China’s current strategy is focusing on preventing COVID-19 transfer from abroad: Ambassador

China’s current strategy is focusing on preventing COVID-19 transfer from abroad: Ambassador

Sevil Erkuş - ANKARA
China’s current strategy is focusing on preventing COVID-19 transfer from abroad: Ambassador

This photo taken on March 29, 2020 passengers wearing face masks, amid concerns of the COVID-19 coronavirus, queueing up to check-in before boarding flights at Yichang Sanxia Airport in Yichang in China's central Hubei province. (Photo by STR via AFP)

China developed its own model in the fight against COVID-19 after its appearance in the city of Wuhan in December. Some western countries like the U.S. have been criticized for being too harsh, but China has succeeded in reducing the number of cases with this model.

As a city of approximately 11 million, Wuhan has been isolated from the outside world since Jan. 23. Following these measures taken at the expense of people’s livelihoods and personal freedoms, travel restrictions have recently begun to ease in some cities of Hubei province, except Wuhan.

In an interview with Hürriyet Daily News, Chinese Ambassador to Ankara Deng Li said the provinces in the mainland of the country, except Hubei, have reduced the number of new diagnoses and suspicious cases to zero, and production and living conditions are rapidly returning to normal throughout the country.

Currently, China is putting all its weight on preventing cases from abroad. However, Ambassador Deng emphasizes that “China cannot be said to have triumphed unless the world pandemic ends.” He noted that scientists in China stated that the outbreak can be expected to end in June if the countries take effective action.

What are the issues that Turkey and China make cooperation in in the struggle against COVID-19? What assistance have Turkey and China provided to each other?

The COVID-19 outbreak is a common and new test that all humanity faces. Relevant countries should overcome this challenge in cooperation, by joining hands. The Turkish side sent two batches of medical supplies to China to fight the pandemic. In a friendly attitude, the Chinese side effectively and in a constructive manner coordinated Turkey’s humanitarian and evacuation operations of its citizens from Wuhan.

The Chinese side has closely been following Turkey’s fight against the pandemic. At the request of the Turkish side, China continues its cooperation in issues such as test kits, medicine, and experience sharing. According to Turkish media reports, rapid test kits and drugs imported from China are already being used. The organizations and individuals in Turkey affiliated with China have immediately taken action and donated several medical supplies such as mask and surgical overalls.

Do the Chinese health experts collaborate with health authorities in Turkey concerning the treatment method?

On March 26, a videoconference on the issue of the treatment plan was held with the participation of healthcare professionals from both sides. Chinese scientists shared all their experiences, including the treatment plan on the matter, and answered questions posed by Turkish experts.

Could you give information about the drug that was announced by Health Minister Fahrettin Koca, imported from China? What is the name of this drug? How is the method of use? What is your success regarding the treatment by it? Can you describe the beneficial aspect of the drug? Is the drug used only in treatment, is it possible to use it as a preventive?

It is a drug called Favipiravir that is imported from China according to the news of the Turkish media. On March 17, an official from the Science and Technology Ministry of China announced that Favipiravir completed the clinical examination phase in Wuhan and Shenzhen cities and showed a positive clinical effect.

Favipiravir, which has a certain and positive effect, according to the clinical tests of Chinese experts, is reliable and does not show any specific negative side effects, preventing the condition of patients with mild symptoms from getting worse.

Experts advised to include Favipiravir in the treatment plan. Our embassy has no knowledge of the method of use and its effect. We believe that Chinese and Turkish healthcare professionals will exchange ideas on these issues.

How many quantities did Turkey purchase of this drug? Do you have enough production capacity to continue to meet this demand? To which other countries do you export?

I think it would be better to refer to the company of order or to the Turkish Health Ministry to learn about Turkey’s order. Our embassy has no information about production capacity and sales status.

Could you give information about the stage you have reached in the fight against China’s COVID-19 cases? What is the latest situation in the pandemic’s spread chart in the country? What is the main approach your government has adopted in combating the epidemic? What are the strengths and weaknesses of your approach?

After the COVID-19 outbreak, the Chinese government is fighting the pandemic with all its efforts under the determined leadership of President Xi Jinping, putting an open, transparent and responsible attitude, putting people’s safety and health first, mobilizing the whole country, and at this stage made gains.

In the mainland of China, provinces outside of Hubei province have reduced the number of new diagnoses and suspected cases to zero. As of March 27, 299 of the 337 cities, in which case was detected, the number of cases was reduced to zero. While the course of the fight against the pandemic is getting well, the production and living conditions are rapidly returning to normal. Currently, China is putting all its weight on preventing cases from abroad. As of March 27 00:00, the total number of detected cases from abroad was 595.

What are your recommendations to the Turkish authorities and citizens in the fight against the pandemic?

If correct perspectives are created and correct methods are used, the COVID-19 virus can be prevented, controlled and beaten. All countries and individuals should do their best with sufficient confidence. The Chinese side follows the principle of “Four Early” in the fight against epidemics: Early diagnosis, early reporting, early isolation and early treatment.

In this way, we can cut the virus’ spreading channel as soon as possible and allocate health resources to those who really need it. In the face of a new virus, which has an extremely high transmission rate, not only the efforts of the healthcare professionals are sufficient, but the whole society must act against it.

Staying at home can also be an indispensable contribution to combating the pandemic.

How was the Chinese economy affected by this pandemic? Can you give information about your economy support/recovery package?

The risks of the Chinese economy going down is increasing due to the effects of many domestic and international factors. The pandemic hit hard the functioning of the economy. But in general, the tendency of the Chinese economy to improve in the long run and to go up domestically has not changed.

The effects of the outbreak are short-term and external, controllable. In the first two months, the total production volume of the industry sector at the scales determined by the state in China reached 11.5 trillion RMB, the sales amount of social consumption products exceeded 5.2 trillion RMB and the realized capital investments exceeded 3.3 trillion RMB. These show that the Chinese economy’s supersize advantage has not changed.

While having difficulty in other industries, demands for new services such as online shopping, fresh food e-commerce platforms, online education, remote inspection, remote work are increasing rapidly, while the production amount of high technology products is rapidly increasing. These show that the momentum of the new driving forces has not changed and China can turn the short-term pressures into an engine power of the transformation process.

After strengthening our successful position in the fight against the epidemic, the inner motives of the development of China will emerge more and more, the restart button and the acceleration button will be pressed for some economic activities which were previously pressed the stop button.

What is your prediction for the total control and end of this pandemic in your country?

China cannot be said to have triumphed unless the world pandemic ends. Leading healthcare professionals in China said that the outbreak could be expected to end in June if the countries concerned take effective action. China is acting vigilantly and cautiously towards a second wave, as the danger of virus carriers coming from abroad is increasing.

At this stage, we will make great efforts on three issues: First, to treat 3,460 existing cases, especially 1,034 patients with severe conditions. Second, to cut not only the human-to-human transmission channel of the virus but the animal-to-human transmission channel, which is the source of the virus. Third, preventing the virus from coming abroad, which is the most important issue at the moment.

Which countries is your government cooperating with in the fight against COVID-19?

Currently, China is reaching out to countries affected by the pandemic in the following four areas: First, China aided 89 countries such as Iran, Iraq, Serbia, Italy and Pakistan, along with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the African Union, for the test kits, masks and protective clothing and donated $ 20 million to the WHO.

Secondly, China has made more than 30 remote teleconference meetings with 180 countries and sent its expert teams to some countries in order to effectively share its pandemic-fighting experiences, such as the latest treatment planning, prevention and control planning.

Third, some of China’s local administrations donated various materials to the cities of some countries such as South Korea, Japan and Italy.

Fourth, at the civil society level, many companies and non-governmental organizations in China have started to donate to the relevant countries. Chinese companies and Chinese citizens in Turkey also took action in a positive way.