Epidemic War: Unite together Fight together--Remarks by H.E. Ambassador Sun Weidong at the Press Conference on the Prevention and Control of the Novel Coronavirus Pneumonia Epidemic

  Dear media friends, good afternoon! Since the outbreak of NCP (novel coronavirus pneumonia) epidemic, the international community paid close attention to it. At this press conference, I would like to brief you the latest situation of China's epidemic prevention and control.

  The sudden outbreak of NCP has brought severe challenges to China and the world. The Chinese government has taken the most comprehensive, rigorous and thorough prevention and control measures. Many measures are well beyond the requirements by the International Health Regulations and the recommendations of WHO. They have embodied China's responsibility and won the recognition of the international community. Through arduous efforts day and night, the epidemic is generally under control, and the dawn has begun to appear. As of Feb. 17th, outside Hubei province, the number of confirmed cases has been declining for 14 consecutive days across China. That is a cumulative drop of over 50 percent. The epidemic in Hubei and Wuhan is also being managed more effectively. There is a rapid increase in the cure rate, from 1.3% to today's 8.2%, and over 12,000 people have recovered and been discharged from hospitals. The case fatality rate is 2.29 percent nationwide and just 0.55 percent outside Hubei. The number of new suspected cases in China continues to decline, from the peak of more than 5000 a day to less than 2000 a day. These figures show that by and large, the epidemic is preventable, controllable and curable, and China's decisive response is both right and effective.

  On this epidemic war, I would like to highlight three keywords: Confidence, Compassion and Cooperation.

  The first keyword is Confidence.

  As President Xi Jinping points out, we have full confidence, capability and determination to prevail over the epidemic at an early date. Since the outbreak of the epidemic, many foreign friends, including Indian friends, have been encouraging Wuhan and China, calling "Stay strong Wuhan", "Stay strong China". Thank you for this. We have full confidence to win.

  Our confidence comes from the strong leadership of the Communist Party of China. President Xi Jinping made instructions on the prevention and control of the epidemic as early as January 7th when he convened the meeting of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee. Since then, he has been repeatedly asking all-level party committees, governments and relevant departments to put people's safety and health first, take effective measures to resolutely curb the spread of the epidemic. He clearly required Hubei Province to implement comprehensive and strict control over the personnel outflow. On January 25th, the very first day of the Spring Festival, the most important holiday in China, President Xi Jinping convened another meeting of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau and decided to set up the Central Leading Group on Responding to NCP Outbreak. It has never happened before in Chinese history to have this highest level meeting on the first day of the Spring Festival. It demonstrated President Xi attaches great importance to the epidemic, his keen insight and outstanding leadership. He also went to Beijing local hospital to review the diagnosis and treatment of patients and inspected community prevention and control work in Beijing.

  The Chinese government has built an all-round and multi-level prevention and control system focusing on Wuhan city and Hubei province. Premier Li Keqiang went to Wuhan, the epicenter, to guide the prevention and control work. The State Council has established joint mechanism. All 31 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities in Mainland China have activated Level 1 emergency response to major public health emergencies. We are doing everything we can, leaving no stone unturned, in our efforts to contain and mitigate this epidemic on the land of 9.6 million square kilometers of China. This is an unprecedented endeavor. China's rapid and effective response to the epidemic shows the strong leadership of the CPC and decisive measures of governments at all levels.

  Our confidence comes from strong actions of China's ability to mobilize all the resources for big undertakings. We pooled national resources to support Wuhan and Hubei, and mobilized 19 provinces to support 19 cities in Hubei. As of February 14th, China has allocated more than 80 billion RMB for epidemic prevention and control. Banks and financial institutions have provided more than 537 billion RMB in credit to fight against the epidemic. The National Health Commission sent 217 medical teams with more than 30,000 medical staff and 3 mobile P3 laboratories to support the medical treatment in Hubei. We have opened 11,000 high-way green channels for emergency and protective supplies throughout the country. Highway vehicle tolls nationwide has been exempted from yesterday to the end of epidemic prevention and control. Under the unified dispatch, medical supplies such as masks and protective suits, as well as food and daily necessities, have been continuously delivered to all cities in Hubei.

  In the process of this battle, we have renewed"Chinese speed"time and time again. In order to relieve the shortage of medical resources, it took us only 10 days each to finish the building of two makeshift hospitals, Huoshenshan & Leishenshan hospitals. To build these two hospitals, hundreds of designers came up with the design scheme within 24 hours, 1,500 builders with a reserve team of 2,000 people and 280 sets of construction machinery and equipments have been working day and night. Wuhan has opened 10 "mobile cabin hospitals", receiving around 7,000 patients. Our next goal is to make sure that every patient be hospitalized and treated, leaving no one unattended or under-attended. China's system advantages are fully demonstrated. Here I would like to present a video clip on the construction of Huoshenshan hospital.

  Our confidence comes from strong Chinese people with tenacity and spirit of sacrifice. Emergency actions have been taken by all party committees, local governments, military units, public institutions and enterprises. The broad masses of the people have worked as one, and people's war against the epidemic has been launched. Tens of thousands of medical workers have been fighting against the epidemic in the front line. Scientists have stepped up scientific and technology research. Workers in factories and companies have worked at full capacity. Soldiers and policemen have devoted themselves to this battle. Large number of village cadres and community workers have sticken to their posts. Wuhan has mobilized 16,000 people to conduct complete search of all communities, with the percentage of people surveyed exceeding 99%. Tens of thousands of volunteers have transported various supplies and provided assistance to the epidemic area. There are numerous touching and moving stories happening now in China. I will share with you later.

  Our confidence comes from China's strong economy, and we have full confidence to maintain the long-term and stable development of China's economy. As the world second largest economy, our economic strength is the strong material foundation for us to win this battle. Huoshenshan and Leishenshan hospitals are equipped with modern medical facilities all "made in China", with 5G high-speed network that can support the needs of 25,000 people and set up a platform for remote diagnosis and treatment. Tencent, Alibaba and other major technology companies use big data, cloud computing, artificial intelligence and robots to conduct viral gene analysis, temperature monitoring, material distribution, remote diagnosis and treatment.

  The epidemic has brought certain impact on some industries such as transportation, tourism and caterings as well as small and medium-sized enterprises. In the short term, the downward pressure on China's economy will increase, but the impact is local, temporary and limited. China is a major country with strong resilience, great potential and ample room for maneuver. We will stick to meeting this year's targets for economic and social development.

  Firstly, the Chinese government has strong macro regulation capabilities and sufficient resources and policy tools to cope with economic fluctuations. Since the outbreak of the epidemic, governments at all levels have introduced policies and measures to encourage economic growth, such as increasing capital input, reducing taxes and fees in stages and increasing preferential credit support. Governments have taken timely measures to ensure material supply, resume production and operation, support small and medium-sized enterprises and ensure employment and people's livelihood.

  Secondly, withstanding the test, China's economic structure has become more rational and its system has been strengthened. At present, new business of China's digital economy is full of vitality and has formed new growth point. Public consumption is also turning to e-commerce, generating new consumption potential.

  Thirdly, our market is big enough. The subdued consumer demand will be released rapidly when the epidemic is over. The dynamism of China's economy will rebound strongly, and the market size will continue to grow. The Chinese government is actively encouraging enterprises to resume production, encouraging major projects to start construction, and striving to stabilize household consumption. 99.7% of state-owned enterprises in Beijing and 80% in Shanghai have resumed production. The outbreak of epidemic will not change the sound fundamentals of China's economy. We have the capability to minimize the economic impact of the epidemic. Both the World Bank and IMF have full confidence in Chinese economic resilience.

  China's economy is stable and strong like a mountain. The fierce wind could blow down the trees but not the mountain. It's easier to shake a mountain than China. We firmly believe that with the strong leadership of the CPC, the strength of the China's system, the unity of the great Chinese people and the strong support from the international community, we will win this battle against the epidemic.

  The second keyword is Compassion.

  There are so many lovely people who deserve our respect and should be remembered in this fight against the epidemic.

  First, medical workers.

  Among them you can find some "leading figures" in the Chinese medical community. Mr. Zhong Nanshan, at the age of 84, rushed to Wuhan at the epidemic outbreak. Without a seat ticket on that day, he could only find a seat in the dining car. Another academician Mme. Li Lanjuan, she is 73 years old, and she slept only 3 hours a day, but worked around the clock with her team to find effective treatment measures as soon as possible.

  The majority of the medical workers are ordinary people. In order to protect lives and fight the epidemic, they demonstrated unparalleled courage and professionalism, made extraordinary choices, sacrifices, and dedication.

  A female nurse who just graduated from university spent four days and three nights to go back to the hospital she works in. Because of the absence of public transportation, she completed 300 kilometers by hitchhiking, biking or walking. In order to reduce the risk of infection, many female medical workers cut their hair with tears, to put on the protective suits easier. Working for long time created blood marks on their faces, and their hands were wounded after repeated disinfection. Many medical workers worked too much. They were extremely exhausted. In order to save time, they just took chairs and even the floor as resting places.

  Lunar New Year's Eve is the most important festival of reunion for Chinese families. But exactly on that day, more than one hundred medical workers from the Military Medical University set out to Wuhan. This is a mother who was comforting her crying daughter. This is a husband seeing off his wife with tears who is a doctor going to leave for Wuhan. This is a nurse from Huoshenshan hospital, her mother suddenly died of illness. She could only bow down in the direction of her hometown to express her deep grief, and soon returned to her work.

  "My motherland needs me. That is my bounden duty." Fear was conquered by the mission and responsibility. These people are the backbones of China. Their performance reassured the people in China and the world.

  Second, grassroots workers.

  Communities are at the forefront of epidemic control. After the outbreak, a large number of grassroots workers stuck to their posts and performed their duties, and all the strength came together to fight against the epidemic.

  Their persistence ensured that people lived a normal life and the epidemic was effectively controlled. After the whole city of Wuhan was locked down, community workers became "waiters" and "couriers" . Many township cadres, policemen, community workers and volunteers gave up their Spring Festival holidays and rushed back to their working position, strictly managing the flow of personnel, carefully recording the passing of vehicles, and patiently publicizing epidemic prevention knowledge. Recently, many places saw the heavy snow in China. Even working in the snowstorm of minus 20 degrees, a community worker still carefully recorded the temperature of each person entering the community.

  Third, ordinary workers.

  Workers in Wuhan have shown incredible tenacity and selflessness. Their slogan is "All for one, one for all". The Chinese collectivism and devotion are fully displayed in the fight of epidemic.

  Mr. Qin, a vegetables farmer, rode an electric tricycle for 40 kilometers and delivered 24 boxes of fresh vegetables to the medical team. He said, "I picked the freshest ones to you, and all for free."

  A family who runs a Halal restaurant in Wuhan delivered food for free to medical staff, pointsmen and sanitation workers. "As residents of Wuhan, I think we have responsibilities to help the front-line workers in need," they said.

  Cheng Dong is a driver. During the period of outbreak, he became a 24-hour standby driver of a special medical car. He had to start his work before dawn every day. After delivering doctors, he went to the community as a volunteer to help carry the donated materials.

  Su Qiyun, a 54-year-old sanitation worker, has been cleaning and disinfecting public toilets in Wuhan every day since the outbreak. More than 1,000 public toilets are still open in Wuhan, and each of them with a sanitation worker as a "guardian".

  The construction worker of the Huoshenshan hospital Mr. Luo Mingliang, one of the workers, said he didn't do this job for money. As soon as he got his salary, he spent all the money on milk and nutrition for the medical staff.

  They are all most ordinary people. They are construction workers, sanitation workers, teachers, company employees, volunteers, but everybody did their best to fight against the epidemic, showing that the Chinese people are always indomitable and united.

  The third keyword is Cooperation.

  Since the sudden outbreak, China has been actively cooperating with the international community with openness, transparency and a high sense of responsibility. In a short span of over one week, we identified the pathogen and shared genetic sequence with WHO and other countries. This has played an important role for other countries to prepare timely testing and diagnostic tools for early prevention. To prevent the virus from spreading to other areas and rest of the world, China took decisive measures such as lockdown of Wuhan city, imposing restrictions on traffic of key epidemic areas and suspending outbound travel groups before the Spring Festival. While there are more than 70,000 confirmed cases in China, by contrast, there are about 700 cases which is less than one percent of all cases in the rest of the world. The measures we have taken stop the spread of the disease on a global scale. China has made tremendous efforts for the global public health security at great sacrifices.

  Director-General of WHO Dr. Tedros said that the containment and mitigation measures taken by China has gone well beyond WHO recommendations and China is actually setting a new standard. Here I would like to quote his remarks, "This is a time for facts, not fear. This is the time for science, not rumours. This is the time for solidarity, not stigma." In this case, everyone should not panic nor overreact to the outbreak, nor should they discriminate against the Chinese. Now here is what Director-General of WHO Dr. Tedros said on China's anti-epidemic efforts through a video clip.

  The international community supports China's strong actions. As of February 14th, leaders of over 160 countries and international organizations have expressed their sympathy and support to China through telegrams or letters. Nearly 20 regional organizations including the BRICS and SCO, have spoken in support of China. As of February 14, 33 foreign governments and four international organizations have assisted China with medical supplies. 17 foreign governments and one international organization announced that they will offer medical supplies. Recently, some countries have voluntarily adjusted or lifted excessive travel restrictions on China.

  China and India have been keeping close communication on the epidemic. Recently, Prime Minister Modi sent a letter of condolence to President Xi Jinping, expressing his recognition of the tremendous effort made by the Chinese government to deal with the outbreak. The Indian side assures readiness to stand by China and provide the assistance that India can to face this challenge. During a telephonic conversation with State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, External Affairs Minister Dr. Jaishankar said that it is important to evaluate the outbreak in an objective and rational manner and not take actions that may complicate the situation. We appreciate and thank solidarity and support rendered by India.

  China and India are actively collaborating on epidemic prevention and control, focusing on the following: First, we keep India informed and updated of the epidemic. The Chinese Foreign Ministry and relevant local governments have held briefings in China.The Chinese Embassy has also established a contact mechanism with the Ministry of Health of India.

  Second, we provided necessary assistance and convenience for the return of Indian citizens in Hubei, and ensured the health and safety of Indian nationals in China. I made a special inquiry and learned from Hubei Province that as of today, there is no case of infection among the remaining Indian citizens in Hubei.

  Third, the Indian students in Hubei have been taken good care of. The relevant universities have designated personnel to deliver masks and other protective materials to the students, and send food and daily necessities to their residence on a regular basis. We give priority to their health and safety. The universities also provide necessary psychological counseling and online courses for those in need. At present, according to epidemic prevention and control situation in different provinces, the universities and colleges have issued notice to delay the starting of 2020 spring semester and notified each international student by email or mobile. For Indian students who are planning to go back to China to continue their studies, please contact their universities in China to confirm the date of registration.

  In recent days, I have received a lot of messages from all sectors in India expressing sympathy and solidarity. These people, who I may not even know their names, expressed their understanding and support to China's fight against the epidemic in various ways. Some of them recorded videos to cheer for China and Wuhan to stay strong like this.

  A Chinese citizen in India told me that he met an Indian boy selling masala chai on the street the other day. When the vender came to know that he is a Chinese, he gave him a big hug to show the support.

  At this difficult moment, I am deeply touched by the kindness of Indian friends and I can feel the sincere friendship between the two peoples.

  All these remind me of the time when Dr. Kotnis rescued the wounded and saved many lives and made great contributions to the Chinese people's liberation cause. It also brings back my memory of what I experienced during the outbreak of SARS in April 2003 when I was division director in the Asian Department of the Chinese Foreign Ministry. At that time, I received a delegation led by then-Indian Defense Minister George Fernandes who visited Shanghai during the epidemic. In an interview with PTI, he criticized the foreign media for exaggerating epidemic and creating panic among the public. After returning to India, he took concrete actions to support China's epidemic combat by instructing the Indian Army to donate medicine to China. This sort of act of kindness will never be forgotten by the Chinese people.

  China and India are the only two major developing countries in the world. As ancient civilizations, both countries have wisdom to offer inspiration to address challenges facing the world today. Improving public health security is our common goal. We can strengthen cooperation and exchanges of experience in this regard.

  Currently China and India enjoy close cooperation in various areas. More than one million people travel between the two countries every year and the bilateral trade volume is over 90 billion US dollar. In addition, China is now in the significant position in the global supply chain. Therefore, China's early victory over the epidemic will be beneficial to the development of both China and India as well as the global economy. It will help bilateral economic and trade cooperation get back on track. In this context, helping China is actually helping yourself.

  When we look at the history of human society, we have been struggling with virus. There have been outbreaks of SARS, MERS, H1N1 and Ebola in recent years. We will certainly come up against some unknown virus in the future.

Virus is borderless and a common threat to everyone in the world. Facing this common challenge, we need to enhance mutual understanding, strengthen cooperation, show solidarity, and jointly overcome difficulties. This is what it means to build a community with a shared future for mankind. I have full confidence, with joint efforts of the Chinese people and the international community, we will win this battle against the epidemic.

  Thank you.

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