（Editor's Note: Brigadier Umar A. Shah has served on various Command, Staff and Instructional appointments in Pakistan Army. Has undergone training courses in various countries across the globe. At present, he is undergoing Defence and Strategic Studies Course in International College of Defense Studies, National Defense University of People's Liberation Army. With over three decades of varied military exposure, he bears a keen insight on aspects related to national and international security. Being in China, he keeps sharing his views on matters of Chinese national security and related issues. The article reflects the author's opinions and not necessarily the views of chinamil.com.cn.）
COVID-19 is a highly contagious disease caused by a newly discovered form of Corona Virus. Extensive research is being done to ascertain its exact point of origin. The first patient of COVID-19 was diagnosed in Wuhan, China in December 2019. Initially, it was considered as a normal pneumonia. By 27 December 2019, the authorities were able to identify it as a new contagious disease. Doctors dealing with such patients were given protective clothing and a separate isolated area in a hospital was designated for them. By 30 December, public notice about contagious disease was issued. It was on 5 January 2020 when WHO published its first news on disease outbreak. By 12 January, China publicly shared the genetic sequence of COVID-19.
Immediately after this, the City Government in Wuhan established a specialized Command for Epidemic Control (CEC). Public was made aware about this epidemic and serious efforts by authorities began to contain the outbreak. To this end, Chinese new year celebrations were cancelled and spring holidays were extended. Public gatherings of any type including sports events, fairs, festivals etc were postponed. Public transport across the country was suspended. Foreign citizens were asked not to leave Wuhan to prevent further spread of the disease. By 29 January, effective measures like social distancing and quarantines were undertaken all over China to avoid spread of disease. Scientists were encouraged to do research and share manuscripts even without publishing to squeeze on time. Technology was used adroitly to facilitate response. For example, to avoid contact and reduce workload, robots and drones were utilized to disinfect large areas, monitor body temperatures and deliver medicines, food /groceries. Technologies like Artificial Intelligence and Big Data were used to detect suspected cases through infrared cameras, track infected individual with facial recognition and finally inform concerned departments through modern communication means. New patients were asked to fill online forms instead of coming to hospitals. In nutshell, China undertook unparalleled efforts to control the spread of COVID-19. Meanwhile, it also provided enough time to the rest of the world to formulate their response. To ensure transparency, epidemic data was shared with WHO besides inviting officials from US and WHO to China.
China also fought media war to suppress fake news propaganda and brought real facts to fore. As of 5 June, the total number of active patients in China are 127. The statistics suggest that China has effectively defeated the COVID-19.This was only made possible due to people-centric approach adopted by the Chinese Government who put people's life and health first, right from the day one. They acted according to the overall principle of shoring up confidence, strengthening unity, ensuring science-based control & treatment and imposing targeted measures. They mobilized the whole nation, set up collective control and acted with openness and transparency. Not just at national level, China’s contribution to global response was also unprecedented. Besides sharing details of COVID-19 genome with WHO in time, China extended material support to developing as well as developed world alike, and at a time when they needed most. China also urged international community of necessary precautions in the wake of COVID-19. It is unfortunate that such appeals were not taken seriously by many Heads of States.
With its robust and quick decision-making mechanism, and being closer to a socialist economic model of universal health care, Chinese leadership demonstrated the importance of resolute decisions, and efficient public services to salvage people during the crisis. Their resolve to further deepen international and regional cooperation in the fight against COVID-19 has earned them respect from all across. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres praised China's efforts in the global fight against the COVID-19, noting that its sacrifice is a great contribution to all man-kind. Italian President Sergio Mattarella hosted an extraordinary concert, showing solidarity with the Chinese people dealing with the coronavirus emergency. Apart from Director General WHO Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, various Governments including Netherland, Georgia, Pakistan, Cuba, Serbia, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Greece lauded and appreciated Chinese contributions to deal with global health crisis.
China outperformed the contemporary world and was able to contain the outbreak because of its robust decision-making mechanism, and well developed public health sector. These are the key take away for countries who are desperately struggling to contain COVID-19 outbreak. The ongoing global health crisis warrants “Whole of the Nation” approach at domestic level aided with “Globally Coordinated Response Mechanism”. Instead of embroiling in useless blame game, it is incumbent upon all nations to rise to the occasion and meet this challenge with solidarity and closer cooperation.