Beijing: The outbreak of Novel-coronavirus/COVID-19, which erupted in Wuhan, has now spread to almost 31 countries, including the US, UK, India, and the Philippines. This deadly virus has so far claimed more than 2,000 lives, while thousands have been infected and are being treated in various hospitals.
Wuhan, the capital of central China's Hubei province, is the epicentre, with most of the deaths being reported from this region only. Majority of people who either belong to this province or came in close contact with the locals have been affected by this lethal pathogen. It is also noticeable that many of those who died were already struggling with some kind of illnesses or their immune system wasn’t that strong.
The rapid spread of the virus and the surge in the number of deaths is really a big headache for the Chinese government as well as the leading World health body. A delegation of the WHO officials reached China recently to assess and monitor the situation, possibly more efforts will be made to counter the epidemic internationally thereafter. China is receiving full support from the World Health Organization and the United Nations, as both these institutions have praised the Chinese government for taking proactive measures to contain the deadly virus.
During the time of outburst of the virus, I was holidaying in India, and after watching the scary news, many questions began to arise in my mind. It felt like the situation in China was very frightening, and my relatives and friends advised me not to go back. So I talked to my colleagues in Beijing regarding the situation. They assured me that things are under control in the capital city. After landing in Beijing on January 28th, I found the roads were empty with very less traffic, but the situation wasn’t as dangerous as it was being told. I have been living in China for almost 10 years, therefore, I can say without any doubt that the Chinese government has taken good care of the health and the lives of its citizens.
The news of the outbreak of Coronavirus shook China and the world. It was indeed the time of celebration and joy for 1.4 billion Chinese people because the Spring Festival week was just about to begin. As we know the lunar New Year is considered a very special festival for the Chinese people, so they go back to their hometowns to celebrate it with their family. In this period, all the big metro cities like Beijing, Shanghai & Guangzhou become almost empty. This time, due to the virus, all the people were trapped wherever they went. Usually, by the end of the festive holidays, people would return from their hometowns.
Moreover, the entire government machinery and citizens of China are trying their best to tackle the dangerous virus, various measures have been taken by the government so far. Hospitals are overwhelmed with the patients particularly in Hubei province, so the government agencies took no time to build the two hospitals which are having a total capacity of about 2,500 beds, while many small square-shaped hospitals have also been constructed.
Undoubtedly, China is leaving no stone unturned to curb the epidemic, which has already spread beyond its boundaries. The Central government of China has sent a large number of army personnel, doctors and nurses from various places across the country to Hubei. Thousands of doctors and nurses are engaged in treating the patients round the clock. In addition to it, the mammoth task of inventing the vaccine for the elimination of this virus is going on vigorously at the national and international level, but it may take a few months.
In the last week of January, China imposed a ban on travelling of people, restricting the movement of Chinese citizens between and within the cities. At the same time, the train services, and the bus services were also stopped. According to the Chinese government, the purpose behind the lockout was to minimize the risk of spreading the virus. Meanwhile, the movement of the commuters is also being monitored, temperatures are being taken through thermometer guns at the entrance of each and every community, shopping malls. Thermal screening is a must at the train stations, airports, and other important public places.
While most of the companies across the country remain closed even after the Spring festival holidays. Although few offices opened a few days back, still the employees have been told to work from home.
Schools & colleges are also following the same rule. Teachers are allowed to take online classes in view of minimizing the loss. The Beijing Education Committee has established a digital school to help the students in this difficult period.
The rumours of the shortage of goods and rising prices also spread in Chinese markets at the beginning of the crisis. But I can say that almost every essential item is available in the big supermarkets, and the prices are a little bit higher than before. The Chinese government has ensured that prices do not go up in the market and supplies are adequate. Strict measures are being taken against those who are violating the government orders. But there is definitely a big shortage of masks, for these surgical masks, gloves and suits are being imported to China from many countries. Many nations have also come forward including the neighbour India to give china a helping hand by sending the consignment of medical supplies.
Not to mention that China is apparently suffering heavy economic losses due to the ongoing lockout over the past several weeks, but the Chinese authorities say that the priority is to prevent the epidemic and protect the lives of citizens.
The experts unanimously agree that China has shown far more transparency than the SARS epidemic of 2003. The Chinese government seems very serious to tackle the deadly pathogen. Even Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang himself is leading this entire campaign against the COVID-19. The President is also constantly monitoring the condition. However, the situation in Hubei province is still critical and the local government is being blamed for the negligence. Recently the central government has ordered a high-level inquiry against the people responsible for it. Several big officials, including the Mayor of Wuhan, have been removed till now.
As the outbreak continues there are a lot of rumours and misinformation going around in social media. One such obnoxious hoax on coronavirus was that China is seeking permission to kill more than 20 thousand patients. But the Chinese authorities have totally rejected this rumour. It is alleged that some western countries including America are spreading such rumours to malign China’s image.
China is blaming social media for spreading rumours, which has become a tool to spread rumours against China in this difficult time. Recently the fact check report of the world's prominent news agency AFP has confirmed that the news of the killing of more than 20 thousand people is fake news. The agency said that the news of seeking the permission of the Supreme Court to kill the citizens in China is baseless.
According to AFP, there isn’t any truth in this matter, as well as the Supreme Court hasn’t given any such decision.
Undoubtedly, it's not a time to raise questions, discriminate Chinese people or spread rumours, this is the crucial period to get united to save the lives of Chinese and people who are affected by the virus from other parts of the world. Because viruses or epidemics do not see geographic boundaries.
(The writer works with the China Media Group, living in China since 2009. He has also written a book named, “Hello Cheen”.)