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Battling side by side

By ZHU JING | China Daily Global | Updated: 2020-06-15 08:40
LIN MIN/CHINA DAILY

China and the Democratic Republic of the Congo are upholding the spirit of love, responsibility and science in the fight against the pandemic

The Democratic Republic of the Congo is a beautiful and richly endowed African country. However, the local people have had to wage a long and arduous struggle against infectious diseases, such as malaria, cholera and Ebola. In doing so, they have also accumulated rich experience.

The novel coronavirus outbreak has been a fresh public health threat to the DRC. But in response to the outbreak, the government of the DRC promptly started prevention and control work. It set up an inter-departmental team to combat the pandemic, declared a state of emergency, and has taken measures such as closing its borders, cutting off the traffic between the capital Kinshasa and other provinces, imposing a curfew on the worst-hit areas and setting up designated hospitals.

At the same time, with its own efforts and with aid from the international community, the DRC has gradually upgraded its capacity for infection detection, investigation and treatment. The above measures have achieved positive results and effectively curbed the spread of the virus in the country. So far, more than 500 people who were infected have been cured and the death rate has fallen from about 10 percent at the beginning to less than 3 percent.

Nevertheless, due to the weakness of the DRC's medical system, shortage of medical supplies, equipment and personnel, and insufficient funds, the pandemic prevention and control situation remains complex and severe. As of June 11, there had been 4,636 confirmed cases of infection and 101 deaths in the DRC.

China and the DRC are win-win strategic partners that have long stood side by side in the fight against infectious diseases. The China-DRC Friendship Hospital in Kinshasa, built with Chinese assistance, has become one of the most important medical facilities there. Chinese medical teams have treated more than 1 million patients in the region. Since the 10th Ebola outbreak in 2018, the Chinese government has provided emergency humanitarian assistance and medical supplies to the DRC many times, providing strong support for the fight against the epidemic.

Our cooperation in combating COVID-19 has been very effective. Both sides call for solidarity and mutual assistance from the international community in the fight against COVID-19, support the World Health Organization's central coordinating role, and oppose politicizing pandemic prevention and control or stigmatizing it.

During the most difficult period of China's fight against the pandemic, friendly people from all walks of life in the DRC offered China the most resolute support. President Felix-Antoine Tshisekedi Tshilombo and Prime Minister Sylvestre Ilunga Ilunkamba sent letters of condolences to Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang respectively. The Kinshasa choir Vox Disposa sang songs of support and understanding for the Chinese people. Several Congolese students and expatriates in China have taken an active part in the local pandemic prevention and control work as volunteers.

After the outbreak of the pandemic in the DRC, the Chinese government immediately extended a helping hand, taking the lead in donating medical supplies and testing equipment, exchanging experience with the DRC on prevention and control, and sending medical experts to the country. These actions reflect the international humanitarian spirit and the vision of a community with a shared future for mankind. Chinese medical teams, Chinese-funded enterprises and overseas Chinese missions in the DRC have donated money and materials to the local governments and people, helped their communities to carry out pandemic prevention training and improve pandemic prevention infrastructure.

China's medical expert team has been pragmatic and efficient in its work in the DRC. In just 10 days, the team visited local medical institutions, communities and Chinese-funded enterprises and conducted nearly 30 experience exchanges, training and guidance activities, providing tangible help to improve the pandemic prevention and control capacity of the DRC, which was hailed as timely rain by the DRC. Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Marie Tumba Nzeza said China has once again demonstrated the strategic and high level of bilateral relations with concrete actions.

The DRC is an African country with a large number of Chinese enterprises and Chinese nationals. Protecting the health and safety of Chinese citizens in the DRC is the top priority of the Chinese embassy in the DRC. After the outbreak of the virus, the Chinese embassy immediately set up a leading team for pandemic prevention and control, and established a joint prevention and control mechanism with Chinese-funded enterprises, overseas Chinese delegations, and Chinese medical teams.

We have issued daily pandemic reports and safety tips to help enterprises and expatriates keep abreast of the pandemic situation and the prevention and control measures taken by local governments and strengthen their own protection.

We have provided guidance on specific pandemic prevention work, and invited Chinese experts and the medical team to the DRC to conduct remote and on-site training for Chinese-funded enterprises and overseas Chinese groups, to help them find loopholes and address weaknesses.

We have distributed health kits to Chinese living in the DRC and established a hotline with local pandemic prevention departments and designated hospitals, to help Chinese living in the DRC solve problems such as shortages of supplies and difficulties in seeking medical treatment, and provided quality and efficient consular protection services to Chinese citizens in special difficulties.

We have resolutely safeguarded the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese nationals and urged relevant departments of the DRC government to strengthen the safety and protection of Chinese enterprises and citizens during the pandemic.

As an African proverb goes, "If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together". The virus knows no borders and the pandemic is heartless. In the face of this cunning and dangerous virus, solidarity and cooperation are the most powerful weapons for mankind. Let us strengthen our confidence, pool our strength, uphold the spirit of love, responsibility and science, and build a community of human health and a better Earth for all.

The author is the Chinese ambassador to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The author contributed this article to China Watch, a think tank powered by China Daily. The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

  
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