​SCIO briefing on the efforts of China's armed forces in fighting COVID-19

The State Council Information Office held a press conference on Mar. 2 in Beijing to brief the media on the efforts of China's armed forces in fighting COVID-19.

China.org.cn March 3, 2020

Hu Kaihong:

Ladies and gentlemen, good morning. Welcome to this press conference organized by the Joint Prevention and Control Mechanism of the State Council. We have invited Chen Jingyuan, director general of the Medical Service Bureau of the Logistic Support Department of the Central Military Commission (CMC); Zhao Haifei, deputy director general of the General Planning Bureau of the Logistic Support Department of the CMC; Zhang Tianxiang, deputy director general of the Transportation and Mobility Bureau of the Logistic Support Department of the CMC; and Wu Qian, director general and spokesperson for the Information Office of the Ministry of National Defense. They will brief you on the efforts of China's armed forces in fighting COVID-19 and take questions.

First, I will give the floor to Mr. Chen. 

Chen Jingyuan:

Ladies and gentlemen, friends from the media, good morning. First, I would like to thank the media for your support and coverage of the military's efforts in helping fight the epidemic.

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), the Central Military Commission (CMC) and Chairman Xi Jinping, have all prioritized the prevention and control of the epidemic and stressed the priority of safeguarding people's life and health. Chairman Xi is personally leading, commanding and deploying all available forces in the battle against COVID-19 outbreak. He has presided over multiple meetings, visited the community to inspect and direct the control work, and issued clear requirements. He made important instructions to the military on the prevention and control work, and stressed that the armed forces must work under the leadership of the CPC Central Committee and CMC, keep the mission firmly in mind, shoulder their responsibilities, fight the hard battle and actively assist local authorities in fighting the epidemic.

When an epidemic breaks out, a command is issued. It is our responsibility to prevent and control it. The military has resolutely implemented Chairman Xi's important instructions, promptly engaged in epidemic prevention and control work, and acted as the protector of people's life and health. We are joining hands with the whole nation to overcome the difficulties, and actively playing the role of vanguard and commando. We will resolutely win the people's war against COVID-19.

First, the CMC has intensified its leading and commanding efforts. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the CMC quickly put into place an emergency response mechanism, setting up a leading group on novel coronavirus prevention and control and establishing a joint prevention and control mechanism of the armed forces on public health emergency. The CMC has also conducted research and made deployments regarding epidemic prevention and control as well as providing assistance to virus-hit regions. In addition, the CMC has actively participated in the works of the State Council's joint prevention and control mechanism and sent personnel to join the Central Guidance Team in Hubei. A frontline command and coordination team of the armed forces has also been established to intensify the coordinated efforts with local strength, and to provide further guidance for military medical staff.

Second, the CMC quickly sent military personnel to assist with the battle against COVID-19 in Wuhan. Military medics were organized the moment they received orders, and dispatched to Wuhan via air, rail and road. Since Jan. 24, the eve of Chinese Lunar New Year, China's armed forces have dispatched over 4,000 medical professionals in three groups to assist in the fight against COVID-19 in Wuhan. They formed a relief force comprising a battlefront leading group, joint logistic support units and frontline medical worker units. Approved by Chairman Xi Jinping, the first group of 450 personnel left for Wuhan on Jan. 24. A week later, on Feb. 2, also approved by Chairman Xi Jinping, the second group of 950 personnel were dispatched to Wuhan to join the first group and were tasked with treating patients in Huoshenshan Hospital. Approved by Chairman Xi Jinping, the third group of 2,600 personnel left for Wuhan on Feb. 13 to join the battle against COVID-19. These "heroes in harm's way," as they have been widely dubbed in the media, have fully demonstrated the bravery of the Chinese people's armed forces, and shown their political integrity of pledging loyalty to the Party and the people.

Third, treating patients. The military medical system has a glorious history and remarkable experience in addressing similar situations, including the fight against SARS, assisting Africa in the battle against Ebola, and dealing with emergencies and disasters. This time, medical workers of the armed forces continued to demonstrate their ability to serve the people and save lives. The military medics coordinated their efforts with local civilian medics, adopted a science-based way of epidemic prevention and control, and treated patients with targeted measures, in order to raise the rate of receiving patients and the rate of patient recovery. They went all out to treat patients. Four military hospitals stationed in Hubei, including the General Hospital of the Central Theater Command of the PLA, have been working on the frontlines. So far, 63 designated military hospitals have provided nearly 3,000 beds, and more than 10,000 medical professionals. As of March 1, Huoshenshan Hospital, Wuhan Taikang Tongji Hospital, and the Optical Valley Campus of the Maternity and Child Healthcare Hospital of Hubei Province have received a total of 3,467 severe patients, 689 of whom have recovered. The designated military hospitals and medical teams assisting Hubei have received a total of 4,450 patients so far, 1,000 of whom have been discharged. In addition to treating patients, military medics have also paid attention to their own protection, so there are no infected cases among them so far. Meanwhile, the military has organized experts on the frontlines to summarize their treatment experiences, in order to continue to optimize treatment plans and further improve treatment.   

Fourth, comprehensive support. In the early days of the outbreak, the joint prevention and control mechanism of the armed forces sent Wuhan 400,000 medical masks, 8,000 protective suits, 50 sets of positive pressure respiratory hoods, and 2 sets of negative pressure isolation stretchers to ensure urgently needed medical treatment. Meanwhile, the Air Force dispatched 30 transport aircraft to send medical workers and supplies to Wuhan. As of Sunday, the Central Theater Command of the PLA has sent 130 transport vehicles and 260 people to assist the transportation of life supplies. They have transported over 8,500 tons of life necessities and 23,600 sets of protective gear. The military has also dispatched four helicopters to transfer 6.5 tons of medical supplies. Also, 200,000 militiamen were dispatched from 28 provincial-level regions to assist local authorities in completing tasks such as management of outsiders, site disinfection, material transportation, and epidemic prevention awareness improvement.

Fifth, scientific research. To respond to the major public health emergency, we made the health of the people our top priority and worked hard to trace the origins of the virus, control the outbreak, treat patients, and develop anti-viral drugs. We pooled together the strength of enterprises, universities, research institutes and end users to drive research progress. Military units have undertaken a series of major projects granted by the Ministry of Science and Technology for epidemic control and prevention. Military medical experts have arrived in Wuhan to launch scientific research and guide the work here. The COVID-19 nucleic acid test kit, jointly developed by the Academy of Military Medical Sciences of the PLA and local researchers, was approved by the National Medical Products Administration on Jan. 28. Its antibody test kit was approved by the military on Mar. 1 and swiftly put into clinical practice. The Fifth Hospital affiliated to the China PLA General Hospital has integrated TCM and western medicine to treat patients with COVID-19, which has proven effective and safe. Other works such as development of drugs and vaccines are also being carried out.

The COVID-19 outbreak is a major public health emergency with the fastest spread, the widest range of infections, and the biggest difficulty in prevention and control since the founding of the People's Republic of China. In face of this rare and immediate crisis, the PLA has shown once again their strong sense of responsibility to the country and people. The progress made in the prevention and control work has once again demonstrated the notable strengths of the leadership of the CPC and socialism with Chinese characteristics. We believe that under the strong leadership of the CPC Central Committee, the Central Military Commission and Chairman Xi, the military and civilian sectors working together will win the fight against the outbreak.

Now the floor is open for questions.

Hu Kaihong:

Thank you, Mr. Chen. Now, the floor is open for questions. Please identify your media outlet before asking your question.

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