Learning from China’s Exemplary Response to COVID-19

0
96

Kiran Naz

It is not without reason that international bodies such as World Health Organization (WHO) are all praise for Chinese response to COVID-19. The Chinese experience of fighting the disease tells that response against this plague would have to be timely, strong, all-around and the whole nations would have to rise to this challenge. Well done China. Now it is up to the rest of the world to play its part.

As the whole world now deals with deadly impacts of COVID-19, time is telling that the way China dealt with the virus after its outbreak late last year was highly effective, timely, and example setting.

The global pandemic of CoronaVirus – also known as COVID-19 – has now reached almost all the parts of the world, almost half a million people are infected, and total deaths have crossed the 20000 mark at the time of writing of this piece, on March 25. Alarmingly, this has all happened in a quick span of just a few weeks, signaling much worse to come.

While the world – Europe and the US in particular – brace for an extraordinary attack of the pandemic, China at the same time is announcing to open Wuhan, the capital of its worst infected province, Hubei. From Wednesday, March 25 onwards, intra-city restrictions are being eased and from the 8th of April, the citizens of the city would also be able to travel to the rest of the country.

With more than 80 thousands of people infected with CoronaVirus, China still tops the table of the nation with worst impact so far. However, the positive side of this picture is that more than 70 thousand people in China have been cured out of disease. The fatality rate, at over 3200, is around 3%.

By contrast, Italy has become the country with more than double the deaths recorded in China, the highest in the world. Italy fatality rate with around 7000 deaths out of 60 thousand positive cases comes to the tune of 12%, 4 times higher than in China.

The point here is not to criticize any country, much less the one facing the highest number of deaths, but to point towards the toll that pandemic has taken, correspondingly. Voices are now emerging that Italy’s response was not as timely and all-around as that of China.

When China imposed strict measures to keep its citizens within homes and businesses closed all across major urban centers, it was criticized as suppression of movement and infringing upon civic rights. China not only put the whole of Wuhan city into a complete lockdown, but major cities also went through strong blockades. Businesses were kept close weeks after Chinese New Year. Transport – road, rail, air and water borne – was closed. And Migrants workers were asked to stay at homes as factories and work places were stopped from working.

The whole world saw that these measures not only saved millions – perhaps tens of millions – from getting infected but China also provided the world with necessary time before the pandemic could strike elsewhere, if from China. Although, it is now emerging that what is the world is seeing now did not necessarily originate inside China.

In this period, China effectively mobilized all its central and provincial resources. It built massive make-shift hospitals, deployed state-of-the-art technology, and its doctors and paramedics worked tirelessly. Chinese leadership was leading these efforts from the front, setting an example like no other. More importantly, Chinese people paid heed to the call of their leadership and thus played their part by staying home and isolated, safeguarding themselves and others, as long as it was necessary.

China also rolled out a number of financial incentives and taxation relaxations for the businesses impacted by the lockdown, specially small and medium enterprises, so that employment and livelihoods would not be affected beyond a certain extent.

The countries that took it lightly are now suffering the most: not only Italy, but other European countries, the US and Iran are just some examples.

In China, the local infections now are just next to zero, while the real danger is now coming from the ‘imported’ cases, which are seeing a constant rise. Even in this case, China has imposed timely restrictions and measures. For example, every international traveler to Beijing has to undergo necessary 14 day quarantine upon arrival.

It is heartening to note that China, after by and large controlling the malaise on its soil, is now going all out to help other affected nations in a big way. As the pandemic takes Pakistanis into its grip fastly, large scale help from China has already started to arrive. Such Chinese help is also finding ways to the developed Europe, Iran and elsewhere.

Nobody says that what China did on its soil can be replicated as it was to just about any other country or situation. However, Chinese experience tells us that this is not a pandemic to take lightly, no matter what is the level of modernizations of a country’s healthcare system or resources at a government’s disposal.

It is not without reason that international bodies such as World Health Organization (WHO) are all praise for Chinese response to COVID-19. The Chinese experience of fighting the disease tells that response against this plague would have to be timely, strong, all-around and the whole nations would have to rise to this challenge. Well done China. Now it is up to the rest of the world to play its part.

The writer is an Islamabad-based legal professional and a freelance contributor