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World countries follow China’s example amid COVID-19 battle

Alwihda Info | Par peoplesdaily - 21 Mars 2020

China proved critics wrong who accused her of hoarding information and living behind an iron curtain where secrets creep and seethe amid the coronavirus war.

By Ikenna Emewu | People's Daily app

Chinese president Xi Jinping recently visited locked-down Wuhan to inspect medical staff and facilites.. Media reported the leader’s visit was greeted with euphoric frenzy by local residents. Reports also signaled a victory over COVID-19. During Xi’s visit, Chinese health authorities announced the two emergency hospitals that were built to treat virus patients were closed.

Health authorities offer daily news updates that are emailed from the Chinese Embassy in Abuja and bring messages of hope that over 70 percent of the COVID-19 patients in Wuhan had been discharged after making a full recovery.

Prior to that, the number of recovered patients had also jumped,  outstripping the fatality rate, which stood at 3.4 percent.

The presence of the Chinese leader must have been a morale booster for the 45,000 medical personnel.

Xi gathered the zest of his people to soldier on against calamity the day he walked into Beijing health facilities to visit medical personnel and provide verve with his presence.

The world watched how China tackled the virus and learned war strategies, which observers described as transparent, and especially how Chinese authorities teamed up with the World Health Organization (WHO) and provided updates on daily developments.   

US media reported that China’s approach was a sharp departure from how the SARS incident in 2003 was managed and that it was commendable.

Prior to that, the Chinese Embassy in Abuja, Nigeria assembled members of the media, government, business, the diplomatic community, and others to deliberate on how to educate people with the right information.

Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria Zhou Pingjian delivered a briefing with other embassy officials where he updated Nigerians on the details of China’s efforts to contain coronavirus (Covid-19), which was beyond what had read or heard.

Ambassador Zhou met with Nigerian parents whose children are studying in China, together with foreign ministry officials. It was comforting to hear the parents say that they were more relaxed about the safety of their children after the meeting.

China has read the signs vividly that in today’s open world, it is wiser, safer, and more productive to report to the world what about what is happening than allow the internet to run wild with misinformation, disinformation, and lies.  

In an interview with Xinhua, I admitted  China’s method and war strategy was the light in a dark tunnel during the COVID-19 worldwide war, where it has spread to 112 countries at last count with over 33,210 infections and 872 deaths outside China.

Japan announced it would follow China’s lead in deploying AI to track infections, isolate victims, and for treatment.

Italy had declared a nationwide lockdown, isolating over 60 million people, after reporting over 300 deaths and 7,800 infections, thus taking the China approach.

As China rises from the pangs of COVID-19, she has done something encouraging in standing by other countries to help them handle the pandemic.

China announced a $20 million donation to the WHO to assist in research and other areas of disease intervention. Six medical personnel were sent to Italy, and seven to Iraq from the Red Cross to assist with the challenges.  

China has It has pledged to help Africa, where luckily the pandemic has not been a major challenge.

Such actions on behalf of China have been commendable, and not for standing aloof and watching the world after emerging from the crisis. The promises of extending its experience in tackling Covid-19 have been assuring.

China’s anti-virus efforts have resonated with all countries, including Nigeria, where the head of the Nigeria Center for Disease Control announced  he was in China attending a WHO conference that included representatives from all countries who had convened to learn how China handled the challenge and the lessons it learned.

Giving credence to Xi’s speech, it has been a commendable show of resolve by China to tackle the outbreak. Some countries at the beginning claimed the strict measures were as too stringent. However, Italy’s lockdown after 8,000 cases were reported indicates that China had the right idea.

One US citizen who was evacuated from China said he felt safer and better in China than in US after he became ill with COVID-19.

In Nigeria however, the lessons from China have been applied with a bombard of media sensitization by the ministries of health at the federal and state levels.

The Nigeria’s Minister for Health, Osagie Ehanire held a media briefing to report the second coronavirus case in Ogun, a neighboring state to Lagos where the first case in the region was recorded. Within hours of detection, the government locked down the offices and places the carrier visited and quarantined everyone he had come in contact with. It also tracked the 120 passengers that arrived Nigeria on a Turkish Air flight that brought the Italian whose case was the first in Nigeria.

After a failed attempt to track down only two of the passengers that had yet to take an examination, the government announced their names to and declared them wanted. It was another swift measure and a good move that it got 118 of the 120 passengers within hours for quarantine.

The awareness efforts have been successful, and beyond the care taken to forestall a crisis the government in Abuja budgeted about N1.2b in two tranches to handle the situation even though it hasn’t come to crisis state. Also, Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote, a Nigerian immediately donated N200m to the government.

Today, most countries, including Nigeria, are fighting Covid-19, taking a cue from the China’s tenacious approach. They have adopted the same measures China took because of its knowledge and experience.  

China proved critics wrong who accused her of hoarding information and living behind an iron curtain where secrets creep and seethe amid the coronavirus war.

Due to its COVID-19 experience and then information sharing, the world has benefitted from the open information age, and because China didn’t adopt any secrecy options, new media space was not given the opportunity to run riot with cocktail of frivolity, counter information, and lies, which would have done much more damage than the virus.

(IKENNA EMEWU, Editor-in-Chief of Africa China Press Center in Nigeria)

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