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Opening Remarks of Ambassador Zhou Pingjian of China at the Embassy's Media Briefing on Fighting 2019 n-CoV
2020/02/04

2019 nCoV. I open my brief opening remarks with this medical jargon, 2019 n-CoV, with a heavy heart.

As of 7:00 a.m. Abuja time today, the total number of confirmed cases of novel coronavirus infection climbed to 17205, and 21558 people were suspected of being infected with the virus in the Chinese mainland, according to China’s National Health Commission. A total of 361 people had died of the disease. 475 people had been discharged from hospital after recovery. These are not numbers. These are lives, families, communities. This is going to be an unforgettable Spring Festival for the Chinese, as families are separated but united to stand together in the face of the disease.

The safety and health of the people always come first, and thus the prevention and control of the outbreak is the country’s most import work for now. The Chinese government attaches great importance to the epidemic. President Xi has repeatedly given important instructions on prevention and control work, and personally held a meeting on the first day of the lunar New Year for redeployment and remobilization.

Under the leadership and personal commitment of President Xi, China has built a nationwide prevention and control system focusing on Wuhan and Hubei, from the central government to the local level, and work in all aspects is underway. All aspects of work are open and transparent, and we are speeding up progress in a scientific and orderly manner. All things considered, the epidemic can be contained, controlled and treated. The Chinese nation has gone through great winds and waves and overcome countless difficulties. We believe that under the leadership of the Communist Party of China and the Chinese Government, the people of the whole country will unite as one, and be fully capable and confident to win this battle of epidemic prevention and control at an early date. The 1000-bed makeshift hospital in Wuhan, which was built in 9 days and is in full operation today, speaks volumes.

Fighting the spread of the epidemic is a common concern of the international community. China is willing to work with other countries in the world, including Nigeria, to respond to the epidemic actively. We have informed the World Health Organization, relevant countries and Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan of the latest epidemic situation, and have shared information on virus gene sequences with all parties at the first time. We have taken the most comprehensive and rigorous containment and mitigation measures, and many of them go well beyond the requirements of the International Health Regulations (2005). By doing so, China is not only protecting the health of its people, but also that of people around the world. Such efforts are fully recognized by many governments as well as the WHO. AS WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros said on several occasions, China deserves gratitude and respect for its efforts to contain the outbreak and that China’s experience is worth learning for other countries. As he sees it, China has in fact taken more measures to contain the outbreak than it is required to do in case of an emergency, and China is setting a new standard for outbreak response for other countries. We thank the international community, including Nigeria, for its full understanding and support for China.

As you are aware, WHO declared the outbreak as a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC) last Thursday. As Director-General Dr. Tedros clearly stated, the main reason for this declaration is not because of what is happening in China. It is about protecting countries with weaker health systems and which are ill-prepared to deal with potential spread. WHO continues to have confidence in China's capacity to control the outbreak. There is no reason for measures that unnecessarily interfere with international travel and trade. WHO doesn't recommend limiting trade and movement. Director-General's recommendations should be seriously considered. Under current circumstances, solidarity is what the world needs. The epidemic is occurring mainly in China, with limited spread to other countries. China has made enormous contribution to the world with its concrete actions. All countries should adopt a responsible attitude, work together to combat the virus, and avoid overreaction that may result in more negative spillover effects.

Life comes first. The Chinese Government is committed to safeguarding the safety and health of the Chinese people. We will, in a responsible manner, safeguard the safety of every foreign national in China, including the Nigerian expatriates, and address their legitimate concerns in a timely manner. We will continue to strengthen communication and coordination with the international community and work hand in hand for epidemic prevention and control.

Finally, I would like to echo what Dr. Tedros, the DG of WHO, pointed out last Thursday, “This is the time for facts, not fear. This is the time for science, not rumors. This is the time for solidarity, not stigma.”

Thank you very much.

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