A Decisive Stage for China’s Fight against COVID-19 Epidemic

The people’s war against the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic is entering a decisive stage in China. Under the strong leadership of the central government, the whole nation has devoted tremendous amounts of resources and efforts to this war. The prevention and control of the epidemic in Hubei, especially in such heavily-hit areas as Wuhan, has become a key campaign; and the measures taken by other Chinese regions will determine whether this war will turn to be a war of attrition or a protracted war. For now, a few questions remain for the international community concerned about how soon China will totally conquer the coronavirus: When will be the turning point of the epidemic? What new measurers and efforts have the Chinese government and people taken to fight against the epidemic and with what effects? What new progresses have been made by the Chinese medical community in epidemic control and treatment to COVID-19 patients? And what lessons can be learned by the international public health circles from this war against an epidemic of even greater impact than the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) epidemic in 2003? This report gives latest answers to those questions from a special research team at Shanghai Institutes for International Studies (SIIS).

The reports concludes that at present, the COVID-19 epidemic manifests a trend of localized clusters of outbreak (especially in the City of Wuhan and some other areas in Hubei Province) but coming increasingly in check in other parts of China. The situation in Hubei, Wuhan and other regions is expected to be further improved with enhanced national strategy and measures. Nevertheless, the turning point of the epidemic will depend on the effectiveness of the current prevention and control measures, as well as cooperation of the general public. In the next week or two, China will be faced by new challenges as millions of people return to work in major cities after the Spring Festival. If the number of new infections can be kept low for two weeks, then we can say the turning point has come in China except for Hubei.

This report points out that although there is still no direct cure for COVID-19, China’s government branch in charge of epidemic prevention, medical institutions and medical researchers have joined hands in optimizing the epidemic control strategy and patient treatment plans. It proves increasingly effective to detecting, confirming, and treating infected people at the earliest time, as well as to rescuing severely ill patients and reducing mortality rates.

It is also pointed out that China’s whole-of-government approach and efficient social mobilization system are the basic guarantee for victory of the people’s war. The many unconventional measures adopted so far — such as rushing medical staff and other resources to Wuhan from around China, assigning 19 provinces or municipalities to each help treat severely ill patients in a specified area in Hubei, instituting work-from-home arrangements, and calling for the public to stay home unless necessary –all will help China to win the war against the epidemic.

As this report believes in the end, China’s ongoing people’s war against COVID-19 epidemic can lend many lessons and inspirations to the international community for combating pandemics in the future. In the globalized era, the world is yet to be ready for pandemics breaking out in mega-cities. How to strengthen the response capabilities of local public health systems in face of an epidemic? How to gather and coordinate various resources of a nation for effective epidemic prevention and control? And how to enhance the sense of a community of shared future for mankind and reinforce joint efforts of the international community against a pandemic? The key to those questions lies in solidarity of the nation, scientific prevention and control measures, and strengthened international cooperation. I firmly believe this people’s war against the epidemic will give much enlightenment to both China and the international community.

Chen Dongxiao

President, Shanghai Institutes for International Studies

February 14th, 2020

Full report below. Use the arrows to navigate.