UN envoy calls for 'solidarity' in battling virus outbreak

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China's top envoy to the United Nations appealed to the international community Thursday for "solidarity" in dealing with the coronavirus outbreak.

Zhang Jun, China's permanent representative to the UN, said that in this difficult time it is crucial that the international community be united. He addressed a large media gathering at UN headquarters in New York and provided a briefing on measures China has taken in controlling and preventing the spread of the novel coronavirus.

On Thursday, World Health Organization Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus declared the coronavirus a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC). The virus had killed 213 people on the Chinese mainland as of Friday morning.

Zhang emphasized that the director-general said the main reason for the declaration is "not because of what is happening in China, but because of what is happening in other countries".

The organization's greatest concern is "the potential for the virus to spread to countries with weaker health systems, and which are ill-prepared to deal with it".

"WHO continues to have confidence in China's capacity to control the outbreak", Zhang said, in quoting Tedros, and said "there is no reason for measures that unnecessarily interfere with international travel and trade".

Tedros also pointed out that the WHO doesn't recommend limiting trade and movement.

Zhang said the "director-general's recommendations should be seriously considered".

Zhang called for all countries to adopt a responsible attitude, work together to combat the virus, and avoid overreaction.

He told the reporters that the Chinese government has always put the lives, health and security of the people first.

The government has already adopted "rapid, powerful and scientific" measures.

Right now, "the whole nation is in action", Zhang said, adding that China will spare no effort to save lives and curb the virus' spread.

"As WHO Director-General Tedros said, China's response is unprecedented," Zhang said. "China has demonstrated its speed, strength and effectiveness and won praise from the international community.

"We are confident, and we do think we are capable of defeating this virus and making our lives normal again," the envoy said.

"As the situation remains challenging, meanwhile, the measures we have taken are becoming effective, and we are really making progress," he said.

He told the media that medical teams from other provinces have arrived in Central China's Hubei province, whose provincial capital, Wuhan, is the epicenter of the outbreak.  Medical supplies are being delivered; new hospitals are being built.

Zhang said that more than 130 patients have been treated and discharged, including people in their 80s.

Moreover, with strict measures controlling the movement of people, the momentum of the virus is being curbed inside and outside China.

He said that China has been "open, transparent and responsible" in communications about the outbreak.

Zhang said State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi has had telephone conversations with his foreign counterparts, and that foreign embassies and consulates will be kept informed through various channels.

Journalists from nearly 20 media organizations, including China Daily, Xinhua News Agency, The Associated Press, AFP, Reuters, Kyodo News, Tass, Bloomberg, Al Jazeera and RIA Novosti attended the briefing.

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