|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying's Daily Briefing Online on February 4, 2020|
Q: China said this morning that it hopes the relevant assistance from the United States will be provided as soon as possible. Are China and US now discussing the details of this assistance? What kinds of assistance are involved?
A: We noted that the US repeatedly expressed readiness to offer China assistance. We hope such assistance will materialize at an early date.
Q: Can you provide more details (age, nationality, etc.) on the foreigners in China who have been infected with the novel coronavirus?
A: To protect the privacy of the people involved, we don’t think it appropriate to disclose their personal information, including their nationalities.
Q: In the 146th WHO Executive Board Meeting yesterday, Director-General Dr. Tedros stressed again that where precaution is necessary, there’s no need for overreaction. WHO advises against travel or trade restrictions, calls on all countries to implement decisions that are evidence-based and convincing, and warns of the dangers posed by the spread of rumors and misinformation. I wonder if you have any comment?
A: As we noted, WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros repeatedly stressed that this is the time for facts, not fear. Virus is horrible. What’s more horrible is rumors and panic. WHO has been calling on countries to implement decisions that are evidence-based.
The fact is that since the onset of the outbreak, China has taken unprecedentedly strict prevention and control measures, many of which far exceed WHO recommendations and IHR requirements. According to a WHO report released on February 3, there are altogether 153 confirmed cases of the 2019-nCoV outside China, which is less than one percent of the number in China. In contrast, in 2009, the H1N1 flu in the US spread to 214 regions and countries. Thanks to China’s efforts, we have effectively contained the cross-border spread of the 2019-nCoV. WHO applauded China, saying it’s setting a new standard for outbreak response.
The fact is that according to media reports, the 2009 H1N1 flu had a mortality rate of 17.4%. The mortality rate of MERS of 2012 was 34.4% and Ebola 40.4%. With China’s unrelenting efforts, the 2019-nCoV mortality rate in China is about 2.1%, much lower than the figures above. Since February 1, cured cases began to outnumber deaths. As of 12am February 3, a total of 632 patients have been cured and discharged. We have the confidence and the capability to win this battle.
The fact is that the major purpose that the WHO declared the 2019-nCoV a public health emergency of international concern is to help ill-prepared countries with weaker health systems to get necessary international assistance. The WHO doesn’t approve of and even rejects travel and trade bans on China. It has said repeatedly that China has taken firm and strong actions, and that it is confident in China winning this battle. However, it was precisely some developed countries with sound health systems and advanced public health capabilities that imposed excessive restrictions on China, which clearly runs counter to WHO advice. Even American media and experts doubted the government’s decision, saying that the US government’s restrictions on China are precisely what the WHO rejects and cannot really reduce risks of virus spreading. German media stated that in front of the epidemic, if we are compassionate and ready to help, fear and panic will fade away. If we lose humanity, it will not just be a battle against disease that we lose.
I want to stress that virus knows no borders. The epidemic is temporary, but cooperation lasts. Faced with the public health crisis, countries should work together to tide over the difficulties. It serves the common interests of all.
Q: The world is watching the epidemic in China with care and concern. We have seen many Japanese netizens gathering under social media accounts of the Chinese embassy in Japan, telling China to stay strong and showing support to Wuhan. Do you have a comment?
A: I have also seen relevant reports and I am deeply touched. Since the outbreak of the epidemic, the Japanese government and people have expressed sympathy, understanding and support to us.
The Japanese government made it clear very soon since the outbreak of the epidemic that it will do whatever needed to help China fight the epidemic. The Japanese government and businesses have donated to China masks, goggles, protective suits and other supplies for epidemic prevention and control. On the packages donated to Wuhan read the words “Though miles apart, we are under the same sky” “Together we stand, my armors thine”. Going online, I saw photos with slogans put up at many drug stores in Japan reading “Stay strong, China” “Come on, Wuhan”. The Tokyo Skytree has been lit up in red and blue to cheer up and pray for China. An official from the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare denounced extreme and discriminatory remarks from some countries at a press conference, saying what is at fault here is virus, definitely not people. I heard that one headmaster of a Japanese school sent a letter to parents, telling pupils that this is not the time to badmouth China and Wuhan.
I believe many Chinese netizens have also noticed these heartwarming details. We thank all the countries for their sympathy, understanding and support during this difficult time. We will keep these in our heart.
What the virus has done is cruel and will not last. What the people has done is touching and will be remembered forever. We will continue to work with the international community to fight against the epidemic with all-out efforts. We will strive to return to normal life at an early date and continue our friendly exchanges with people from all countries.
Q: According to media reports, on February 3 local time, IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva expressed deep sympathies to all those affected by the serious situation related to the coronavirus, support for China’s efforts to respond , and confidence that China’s economy remains resilient. What’s your comment?
A: We have also seen relevant reports and appreciate Ms. Georgieva’s remarks. The deputy head of the NDRC Lian Weiliang said at the State Council press conference on February 3 that the epidemic is influencing China’s economy, especially consumption, and such influence is increasing. But it is temporary and will not change the fundamentals of China’s economy which will remain sound for a long term. We are capable of and confident in winning this hard battle against the epidemic and will strive to minimize its impact on China’s economy. We are fully confident in the prospect of China’s economy.
Q: Do you think Italy “overreacted” considering that it stopped flights with China?
A: As you may know, the WHO has made it clear that it does not recommend and even opposes travel restrictions against China.
The Chinese government is making all-out efforts to combat the epidemic, releasing information in an open, transparent and responsible manner, and taking the most comprehensive and rigorous prevention and control measures. All this has been fully recognized and highly appreciated by the international community.
China understands that some countries have taken appropriate measures to prevent and control the spread of the epidemic, but hopes that all countries can assess the epidemic situation in an ob