Opinion / Editorials

Joint efforts against Ebola

(China Daily) Updated: 2014-08-06 07:04

As the death toll continues to rise, and the fear of Ebola spreads like the deadly virus itself, broader international involvement is imperative to prevent it from wreaking further havoc.

Since February, the latest Ebola outbreak has claimed nearly 900 lives in West Africa, surpassing the aggregate total of the past 37 years. That no vaccine is available, infections remain incurable, and the mortality rate can reach 90 percent have brewed a contagious sense of fear that reaches far beyond the epidemic-hit areas. Ignorance and fear are in turn sabotaging local epidemic control efforts.

To cut off the channels of infection and lower the mortality rate, timely medical intervention is indispensable.

But local resources are obviously inadequate. The World Health Organization has warned about the limited capabilities of the countries affected by the outbreak and has appealed for greater international support. The Mano River Union, of which three of four member countries are seriously affected, while pledging concerted endeavors to prevent Ebola from spreading to other countries, has also called for technical, economic and material support from the international community.

Chinese medical assistance has been an important part of the country's friendly exchanges with African countries. The Chinese government was among the first to offer emergency medical aid in the wake of the latest Ebola outbreak. In some communities, where medical personnel from other countries have withdrawn, Chinese doctors are the only foreigners sustaining the exhausting fight against the fatal epidemic.

They are true heroes and heroines, and our government and diplomatic missions in their resident countries must make sure they are guaranteed the best possible support and protection while carrying out their humanitarian duties.

While participating in and contributing to the international collaboration in containing Ebola, this country should at the same time see to it that we are properly prepared against any possibilities that it might spread here. Three airports in the Chinese mainland have direct flights to and from 11 African countries; the total monthly passenger flow on these flights exceeds 82,000 person-times. The Second Summer Youth Olympic Games, which is due to be held from Aug 16 to 28 in Nanjing, will also see sizeable delegations from affected countries.

The national quarantine authorities have ordered higher vigilance at border checkpoints. But the relatively long latent period of the virus makes it extremely difficult to trace and monitor suspicious cases.

Thus the immigration authorities must ensure everyone entering the country is properly informed about the procedure for reporting a suspected infection.

(China Daily 08/06/2014 page8)

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