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COMMENT: China will defeat Coronavirus with international support

 

World Health Organisation (WHO) chief Tendros (left) holds talks with China President Xi Jinping. The WHO has praised China for the way it has handled the outbreak

COMMENT | Ronaldo Kato | When I first traveled to China in February of 2017, two things happened. Firstly, I was the first passenger to get off the Emirates flight from Dubai to Beijing. When we touched down at Beijing Capital airport, cabin crew announced that a passenger from Uganda (me) would be the first to disembark.

It was surreal marching through the spacious aisle of the A380 Airbus, alone. Everyone else was seated. It felt like I had the attention of everyone on the plane. When I stepped forward, cabin crew whispered that the Chinese authorities needed to talk to me.

Out of the plane, the authorities explained that my country had just declared a Yellow Fever outbreak. Yellow Fever is a big deal. It is a viral haemorrhagic disease and the World Health Organisation (WHO) was supporting Uganda to respond to it.

The authorities said I had to undergo screening. They also requested to see my Yellow Fever vaccination card which I duly produced. In about three minutes, I had been cleared and was on my way to collect my baggage and out of the airport.

In light of the ongoing Coronavirus outbreak, the second thing that happened to me was, I realize now, the coolheadness of the Chinese authorities. They were extremely vigilant but remained rational.

Given the panicky response by some countries to the Coronovirus outbreak, I could easily have been denied entry or implicitly labelled a vector for Yellow Fever if I was traveling to a different country.

Some news reports on the Coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, China have been grossly exaggerated, even sensationalized to cause panic, ridicule and to stoke racial stereotypes and tropes. Some are outright misleading.

Conspiracy theorists too have jumped on the opportunity to speculate on the cause of the virus to sow even more panic and unreasonable reactions and sentiments.

While China has stuck to science and evidence-based channels to counter the outbreak, some countries have responded by stopping flights, effecting travel restrictions and evacuating people from Wuhan in complete defiance of WHO opinion that advised against such reaction.

Some news reports on the Coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, China have been grossly exaggerated, even sensationalized to cause panic, ridicule and to stoke racial stereotypes and tropes. Some are outright misleading.

While Chinese scientists are moving to develop a vaccine, some countries are questioning the quarantine measures in place in Hubei. It takes international solidarity, support to stop a disaster with the scale of the Coronavirus outbreak.

Disease outbreaks have happened and can happen anywhere- in socialist and capitalist countries alike, in poor and rich countries alike.
Broadly speaking, disease outbreaks and the response to them follow the rules of science and medicine, not politics.

As a developing country responding to a disease occurring for the first time ever and on a scale like this, China deserves a lot of credit. It has its own limitations but it does not deserve undue pressure and criticism. The WHO has voiced confidence in Beijing’s response to the outbreak.

The main areas the virus attacks. 📷 @PDChina

Away from quickly identifying, diagnosing and isolating cases, China has managed to build two specialized hospitals in a matter of days.

While individual countries have the right to respond to control the outbreak, their actions should be premised on WHO advice and guidance.

As it is, China is the best-placed country in the world at the moment to deal with the outbreak of Coronavirus. It has the relevant experience, knowledge and resources. But its stake is not any bigger than the rest of us.

As Wuhan residents have taught us in recent days, we should all be chanting ‘China.. Jiayou’.

The writer is a senior journalist at africa news and a China-Africa Press Centre Fellow

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Ronald Kato is a Ugandan journalist based in the Republic of Congo. He is also a fellow at the Chinese government-funded China-Africa Press Centre and is mostly interested in how the news covers China and Sino-African relations.

 

 

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