SCIO briefing on international cooperation in response to COVID-19

The State Council Information Office held a press conference on March 5 in Beijing to brief the media about international cooperation in response to COVID-19. March 6, 2020

Xinhua News Agency:

The report by the WHO-China Joint Mission has recently been unveiled, which includes recommendations on prevention and control work in China and the international community. What are the next steps for China and the WHO to promote international cooperation in prevention and control of the COVID-19 outbreak? Thank you.  

Zeng Yixin:

Disease knows no borders, and the COVID-19 outbreak is a common challenge facing mankind. There is still a long way to go before we can fully understand the origin, pathogenic mechanism and transmission mechanism of COVID-19. In this age of globalization, the disease could spread at an unprecedented rate. As Mr. Ma just mentioned, no country can stay immune in the face of the severe outbreak and we should join hands to meet challenges. In this regard, the WHO has played a very important and irreplaceable role. I guess many people have read the WHO-China joint report. As the report pointed out, in the face of a previously unknown virus, China has rolled out perhaps the most ambitious, agile and aggressive disease containment effort in history. This has averted or at least delayed hundreds of thousands of COVID-19 cases in the country. The report also said that China has played a significant role in creating a stronger first line of defense against international spread. Containing this outbreak, however, has come at great cost and sacrifice by China and its people, in both human and material terms.

I notice that the Joint Mission has offered very specific and constructive recommendations on what the international community could learn from China in terms of epidemic prevention and control. It is also mentioned in the report that China's rapid return to full productivity and economic output is vital, since the world needs access to China's experience in responding to COVID-19. I have also noticed what team leader Dr. Bruce Aylward said during the press conference, "It's so important that we recognize that, to the people of Wuhan, it is recognized that the world is in your debt and when this disease finishes, hopefully we'll have a chance to thank the people of Wuhan for the role that they played in it." I think the WHO-China Joint Mission, which is made up of world-famous experts with conscience, has delivered very important messages to the world. These have played a significant role in helping the international community understand the efforts China has been making in epidemic control and prevention.

The team has also pointed out what needs to be improved in our work and given some very concrete advice. As such, I want to say that the WHO has played a guiding and coordinating role in epidemic control and prevention. In the future, we will maintain close communication with the WHO and ensure the timely notification of information on the epidemic. We will also carry out the suggestions made by the team and the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee, and develop technical cooperation under the WHO framework. We are preparing to recommend some relevant organizations to become WHO reference laboratories for COVID-19 and to share China's technical solutions for diagnosis, treatment, and epidemic control and prevention. We will encourage more R&D institutions and experts to take part in the international cooperation led by the WHO and provide technical support to countries affected by the epidemic via the WHO platform. By adhering to the principles of openness and transparency, we will communicate closely with the WHO, enhance technical exchanges and share our experience and solutions, making all-out efforts in fighting the epidemic globally. Thank you. 

Ma Zhaoxu:

I have one thing to add. Since the COVID-19 outbreak, the WHO – as the most authoritative specialized international organization in the field of international health care – has done great work to mobilize the international community in creating scientific countermeasures and taking control and prevention actions including research and development cooperation. This is fully recognized and highly appreciated by China.

You might have noticed that since the outbreak, China has established close contact with the WHO from the outset and has been cooperating effectively with the organization in a timely manner. As Mr. Zeng said just now, WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus visited China at the most critical time of the epidemic and met with President Xi Jinping. Recently, we have also received a team of experts from the WHO and helped provide them with first-hand information on the outbreak. The advice they offered is highly valued, and is being studied and implemented. What I would like to say is that the WHO's task is tougher as the epidemic spreads around the world. We hope that the WHO can further promote international cooperation, especially providing more help and aid to developing countries with weak protection capacities, including African countries. In this respect, China will not be absent. We will do our best to enhance cooperation with the WHO and make efforts to help severely affected countries in urgent need.

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