Chinese ambassador Ms Hou Yanqi, in a joint interview to Nepali media on 4 February, informed that the health of Nepali nationals in China has been well protected and no cases of infection have been found so far.
She has further remarked, “If the Nepali side insists on evacuating its nationals, it is advised that the relevant departments of the Nepali side be fully prepared in terms of airport quarantine, epidemic prevention and control, and seek the advice of the WHO representative in Nepal to prevent the epidemic spread”.
Q1: Please introduce the latest situation of the new coronavirus-related pneumonia outbreak in China and the prevention and control measures had been taken by the Chinese government.
A: Up to now, more than 20000 people from 24 countries has been confirmed infected by the novel coronavirus, China especially Wuhan municipality and Hubei Province is the hardest-hit area, the epidemic situation is still severe. This epidemic came all of sudden, it take time for us to go through a complex process to discover and know well about the new virus. The medical resources and the storage of specialized materials like masks, protective suits are not enough to deal with highly- intensive prevention and control work at the first response. And the epidemic just outbreak around Chinese New Year, it was expected that more than 3 billion passenger trip will be taken during those period. The large amount of passenger flows further sharpened the difficulties to prevent and control the epidemic.
The Chinese government always put the safety and health of the people on top priority. Since the outbreak of the epidemic, President Xi Jinping has repeatedly given important orders and instructions on prevention and control work. Premier Li Keqiang lead the Central Leading Group on responding to the pneumonia outbreak caused by the novel coronavirus and visited Wuhan to inspect and guide the relevant work. We have made arrangements for the prevention and control of the epidemic with measures typically used for category-A infectious diseases even though the outbreak has been classified as a category-B infectious disease. All the 31 provinces have launched the highest level 1 public health emergency response.
We are now trying our best to restore the production capacity, allocate the resources of medical treatment and personal protective gear to the front line and priorities has been given to medics and infected people. We have totally sent more than 150000 medical protective suits and 130000 N95 masks to Hubei Province. Wuhan has built Huo Shenshan Hospital within 10 days, this hospital is fully equipped with out-patient area, ward building, intensive care unit(ICU) and can provide 1000 beds. The construction of three mobile cabin hospitals in Wuhan has also picked up steam on February 3rd , which will offer a total of 3,400 beds. More than 8000 medical workers in around 70 groups from other provinces and the People’s Liberation Army has been dispatched to Hubei province to strengthen its medical force.
The most tough and decisive measures have been resolutely taken curb the spread of the virus. We have put Wuhan and other areas under traffic control, canceled large public gatherings, strengthened ventilation, sterilization and the checking of body temperatures in transportation stations. We have demanded all the people in China to decrease their going-out and wear masks. To prevent the virus spread to other countries, we have canceled a lot tourism groups and suggested individual to postpone their overseas tour. We have launched “grid-style administration” and “blanket management”, fully mobilized the community-level authorities to build the first line of defense against the epidemic. Now every residential communities in cities have taken prevention measures like personnel registration, body temperature check and daily sterilization, and will report the newest situation in their administrative region.
Fighting against the disease needs the support of science and technology. China has successfully extracted the novel coronavirus and share the whole genetic sequencing of the virus with World Health Organization at the early stage of the outbreak, which has laid solid foundation for the follow-up treatment, development of the vaccine and international cooperation on prevention and control. We are now speeding up scientific research, starting the clinic experiment for the relevant specific medicine, publishing and timely updating the diagnosis and treatment therapy for the virus, which have provided important reference and guide to cure the people better.
The measures taken by the Chinese government is far beyond the suggestions of WHO and the requirement of the International Health Regulations, which fully demonstrates the highly transparent and responsible attitudes of the Chinese government. Overall, those measures are now yielding positive results, the growth rate of the confirmed and suspected cases are slowing down, and the number of cured cases is increasing, which also proves that this disease is preventable, controllable and curable.
Q2: In order to support China’s efforts to fight against the novel coronavirus, some countries have offered help and support. Meanwhile, some countries have made comments unfriendly and imposed travel bans on Chinese travelers. What are your comments?
A: The novel coronavirus, just like SARS, Ebola, H1N1 and Zika virus, is Public Health Emergencies of International Concern. All the infected countries including China are victims. Since the outbreak of the epidemic, China has strengthened cooperation with the World Health Organization(WHO) and the international community in an open, transparent and responsible manner, including notifying the epidemic, sharing the information, timely suspending outbound group tours, upgrading customs quarantine, etc.
The Director-General of WHO, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus spoke highly of the anti-epidemic measures taken by the Chinese government, noted that “WHO continues to have confidence in China’s capacity to control the outbreak. There is no reason for measures that unnecessarily interfere with international travel.” Most of the countries highly commend and firmly support China’s efforts to fight against the nCoV. In a humanitarian spirit, many countries and international organizations including some developed countries like Japan, China’s good friend Pakistan, and some international organizations like United Nations Children’s Fund, have donated urgent epidemic prevention and control supplies. Foreign non-governmental friendship groups have also made some volunteer donation. A friend in need is a friend indeed, the Chinese people will never forget their support.
In view to contain the epidemic, some countries adopt or enhance quarantine measures at border entry, we understand and respect them. But it is regrettable that some countries have inappropriately overreacted, which certainly runs counter to WHO advice. Individual countries politicize the epidemic, demean and attack deliberately China, even gloat on the epidemic which are totally against humanitarian principles. The Chinese side firmly opposed them. This kind of narrow-minded practice by self-serving egoists and irresponsible rumor mongers has spread panic and harmed the prevention and control on the epidemic in the international community.
People can tell right from wrong. We believe that with the support and cooperation from the countries and peoples with the sense of justice all over the world, we are sure to overcome the difficulties, control the epidemic and make contribution to improve the international public health environment.
Q3: What cooperation did China and Nepal conduct in the prevention and control of the epidemic? Will these measures affect the personnel and trade exchanges between China and Nepal?
A: After the outbreak of the novel coronavirus epidemic, the Chinese Embassy in Nepal immediately kept contact with the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation, the Epidemiology and Disease Control Center under the Ministry of Health and Population, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other relevant departments of Nepal, informed them of the epidemic situation and cooperated in formulating the prevention and control measures in Nepal. We have also been in close communication with the World Health Organization Representative to Nepal in a view to fulfilling international obligations actively. The Chinese Embassy in Nepal assigned some staff members in charge to form a joint working group with the above-mentioned departments to share the information and prevent and control the epidemic in joint efforts.
We have noticed that the Nepali side has already installed inspection and quarantine facilities at airports, and designated some hospitals to isolate, diagnose and treat suspected coronavirus patients in the Kathmandu Valley, Chitwan District and other places. To my delight, the only Nepali patient who was tested positive has recovered and dismissed from hospital now.
To prevent the spread of the epidemic, the Chinese government, acting with a responsible attitude, has asked Chinese travel agencies to stop organizing tourist groups visiting abroad since January 26. Jilong–Rasuwa Port and Zhangmu–Kodari Port have taken necessary inspection and control measures according to the current road conditions and the need to prevent and control the epidemic. Some airline companies canceled some flights between the two countries because of the decrease of passengers. These measures are necessary to protect the safety of the people of the two countries, which will also inevitably affect the personnel and trade exchanges between China and Nepal to some degree. However, these difficulties are temporary. I believe that soon after the epidemic has been brought under control, the personnel and trade exchanges between the two countries will resume.
Q4: It is reported that the Government of Nepal plans to evacuate Nepali nationals in Wuhan by charter flights. What’s your comment?
A: The Chinese side attaches great importance to the epidemic prevention affairs of foreign nationals in China. The health of Nepali nationals in China has been well protected and no cases of infection have been found so far. The competent divisions in Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China are in close contact with the Embassy of Nepal in China to help resolve the difficulties of Nepali students in Wuhan. Foreign Affairs Offices of Hubei Province and Wuhan Municipality and the relevant universities are also trying their best to provide logistics for their lives. For epidemic prevention and control, it is quite reasonable and normal to exert some restrictions on some individuals’ daily life. Recently, some media reported that some Nepali nationals in China were blocked when they left China. To my knowledge, the reason is that their body temperature was detected higher than normal at the airport and they had to postpone their departure due to health and safety considerations. This is a necessary measure to protect the health of themselves and others, which is an international practice as well.
After the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, both President Mrs. Bidya Devi Bhandari and Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli sent letters to Chinese leaders expressing their appreciation for China’s efforts to curb the spread of the epidemic and gratitude to the Chinese government for taking care of Nepali nationals in China. Most people and media in Nepal have taken an objective, rational and calm attitude toward the epidemic as well as the prevention and control measure by China. These fully manifest Nepal’s confidence and support to China on the fight against the epidemic. We are greatly encouraged and grateful.
I also noticed some reports on the Nepali Government’s plan to evacuate Nepali nationals in Wuhan. The Chinese side attaches importance to the relevant demands and is in communication with the Nepali side through diplomatic channel. Preventing the spread of the epidemic is the common responsibility of every country. If the Nepali side insists on evacuating its nationals, it is advised that the relevant departments of the Nepali side be fully prepared in terms of airport quarantine, epidemic prevention and control, and seek the advice of the WHO representative in Nepal to prevent the epidemic spread.