Following reports that the World Health Organisation (WHO) has recently applauded the efforts of China, initially worse hit country, over the containment of the COVID-19, the Chinese Ambassador to Ghana, Mr Shi Ting Wang (Mr Wang), granted an exclusive interview to the Daily Graphic’s Doreen Andoh (DA) on how China was currently using its experiences and lessons to support the global fight, particularly in Ghana and Africa. Below are excerpts of the interview.
DA：Did the COVID-19 originate from China?
Mr Wang: As to the origin of the virus, it is a matter of science which requires scientific and professional assessment, and we should wait for findings of the science community. Although the COVID-19 first broke out massively in China, it does not mean that the origin of the virus is China. The World Health Organisation (WHO) says that it is still yet to be concluded. Considering all these, jumping to conclusion that the virus originated from China is politically motivated, which won’t help any country and will only cause panic and discrimination.
DA： Since COVID-19 first broke out in China, should China be responsible for the global pandemic?
Mr Wang： First of all, I’d like to say that not only should China not be responsible for the global pandemic, but China has made great contributions to interrupt the transmission. COVID-19 respects no national borders, no social bounds, no political systems and no cultural values. It levels the world. Requesting one country to take all the responsibility for the common enemy of mankind is not only something never heard before, but also highly irresponsible.
Since the very beginning of the outbreak, China has taken the most comprehensive, rigorous and thorough measures of prevention and control to fight an all-out war against the epidemic. We took speedy action to lock down the cities and communities, and rapidly quarantined all the confirmed and suspected cases.
The 1.4 billion Chinese people responded to the government’s call and stayed housebound for at least three weeks and even longer. How great the courage and perseverance is to make such a huge sacrifice! The Chinese people do not step out of their homes, not mention the country, which effectively cut off the chain of transmission, as most of the Chinese people viewed the quarantine as a civic duty. However, some countries accused China’s response as “draconian” and “aggressive” at the beginning of the outbreak. When the health of millions of people is threatened, we must take practical and rigorous measures for the good of majority and all mankind.
Actually, China on one hand avoided many millions of cases and tens of thousands of deaths. On the other, it stretched out the precious time for the world to get ready for the epidemic.
DA: Some people called the coronavirus “Chinese Virus”. I wonder if you have any comment?
Mr Wang: Some political figures have recently been connecting the coronavirus with China. We express strong indignation and objection to such stigmatisation and politicisation. In May 2015, the WHO issued best practice for naming new human infectious diseases which expressed that terms should be avoided in disease names, including geographic locations. The WHO opposed the intentional linkage of virus and specific countries or regions, and the international community is even opposed to stigmatisation.
In 2009, the H1N1 outbreak was first detected in North America, but we didn’t call the epidemic a “North America Flu”. I would like to remind you that whenever our mankind faced a common challenge, there was always such “blame game”. And the hatred and recriminations it aroused would sow the seeds of danger for international community. We hope everyone of us can respond to the epidemic in a rational way, stop the “blame game” and work together to win the battle against COVID-19.
DA： Have you seen the WhatsApp video claiming China killed more than 20,000 coronavirus infected people so as to curb the epidemic?
Mr Wang: This is totally ridiculous! Anyone who has common sense will not believe these outright lies. The one who spread this lie is with concealed and malicious intentions. This video took advantage of people’s fear of the virus and bias of China. It is just a conspiracy theory which makes trouble out of nothing. The purpose is to stigmatise China. If anyone knows something about China, he or she will never believe this falsehood. There are tens of thousands of Ghanaians in China, but none of them infected, nor did anyone die of COVID-19. It is not because the infected were killed, but they are well taken care of and protected in China. These fabricated videos, I am sure, are more dangerous than the virus.
DA: Now there are more than 1,000 confirmed cases in Africa and Ghana has 24 confirmed cases. Are there any cases imported from China?
Mr Wang: As far as I know, among the more than 1,000 confirmed cases in Africa, only one case is from China and unfortunately, the one is in Ghana. The rest of the cases are from other countries. This once again proves that: first, China’s prevention and control measures are highly effective; second, China effectively cuts off the chain of transmission and stretches out the precious time for other countries to get ready for the epidemic. For now, China is the safest country in the world. In the nation of 1.4 billion people, there has been no new domestically transmitted COVID-19 case for several days, but just few cases imported.
DA：How will China help Ghana fight against the COVID-19?
Mr Wang: There is only one earth, we are the community with shared future, we are a big family. Up to now, China has provided anti-epidemic assistance to more than 100 countries in different forms. Because Europe is hit the hardest, we sent medical teams to some European countries and donated a large number of medical supplies there.
The Chinese government has announced to provide emergency anti-epidemic supplies to Africa through air transportation, including Ghana. Meanwhile, Jack Ma is donating to each of the 54 African nations 100,000 masks, 1,000 medical use protective suits, 1,000 face shields and 20,000 testing kits, which are in total, six million masks, 1.1 million test kits, 60,000 medical use protective suits and 60,000 face shields.
The Chinese Embassy in Ghana is urgently coordinating the shipping of the supplies donated by the Chinese government. Because most of the airlines have suspended air service, we are facing a huge challenge on transportation arrangements now, but we will do our best. In addition to the material support, we are ready to share guidelines on COVID-19 diagnosis and treatment, as well as guidelines on prevention and control, ramp up medical cooperation, etc.
DA：What’s your comment on the response of the Ghanaian government to COVID-19?
Mr Wang: The Ghanaian government has done a commendable job in the response of the virus. The Ghanaian government adopted a series of measures before the first case was confirmed, such as setting aside special funds, designating hospitals and institutions for diagnosis and treatment, educating the people on hygiene and preparing the medical supplies. Since Ghana reported the first confirmed case, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has delivered televised statements several times and promptly briefed the public on the situation, and quickly took various decisive measures, diagnosed and treated the confirmed and suspected cases without delay. The measures have slowed down the spread of epidemic effectively, which are laudable and we would like to express our support.
It is our hope that Ghana will win the battle against the COVID-19 as soon as possible, and we are confident of that.