World Newsletter

29 January 2020


China has full confidence and capability to win the battle against the novel coronavirus pneumonia outbreak, President Xi Jinping said on Tuesday.

Xi made the remark while meeting with Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization, at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.

"The Chinese people right now are faced with a very serious battle. And for the Chinese government, this is something that we take very seriously, because in our view, nothing matters more than people's safety and health," Xi said.

Xi mentioned that on Saturday, the first day of the Lunar New Year, the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee convened a special meeting on the outbreak of the disease.

"And that tells you how seriously the CPC is taking this issue and what a priority it is for us," Xi said, adding that the CPC has also established a leading group to address the viral outbreak.

All the Chinese people and governments at all levels are fighting the very serious battle against the outbreak, Xi said. With strong resolve, a scientific approach and tailor-made policies, China will be able to prevail over this outbreak, he added.

Noting that the WHO has been playing a positive role in dealing with public health and safety issues, Xi said China looks forward to continuing positive cooperation with the organization to share information about the disease.

Tedros spoke highly of the measures taken by China on dealing with the disease, including sharing information internationally.

"And the other important element is the political commitment and your personal leadership which we have been following," Tedros told Xi.

China's political commitment and the country's serious measures will help stop the spread of the virus, he said, adding that the WHO appreciated Xi's very strong leadership and that China will ultimately win the battle against the disease.

The WHO firmly supports the measures taken by the Chinese government to fight against the outbreak, and it would like to enhance communication and cooperation with China, he said.

While meeting with State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Tuesday in Beijing, Tedros said China's powerful system and the effective measures it has taken to prevent and control the contagion are rarely seen in the world.

China set a record in identifying the pathogen in a short time following the outbreak of the contagious disease, he said, adding that the WHO stands ready to provide all necessary assistance to it in line with the country's needs.

Regarding some countries' intentions to withdraw their nationals from China, Tedros said the WHO does not support such moves. He said that under current circumstances, countries should stay calm and avoid overreacting.

The CPC Central Committee recently issued a notice requiring all Party organizations at different levels to take the lead in preventing and fighting the outbreak, Xinhua News Agency said on Tuesday.

On Monday, Xi issued an instruction requiring all Party organizations to unite the people in resolutely implementing the decisions of the CPC Central Committee in the battle against the novel coronavirus.

Xi stressed that keeping in mind people's interests is the highest priority in the current arduous battle of prevention and control of the contagion.

Xi required them to firm up their confidence, stay united and take scientific and targeted measures in epidemic prevention and control to allow the Party flag to "fly high at the frontline of the battleground".



At the fourth hospital of Wuhan, Hubei province, a 120 First Aid Team, representative of medical staff on the front line of the antivirus battle, works nonstop during Spring Festival to save the lives of patients who have been infected by the novel coronavirus.

Nurse Zhang Jing and a driver of the ambulance surnamed Hu have worked 12 hours without rest from 8 am till 8 pm on Jan 26, 2020. Whenever calls ring, they will rush patients home for rescue on the streets of Wuhan, the epicenter of the novel coronavirus outbreak.

Zhang Jing, who has two mobile phones, makes at least 300 phone calls each day to fetch and arrange for patients to come to the hospital and the two mobiles are always powered off after a whole day's work. She hardly had any time to reply to WeChat messages from her daughter on the eve of Spring Festival and just told her she was fine and extremely busy afterwards.

Zhang and Hu are like many other medical employees working continuously at their posts to fight against the novel coronavirus and save people's lives.



About 2,300 medical workers from across the Chinese mainland arrived in Hubei province on Tuesday to aid in the diagnosis and treatment of the pneumonia disease caused by a novel coronavirus, local authorities said on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, 21 medical teams comprised of 2,287 medical workers from Gansu and Guangdong provinces, Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, Shanghai, and other provinces arrived at Hubei, the epicenter of the outbreak.

A total of 6,097 medical employees from 26 provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions, as well as three military hospitals have been sent to the province as of Wednesday. They have been dispatched to designated hospitals to join the medical work.

About 1,500 medical workers among the total have been sent to other cities in the province besides Wuhan that are also plagued by the contagion, including Huanggang, Ezhou, Xiaogan and Xianning, to alleviate the severe shortage of local medical personnel.

Eight provinces and municipalities including Guangdong, Zhejiang, Shandong, Tianjin, Jiangsu, Sichuan, Hunan and Shanghai have arranged for a second batch of medical teams consisting of 1,137 personnel to aid Hubei.



As the whole nation joins efforts to fight the novel coronavirus outbreak, scientists in China have started efforts aimed at developing vaccines and drugs for the virus.

The Zhejiang Provincial Center for Disease Control and Prevention said on Monday it will soon start research and development of a vaccine against the novel coronavirus after managing to isolate strains of the virus on Friday.

Zhang Yanjun, director of the center's microbiological laboratory, said it obtained the qualification to undertake such research on Jan 22, and isolated the first strain from the sputum samples of a confirmed patient last week, paving the way for work on a vaccine and the development of anti-virus medicines and rapid test kits.

Zhang said his laboratory was working on genome testing of the virus, but it might take some time before the new vaccine is developed as "more clinical trials are needed".

Li Lanjuan, a member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, said it will take at least a month to develop a vaccine for the novel coronavirus, the news website reported.

At the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Beijing, researchers have started to develop a vaccine for the novel coronavirus, the center said on Sunday.

Scientists from the center have isolated the virus and are working to select the proper strain for vaccine production, Xu Wenbo, head of the center's viral disease control and prevention institute, said.

Research and development of a vaccine was complex work, he said, usually requiring between two and three years before availability for use, while adding it could be possible to develop a new vaccine in a few months in emergency conditions with priority approval.

The Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences also announced on Monday that it has set up a special team comprised of senior experts from home and abroad to organize research on the new virus, including researching and developing innovative drugs and treatment.

In Shanghai, a new broad-spectrum antiviral spray has been put into use at the emergency wards of Shanghai Public Health Clinical Center to protect medical staff from the new coronavirus.

Beijing's Global Health Drug Discovery Institute and the School of Pharmaceutical Sciences at Tsinghua University have jointly launched a series of projects to develop drug candidates for the new virus, the institute said on Tuesday. It said it would share its drug discovery capabilities and resources for free with all researchers engaged in developing new treatments for the virus.



The international community has voiced support for China's efforts to prevent and control the novel coronavirus-related pneumonia that has claimed more than 100 lives throughout the country, and hailed the measures taken by the nation as active and transparent.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Monday the international body appreciated China's efforts, and he has full confidence in China's capability to control the outbreak.

Speaking to Zhang Jun, China's permanent representative to the UN, at the UN headquarters in New York, Guterres said that at this important time, the UN stands in solidarity with the Chinese government and people.

United States President Donald Trump tweeted on Monday his country was in close contact with China and was offering whatever help needed to fight the coronavirus outbreak.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi also said they appreciated the strong and active measures China has taken to contain the contagious disease.

In a telephone conversation with State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Monday, Le Drian said France highly appreciated the Chinese government taking active and powerful measures to deal with the outbreak and staying committed to curbing the spread of the contagion.

He paid tribute to China for its determination and courage to fight the epidemic, and said France was willing to provide all necessary assistance to China for as long as it needs.

Speaking with Wang via telephone on Sunday, Motegi said a friend in need is a friend indeed, and Japan was willing to work with China to cope with the threat of the disease and provide all-around support and assistance.

He said he had faith that China would win the battle against the contagion at an early date.

Also, on Sunday, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, crown prince of Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, said the UAE was ready to provide support to China and collaborate with the international community to fight the virus.

"We're closely following the Chinese government's efforts to contain the spread of the coronavirus. We're confident in their ability to overcome this crisis. The UAE is ready to provide all support to China and cooperate with the international community to tackle this virus," he tweeted.

Pope Francis praised China's "great commitment" to contain the coronavirus outbreak on Sunday and said he was praying for the dead, the sick, and families of victims, Reuters reported.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif also praised China's response to the outbreak in a tweet in Chinese.

Zarif said the timely and decisive measures the Chinese government had taken to contain the disease and the united action of the Chinese people had boosted the confidence that China would win the battle against the epidemic. Iran stood firmly with the Chinese people, he added.



A man known as one of the world's leading "virus hunters" has arrived in China to assist efforts to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.

W. Ian Lipkin, a professor of epidemiology and director of the Center for Infection and Immunity at Columbia's Mailman School of Public Health, is headed to the epidemic-stricken area in China, according to the Columbia Global Centers in Beijing on Tuesday. The virus has been traced to a market in Wuhan, in Central China's Hubei province.

It is the second time that Lipkin has been invited by the Chinese government to participate in such efforts.

At the height of the SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) outbreak in 2003, he was invited by senior Chinese scientists and officials to assess the state of the epidemic, identify gaps in science, and develop a strategy for containing the virus and curtailing infections and deaths.

Based on the evidence so far, Lipkin said in an article updated Tuesday on Columbia University's website that the novel coronavirus is not expected to spread to the same extent as SARS, which reached 33 countries.

"We do, however, need to prepare for the possibility that this could evolve into a larger outbreak and become a pandemic," he said.

Lipkin has been on the front lines of numerous outbreaks, from Ebola to the West Nile virus.

In past years, he has worked closely with scientists and officials in China to strengthen the public health system and protect people from infectious disease outbreaks.

After the SARS outbreak was contained, Lipkin helped develop the institutional infrastructure to ensure China would have the resources to detect and more rapidly respond to emerging infectious threats, in part through building the Institute Pasteur in Shanghai, new national Centers for Disease Control in Beijing, and the Guangzhou Institute of Biomedicine and Health.

Today, he continues to consult with the Ministry of Science and Technology, the Chinese Academy of Science, and the Ministry of Health in China.

Earlier this month, Lipkin was awarded a medal by the Chinese Consulate General in New York for his contributions.

"I will cherish it as a reminder of my dear friends and colleagues in China and all we have accomplished together for the health of the Chinese people and all people around the world," Lipkin said.


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