Coronavirus: this is the time for facts, not fear

A letter from the Chinese embassy to the UAE on co-operation, compassion and courage

epa08184452 Medical staff of Concorde hospital transfer medical supplies from a helicopter in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China, 01 February 2020. Hospitals in Wuhan and other parts of China are facing a shortage of protective masks, clothing and medical supplies as the novel coronavirus outbreak claimed so far 259 lives and infected close to 12,000 people worldwide.  EPA/YFC CHINA OUT
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When the World Health Organisation, the UN’s health agency, declared a public health emergency of international concern over the novel coronavirus on January 30, Director General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus emphasised that this declaration is “not a vote of no confidence in China”; on the contrary, “China is actually setting a new standard for outbreak response”. The WHO continues to have confidence in China’s capacity to control the outbreak and does not recommend limiting trade and movement; rather, it calls for supporting countries with weaker health systems and accelerating the development of vaccines.

China has maintained close communication and good cooperation with the WHO. For example, the organisation's experts recently conducted a field visit to Wuhan, the Chinese city where the outbreak began. Dr Tedros, who also visited China several days ago and exchanged views on the outbreak's containment with Chinese leaders, has applauded the country's contribution to the world through its extraordinary measures. As a responsible global power, China respects the declaration made by the WHO.

For the Government of China, outbreak containment is of paramount importance now. The novel coronavirus has put Chinese people’s health and security in jeopardy. The Chinese government has not only adopted some of the most stringent and comprehensive prevention and control measures possible since the outset, but also stayed committed to openness, transparency and responsibility in disclosing relevant information and addressing various concerns. China identified this pathogen within record-breaking time, isolated the virus, sequenced the genome and shared it with the WHO and the world. China’s efforts are intended to protect not only the Chinese, but people from all over the world. It is due to China’s robust and effective measures to contain the outbreak that the number of cases in the rest of the world has remained relatively small, accounting for only one per cent of the total confirmed.

epa08184086 Chinese people wear masks as they arrive at Beijing Railway Station in Beijing, China, 01 February 2020. The outbreak of coronavirus has so far claimed over 259 lives and infected more than 12,000 others, according to media reports.  EPA/WU HONG

The situation is still serious. The novel coronavirus spreads quickly and has a relatively long incubation period, and this means the number of confirmed cases in China is still increasing. But at the same time, we need to be aware that its fatality rate is lower than Mers, Sars or even influenza. With the positive impacts of China's measures rolling in, many experts predict that a turning point may come soon. Cities are in lockdown and grid management systems are in place to restrict movements. Medical teams from across the country coming to the Hubei province's aid, donations and supplies are arriving in affected areas daily and new, specialised hospitals are nearly complete after only 10 days of construction. Thus far, 243 patients have been cured and discharged from Chinese hospitals, including an 80-year-old senior citizen. All of this is inspiring news. China is confident, capable and sure to win this war against the novel coronavirus outbreak.

The Chinese embassy in the UAE attaches great importance to the first confirmed case of the virus here. We are keeping in close contact with competent authorities of the UAE and following up closely on those infected – four members of a Chinese family. They are in a stable condition and under medical observation. We are confident that under the UAE’s strong and able healthcare system, they will have a speedy recovery and be discharged soon. Our embassy will continue to work closely with Emirati authorities and call on Chinese visitors and residents to cooperate with all precautionary measures requested by the UAE, including thermal screening and quarantine. We are all in this together, and we will fight until the end together.

We Chinese people often say: “Rough roads test a horse’s stamina, high winds reveal a tree’s strength and adversities try a friend’s character.” At arduous time for China, we are glad to see the UAE leaders and people standing with us in solidarity – in particular, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, who expressed on Twitter his confidence in Chinese authorities and readiness to provide all support to China. The Chinese government and people are deeply grateful for the UAE’s support and generosity. Etihad Airways and Emirates are continuing to operate all direct flights to China, which registers their strong confidence in us as well. The Chinese people will not forget that.

Just as Director General Dr Tedros says: “This is the time for facts, not fear; this is the time for science, not rumours; this is the time for solidarity, not stigma.” As the weather warms up into spring, viral activity will naturally decrease, giving our governments and healthcare workers more favourable conditions to win this fight. Time and the momentum are both on our side. We believe that with the concerted efforts of the international community, including China and the UAE, we will soon triumph over the outbreak and safeguard global public health security.

It is important to remember that when winter comes, spring is never far behind. The world is still a wonderful place, and its people will emerge from the winter stronger than ever.

Lin Yaduo is Charge d’Affaires at the Chinese embassy in Abu Dhabi