehensive treatment and holistic nursing have been established, ensuring that severe cases can receive science-based treatment.
On February 3, the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee held a meeting to study and discuss the issue of epidemic control. Xi Jinping chaired the meeting and underscored key regions as the focus of epidemic control. Only by concentrating efforts to control the epidemic in key regions can China fundamentally curb the spread of the virus across the country as soon as possible. It is highly necessary to coordinate regional resources, concentrate treatment and protective resources to the front line, and ensure the needs of frontline medical personnel and the patients as a matter of priority.
Hubei province, especially Wuhan and other key regions, are the top priorities of the nationwide war against the novel coronavirus. The situation of the whole country will become stabilized if the epidemic in Wuhan and Hubei is put under control. Making greater efforts to control the epidemic in key regions echoes the urgent wishes of the people in Hubei, especially patients and their families. It is also a must to contain the virus.
The meeting pointed out that Hubei province, especially the city of Wuhan, should further improve and tighten their control, strictly implement the principle of “early detection, early reporting, early isolation and early treatment,” strengthen epidemic monitoring, gather the patients for medical treatment, require all close contacts to stay at home for medical observation, and apply effective measures to prevent the spread of the epidemic.
The meeting required that local Party committees and governments must fully take on their responsibilities, strengthen community grid management, and take more thorough, more targeted and more effective measures to contain the outbreak.
Treating the patients on the one hand and blocking the virus from spreading on the other hand – these two together contribute to effective containment of the epidemic.
Ensuring Medical Supplies and Treating Patients at All Cost
The Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee emphasized at its meeting on February 3 that the supply of all kinds of medical protective materials must be ensured and no effort shall be spared to treat the patients. It also demanded raising the admission rate and the recovery rate, and lowering the infection rate and the case fatality rate.
Sparing no effort to treat the patients is a prominent task of epidemic control. The central leadership decided at the meeting that more hospitals for collective treatment would be built and put into use as early as possible, and more medical workers from other parts of the country be dispatched to meet Wuhan’s need. They also urged protecting the physical and psychological health of medical workers. They required coordination in the deployment of personnel to concentrate the competent medical workers and gather all severe cases for treatment, and timely promotion of the effective practices of various hospitals in curing severe patients.
When inspecting the national distribution center for major anti-epidemic medical supplies, Premier Li Keqiang called for greater efforts to ensure the production and supply of key medical protective equipment, speed up the manufacturing of anti-epidemic medical supplies, and enhance supply capacity. He said that these efforts together would provide necessary conditions for lowering the mortality rate, raising the recovery rate, and implementing solid prevention and control measures. To increase supply is to enhance fighting capacity against the epidemic, therefore it is a must to fully tap the production potential, to race against the clock to increase output while ensuring quality, and to take possible measures to expand supply.
The premier emphasized improving the standards for appropriate use of anti-epidemic medical supplies in different places and for different groups of people. He said that medical workers fighting at the front line also need protection and they should have priority access to key medical protective equipment.
He required the Joint Prevention and Control Mechanism of the State Council to improve unified distribution of major anti-epidemic medical supplies across the country. All functional departments should make concerted efforts to ensure the supply of medical resources to Hubei province, especially Wuhan and other key regions hit hard by the epidemic.
The Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee at its meeting on February 3 underscored the support of science and technology for defeating the epidemic, and urged reinforcing scientific research in this regard. The meeting highlighted the need to find the origin of the virus, identify the infection source and transmission route as soon as possible, closely track the variation of the virus, and develop prevention and control strategies and measures without delay.
Universities, scientific research institutes and enterprises shall be mobilized, and researchers across the country be organized to join anti-virus research. It is also necessary to promote the sharing of relevant data and medical records, speed up research on the traceability, transmission and transmission mechanism of the virus, and make timely improvements to prevention and control strategies and measures. More efforts are needed to strengthen the development of effective drugs and vaccines, and interaction between scientific research, clinical trials and prevention control practices. Experts and scholars should take on more responsibilities, and come up with more professional proposals and solutions based on scientific research.
Science has a direct bearing on the health and safety of the people, and scientists play a key role in the campaign against the virus. From decoding the coronavirus to vaccine development, from identifying the infection source to cutting off the transmission route, all work must be conducted following scientific methodologies, so as to provide a strong force to win the war against COVID-19.
Maintaining normal economic and social order was stressed by the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee at its meeting on February 3.
Adequate supplies and market order ensures stable operation of the macro-economy. The meeting pointed out that as the nation is fighting the epidemic, it is necessary to maintain social stability and orderly production, so as to avoid public panic and “secondary disasters” caused by the increase of confirmed cases and the shortage of daily necessities.
It is necessary to ensure the production, distribution and supply of staple and non-staple food, and the supply of vegetables, meat, eggs, milk, grain and other daily necessities for residents. City mayors must earnestly fulfill their responsibility of guaranteeing the people’s “vegetable basket” (non-grain food supply), actively organize the production of vegetables and other non-staple food, coordinate the allocation of materials and market supply, and take measures to ensure smooth passage of vehicles transporting daily necessities. Supply of coal, electricity, oil and gas must be maintained to satisfy the energy demand of residents. Psychological intervention and counseling and humanistic care will be provided to those in need.
The meeting also required efforts to properly handle all kinds of difficulties and problems in epidemic control, and maintain law and order. To safeguard social stability and national security, severe punishment will be meted out in accordance with the law on criminal and other illegal offenses such as price gouging, hoarding, speculation and other acts that disturb social order during the outbreak, as well as production and sale of fake and shoddy medicines, medical devices and medical sanitary materials.
The Joint Prevention and Control Mechanism of the State Council
Xi Jinping has reiterated the importance of society-wide efforts in epidemic prevention and control, and of building a strict line of defense by mobilizing the public.
On January 20, facing the outbreak of the epidemic and considering the large mobility of people during the upcoming Spring Festival break, the NHC proposed setting up a joint anti-epidemic prevention and control mechanism within the national health system, improving inter-agency preparation and coordination, and providing guidance and support to relevant local work.
On January 21, the Chinese government upgraded the joint mechanism to the national level and launched the Joint Prevention and Control Mechanism of the State Council in Response to the Novel Coronavirus Pneumonia (“Joint Prevention and Control Mechanism of the State Council” for short).
The Joint Prevention and Control Mechanism of the State Council is an institutional arrangement made by the Chinese government. Focusing on the mission of epidemic prevention and control, the mechanism breaks down the boundaries of different government departments and agencies and has achieved inter-agency coordination with high efficiency. With the NHC as the coordinator, a total of 32 central government departments cooperate under the mechanism, with internal work teams set up covering epidemic prevention and control, medical treatment, scientific research, publicity, foreign affairs, logistics support, and work at the front line. These work teams are each headed by a leading official of a relevant ministry or commission with clear duties and division of labor. They form strong synergy against the epidemic through close collaboration.
In addition to holding press conferences, the Joint Prevention and Control Mechanism of the State Council had issued more than 30 notices, technical guidelines and work plans by February 28, briefing the public about the latest progress in epidemic prevention and control, material supplies, scientific research and resumption of work and production, interpreting policies and measures, and responding to public concerns.
Following the decisions and deployment of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council, all provinces and cities have established joint prevention and control mechanisms and mechanisms for society-wide efforts against the virus, and taken law-abiding, science-based and orderly measures to fight the epidemic.
On January 22, 2020, the CPC Central Committee decisively demanded Hubei province implement comprehensive and strict control over personnel outflow.
On January 23, a meeting held by the Epidemic Prevention and Control Headquarter of Wuhan announced that from 10:00 a.m. on January 23, 2020, the city’s urban bus, subway, ferry and long-distance passenger transportation would be suspended, the departure channels of airport and railway stations be temporarily closed, and the citizens should not leave Wuhan without special reason.
To contain the epidemic from further spreading, Wuhan blocked public transportation between Wuchang, Hankou and Hanyang on January 25. From 00:00 on January 26, all non-essential vehicles were banned in downtown Wuhan except for vehicles with permits that are used to guarantee material supply, provide free transportation, and serve public affairs.
These lockdown measures are highly necessary to effectively block the virus and curb the epidemic from spreading. But a lockdown does not mean putting Wuhan out on a limb or leaving it desperately alone. To ensure the citizens’ basic life not be affected much, the Epidemic Prevention and Control Headquarter of Wuhan has made prompt briefings on the city’s material reserves and supplies, and reminded the public that there is no need for panic or hoarding. A 24-hour hotline was opened to receive donations from all walks of life, and solid measures have been taken to receive and deploy the donated properties. A total of 6,000 taxis have been urgently mobilized to serve communities and provide free services for those in need.
Wuhan is a key city in central China and an important transportation hub of the country. The lockdown has yielded a great impact on the city. However, in the face of the epidemic, Wuhan, Hubei and China have resolutely taken effective measures and actions, and by making great efforts and sacrifices, they have bought valuable time for the whole world to fight against the epidemic.
Preventing the Coronavirus from Entering and Spreading Within a Region
The outbreak of the COVID-19 epidemic coincides with the home return peak during China’s Spring Festival break. Controlling the number of infections and preventing the spread of the virus is the key to epidemic control. The CPC Central Committee with Xi Jinping at its core has repeatedly urged all provinces and municipalities to take targeted measures and prevent the coronavirus from entering and spreading within the regions under their jurisdiction. This is a differentiated strategy for the regions that are not vital for epidemic prevention and control as well as for the provinces and municipalities with mass transient populations.
The community is the front line of joint prevention and control, and also the most effective line of defense against imported cases and spread from within. By deploying tight check at the entrance and strict grid management, the community can build strong defense and effectively cut off the infection source.
The CPC Central Committee and the State Council also called on the public to refrain from traveling and thus contribute to the epidemic fight. For this end, flexible measures have been adopted in advance such as extending the Spring Festival holiday, postponing the reopening of schools, flexible resumption of work, and staggering the time of return trips of workers. Meanwhile, strict health monitoring and personnel management has been taken to firmly prevent the spread of the virus within a certain region while guarding against imported cases.
A Dedicated Team and a Personalized Treatment Plan for Each Patient
On January 20, the Epidemic Prevention and Control Headquarter of Wuhan decided to exert all-out efforts in the treatment of patients. For severe cases, the practice of “a dedicated team and a personalized treatment plan for each patient” will be applied, and mild cases will be cured and discharged as early as possible.
In adopting such a practice, it is highly necessary to mobilize all resources to provide patients customized medical teams and targeted diagnosis and treatment schemes with the strongest technical force and the best nursing service, and carry out timely, efficient and targeted treatment to raise the recovery rate. This practice has been widely adopted in the treatment of patients across the country.
While the epidemic situation is still grim and complex, and prevention and control work is in the most critical stage, this practice complies with the principle of “treating the infected in dedicated facilities by senior medical professionals from all over the country and with all necessary resources.” It has been proved effective in treating the patients.
Massive Dragnet Screening of Potential Virus Carriers
From February 17 to 19, Wuhan launched a massive dragnet screening of potential virus carriers among its residents in every community, “leaving no one unscreened.” This follows the belief that “saving lives is of paramount importance,” and the principle of getting all confirmed cases hospitalized for treatment.
This large-scale screening was conducted in search of the four groups of people (i.e. confirmed cases, suspected cases, febrile patients who cannot rule out the possibility of infection, and close contacts), in order to ensure 100 percent of admission for confirmed cases, 100 percent of nucleic acid tests for suspected cases, 100 percent of diagnosis for febrile patients, 100 percent of isolation for close contacts, and 100 percent of 24-hour close-off management of communities and villages.
By the use of AI technology, the investigation was conducted with great efficiency, and reached approximately 10 million people in more than 3,300 communities and villages within three days. Based on the big data platform, the information collected was integrated with the records kept in the hospitals, disease control centers, medical insurance agencies, public security and civil affairs authorities, telecommunication carriers and other relevant units. Targeted nucleic acid tests and epidemiological studies were carried out on the four groups of people, which helped to accurately and rapidly find close contacts and isolate them without delay, therefore effectively identifying and blocking the infection source.
Pneumonia of unknown cause is a medical term coined by the Chinese health authorities for timely detection and treatment of SARS, human avian influenza and other infectious pneumonia. Patients of pneumonia of unknown cause have the following clinical signs and symptoms: fever (axillary temperature is 38 degrees centigrade or higher), imaging features of pneumonia, decreasing or normal leukocyte count or decreasing lymphocyte count in the early stage of the disease, and no significant improvement or even progressive aggravation after standard anti-microbial treatment for three to five days.
In December 2019, more than one case of viral pneumonia of unknown cause was reported in Wuhan. On December 31, Wuhan Municipal Health Commission announced that the clinical pictures of recent cases of “pneumonia of unknown cause” were mainly fever, and a small number of patients had breathing difficulties and infiltration in both lungs. The earliest onset of the disease was on December 8, 2019. On January 7, 2020, the pathogen of this pneumonia virus was identified as “novel coronavirus.”
After the outbreak of the epidemic, Wuhan quickly took strict prevention and control measures, including case finding, isolation, admission to designated hospitals, medical observation of close contacts, and emergency monitoring. The principle of “early detection, early reporting, early isolation and early treatment” was also resolutely implemented.
Rapid and accurate detection of the virus is the key to epidemic prevention and control. On December 31, 2019, the High-level Expert Group of the NHC was dispatched to Wuhan, who soon identified that the pathogen of this particular viral pneumonia case was a novel coronavirus.
The NHC immediately established a “daily report and zero report” mechanism throughout the country, and distributed novel coronavirus nucleic acid testing kits, requiring all localities to reinforce testing, make every effort to treat patients, and update the public about the confirmed cases and progress in epidemic prevention and control without delay. At that time, nucleic acid detection was the main basis for the diagnosis of the novel coronavirus pneumonia.
On January 22, the NHC announced that negative nucleic acid test results cannot rule out novel coronavirus infection, and various factors that may falsely produce negative results still need to be considered.
The NHC also sent work teams to different provinces and equivalent administrative regions to guide epidemic prevention and control efforts.
Meanwhile, the Chinese government took the initiative to inform the WHO and relevant countries of the developments of the epidemic and progress in epidemic control, and immediately shared the gene sequence of the novel coronavirus with the WHO.
The isolation of virus strains helps to speed up the development of rapid diagnostic reagents, which is of great significance for the development of vaccines and drugs. After cases of pneumonia by unknown cause occurred in Wuhan, the Chinese government quickly deployed the work of virus analysis, research and development of testing reagents and vaccine development.
After receiving the samples, the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention obtained positive results of real-time fluorescence RPA in 3 hours and full-length genomic sequence of the virus in 24 hours. On January 4, 2020, a high specific detection reagent was successfully developed. On the evening of January 7, a novel coronavirus was successfully isolated from clinical samples and environmental samples, and the information about the first novel coronavirus strain in the world was released on January 24. After that, Zhong Nanshan’s team separated novel coronavirus from the feces and urine samples of confirmed patients, which has an important warning and guiding significance for public health security.
The WHO-China Joint Mission on COVID-19 held a press conference on February 24, and announced that the host of the novel coronavirus has not yet been determined, the novel coronavirus is a new pathogen, and people of all ages have no immunity and are generally susceptible to infection.
First-Level Public Health Emergency Response Activated
According to the nature, severity and scope of impact, public health emergencies are classified into four levels (I, II, III and IV), with severity decreasing from Level I to Level IV. The novel coronavirus epidemic is a public health emergency with the fastest spread and the widest range of infections, and has been the most difficult to prevent and control in China since the founding of the People’s Republic in 1949.
“Go where there is epidemic, fight it till it perishes.” On January 23, 2020, Wuhan’s urban bus, subway, ferry and long-distance passenger transportation was all suspended, and the departure channels of airport and railway stations were also temporarily closed.
On January 24, Hubei province officially launched the first-level response to major public health emergency. Across China, a total of 31 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities directly under the central government took similar actions and made comprehensive preparation for joint prevention and control of the epidemic.
Consequently, the NHC urged transportation, civil aviation, railway and other departments to formulate emergency response plans. It also worked with the Ministry of Finance and jointly devised policies on allocating funds in support of epidemic prevention and control. As phased results are achieved, the overall situation of the epidemic has shown a positive trend in China. To ensure progress with both epidemic control and production, many places have appropriately lowered their emergency response levels according to the local situation.
The case fatality rate refers to the proportion of people or animals who die from a disease to the total number of patients or animals suffering the disease within a certain period of time, which is used to describe the severity of a particular disease.
On February 4, the NHC announced that by 24:00 of February 3, the case fatality rate of COVID-19 in China had been controlled at 2.1%, which was lower than that of SARS (with a global case fatality rate of 11%) and higher than that of H1N1 (1%-1.5%).
On the evening of February 24, the WHO-China Joint Mission on COVID-19 announced at its news conference that, approximately 80% of laboratory confirmed patients had mild to moderate diseases, 13.8% had severe disease and 6.1% were critical, and the case fatality rate in China was 3% to 4%, 0.7% with the exception of Wuhan; and as of February 20, the median age of confirmed cases was 51, with 80% of cases aged between 30-69 years, and 78% were from Hubei.
With traditional Chinese medicine, chloroquine phosphate, convalescent plasma therapy adopted into the diagnosis and treatment guidelines, and with Favipiravir, Remdesivir and other drugs heading into the phase of clinical research, sustainable progress has been made in the treatment of COVID-19. Xu Nanping, vice minister of science and technology, said that the vaccine is currently being developed in multiple approaches, some of which have entered animal testing phases and will be submitted for clinical trials as early as late April.
From January 20 to 21, the WHO sent a team of experts to Wuhan to investigate the outbreak and communicate with their Chinese counterparts about virus infectivity, severe cases and infection source. The WHO experts confirmed human-to-human transmission of the epidemic and infection among medical personnel.
WHO appreciated China’s initiative to report epidemic information and share the genetic sequence of the virus, approved the strong and effective measures taken by the Chinese government in a very short time, and praised China’s rapid research and identification of new types of viruses. It also recognized China’s progress in medical research in recent years.
On February 16, the WHO-China Joint Mission on COVID-19 began their field visits in Beijing, Guangdong and Sichuan. The team brought together authorities from a number of institutions around the world in the fields of epidemiology, virology, clinical management, epidemic control and public health. On February 22, the experts went to Wuhan to continue inspection. They worked with Chinese epidemiologists to investigate the source of the virus and try to confirm whether the virus had stopped spreading from animals to humans.
Bill and Melinda Gates: Saving the World with Charity
On January 27, the Gates Foundation, co-founded by Bill Gates and his wife Melinda, committed $5 million in emergency funds to support China’s fight against the epidemic. Subsequently, the Foundation committed up to $100 million for the global response to the novel coronavirus. The donation will be used to assist the WHO, Chinese frontline responders and others at the global and national levels, part of it will be directed to help China accelerate the development of vaccines, drugs and diagnostics.
Bill Gates sent a special letter to President Xi Jinping, praising the performance of the Chinese government and people in fighting the virus, and expressing his firm support for China to defeat the epidemic.
In his reply to Bill Gates on February 20, Xi Jinping thanked him and the Gates Foundation for their support, and called for enhanced coordination and concerted efforts in the international community to combat the epidemic. Xi also mentioned that, mankind is a community with a shared future, and unity and cooperation is the most powerful weapon to prevail over a disease that threatens all; the Foundation has been quick in joining the global action and has played an active role in the global response against the outbreak; and he supports the Gates Foundation’s cooperation with relevant Chinese institutions, and looks forward to enhanced coordination and concerted efforts in the international community for the sake of health and well-being of all.
On February 11, the Seoul Metropolitan Government of the Republic of Korea (ROK) donated 1,000 sets of medical protective suits, 500 goggles, 90 medical masks, 30 portable thermal imaging cameras and others, with a total value of 600 million won (about 3.53 million yuan), to 12 cities including Beijing and Chongqing. It also said that it would continue to provide masks for civilian use and other materials as appropriate to help China fight against the epidemic.
In a video message, Mayor of Seoul Park Won-soon expressed his thanks to Beijing for sending a special mission to help Seoul when the city was mired in the MERS epidemic. He hoped China could overcome the current difficulties as soon as possible, and looked forward to Seoul and its Chinese sister cities helping each other in the predicament and deepening friendship.
On February 15, the Seoul Metropolitan Government began broadcasting short videos supporting China’s fight against the COVID-19 epidemic in public buildings such as the City Hall, Gwanghwamun and several other subway stations, as well as elevators of more than 70 relevant institutions. The civilians of Seoul also showed their support. Hankuk University of Foreign Studies put up a banner saying “Stay strong Wuhan, stay strong China.” Sungkyun Institute of China Studies of Sungkyunkwan University donated 3 million won (about 18,000 yuan) and sent a letter of sympathy.
According to preliminary statistics, the ROK government and private donations have exceeded 150 million yuan. President Moon Jae-in said that the ROK and China are friendly neighbors, and his country will take China’s difficulties as theirs. His country will spare no effort in assisting and coordinating with China to fight the epidemic together, and promote further development of bilateral relations.
The mutual support and assistance between China and the ROK in the face of difficulties reflects the two countries’ common cultural background and friendly tradition, and shows the affection of neighborhood and righteousness of friends which enable the two countries to work together to build a global community of shared future.
Singapore: Say NO to Discrimination and Sinophobia
Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 epidemic, many countries have in different ways expressed their support and assistance to China in fighting the epidemic. However, some media and individuals in a very small number of countries have used unfriendly and even humiliating words and acted in hatred toward China, and some overseas Chinese nationals have faced provocation and discrimination.
On February 1, Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong delivered a speech in Chinese at the Spring Festival Dinner in Ang Mo Kio. He addressed the recent bubbling of anti-China or anti-Chinese sentiment, saying that the COVID-19 epidemic is a public health event, not a matter of country or race, and the anti-Chinese sentiment is foolish and illogical.
He noted that China is doing its best to contain the virus, anti-China is not helpful to the fight against the outbreak, and all countries must work together to defeat the epidemic. In particular, Lee Hsien Loong praised that China has imposed its own travel restrictions, including canceling all outbound tour groups and bringing back Hubei residents from overseas, and what China is doing is responsible.
Vivian Balakrishnan, foreign minister of Singapore, also said that China has responded to the epidemic with a highly responsible approach and measures rarely seen around the world, sharing information with the international community immediately after the outbreak and providing valuable help to Singapore and other countries in dealing with the epidemic.
Panic and repulsion are worse than the virus. Senior Singaporean officials have publicly expressed their firm confidence in China’s victory over the epidemic and extended a helping hand to China. This has reflected the tradition of China and Singapore helping each other in difficult times, and their friendship has been deepened in the battle against the virus. Cooperation between the two countries will certainly get a new expansion after the epidemic.
Zhang Jixian: the First Doctor to Report Novel Coronavirus
Zhang Jixian is director of the Respiratory and Intensive Care Unit of Hubei Provincial Hospital of Integrated Chinese and Western Medicine. She was a member of the Expert Group of Jianghan District of Wuhan during the SARS outbreak in 2003. With an extremely acute professional awareness, Zhang was the first person to make the correct diagnosis and insist on reporting the epidemic to the higher authorities. She was the first to sound the alarm for the prevention of the virus.
On December 27, 2019, Zhang Jixian was surprised to find that three of her patients – the parents and the son – had similar CT images of their lungs. As the results of various influenza-related tests on these three patients were all negative, she immediately alerted the hospital chief to this situation, who forwarded her report to the Jianghan District Center for Disease Control and Prevention. In the following two days, the hospital received another three patients with similar symptoms and lung photos, and Zhang reported this to the hospital again, thus becoming the first doctor to report the COVID-19 epidemic.
During the COVID-19 outbreak, Zhang was responsible for the treatment of critically ill patients with a very heavy workload. She arrived at the hospital at 7:30 every morning, knowing that a hectic schedule awaited her to make the rounds of the wards and formulate diagnosis and treatment schemes. She was often heavily occupied until after 10 o’clock at night.
Due to her timely discovery and adequate preparation, no medical staff in Zhang’s department has been infected with the virus and no cross-infection has occurred among her patients. Zhang was awarded a merit for her outstanding performance in the fight against the epidemic on February 4 by the Human Resources and Social Security Department and the Health Committee of Hubei Province.
Zhu Guochao: Battling on the Front Line As Her Family Members Infected
Zhu Guochao is director of the Intensive Care Unit of Wuhan Sixth Hospital. On January 25, her hospital was designated for febrile patients. It has received nearly 600 COVID-19 patients with severe conditions, and the 12 cases in the ICU are aged with underlying conditions. As the ICU director, Zhu was heavily overloaded and worked more than 12 hours a day. As some critically ill patients could not eat, she braved the risk of getting infected, and inserted nasogastric tubes for them to provide necessary nutrition.
During that period, her mother-in-law, father-in-law and husband were successively infected with the virus and were received by her hospital. But she could only manage to look after them for a while at lunchtime. Her 77-year-old mother-in-law died from the disease on January 30. Zhu endured grief and remained on the forefront.
On February 3, after working on her post for a month, Zhu received the good news that her husband was cured and about to be discharged. She specially asked for three hours’ leave to pick up her husband. At the gate of the hospital, she said, “Let’s take a picture here to commemorate your rebirth!”
Liu Chuanjian: the Hero Pilot Volunteering to Fly the Relief Mission
Liu Chuanjian is deputy general manager of the Flight Training and Management Department of Sichuan Airlines. He was once command pilot of the Chongqing Branch. He is called “hero pilot” and “China’s Captain Sully,” and his story has been turned into a moving movie The Chinese Pilot.
On May 14, 2018, while he was piloting Flight 3U8633 from Chongqing to Lhasa, the right front windshield of the cockpit suddenly cracked. In spite of an extremely low temperature, lack of oxygen, strong wind and deafening noise, Liu and his crew manually operated the aircraft and made an emergency landing in Chengdu, ensuring the safety of all 119 passengers on board and creating a miracle in the history of civil aviation.
On February 2, 2020, Sichuan dispatched 120 medical workers to assist Hubei. Liu Chuanjian had applied to fly the mission, “This is a normal flight, and an arduous task. We will live up to our mission and return safely.” He flew the mission again on February 9 and successfully transported the sixth batch of Sichuan’s medical personnel to Hubei.
Wang Yong is a native courier of Wuhan born in the 1980s. Affected by the epidemic, many express delivery companies suspended their services during the Spring Festival. On the evening of January 24, Wang read a message posted on WeChat by a nurse at Jinyintan Hospital in Wuhan. Learning that due to traffic restrictions and the suspension of buses and subways, many medical workers could not go home after the night shift, Wang volunteered to take them to and from work.
On the first day, he offered help to more than a dozen medical staff of Jinyintan Hospital. But he felt one person’s strength was still small, so he posted messages on WeChat looking for more volunteers to help solve the travel problems of medical workers. He also contacted a couple of restaurants and food producers and helped them deliver free box lunches to health care workers.
Wang has helped more than 1,000 medical workers with their commuting and dining problems. “I have no resources. I am grateful to other volunteers and businesses that have offered help. Everyone is working hard. I am just one of them,” he said.
Yuan Chuanwei is in charge of production in a precision equipment company located in Suzhou, Jiangsu province. On January 26, while staying in his hometown of Yancheng for the Spring Festival, Yuan received an urgent order from Wuhan for the parts of hydrogen peroxide sterilization equipment. He was told that due to the serious epidemic, Hubei’s hospitals desperately needed hydrogen peroxide disinfectors.
Yuan immediately contacted relevant authorities and completed the procedures for resuming production. Then he found he was the only worker at the factory. Others had all returned home for family reunion and were currently required to quarantine at home, which meant they could not return to work.
From the night of January 27 on, Yuan lived and worked non-stop in the workshop, only taking a nap on the sofa when tired. Normally it would take five employees to complete 200 sets in 15 days, but Yuan alone fulfilled the order in 16 days. The parts he produced were soon assembled into hydrogen peroxide sterilization equipment by his partner and sent to the frontline of Hubei. Single-handedly, Yuan ran the whole production line all by himself.
As more factories successively resumed production and the shortage of materials was solved, Yuan received more orders. “The work is tiring, but the pain is way better than that of the epidemic,” he said.
Wenchuan Quake Survivors: Donating 100 Tons of Vegetables in Return
After the earthquake in 2008, more than 100 injured people in Wenchuan county of Sichuan were sent to Wuhan for free treatment. Thanks to the care of medical workers, the injured quake survivors were all cured, with no mortality, no infection and no after-effects.
After the outbreak of the epidemic, the people in Wenchuan have been greatly concerned about the situation in Wuhan. On February 4, Zhao Yong, CPC branch secretary of Longzhu village, and 11 villagers drove 36 hours and arrived in Wuhan. The six trucks of theirs were fully loaded with 100 tons of fresh vegetables, which were donated by their villagers to nine hospitals in Wuhan and the medical teams coming from other parts of the country to help the city. On the trucks hung banners bearing slogans saying, “Love from Wenchuan, Stay strong Wuhan.”
When the villagers went to purchase the vegetables, the growers said generously, “Pick whatever you want, free of charge, just bring them to Wuhan for me.” In return for their generosity, the people in Wuhan presented protective equipment to the villagers and disinfected the trucks for their safety.