Learning through Chinese experience to mitigate the COVID-19 risk | Daily News


 

Learning through Chinese experience to mitigate the COVID-19 risk

Vaccine research expedited
Vaccine research expedited

Covid-19 originated in Wuhan of China, has become a world phenomenon which affects people all over the world. Up to now, as anyone knows the number of people infected has exceeded three million around the world, and the number of deaths has exceeded 200,000. United States, United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, France, Germany and most other countries have accumulated thousands of confirmed cases. Regardless the technological health advancements of any country the Coronavirus has been showing its’ mighty throughout the country claiming the lives of thousands of people around the world. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) statistics, Coronavirus has taken 110 countries and self-governing states under its control mercilessly.

The scope of the epidemic is still expanding and the extent is still deepening. Some countries took the lead in controlling the epidemic, especially in China. In the face of a new unknown virus, as the world’s most populous country, China has taken extensive, flexible and active prevention and control measures to effectively control the epidemic in a shortest time. China’s anti epidemic experience has a global value to avoid or minimize spreading the Covid-19.

Leadership

Based on its special political and economic system built with its historical background, China has a tradition of concentrating its efforts to accomplish great things. The central government has launched a national emergency response system by setting up a Central Emergency Response Team and joint epidemic prevention and control mechanism at the state councils, after a cluster of unexplained pneumonia cases were found in Wuhan. President Xi Jinping himself directed the deployment of virus disease prevention and control work, ordered governments at all levels take epidemic prevention to be a top priority. The second leader Li Keqiang, led the strategic group of the central government for controlling epidemic response in Wuhan and to inspect and coordinate departments as well as different provinces across the country to fight against epidemics. State Council Vice Prime Minister Sun Chunlan maintained active presence in Wuhan during critical time while leading and coordinating the frontline work. The top leaders of each province nationwide were directly responsible for preventive strategies to control virus spreading in their own provinces. Thus, in the first time, China has established a mechanism to the mobilization of all the strategists from the central government to the most grass-roots communities.

Different from most of the Western countries, since the very beginning, China set up the strategic targets of controlling the epidemic disease in the shortest time period without thinking of the cost involved. A national wide travel restriction was imposed from 23rd of January. Community staff and volunteers blocked intersections and community gates to control the flow of people. Testing temperature was imposed in all public areas. It applied to people moving in communities and required to wear masks.

In the later stages, China has slowly moved from a more uniform approach to a scientific, risk-oriented approach of the management. The actual situation and capacity of different region, and the characteristics of virus transmission were taken into account to gradually open up life of the general people and start operations of industries. The reopen progress is cautious and gradual, although all businesses have restarted, schools, including kindergartens, primary schools, secondary schools and universities, were closed further.

National mobilization

Centralized system, history and culture of the China have supported its strong national mobilization ability. When covid-19 broke out, it coincided with the traditional Chinese Spring Festival. It was a time for re-starting production for orders and Chinese people to return from home to work. However, facing the increasingly severe epidemic, the whole society has been quickly mobilized. On the government side, all departments performed their duties, and the leader of government officials actively participated in the prevention and control of the epidemic. Community, school, hospital and other organizations actively cooperated and coordinated with each other. On the enterprise side, the enterprises promptly start to product Epidemic prevention materials. The relevant industries quickly changed their production facilities to increase capacity to meet the sudden demand of necessary items. At the beginning of February, China’s mask production reached more than 60% of the maximum capacity of 20 million, and increased at a rate of more than 3% per day. On the resident side, 1.4 billion people stopped visiting each other while the cities with millions of people were closed down. Marriage and funeral ceremonies were even required to be simplified with restricted number of participants. This requirement was not to stay at the verbal level; instead, the community staff supervised and intervened to be realized in practical.

Wuhan City in the Hubei Province, where the epidemic was most serious in China, announced its closure at 2.00 am on 23rd of January 2020. At that time, there were only 830 confirmed cases in China. After the closure of Wuhan in the Hubei Province, other provinces in China organized a large-scale counterpart support. Every two other provinces support one city in Hubei Province. However, the other provinces have also being infected themselves recording positive cases at the same time. Wuhan lifted the traffic closure on o8th of April after one and half month period. During closure stage, more than 346 medical teams, 42600 medical staffs from more than 20 provinces supported Hubei to fight with Covid - 19. Over $300 million funds flew to and countless medical materials were transferred to the Hubei Province.

What more impressive was the fact that it took only 10 days to complete the first temporary treatment center with 1,000 beds. It took the institute 60 hours to complete a comprehensive set of construction drawings. The entire construction process was broadcast live via video. Everyone could watch the construction process live online.

There was a rapid material mobilization among provinces. In the face of the sudden and severe epidemic, there was a structural shortage of medical protective equipment such as masks, protective clothing, detection equipment, kits and respirators. At that time, China was also faced with a severe test of how to coordinate the distribution of materials in different regions, departments and social groups. Chinese government, on the one hand, intensively dispatched existing limited medical supplies through the construction of the National Medical Supplies Dispatching Platform to ensure the need of the frontline, simultaneously considering the interests of all parties. On the other hand, Chinese government strived to coordinate to solve the practical difficulties in employment, raw materials, transportation and other aspects of medical material production enterprises to ensure the quality and quantity of supply. China has also received aid from the world. Sri Lankan government officially donated a batch of black tea to Chinese government while a lot medical materials were donated through people-to-people channels. Accordingly academic staff and undergraduates of the University of Sri Jayewardenepura donated 9,000 face masks to its Chinese partner universities

In just half a month, the supply of medical materials in the severely affected areas of the Hubei province has been greatly alleviated. A large number of masks and disinfected water plants have been newly built or rebuilt in a short time. When the epidemic situation in China was under control in overall, China had already produced and stored a large number of epidemic prevention materials. Later, these materials were donated or exported for global anti epidemic initiatives. Excluding materials donated to other countries, China exported a total of $1.45 billion worth of anti-epidemic materials from March 1 to April 4. It mainly includes 3.8 billion masks, 37.52 million anti epidemic suits, 2.41 million infrared thermometers, 16 thousands respirators, 2.84 million kits of testing reagents and 8.41 million pairs of goggles.

Foundation of medical system

China’s public health system has accumulated a solid foundation of universal health care. After the outbreak of the epidemic, the Chinese government sent several top medical teams led by national treasure experts to Wuhan to study the treatment scheme and develop vaccine. With the continued efforts of these top medical teams, China has developed an increasingly comprehensive understanding of the virus and proposed a comprehensive treatment program which firstly aimed to reduce mortality. It covers a wide range of symptom types (light, normal, severe, and critical), including Traditional Chinese Medicine and western medicine. China’s top four vaccine research institutes went all out to develop vaccines under wartime requirements. A vaccine in China entered human trials on March 19. Although the COVID-19 in China is relatively stable now, the virus is still being tracked. The capacity of China’s basic health system has underpinned the country’s rapid research into viruses and diseases, and the sharing of the results with the rest of the world.

Information transparency and sharing

China was strictly adhered to information transparency and sharing during its anti-epidemic campaign. First of all, China has released real-time and detailed data on its official website and new government media since 21st of January. Secondly, China has set up two virus data sharing platforms to support global scientists in their research on Covid-19 treatment and vaccines with shared virus gene and virology data. First one is “Global Coronavirus Omics Data Sharing and Analysis System” (http://nmdc.cn/#/coronavirus) which was established by National Microbiology Data Centre. The second one is the “2019 New Coronavirus Resource Bank” (https://bigd.big.ac.cn/ncov) released by the National Genomics Data Centre. Furthermore, China encourages scientists and first-line clinical doctors to publish their valuable medical achievements in International authoritative journals to facilitate experiences exchange. “The novel coronavirus pneumonia research and achievement sharing platform” was set up by the Chinese Medical Journal Net. There are more than more than 700 online publications or reports from 99 journals, with more than 2 million 300 thousand visits. Chinese scientists have published more than 50 papers in four mainstream medical journals, such as The Lancet and The New England Journal of Medicine, as well as seven comprehensive journals, such as SCIENCE, Nature and CELL.

China also exports its experience through sending medical experts teams to other countries around the world. According to incomplete statistics, China has sent medical experts teams to Iran, Iraq, Italy and Pakistan. With the medical teams, China shares the experience in the construction and management of the temporary treatment center and the treatment plans with other countries. China has provided assistance to 82 countries, the world health organization and the African union in the effort of controlling Covid-19.

Digital substitution

It is worth mentioning that in this epidemic, China has promoted the substitution of Internet services, which has greatly reduced the social problems caused by the travel restrictions. For example, many public services such as medical care, education, high-speed traffic, banks services were completed through self-service equipment or online services to reduce the risk of cross infection. For example, China innovated the Internet hospital service to reduce unnecessary on-site medical treatment. For patients who have to go to the hospital, the Internet hospital accurately makes appointment for medical treatment, provides necessary guidance on comprehensive medical information prior collection, transportation, parking, protective measures, triage information, indoor navigation etc., which improved the efficiency of diagnosis and treatment, reduce the stay time of patients in the hospital.

The Online classroom is implemented nationwide. In recent years, China has vigorously promoted online education. Based on the excellent communication infrastructure and the foundation of early online education construction, during the epidemic period, China promoted online education throughout the country. Although there are foreseeable problems in the online teaching, it helps the students continue learning without stopping as a result of staying home for more than a month.

There were innovated Internet tools to facilitate the monitoring and detection of personnel travel. For example, Alibaba has developed a mobile application “Health Code”, which classified people’s risk level of personal after their registration. Everyone was required to show his or her health code when entered and left the monitoring point. Such kind of tools improved the monitoring efficiency. With the help of internet service, real time coordination, monitoring and interaction of epidemic prevention can be realized. During the inspection by experts from the World Health Organization, they asked Chinese anti epidemic personnel how to coordinate their work in very remote areas. The Chinese epidemic prevention personnel immediately (about 2 minutes later) demonstrated the dialogue with the epidemic prevention personnel in remote areas through 5G platform. Developed Internet services have reduced the impact of the epidemic on production and life. Enterprises and government could hold meetings conveniently through video conferencing tools. People can still buy goods and materials through e-commerce without leaving home.

Conclusion

The country’s success is largely due to its strong administrative system, which has a strong mobilization capacity in the face of challenges, and also the Chinese people’s consensus and willingness to adhere to strict public health guidelines and procedures. Although many other countries do not have a strong government like China, politicians of all countries can still learn from China’s experiences. China is the most economic power, which has a significant impact on the world economy, especially the Asian region. Next, we can focus on China’s economic revitalization measures as post-epidemic strategies.

(Dr. Qiubo Huang is Associate Professor of Innovation Management at School of Modern Service at Zhejiang Shuren University, China. His research interests are service innovation and management in digital-related service and the digitization of the organization). 


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