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Fighting COVID-19 pandemic is a tough test for national governance
Consul General Lin Jing

Since China has been regularly informing the WHO, relevant countries and regions about the pneumonia outbreak from Jan.3, and WHO released its first briefing on cases of pneumonia of unknown cause in Wuhan on Jan.5, in just three months, the novel coronavirus has swept more than 200 countries and regions, with more than 1.8 million diagnosed cases and 110,000 deaths.

For the world at present, this battle against pandemic is a major challenge to the mechanism of global health and safety, which calls for collective participation and cooperation of all countries. While within every country confronted with COVID-19, this fight is a tough test for national governance, the core of which is to protect the health and lives of citizens to the maximum extent and it also requires the joint participation and cooperation of all citizens.

All the experiences through the past three months tell us, that the sooner a country takes actions, the more effectively the virus could be contained, and more lives saved.

China started implementing a lockdown policy in Wuhan on January 23, and the number of confirmed cases that day was 259. Italy’s lockdown policy was posed in northern provinces on March 8, with confirmed cases reaching 7,375 on that day. As of April 12, the cumulative death cases in Italy surpassed 19,000, while the cumulative confirmed cases in China are around 82,000, with daily new death cases reaching zero and Wuhan city has been finally lifted out of lockdown on April 8.

No wonder Mr. Sandra Zampa, undersecretary of Italy's Health Ministry said "Italy looked at the example of China ... not as a practical warning, but as a 'science fiction movie that had nothing to do with us.' And when the virus exploded, Europe ... 'looked at us the same way we looked at China.'"

It must be totally understood that in this global battle against COVID-19, no country can truly stay immune from the crisis and the international community needs solidarity and cooperation more than ever.

Unfortunately, the same story seems repeated in the Unite States. When the virus is looting across Europe, President Trump reluctantly declared national emergency in the United Stats till March 13, and as of April 12, the US has become the new epicenter of the world with confirmed cases of 560,300 and death cases of 22,105. New York state now has more coronavirus cases than any other country outside the US.

Ironically, certain top US politicians are focusing on shifting blames to China and even WHO, instead of reflecting upon why the 50 days of window period were wasted and what actions need to be taken immediately and effectively by the government.

Although the Covid-19 was first reported in Wuhan, it doesn’t mean Wuhan is the birthplace of the virus. The same is true that other global epidemics such as AIDS, Ebola,H1N1, TB and so on, has never

been entitled with a geographical location. When fighting Covid-19 pandemic, we should keep sober that confirming the birthplace is a task for scientists, as for the politicians and national leaders, their priority is to lead their country and people to win this battle.

The world’s leading science journal Nature published an editorial on April 7, in which they made an open apology for having been associating the virus with Wuhan and with China in their news coverage, and called on all the countries to do everything they can to avoid and reduce stigma.

The fight against Convid-19 is like a fair test, because the virus knows no national boundaries, ethnic groups, ideologies or tears and angers. Only through a scientific, rigorous and responsible strategy driven by effective national governance can a country stands a chance to win it. It’s a very simple truth that you can’t assume that everyone else is cheating because you messed up in this test. Shifting blames, sour grape psychology, politicizing and stigmatizing virus lead nowhere but wasting time, sacrificing more lives and a loss for all.

At such a critical moment, it is imperative to focus on finding a way suitable for each country to effectively contain virus rather than stay blinded or confused by a more terrible political virus.

"The most effective way to prevent infections and save lives is breaking the chains of transmission," said Tedros Adhanom, director-general of WHO,"And to do that we must test and isolate." This is also verified by what is happening in Wuhan of China, where national governance is fully exerted under the strong leadership of Communist Party of China to successfully control the virus.

Fighting against Covid-19 pandemic is an unexpected global limit test of national governance. We are happy to see that President Ramaphosa’s decision to extend the national lockdown to the end of April is supported by all the political parties and nationals and more measures are taken to focus on poor people, small businesses and all the vulnerable groups. National lockdown might have huge impact on economy in a short term, but the maximum protection for people’s lives is also the best investment for future economic development.

We are expecting to meet a vigorous South Africa again soon.

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