China is Steadfast in Its Battle Against Coronavirus
Considering the relentless efforts of the Chinese Government and medical workers, along with WHO and other members of the global community, the possibility of overcoming this epidemic in the near future is still high.
An officer in the white Hazmat Suit was checking the health declaration forms and screening the travellers before letting them proceed to the immigration counter while we were at Pudong International Airport, Shanghai, after the Spring Festival break. This declaration form was mandatory to be filled and included questions that helped the authorities to understand the current state of the person’s health while identifying the coronavirus suspects. This screening is being done in all the major airports across China in the wake of the 2019-nCoV (Coronavirus) outbreak in the mainland.
The virus outbreak originated from a large seafood market which includes a live animal trade sector in Wuhan, the capital city of central China’s Hubei province, in late December 2019. It took the form of an epidemic by the end of January, forcing the authorities to isolate the city from the rest of China with the hope of containing the virus within its borders. Subsequently, 16 other cities of Hubei province undertook a similar action after a high number of viral pneumonia cases started appearing across the region, leaving approximately 57 million people quarantined. Despite these unprecedented actions taken by the authorities, so far, the epidemic has reached to 25 other countries and regions except Chinese mainland, Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan.
While the rapid rise in cases suggests that the coronavirus scare is far from getting over, the prompt and stringent actions of the Chinese Government, along with medical workers’ dedication to containing the epidemic, can’t be ignored either.
For instance, a brand-new hospital of 10,000 beds, along with an additional facility of 1500 beds, was built from scratch in a period of 10 days in Wuhan city from last month. The decision to make the facilities was announced after the city got overwhelmed with the increasing number of Coronavirus cases, overstretching the capacities of the local hospitals. The Huoshenshan Hospital has used a similar construction method, like that of the Beijing based quarantined hospital, which was built in 2003 to help the nation in tackling the SARS virus. Reportedly, the hospital covers almost 600,000 square-foot and includes 30 intensive care units and cabins equipped with a video system to connect the doctors to the Beijing PLA General Hospital. Also, the building is equipped with specialized ventilation systems and double-sided cabinets, which links patient rooms to hallways and allows hospital staff to deliver supplies without entering the rooms. The hospital also has donated medical robots for providing medicines and carrying test samples.
Additionally, the Ministry of Commerce of China last month announced its plans to expand the imports of medical supplies and basic commodities to replenish the domestic supply to facilitate the nation’s battle against the epidemic. A circular in this regard was released to the local authorities that urged them to expand their imports as per the ground requirements. The Ministry of Commerce, along with some entrepreneur associations, is providing information services to facilitate both domestic importers as well as foreign suppliers. This information service also includes the details of medical suppliers from 14 different countries and regions.
Moreover, the country has been deploying AI-based solutions to deal with the ongoing crisis. The anti-epidemic robots, thermal screening, and big data analytics for decision-making are just some of the examples which are being used by the researchers and medical staff to battle against the deadly virus. Already, the nation is using algorithm optimization and computing power to work on viral gene sequencing along with vaccine and medicine development. It is worth noting that the use of AI has tremendously improved the support system for scientific research and decision-making on Coronavirus.
Moving ahead, the US Vice President Mike Pence, early this month, praised China for demonstrating “an unprecedented level of transparency” with the health officials of other nations to facilitate them in dealing with Coronavirus. He stated in an interview that, “It’s heartbreaking, but we stand with China to provide them any support.”
Also, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghereyesus applauded China for its targeted efforts in Wuhan. He mentioned in a statement that, “Stopping the spread of this virus both in China and globally is WHO’s highest priority. We appreciate the seriousness with which China is taking this outbreak, especially the commitment from top leadership, and the transparency they have demonstrated, including sharing data and genetic sequence of the virus. WHO is working closely with the government on measures to understand the virus and limit transmission. WHO will keep working side-by-side with China and all other countries to protect health and keep people safe.”
While the country is confident of winning the race against the malignant virus, some challenges remain. The biggest challenge of all, especially in the Hubei province, is to provide care to the increasing number of patients with a limited amount of medical resources. However, a series of measures are being taken by the authorities to solve these challenges, including converting of gymnasiums, exhibition centers, and sports complexes into temporary treatment centers. These centers could increase the admittance capacity of new patients drastically while limiting the spread of the virus further. Also, the medical staff from the rest of China has been sourced to Hubei Province to reduce the existing shortfall of the workers in the region.
As of 0:00 a.m. on February 9, over 37,198 cases of Coronavirus have been confirmed in the Chinese Mainland, claiming the lives of 811 people, but having cured 2,649 patients who have left their hospitals. Nevertheless, there is also promising news about the efficacy of some drugs on coronavirus patients. Antivirus drugs, plasma exchange treatment, and traditional Chinese medicines, have shown improvements in some patients so far. Additionally, clinical trials for traditional Chinese medicine, which can be used to treat patients with mild symptoms and also for the prevention of the epidemic is underway.
By looking at the current scenario, it is hard to say how long it will take to bring the situation under control. Although, the condition is challenging, and its impact on the nation, both socially and economically is quite conspicuous, however, considering the relentless efforts of the Chinese Government and medical workers, along with WHO and other members of the global community, the possibility of overcoming this epidemic in the near future is still high.
The author is an active blogger, poet and freelance content writer. She is also the author of the book “To The Horizon We Indeed Sail”.