Global EditionASIA 中文双语Français
Home / World / Asia-Pacific

China's efforts in virus control seen as model

By WANG MINGJIE in London | China Daily | Updated: 2020-11-20 09:43
Share - WeChat
Disease control and prevention workers collect samples from frozen products in Tianjin's Nankai district on Nov 9, 2020. [Photo/China Daily]

Response offers lessons as fresh wave hits places such as Europe, experts say

Nations can learn from China's success in controlling the spread of the coronavirus, say experts, with the stakes highlighted by much of Europe's return to lockdowns.

Ever since China's initial outbreak was brought under control, the country has averted large outbreaks. Coordinated mass testing and targeted measures involving isolation and quarantine rules have proved effective in suppressing clusters of infections in Beijing, Dalian, Urumqi and Qingdao.

As a result, China's retail sales, a key indicator of consumption, rose by 4.3 percent in October from the year-earlier month, and gained 3.3 percent from September. In another indication of economic recovery, industrial output increased by 6.9 percent year-on-year last month, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

"The success of the approach in China can be gauged by the fact that there have been no significant outbreaks of the virus since (the initial) control was achieved," said Fan Chung, professor of respiratory medicine at Imperial College London and consultant physician at the Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS Trust.

Chung highlighted the important information gathered in the early days about the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19. With the information indicating "it was a very contagious human-to-human transmitted virus", the Chinese authorities made a swift decision to stop transmission by an immediate, very strict lockdown of Wuhan in Hubei province. Other control measures were soon applied to the rest of the country.

Chung said China's experience in handling the SARS epidemic of 2002-03 was also a help in galvanizing action, along with the establishment of a contact tracing system through the mobile phone networks.

Chung said "centralized control of the pandemic" has been the key to implementing the strict measures, which could be difficult to fully implement in countries such as the UK. There, he said, "the response to tackle the virus was tardy, the measures not strictly enforced, travel restrictions not imposed fully and failure of an efficient contact tracing system".

However, experts agree that strict enforcement of measures for isolating and quarantining people suspected of having the coronavirus face challenges in the West.

Most European governments simply rely on their people to follow the rules. And not everyone agrees on the necessity of such measures.

Doris Fischer, professor of China business and economics at the University of Wuerzburg in Germany, said: "The rules applied in China may be justified from a Chinese perspective, but they would be less so in Europe."

Optimal balance

"How to manage the trade-off between freedoms guaranteed by European constitutions and the measures that might be necessary to contain the virus spread is, of course, no easy question, and one can argue that Europe hasn't found the optimal balance, yet."

Mario Cavolo, an Italian American who has lived in the China for the past two decades and a senior fellow at the Center for China and Globalization, a Beijing-based think tank, holds rather different opinions.

"Who doesn't want to get the same result of getting the virus under such great control (like China)?" Cavolo said, noting societies that tend to place greater value on excess neoliberal individual freedom over civil duty seem to be facing a serious pandemic problem at the moment.

"We have the never-ending argument from both individual citizens and politicians about contact tracing as too much of an invasion of privacy, but living here in China, I can see how contact tracing is an essential tool in the arsenal to keep the pandemic under control, and in fact, it doesn't interfere with my daily life."

Most Viewed in 24 Hours
Copyright 1995 - . All rights reserved. The content (including but not limited to text, photo, multimedia information, etc) published in this site belongs to China Daily Information Co (CDIC). Without written authorization from CDIC, such content shall not be republished or used in any form. Note: Browsers with 1024*768 or higher resolution are suggested for this site.
License for publishing multimedia online 0108263

Registration Number: 130349