Saturday, 8 August, 2020
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OPINION

Joint Prevention System Against COVID-19



Guangying Duan-Huazhong Tu

Currently, the epidemic of COVID-19 has spread to more than 100 countries, including the United States, Japan, Korea, Italy, Iran, Thailand and Singapore. Compared with the sound medical systems of countries mentioned above, the medical systems of Nepal, Cambodia and other developing countries are imperfect. They are simply unable to deal with the threat of the epidemic of COVID-19. It is worth noting that there have been omissions in the neighbouring countries’ epidemic prevention system. The population of South and Southeast Asian countries adjacent to Nepal and Cambodia exceeds 2.2 billion. In case the epidemic of COVID-19 is out of control, catastrophic consequences will be caused undoubtedly.
China is now carrying out the most stringent prevention and control measures, and this infectious disease is also likely to be controlled in the shortest time. However, it is very likely that after the epidemic of COVID-19 in China is controlled, the epidemic will break out again in those developing countries due to lack of adequate medical system. It is, therefore, the current prevention system should not only be confined in China but China should establish a joint prevention system with its neighbouring countries against the epidemic of COVID-19 as soon as possible.
On January 24, officials in Nepal announced that a Nepali student had tested positive for a novel coronavirus (COVID-19), which originated in Wuhan (Hubei province, China) in December 2019. Due to the relatively imperfect medical system in Nepal, it is unable to find other cases in the first time. Additionally, Nepali citizens have a relatively weak awareness of the prevention of the epidemic of COVID-19, and most people will not choose to go to hospital in the first place.
On February 11, a number of Nepali media reported that a large number of cases of pneumonia suspected to be of the epidemic of COVID-19 infection appeared in the Sindhupalchowk area adjacent to the Zhangmu port, China. However, it came out to be known that the infection in the said area was seasonal flu.
Due to the lack of a joint system against the epidemic of COVID-19 prevention between China and Nepal, the spread of the epidemic cannot be grasped timely in the first time. At present, the spread scale of the epidemic is still expanding in countries other than China where the rate of new infections has dropped significantly. However, some neighbouring countries have insufficient ability to test the virus of COVID-19. Samples can only be sent to other countries and regions for testing. The threat of the epidemic is at risk of further expansion in neighbouring countries, and omissions of epidemic prevention measures.
Nepal is facing a number of crises when responding to the epidemic of COVID-19: on the one hand, the medical teams are insufficient; on the other, the shortage of medical facilities and equipment is extremely serious. In terms of Cambodia, it also faces the same problems as Nepal. In recent years, although the world community has provided great assistance to Nepal and Cambodia from various aspects such as funding, technology, and medical training, analysis shows that Nepal and Cambodia still cannot respond to the crisis of the epidemic of COVID-19 independently.
China should carry out dialogue with relevant departments of neighbouring countries such as Nepal and Cambodia as early as possible. In terms of the prevention of the epidemic of COVID-19, reaching a consensus should be conducted, hoping to attach great importance to the prevention of the epidemic of COVID-19, and assisting them to gradually standardise the prevention and control process. For the current confirmed cases, China should assist them in timely isolation to block the spreading of the epidemic of COVID-19, and make timely medical observations of those they have confirmed.
Based on the above analysis, China should dispatch expert groups and medical teams as early as possible to assist the corresponding medical equipment to go to countries such as Nepal and Cambodia, establish an epidemic prevention and control system with neighbouring countries as early as possible, and establish early warning mechanisms. In border areas, entry and exit control of personnel should be strengthened, which can prevent the border line from becoming a new front for spreading the epidemic of COVID-19.
Additionally, China should actively engage in epidemiological dialogues with other neighbouring countries to form an “anti-epidemic alliance” and resolutely prevent the second mutual spread of the epidemic of COVID-19. Finally, China is adjacent to 19 countries with a population of 2.2 billion in South and Southeast Asia region.
In case there is an omission in the epidemic prevention and control, this will put the entire region in crisis. As a responsible country, China has always been eager to cooperate with all neighbouring and other countries for the common good cause and at this point as always it should also shoulder more responsibilities in this battle against the epidemic of COVID-19.

(Guangying and Huazhong are both scholars from Kunming University of Science and Technology, and Yunnan Academy of Social Sciences respectively.)

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