Coronavirus: does a global health emergency need to be politicized?

Today, February 20th, it has been 12:15 since these words were written. Probably, I would not have been typing these words here at a computer, if the coronavirus infection had not spread in China or had even become more controlled. I would fly over Chinese soil, keeping Nepal in memory from the top of Everest.

There was a rumor about a pneumonia-like epidemic spreading in Wuhan while I was traveling from Sichuan, China to Nepal for over a 30-days vacation. Little did we know, the pandemic was yet to spread. At the time, China was preparing for the New Year. 10 days after landing in Nepal, on New Year Eve a message from a Chinese friend pinged on WeChat, ‘come with plenty of masks while you return.’

Chinese New Year is the time of the largest migration period around the world.  People go to the village to visit their relatives. Travel abroad for vacation. But this year, CoronaVirus (CoViD 2019 )which originated and then traveled from Wuhan in Hubei province to the whole of mainland China has been confirmed in 25 countries around the world.

According to the latest data, the infection of the Novel Coronavirus has exceeded over 75,000. Only around a thousand of the cases have been confirmed out of China. In China alone, more than 2000 people are dead. Only three cases of fatality outside of China are confirmed.

China is currently at wartime against the CoViD-19. All of the governmental mechanism from central to the local level is deployed in this battle. China and the Chinese people have taken strict action against CoViD-19, limiting movements, realizing that the biggest asset is public health.

Thousands of physicians have been deployed in Hubei alone. Doctors are campaigning frontline of the battle against the CoViD-19 day and night.

Chinese efforts to control infection

According to the latest data, 5 million overseas students from 199 countries are currently pursuing their studies in China and an equal number of foreigners are working there as well. The number of foreigners infected so far is low. The official data is that one of the US national deaths has been confirmed. Although there are signs of infection in Japanese citizens, it has not been confirmed that they have corona infection.

China, which is on the battlefield against the CoViD-19 has kept Hubei and Wuhan in lockdown to prevent infection. The people of Wuhan have been secretly kept in quarantine.

The transition is still concentrated in Wuhan. According to the latest data, among 75 thousand confirmed cases, 61 thousand is in Hubei and 43 thousand more in Wuhan alone. This is 60 percent of the total confirmed case.

Province near Hubei has confirmed cases near a thousand and the death tool is under single digit.

China has also taken precautions to prevent the infection from spreading to the rest of the world. China is paying close attention to the safety of international students. They are housed in secure university housing. Doctors are fighting the virus by risking their lives.

Millions of Chinese travel abroad during the New Year. This year, China regulated it and protected the rest of the world from the risk of the CoViD-19.

China has a population of 1.5 billion. That’s four times more than the US. A total of 149.72 million outbound trips were made by Chinese tourists in 2018. Meanwhile, domestic tourist spots are also popular among Chinese residents. The number of domestic trips taken by Chinese travelers exceeded 5.5 billion in 2018; a total of 141.2 million inbound trips were made by tourists from outside the Chinese mainland.  Among the 2018 inbound trips, 30.54 million were made by foreign travelers, with 76.3 percent from Asia.

The total number of outbound and inbound trips hit 291 million in 2018.

This year the trips were much shorter. Those who went home on vacation were not able to return. The number of Chinese going abroad has also decreased. Most countries have tightened their entry on Chinese citizens.

The CoViD-19 has affected the Chinese economy. Things are stagnant. Industries are not fully operational. Its impact has spread around the world.

Is Western criticism justified?

The West has been criticizing China for the spread of the CoViD-19. The US Department of Commerce said the United States would increase employment due to the CoViD in China.

Criticizing China, one of the Denmark magazines published a cartoon featuring the virus in place of a star used on a Chinese flag. In Western countries, Chinese citizens are being treated as if they are carrying CoViD with them. The West is tapping China on this issue.

Now let’s look at some examples of such epidemics around the world. Ebola in West Africa has killed 11,323 people within 2013-16. The cases were confirmed in the US and Europe too.

SARS, killed 774 around the world. In 2009-10, the 2009 flu pandemic or swine flu killed 14,286. Among the death tools, 3,433 were from North America.

The Zika virus, seen in 2015-16, was spread to 90 countries in the world.  In 2015, swine flu confirmed in India killed more than two thousand.

China is trying its best to control CoViD-19. Within 10 days, two designated hospitals were constructed. Most of the stadiums in Wuhan are now used as mobile cabin hospitals.

Similarly, Chinese People’s Liberation Army doctors have been flown to Wuhan from all over the country. Not just the military, non-military doctors have been concentrated in Wuhan from all over the country.

The local government is working to secure the return of foreign nationals from Wuhan to their country safely. Chinese authorities assisted in evacuating the Nepalese living there. Nepalese officials did not arrive from Beijing to Wuhan, but Chinese authorities made all preparations for the evacuation of 175 Nepalese.

We must not forget now that, if China had not taken precautions, its infection would have spread worldwide. Not only that, Nepal is China’s neighbor. If there had not been these precautions Nepal would have been badly hit by CoViD-19.

In the world economy, the West is looking for a pretext to cover every issue. Still, the US is trying to restrain China. But, why don’t we think so? What would have happened if China had not kept Wuhan, the city of 100 million of the population in ‘Lock Down’? If Chinese people are not vigilantly resisting the CoVid-19 virus in ‘lock down’, what more awful situation would have happened if they had been harassed? What would have happened if China had not stopped its citizens from visiting the New Year? What would happen if foreign nationals in China were not protected?

Salute the efforts of China We are with China, We are with Wuhan.

中国加油, 武汉加油!

Zhōngguó Jiāyóu, Wǔhàn jiāyóu !

(Dhakal is Master’s in Journalism and Mass Communication from Tribhuvan University and currently studying Master’s in Public Administration in University of Electronic Science and Technology of China (UESTC) Chengdu. Diplomatic Correspondent at www.pahilopost.com Kathamandu.
twitter- @bidhur_dhakal,
WeChat- @dhbidhur)

Also Read:
US Indo-Pacific Strategy aimed to contain China
US Tibetan Policy: Possibilities of using Nepal’s land against China

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