- Special Coverage
China's unprecedented public health responses have yielded notable results in blocking human-to-human transmissions of the virus, preventing or at least delaying hundreds of thousands of cases: China-WHO joint expert team
BEIJING, February 25 (Xinhua) — China is engaged in a war against the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, a major public health emergency considered to have spread fastest, caused the most extensive infection and have been the hardest to contain since the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949.
Though the virus has infected more than 77,000 people, daily new cases are on an overall declining trend, with the number of recovered patients rapidly increasing.
After arduous work, the positive trend is now expanding, said President Xi Jinping, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission.
So, how China has done it? Here is a review.
After the outbreak of the epidemic, the CPC Central Committee has attached great importance to the issue and made swift deployments.
Xi personally commands the people's war against the epidemic. He has been paying constant attention to the epidemic prevention and control work and made oral or written instructions every day.
President Xi Jinping inspects the novel coronavirus pneumonia prevention and control work in Beijing, capital of China, on February 10, 2020. [Xinhua/Xie Huanchi]
On January 7, he issued requirements on the epidemic prevention and control work when he chaired a meeting of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee.
On January 20, he demanded that Party committees and governments at all levels put people's lives and health as the top priority and make resolute efforts to curb the spread of the virus.
On January 25, the first day of the lunar Chinese New Year, Xi chaired another meeting of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, focusing on the COVID-19 outbreak. The meeting decided to form a central leading group on the epidemic, dispatch a central guiding team, and demand a State Council inter-agency task force play its full role in coordination.
"I was very encouraged and impressed by the President's detailed knowledge of the outbreak, and his personal involvement in the response," Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said after meeting Xi in Beijing on January 28. "This was for me very rare leadership."
Afterward, Xi again held three meetings of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and one meeting of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee to study epidemic control and resumption of work and production.
On February 10, Xi inspected COVID-19 prevention and control work in Beijing and heard reports from the frontline in the hardest-hit province of Hubei and its capital city Wuhan through video links.
President Xi Jinping inspects the novel coronavirus pneumonia prevention and control work in Beijing, capital of China, on February 10, 2020. [Xinhua/Pang Xinglei]
Xi also made requirements on epidemic prevention and control from various aspects when he chaired meetings of a number of central commissions on overall law-based governance, cyberspace affairs, overall deepening reform and foreign affairs.
The latest was a meeting on February 23 to coordinate epidemic control and economic and social development. Xi made specific requirements for both fronts.
Timely Strategy, Political Courage
Under Xi's command, China launched a people's war against the epidemic, with Wuhan and Hubei as the main battlefield. Lines of defense were set up. Personnel and resources were mobilized across the country.
Military medical staff airlifted by eight large transport planes of the air force of the People's Liberation Army arrive at Tianhe International Airport in Wuhan, central China's Hubei Province, February 2, 2020. [Xinhua/Cheng Min]
On curbing the spread, early detection, reports, quarantine and treatment are stressed. On treating patients, pooling together patients, experts, resources, as well as centralized treatment are underscored.
On January 22, the CPC Central Committee made a decisive move that required huge political courage: it ordered Hubei to impose full and strict control over the outbound population flow.
A day later, all urban public transportation, including city buses, ferries and metro lines were suspended and outbound channels at the airport and rail stations closed in Wuhan, home to more than 10 million people.
It is an unprecedented move in modern Chinese history, but an effective one.
Tedros said China took "serious measures at the epicenter, at the source," which not only protected Chinese people, but also prevented the spread of the virus to other countries.
"Because of this strategy, if it weren't for China's efforts, the number of cases outside China would have been very much higher," he said earlier this month at a WHO Executive Board meeting in Geneva.
Director-General of the World Health Organization Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (2nd, L) attends a press conference in Geneva, Switzerland, February 10, 2020. [Xinhua/Chen Junxia]
Along with that move, a series of other measures were also introduced to mobilize the whole country to contain the epidemic.
— More than 330 medical teams consisting of some 41,600 medical personnel, both civilian and military, have been dispatched to Hubei from across the country.
— The Huoshenshan and Leishenshan hospitals were swiftly built and started operation in Wuhan, in addition to various temporary hospitals converted from gyms, conference and exhibition centers to treat COVID-19 patients with mild symptoms.
— Ensuring the provision of medical supplies in Wuhan and Hubei was prioritized and 19 provinces paired with other cities in Hubei to provide one-on-one support.
Workers make face masks in the workshop of a textile company in Jimo District of Qingdao, east China's Shandong Province, February 12, 2020. [Xinhua/Liang Xiaopeng]
— In light of the serious problems that occurred in the early-stage prevention and control work in Hubei and Wuhan, the CPC Central Committee promptly put forward rectification requirements and adjusted the leadership of the CPC Hubei provincial committee and Wuhan municipal committee.
— The Spring Festival holiday was extended to delay possible travel peaks. Arrangements were made to postpone the start of the new school semester, promote the flexible resumption of businesses and reduce the pressure on transportation.
— Measures were taken to support manufacturers of medical protective suits, masks and other epidemic prevention and control materials that are in urgent need, help them quickly resume production and expand capacity.
— Unified national distribution was put in place for essential materials, and the production and supply of daily necessities, coal, electricity, oil and gas were secured.
— Order in medical institutions and the market was maintained, in addition to crackdowns on epidemic-related crimes, and strengthened psychological counseling and intervention for the public.
A woman buys vegetables at a market in Nanjing, east China's Jiangsu Province, February 2, 2020. [Xinhua/Li Bo]
— Public communication was procedure-based and strengthened.
— China also carried out cooperation and information exchange with the WHO and the international community, such as the timely sharing of the whole genome sequence of the virus.
After a nine-day field study trip, a China-WHO joint expert team concluded Monday that China's unprecedented public health responses to the COVID-19 outbreak have yielded notable results in blocking human-to-human transmissions of the virus, preventing or at least delaying hundreds of thousands of cases.
Bruce Aylward, an epidemiologist who led experts from the World Health Organization (WHO), speaks during a press conference held by the China-WHO joint expert team in Beijing, capital of China, February 24, 2020. [Xinhua/Xing Guangli]
Xi said the results of the prevention and control work have once again demonstrated the notable advantages of the leadership of the CPC and the system of socialism with Chinese characteristics.
China has drawn accolades from the international community for its efforts to contain the spread of the virus. Leaders of more than 170 countries and over 40 international or regional organizations expressed their support to China.
In a phone conversation with Xi, U.S. President Donald Trump said he is confident that under Xi's leadership, the Chinese people will undoubtedly win the battle against the outbreak.
While talking to Xi over the phone, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan said no other country could do better than China.
In his message to Xi, Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed his belief that under Xi's leadership, China's resolute measures will contain the epidemic and minimize losses.