China deserves our gratitude and respect: WHO chief

By Zhang Penghui

Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and senior officials of the World Health Organization (WHO) gave high appraisal over China’s strong measure to contain the outbreak of the novel coronavirus when briefing the WHO head’s visit to China at a press conference held on Jan. 29 in Geneva, Switzerland.

They believe what China is doing has manifested the country’s courage and responsibility.

The Director-General said he was impressed by China’s serious measures to combat the novel coronavirus, and these measures benefit both China and the world.

He said he was shocked by the resolution of the Chinese leadership and Chinese people to combat the virus, and paid respect to the country’s courage and responsibility.

Tedros said the WHO had a series of very candid discussions with China focusing on continued collaboration based on mutual understanding. He introduced that both sides will conduct further studies on the severity and transmissibility of the virus, and share data and biological material, adding that China’s practice to combat the virus is of vital significance for the world.

The WHO chief said the Chinese government has taken extraordinary steps to prevent the export of cases. “For that China deserves our gratitude and respect,” he noted.

China identified the pathogen in record time and shared it immediately, which led to the rapid development of diagnostic tools, Tedros noted, saying the country is completely committed to transparency.

Citing the quick identification and isolation of a novel coronavirus case in Germany, Tedros illustrated the importance of China’s efforts to actively carry out international cooperation. This example is a good illustration of how China is engaging with WHO and other countries based on the principles of solidarity and cooperation to address a global health emergency, he said.

The head of the WHO said China showed high transparency in combating the epidemic. He introduced that prior to his visit to China, he was in almost daily contact with China’s National Health Commission to discuss the response to the outbreak and how WHO can support.

China is doing the right thing, said Michael Ryan, Executive Director of WHO Health Emergencies Programme. “They are taking extraordinary measures in the face of what is an extraordinary challenge. I have never seen the scale and commitment of an epidemic response at this level,” Ryan said.

According to him, the Chinese scientists probably made the most rapid characterization of a novel pathogen in history and that was shared immediately. Multiple sequences were shared immediately on global platforms and that is what has allowed a lot of the diagnostics to be developed, he added.

WHO infectious disease expert Maria van Kerkhove believes China’s active surveillance system was crucial in spotting the first infector of the novel coronavirus, and China’s spirit of cooperation and openness played a critical role in the WHO’s issuing of testing and treatment guidelines. She said through international cooperation, the WHO is building a knowledge base of the virus, which is playing a very important part in the current battle against the epidemic.

A news release of the WHO said the National Health Commission presented China’s strong public health capacities and resources to respond and manage respiratory disease outbreaks.

Stopping the spread of this virus both in China and globally is WHO’s highest priority, and the WHO appreciates the seriousness with which China is taking this outbreak, especially the commitment from top leadership, and the transparency they have demonstrated, the news release said.

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