China timely shares COVID-19 information, advancing international cooperation
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BEIJING - China on Monday released a detailed timeline of its response to the novel coronavirus disease (Covid-19), chronicling the main facts and measures it has taken in the global joint anti-virus efforts.
The document, titled "Timeline of China releasing information on Covid-19 and advancing international cooperation on the epidemic response," stressed China's timeliness, openness and transparency in notifying people at home and abroad in its fight against the coronavirus.
The timeline, recording major events from late December 2019 to March 2020, offered a glimpse of how China has timely released information, shared experience, and advanced international exchanges and cooperation.
The Covid-19 epidemic, a major public health emergency, has spread the fastest, caused the most extensive infections and been the hardest to contain since the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, the document said.
With joint efforts of the whole nation, the positive trend in preventing and controlling the epidemic has been constantly consolidated and expanded in China, and the restoration of normal production and daily life has been quickened, according to the timeline.
The timeline noted a "formidable challenge" to global public health security as the pandemic has been spreading rapidly in the world.
According to data from the World Health Organisation (WHO), Covid-19 has affected more than 200 countries and regions with over 1.13 million confirmed cases by Sunday.
"Virus knows no national borders, and the epidemic distinguishes no races," the document said, adding only with solidarity and by cooperation can the international community prevail over the pandemic and safeguard the common homeland of humanity.
By upholding the vision of building a community with a shared future for humanity, China has been timely releasing information on Covid-19 since the onset of the epidemic in an open, transparent and responsible manner, unreservedly sharing with the WHO and the international community its experience in epidemic response and medical treatment, and strengthening cooperation on scientific research, said the document.
It has also provided assistance to all parties to the best of its ability, according to the document.
World Health Organisation (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus gives a speech via video during a virtual Briefing on China's Experience on Covid-19 Response in Beijing. Photo by: National Health Commission/Handout via Xinhua
Informing public at home
According to the timeline, the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission sent out an urgent notification to medical institutions under its jurisdiction on Dec. 30, 2019, about an outbreak of pneumonia of unknown cause in the city.
Upon the report of the outbreak, the National Health Commission (NHC) dispatched a working group and an expert team to Wuhan to guide epidemic response and conduct on-site investigations.
One day later, the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission released its first briefing about the outbreak of pneumonia of unknown cause on its website, in which it confirmed 27 cases and told the public not to go to enclosed public places or gather. The public were also advised to wear face masks when going out, according to the timeline.
Starting Dec. 31, 2019, the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission released briefings on the pneumonia outbreak in accordance with the law, according to the timeline.
The NHC started to update via its official website and its new media platform the epidemic information on a daily basis since Jan. 21 and had updated 71 times by March 31.
Bruce Aylward, an epidemiologist who led an advance team from the World Health Organisation (WHO), speaks during a press conference of the China-WHO joint expert team in Beijing, capital of China. Photo by: Xinhua/Xing Guangli
Sharing information globally
Since the outbreak, the Chinese government has released information about the epidemic in a timely, open, transparent and responsible manner, actively responded to concerns of all sides, and enhanced cooperation with the international community, the timeline noted.
China's regular informing of the outbreak with the WHO, relevant countries and regions and China's Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan came on Jan. 3, 2020, according to the timeline.
Also starting Jan. 3, China began to inform the United States of the pneumonia outbreak and response measures on a regular basis.
On the same day when an expert evaluation team from the NHC initially identified a new coronavirus as the cause of the epidemic on Jan. 8, heads of China and U.S. CDCs talked over phone to discuss technological exchanges and cooperation.
Starting on Feb. 3, the English official website of the NHC started to release epidemic information simultaneously, updating the data for 58 times by March 31.
From Jan. 3 to Feb. 3, China had given the United States briefings on the epidemic information and control measures in China for 30 times, including sharing with U.S. CDC project manager in China information about China's diagnosis and treatment guidelines, prevention and control guidelines, and the linkage of the novel coronavirus database that China shares with the world in real-time.
Chinese President Xi Jinping spoke over the phone about the epidemic with dozens of leaders of countries and regions as well as international organisations, including U.S. President Donald Trump and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
During a phone call with U.S. President Donald Trump on Feb. 7, Xi said that with an open, transparent and responsible attitude, China has kept the WHO as well as relevant countries and regions, including the United States, posted on the epidemic, and invited WHO and other experts to conduct field visits in Wuhan.
The NHC gave briefings on China's anti-epidemic efforts and measures at the first meeting of the APEC health working group on Feb. 8, according to the timeline.
On Feb. 12, specialists from the NHC joined a China-EU teleconference on Covid-19 related technical exchanges, introducing the latest developments of the epidemic, prevention and control measures, and the situation of international cooperation.
Starting Feb. 16, the China-WHO joint expert team, which consists of 25 experts from China, Germany, Japan, Republic of Korea (ROK), Nigeria, Russia, Singapore, the United States and WHO, conducted a nine-day field visit in China, inspecting cities including Beijing, Chengdu, Guangzhou and Wuhan.
Lithuanian health officials and experts attend a video conference with Chinese health officials, experts and their counterparts from Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries in Vilnius, Lithuania. Photo by: Chinese Embassy in Lithuania/Handout via Xinhua
Under China's joint prevention and control mechanism of the State Council, a press conference has been held every day since Jan. 27, updating data on a daily basis, including new confirmed cases, severe cases, deaths and suspected cases, and giving briefings on the country's measures to fight the epidemic and minimise its impact on social and economic development.
By March 31, 65 such press conferences under the mechanism had been held, with officials of 69 departments having answered 779 questions raised by Chinese and foreign reporters at the conferences, according to the timeline.
The NHC shared on Feb. 25 updated technical guidelines on Covid-19 response with a number of countries and regional organisations, according to the timeline.
In the global fight against the coronavirus, China has attached great importance to the role of scientific research, with scientists releasing their latest research results of the new virus, according to the timeline.
China has timely shared with the world the whole gene sequence, primers and probes of the coronavirus, and shared diagnosis and treatment guidelines and other technical documents with more than 100 countries and over 10 international and regional organizations around the world, according to the timeline.
By carrying out timely technical exchanges with the international community, such as the WHO, the United States, and countries in Europe, Asia and Latin America, Chinese scientists and health experts worked with global peers to share their knowledge about the virus to help countries develop testing kits and adopt responsive measures.
On January 10, the China CDC, the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences and the Wuhan Institute of Virology under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, as designated agencies of the NHC, submitted to the WHO the genome sequence of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), which was published by the Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data (GISAID) and shared globally.
A number of papers on the latest research results by the Chinese scientists and health specialists were published by the journals Nature, Science and other medical publications over the past three months, according to the timeline.
As Chinese researchers and doctors deepened their understanding of the coronavirus, the NHC updated different versions of guidelines on diagnosis and treatment of the Covid-19 and shared them globally.
Assistance to other countries
While 1.4 billion Chinese are pulling together to contain the Covid-19 domestically, China has also helped other countries fight the pandemic to the best of its capacity after it peaked at home, providing medical supplies or sending medical experts to other countries, according to the timeline.
China announced a donation of 20 million U.S. dollars to the WHO on March 7 to support its international cooperation in the fight against Covid-19.
A spokesperson for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said at a press conference in Beijing on March 8 that while overcoming its own difficulties, China is willing to provide masks and other medical protection materials to relevant countries to support them in fighting the Covid-19 epidemic.
According to the timeline, the first batch of Chinese medical experts carrying China-assisted medical supplies arrived in Italy on March 12. More medical experts and supplies from China arrived in Italy later to help with its epidemic prevention and control efforts.
Medical experts and supplies from China were also sent to countries such as Iran, Iraq, Serbia, Cambodia, Pakistan, Laos and Venezuela.
Chinese medical experts share their experience in Covid-19 prevention and control with health experts and officials from the Venezuelan Health Ministry, in Caracas, Venezuela. Photo by: Xinhua/Salgado
By March 31, the Chinese government had provided material assistance including medical masks, N95 masks, protective suits, nucleic acid testing reagent and ventilators to 120 countries and four international organisations, according to the document.
In the meantime, local governments in China had donated medical supplies to more than 50 countries. And Chinese enterprises donated medical supplies to more than 100 countries and international organisations.
According to the timeline, the WHO released on Jan. 9 on its website a statement regarding a cluster of pneumonia cases in Wuhan, saying that preliminary identification of the novel coronavirus in a short period of time is a notable achievement.
On Jan. 13, the WHO issued another statement on the discovery of the novel coronavirus cases in Thailand, pointing out that China's sharing of the genome sequence enabled more countries to quickly diagnose patients.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Jan. 24 thanked on social media the Chinese government for its cooperation and transparency, saying that the Chinese government has been successful in isolating and sequencing the virus very quickly and has shared that genetic sequence with the WHO and the international community.
Apart from the WHO, a number of foreign leaders appreciated China's efforts in dealing with the Covid-19 in openness and transparency when they visited China or talked with Chinese leaders over the phone.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Germany appreciates China's efforts to respond in a timely manner, stay open and transparent, and actively carry out international cooperation during a phone conversation with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Jan. 22.
On Feb. 24, the China-WHO joint expert team held a press conference in Beijing, at which the team members said China's unprecedented public health responses to the Covid-19 outbreak have yielded notable results in slowing the spread of the epidemic and blocking the human-to-human transmission of the virus, preventing or at least delaying hundreds of thousands of cases.