China in the crucial stage of the fight against the coronavirus
China in the crucial stage of the fight against the coronavirus
Author: Matej Balen
1st February 2020
BEIJING – Over the past week China is on the headlines of all international media due to a novel coronavirus epidemic spreading from Wuhan.

The new virus, later named 2019-nCoV or coronavirus, was first detected in December 2019 in Huanan seafood market in Wuhan after it was spread amongst some of the workers and local shoppers there. On December 31, the WHO was alerted, the market was closed, and the scientists from Beijing and Shanghai were racing against time to trace the virus.

As the Chinese New Year was approaching and people were starting to head home for annual holidays and traditional celebration, country was shocked to hear about 200 mysterious infections with a novel coronavirus in a city of Wuhan, on January 20th. Two days after that, the number of infected people rose to 550 with 17 deaths, with cases also reported outside Hubei province including in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangdong province. The whole country was in alert.

At 2AM on January 23rd, authorities in Wuhan suddenly issued the order to close off the city which included all public buses, subways, ferries, long-distance buses and other transport services to be suspended, and the airport and train stations closed. The decision was applicable for 10AM the same day, which ultimately left an 8-hour period for the quickest to leave the city. Within the next two days, a total of 14 cities in Hubei province would be brought into the quarantine zone, with a population of around 35 million. For this indecisiveness in decision-making process to close off the most infected areas, which gave room for almost 5 million people to escape the region and likely spread the epidemic across the whole country, the top 4 provincial leaders publicly apologised to the whole nation: the provincial Party secretary, provincial governor, Wuhan Party secretary and the mayor of Wuhan.

However, over the course of one week, China has undertaken the most comprehensive and rigorous measures for prevention and control of the epidemic that the World has ever seen. Citizens of all Chinese cities fully adopted the instructions from the Chinese government and local authorities to stay home and take measures for individual safety, not to go out, wear protection masks, wash hands and avoid crowds in order to limit spreading of the epidemic.

In the matter of a few days, Chinese government was able to mobilise over a billion people to follow the safety instructions, organise the collection of necessary resources, medical equipment and supplies for the rescue of the most vulnerable areas in Hubei province. The order to build the new hospital in Wuhan with the capacity of 1000 beds in just 10 days shocked the world. Chinese military, doctors and medical staff voluntarily left the safety of their homes to risk their health and lives in the Wuhan area, which made the nation proud.

Meanwhile, outside of Hubei province, the people of China are celebrating the most unusual New Year holidays. Advised to stay in their homes, their whole social life moved to social media, where the followed the news about the fight against the coronavirus, daily reports, medical advices, means of protection… but also enjoyed free time by reading books, watching favourite TV shows and movies, cooking, relaxing, etc. People supported each other in this fight, ultimately understanding that the only real danger they face – is FEAR.
And while the country is entering the second week of the national fight against the virus epidemic, even though the numbers of the infections and deaths are still rising, the country is standing calmer than ever, proud in their struggles, and the most determined to eliminate this danger. If some international media are spreading panic, China is definitely NOT.

Chinese government have issued a recommendation to extend vacation time for another week, in order to put off the second big wave of migration when people are heading back to work. According to their own situation and safety risks, Chinese cities will individually decide on the day when people will be allowed to go back to work, and schools and universities to be opened. Chinese is more determined than ever to win this fight!

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