SCIO briefing on the progress of COVID-19 control and medical treatment

The State Council Information Office held a press conference on Friday afternoon in Wuhan, capital of central China's Hubei province, to brief the media on the progress of COVID-19 control and medical treatment. March 9, 2020

Xi Yanchun:

Mr. Ding Xiangyang, thank you for your introduction. Next, we will move on to questions. Please ask questions via the video link, first identifying your news outlet. Now, the floor is open for questions.

China Arab TV:

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, China has made arduous efforts to contain the spread of the infection within the epicenter of Wuhan as much as possible. China has been doing its part in the battle against COVID-19 for both people in China and the rest of the world. Although this epidemic has posed a threat to everyone, we still have very limited knowledge about it. As China has gained a lot of experience in COVID-19 prevention and control, what information and suggestions can China share with other countries currently experiencing an outbreak? Will China provide assistance to these countries? Thank you.

Xi Yanchun:

Mr. Ding will be answering your question.

Ding Xiangyang:

Thank you for your question. In view of the seriousness of the epidemic, China has established a prevention and control system at the central level. General Secretary Xi Jinping has been personally commanding the fight against the outbreak. A central leading group on the epidemic, as well as the Joint Prevention and Control Mechanism of the State Council, has been established. Meanwhile, the Central Guidance Team was also sent to Wuhan. A total of 11 ministerial-level officials have been working on the frontline to help guide and coordinate the containment efforts in Hubei province and the city of Wuhan. This is the design of our emergency response system.

In terms of the measures taken, I can highlight five aspects. First, we have adopted a well-coordinated and unified commanding system that directly links the central and local governments. Second, we act in an open and transparent manner, timely releasing information on the prevention and control work. We are also subject to public supervision and work to promote communication with the whole society. Third, our prevention and control efforts are based on scientific principles. Fourth, we focused on tackling major problems, and made a concerted effort to ensure effective prevention and control, medical treatment, and supplies of materials. Fifth, we mobilized the general public and launched a "people's war" to jointly fight against the epidemic.

The reason why the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee stresses unified command, coordination and arrangements lies in that China has a large population of 1.4 billion people, and once an epidemic spreads, it brings a huge impact. Since outbreaks have occurred in several countries recently, it has been found that any city, including Wuhan, can't deal with the epidemic alone.

I will list some examples. Since the outbreak, Hubei province has received over five million medical protective suits. I remember that the original output of protective suits at a Hubei-based large enterprise was only 1,000-2,000 per day. Over nine million N95 masks have also been allocated to the province. It's impossible for any region to produce these supplies by itself.

At the peak of the outbreak, we saw from the news that over 3,000 new patient beds were needed in Wuhan every day. This would be a great challenge for any city in the world. Initially, there were only two infectious disease hospitals in Wuhan, with no more than 1,000 beds between them. To date, more than 49,000 confirmed cases have been reported. The shortage of hospital beds was once the most urgent issue. We worked on upgrading existing hospitals and building Fangcang shelter hospitals at the same time, increasing our beds by over 3,000 per day. There is now a total of 86 designated hospitals and 16 Fangcang shelter hospitals with over 60,000 beds between them, meeting demand. A hospital with 1,000 beds would be considered a large hospital, which means we have achieved a bed capacity of 60 tertiary hospitals within one month. What a hard and marvelous project! Without the unified leadership of the CPC Central Committee and the support from all parts of the country, this would have been an impossible task.

We promptly released prevention and control information so that the society could see the truth. After the outbreak in Wuhan and Hubei, a large number of journalists, including you who are present here today, went to hospitals and communities to objectively report to the world about China's fight against the epidemic, risking your lives in the process. Thank you for your impartial reporting.

In terms of science-based prevention and control, as you have seen throughout the process, we have complied and released guidelines, work specifications and treatment standards for the epidemic at different stages. We also made a number of achievements in scientific research.

The prevention and control practices prove that it is impossible to achieve success without the participation and cooperation of the people. Therefore, we also refer to it as a "people's war" against the epidemic.

Ding Xiangyang:

Some people questioned whether it is necessary for so many people in Wuhan to stay at home and within their communities.

Preventing and controlling an epidemic is like fighting a battle. The requirement that people stay at home during the outbreak is like when a government requires civilians to take cover in underground shelters when two armies fight against each other. Doing so will definitely cause inconvenience and discomfort, but failure to do so could mean casualties. The requirement to take cover in shelters and carry out temporary quarantine at home can effectively cut off transmission channels, reducing infection and mortality.

We are very pleased and proud to see how the great people of Wuhan have acted. Everyone is making their contribution to the prevention and control of the epidemic in their own way and by their own efforts. Here, I would like to thank you all. Hold on a little longer, and victory will be ours.

Vice Premier Sun Chunlan, also head of the Central Guidance Team, made random inspections at several communities in Wuhan yesterday, on which you have already seen short videos online. In response to public complaints about the formalism and inadequacy of service management, she gave immediate instructions, requiring the Central Guidance Team and the local government to conduct an in-depth investigation. She convened a special meeting attended by the leaders of Wuhan municipal Party committee and Wuhan municipal government yesterday afternoon. She urged them to take practical measures to solve the problems immediately, be true to the facts, and make no effort to conceal problems.

It is necessary and urgent to strengthen communication and cooperation among countries in face of the epidemic. According to information provided by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, China has already offered test reagents to Pakistan, Japan and the African Union, and shared treatment plans with many other countries. The Red Cross Society of China and relevant companies, as far as we know, have also provided test reagents to Iran and some African countries, and sent volunteer expert teams to Iran. In the next step, we will continue cooperation efforts in various forms according to the trend of the epidemic, and provide support within our capacity based on their needs. Thank you.

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