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Tide over the difficulties hand in hand

—Keynote Speech at the Emergency Ministerial Meeting to Update African Union Member States on the Ongoing Novel Coronavirus

Amb. Liu Yuxi, Head of Chinese Mission to the African Union

(African Union headquarters, 22 February 2020)

 

Your Excellency, Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the African Union Commission,

Your Excellency, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the World Health Organization,

Your Excellency, Amira El Fadil, Commissioner for Social Affairs of the African Union Commission,

Honorable Ministers,

Ladies and gentlemen,

I’m very honored to be invited to attend the Emergency Ministerial Meeting to Update African Union Member States on the Ongoing Novel. First of all, as the fight of Chinese people against the epidemic enters a crucial stage, on behalf of the Chinese government, I would like to express sincere thanks for the solidarity and fraternal friendship demonstrated by the governments and people of African countries!

Now there is a positive turn in the epidemic situation and the epidemic data continuously show good trends. Up to 21 February, more than 18,000 patients have been cured in China. New confirmed cases in China outside Hubei have been declining. The case fatality rate has been kept at around 2.7 percent nationwide, and 0.66 percent outside Hubei. The percentage of severe cases has declined from 38% initially to 18% currently. These facts and figures demonstrate that the disease is controllable and curable.

From a global perspective, confirmed cases outside China account for less than 1% of the world's total. To prevent the epidemic from spreading worldwidely, China has taken measures far exceeding what WHO and International Health Regulations required and has made tremendous efforts and sacrifices for that.

Since the outbreak of the epidemic, China rapidly launched a people’s war against it. President Xi Jinping has personally directed the outbreak response and the Chinese government has taken the most comprehensive, rigorous and thorough measures. More than 200 medical teams, over 30,000 medical staff, massive medical and living supplies were urgently dispatched to hardest-hit Hubei. Thousands of engineer personnel worked round the clock and finished in less than 15 days the construction of two specialized hospitals with 2,600 beds and 15 mobile cabin hospitals with over 10,000 beds. All Chinese people are mobilized to voluntarily quarantine themselves at home for more than 14 days, which makes the effective interruption of the epidemic transmission possible. During the Spring Festival, I called my relatives and friends in China. All of them are either under voluntary home quarantine or on the front line against the epidemic. Everyone says, because of the epidemic, the medical staff become soldiers, civil servants become gatekeepers of communities, and the fight against the epidemic becomes the voluntary actions of all Chinese people.

We firmly believe that, under the strong leadership of the Communist Party of China, and with the institutional advantage of gathering all resources to manage major events, the rich experience in handling public health emergencies as well as the wide support from the international community including Africa, China has the full confidence, capability to win the battle against the epidemic.

Ladies and gentlemen,

WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros has repeatedly emphasized “This is the time for facts, not fear. This is the time for science, not rumors. This is the time for solidarity, not stigma.” We hope all countries can assess the epidemic situation in a calm, objective and rational manner. Overreacting and hasty personnel movement will add more uncertainties for controlling the spread. As WHO insists, there is no pandemic yet and there is no reason for measures that unnecessarily interfere with international travel and trade. We encourage all countries to stay informed of and act on WHO's advice on travel and health.

Currently the security, health and living standards of foreign nationals in China is guaranteed. As a responsible country, China equally treats the Chinese people and foreigners in China. China has included foreigners living there in the working mechanism of local governments and communities to meet their living, epidemic prevention and medical treatment needs. The Wuhan government has regularly distributed anti-epidemic supplies to more than 5,000 foreign students and opened a 24-hour hotline. As for overseas Chinese in Africa, Chinese Embassies and Consulates have asked them to carry out self-quarantine to prevent the spread of the epidemic in Africa.

Cameroonian student Kem Senou Pavel Daryl is the first and only African patient diagnosed in China so far. He said with emotion after being cured and discharged from hospital, “the Chinese medical staff are very strong and brave. I don’t feel much pain from this illness. We all love China and believe in the Chinese government!”

Ladies and gentlemen,

China will continue to strengthen cooperation with the international community in the vision of a community with a shared future for mankind to jointly combat the epidemic. China has sent medical teams to Africa and built hospitals here for a long history. After the Ebola epidemic broke out in Africa in 2014, certain countries evacuated from West African countries hit by the epidemic. By sharp contrast, Chinese government chose to stay there to help instead of withdrawing. We sent not only urgently needed supplies but also medical teams of thousands of military and civilian doctors.

The Chinese people have received the most extensive support and assistance from Africa in the fight against the epidemic. Moving stories happened constantly. The AU and AUC Chairperson Faki have given full support and strong solidarity to China. The governments and people of many African countries have expressed their support and assistance in various ways. Director of ACDC John Nkengasong held two urgent press conferences to actively implement the initiative of the WHO, and affirmed the Ethiopian Airline’s efforts to maintain air routes between China and Ethiopia to ensure exchanges of goods and personnels between China and Africa would not be affected. African students and nationals in China cheered for us, which is a testament to great solidarity between China and Africa. Munyaradzi Gurure, a Zimbabwean student lived in China for three years who has long considered China as his second home, decided to stay in China and work as a volunteer during the Spring Festival, doing his best to prevent the spread of the epidemic while protecting himself.

After the storm comes the rainbow. It is believed that once the epidemic is over, the pent-up consumer demand will be quickly unleashed and help fuel a robust economic rebound. China will enjoy more sound and sustainable economic development after the epidemic. It is believed that once the epidemic is over, the friendship between China and Africa will be further deepened and the bilateral cooperation in the field of medical and health will embrace new opportunities. It is believed that once the epidemic is over, all countries will further realize that they should work closely and stay calm and united in the face of the epidemic, and work harder to build a closer community with a shared future for mankind.

There is an old saying in China “When men are of one heart, they can move a mountain”. Acting with openness, transparency and a high sense of responsibility, China will continue to strengthen cooperation on prevention and control measures with the AU, WHO and other agencies to safeguard regional and global public health security. It is believed that victory over the epidemic is already within reach.

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