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China, UK and African nations in COVID-19 webinar
By:Wu Qiong  |  From:english.eastday.com  |  2020-05-15 10:01

As the COVID-19 is still spreading across the world, international cooperation is crucial to fighting against the pandemic. Around 600 people took part in a video conference on May 13, where Chinese and British experts shared experience in non-hospital care with their African counterparts.

The attendants and audience were government officials, experts, scholars, medics and community workers from China, the UK, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Burundi, and Kenya.

Due to the limited medical resources and anti-epidemic supplies in many developing countries in Africa, some mild and moderate COVID-19 patients have to stay at home, getting home-based care. While discussing the topic of community transmission, Wu Zunyou, chief epidemiologist at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (also known as China CDC) said that it is important to move the patients from the community to a medical environment. That is why China adjusted its anti-epidemic strategy and set up shelter hospitals (also called makeshift hospitals). Dr. Wu then introduced the operation and functions of Chinese shelter hospitals and the services available.

Dr. Zhang Wenhong, head of the Infectious Diseases Department at Huashan Hospital is the leader of Shanghai’s anti-COVID-19 clinical expert team. During the video conference, he talked about Shanghai’s experience of fighting against the pandemic. Using the extended Spring Festival Holiday, the government encouraged citizens to stay at home as much as they could to stop the transmission. Shanghai has also carried out testing on all suspected cases and tracked all close contacts. Early detection and timely measures are important for containing the epidemic, said Zhang.

He also made an analysis of Africa’s anti-epidemic situation. As he observed, the mortality of COVID-19 patients in the continent is high, but it is relatively low among the population under the age of 50. African countries are working hard to keep the epidemic at a low level while reducing its impact on society. Therefore, Zhang believes that the entire society should help the elderly and the vulnerable, while the young labor force can resume their work on the premise of following social distancing rules.

Zhang also suggested that on a personal level, individuals have to take personal protective measures (like wearing masks); and on the government level, massive testing should be provided to fully break the transmission chain.

The pandemic, in the eyes of Sir Oliver Letwin, senior fellow at the Legatum Institute in the UK, is not only about medicine, science and health care, but also about culture and sociology. There is not a template for any country to respond to the disease outbreak, and the methods will vary. Many countries are also faced with the tension between maintaining economic activities and controlling the epidemic, and the governments have to adjust the policies according to the development of COVID-19.

“It requires all of us as a global village to fight against the pandemic, and we are happy to see that countries are together to fight,” said Monica Mutsvangwa, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister of Zimbabwe. She also expressed her gratitude to China and many other countries for their helping hand in donating resources. According to the minister, the country is now using every media to promote anti-epidemic rules like washing hands, especially in rural areas. Traditional leaders like chiefs have also been trained to make sure all people are aware of the dangers.

“China and the United Kingdom are important partners for Africa. Helping Africa to fight the coronavirus is in the common interest of all three parties,” said Liu Xiaoming, Chinese Ambassador to the UK at the video conference. By quoting a saying of late South African President Nelson Mandela “When people are determined, they can overcome anything”, Ambassador Liu expressed his firm belief in mankind’s ability to combat the pandemic. He hopes this will write a new chapter of mankind’s anti-epidemic cooperation, and promote the building of the community of a shared future for mankind in the 21st century.