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Virus control, development balance sought

By CAO DESHENG | China Daily Global | Updated: 2020-02-14 08:47
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President Xi Jinping checks the treatment of hospitalized patients at the monitoring center and talks to medical staff on duty via a video link at Beijing Ditan Hospital in Beijing, capital of China, on Feb 10, 2020. [Xinhua/Xie Huanchi]

Xi says efforts to fight outbreak, reach social and economic goals must be coordinated

A key Party meeting presided over by Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, has underlined the need to coordinate the control of the novel coronavirus pneumonia outbreak and economic and social development.

Striking a delicate balance between the needs of contagion control and a resumption of production will require meticulous efforts in policy coordination and implementation in order to ensure that the goals and tasks for socioeconomic development set for this year can be accomplished, experts said.

Addressing the meeting of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee on Wednesday, Xi, who also is China's president and chairman of the Central Military Commission, said the epidemic situation has shown positive changes, and prevention and control efforts have produced positive results.

Saying the disease control has entered a critical stage, Xi called for stringent efforts to focus on priorities, and to strengthen prevention and control in areas where the epidemic situation is particularly serious or risks are greater.

He urged Party committees and governments at all levels to make resolute efforts to win the fight against the virus and, in the meantime, strive to secure economic and social development goals.

Participants at the meeting stressed that properly coordinating epidemic prevention and control and economic and social development is a "major battle" as well as a "big test" for officials, urging them to shoulder their responsibilities, reduce the impact of the epidemic to the minimum and pass the test.

The meeting was the third of its kind in less than 20 days, with the two previous meetings focusing on the measures and policies for prevention and control of the contagion. It came as the number of new infections in the country, except for in hardest-hit Hubei province, had dropped eight days in a row as of Wednesday.

Hubei, particularly the provincial capital Wuhan, remains the top priority in epidemic control, as the province reported 14,840 additional coronavirus cases on Wednesday. The sudden increase was due to a revised diagnostic criterion, according to Hubei health authorities.

The regions that are not severely affected by the novel coronavirus should strive to coordinate epidemic control and restore the economic and social order, the meeting participants said, requiring greater efforts to reduce the impact of prevention and control measures on people's normal lives.

The difficulties in restoring the country's economic and social order are seen in the fact that curbing the spread of the coronavirus mainly calls for reducing people's movements, while reducing the impact on the economy and safeguarding people's jobs and livelihoods require people to get back to work, observers said.

Yang Yu, a researcher at the China Center for Urban Development, said the key to balancing disease control with production is to adopt tailor-made measures according to the epidemic situation in different regions.

Yang said a one-size-fits-all approach should be avoided when advancing the resumption of production, since epidemic control remains the top priority for hard-hit areas.

Resumption of production should be implemented prudently, and in a phased manner, to ensure that sufficient anti-epidemic measures are in place to protect workers, he added.

According to Wednesday's meeting, the measures to achieve the goals for this year's socioeconomic development, particularly completing the building of a moderately prosperous society, should include stronger macroeconomic adjustment, positive fiscal policies, targeted tax cuts, loan support and preferential financial services.

The meeting also stressed the need for expanding domestic demand and encouraging private investment, supporting foreign trade enterprises in resuming operations as soon as possible, and creating a sound environment for foreign trade.

The novel coronavirus outbreak has had a big impact on residents' consumption, employment and small and medium-sized enterprises, said Cai Fang, vice-president of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, in an article published in People's Daily on Wednesday.

Moreover, some countries' overreaction in responding to the epidemic by adopting travel restrictions will lead to a massive decrease of population flows, which will in turn influence such sectors as the service trade, imports and exports of commodities and cross-border investment, Cai said.

He added that alleviating the impact of the epidemic on the country's economy needs doubled efforts and stronger measures to fulfill the tasks of socioeconomic development.

In the fight against the coronavirus, the meeting stressed that utmost efforts should be made to increase the treatment and cure rates, and lower infection and mortality rates. For cities with a large number of infected patients, it's urgent to increase the number of designated hospitals, beds and quarantine sites, and speed up the detection of suspected cases and admission of patients.

The meeting also called for pooling medical resources and technical forces, coming up with effective treatment plans for patients, and making more efforts on drug and vaccine research.

Meanwhile, an executive State Council meeting chaired on Tuesday by Premier Li Keqiang urged producers of key medical supplies to promptly resume full production to meet front-line epidemic control needs.

The meeting also called for preventing massive layoffs, since employment is the priority for people's livelihoods.

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