China’s progress offers hope, experience for Europe’s virus fight

A staff member conducts nucleic acid tests at a laboratory in Wuhan, central China's Hubei Province, Feb. 13, 2020. (Xinhua/Cheng Min)

(Xinhua) — Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 epidemic in China, European officials have communicated with their Chinese counterparts, who have expressed solidarity and support.

As more countries in Europe have reported cases of the novel coronavirus, China, whose efforts are yielding progress, offered advice and shared its experience with European officials and experts.

During a video conference between China and the European Union (EU) on Feb. 26, the Chinese side said it would follow the development of the outbreak in European countries and stood ready to share its experience with the EU to jointly tackle the challenge.

Experts from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control attend a video meeting with Chinese experts on response to the COVID-19 in Brussels, Belgium on Feb. 12, 2020. (China Mission to the EU/Handout via Xinhua)


After a recent nine-day field study trip on COVID-19 in China, Bruce Aylward, team leader of the China-World Health Organization (WHO) joint mission on COVID-19, said he was impressed by China’s pragmatic, systemic and innovative approach to control the outbreak.

China has taken a “differentiated approach” towards the different situations of sporadic cases, clusters of cases, or community transmission, which makes for a massive scale of epidemic control work without exhausting its response, said Aylward.

Bruce Aylward, an epidemiologist who led an advance team from the World Health Organization (WHO), speaks during a press conference of the China-WHO joint expert team in Beijing, capital of China, Feb. 24, 2020. (Xinhua/Xing Guangli)

Moreover, the WHO expert praised the Chinese people for their phenomenal collective action, saying that “it’s never easy to get the kind of passion, commitment, interest and individual sense of duty that help stop the virus.”

At a daily briefing, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that COVID-19 can be contained based upon the findings of the WHO-China team.

“The key message that should give all countries hope, courage and confidence is that this virus can be contained,” he said.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (C) speaks at a daily briefing in Geneva, Switzerland, March 6, 2020. (Xinhua/Chen Junxia)

The WHO concluded in a report issued on Feb. 28 that China’s experience strongly supports the efficacy and effectiveness of anchoring COVID-19 readiness and rapid response plans in a thorough assessment of local risks and of utilizing a differentiated risk-based containment strategy.

“Such a strategy is essential for ensuring a sustainable approach while minimizing the socio-economic impact,” the report said.

For COVID-19 outbreaks outside China, the WHO recommended affected countries to immediately activate the highest level of national response management protocols, as well as prioritize case finding, testing and isolation, contact tracing, and the quarantine of close contacts.


The health ministers of the 27 EU member states met in Brussels on Friday, calling for strengthened solidarity, cooperation and exchange of information in fighting the COVID-19 disease.

Italian Health Minister Roberto Speranza (L) arrives for the EU Health Affairs Council in Brussels, Belgium, on March 6, 2020. (Photo by Riccardo Pareggiani/Xinhua)

The ministers agreed to develop a coordinated approach to prevention and protection of people at risk, and establish coherent containment measures, including evidence-based advice concerning travel to and from risk areas.

In Italy, Europe’s hardest-hit country, 3,916 people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus since the epidemic first broke out here 15 days ago, the Civil Protection Department revealed on Friday evening.

The figure did not include recoveries or fatalities, which stood at 523 and 197, respectively. The cumulative number of COVID-19 cases in Italy totaled 4,636, compared with 3,858 on Thursday evening.

Starting on Thursday, all schools and universities in Italy will remain closed through March 15. All major sporting events are to be held behind closed doors until April 3.

A woman walks past the closed Maria Montessori High School in Rome, Italy, March 5, 2020. (Xinhua/Cheng Tingting)

In France, the first European country to confirm COVID-19 cases, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said Friday that the death toll from the coronavirus rose to nine with 613 confirmed cases.

Philippe announced that all nurseries and schools in the two most affected regions, l’Oise in northern France and Haut-Rhin near the German border, will shut down for two weeks, starting from Monday. All gatherings will be limited “except those essential to social and democratic life,” he added.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Friday announced a new funding package of 46 million pounds (about 60 million U.S. dollars) for urgent work to find a coronavirus vaccine and develop a rapid test for the disease.


According to China’s EU mission, two video conferences on COVID-19 have been held between officials and experts from the two sides, with the first on Feb. 12 and the second on Feb. 26.

During the first conference, Chinese experts spoke about the vigorous and effective measures taken in response to COVID-19. They answered questions from EU experts, who thanked their Chinese counterparts for the timely and comprehensive briefing and commended them for their openness and transparency.

The EU side expressed readiness to give a timely update on the relevant situation, maintain close communication and step up exchanges with China on prevention, control, diagnosis and treatment during the epidemic.

Experts from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control attend a video meeting with Chinese experts on response to the COVID-19 in Brussels, Belgium on Feb. 12, 2020. (China Mission to the EU/Handout via Xinhua)

Since the first conference, the effective response taken by the Chinese government has produced good results, said the Chinese side during the second conference.

While briefing on the recent developments related to the outbreak in Europe and the measures taken by the EU to coordinate and support the response efforts of its member states, the EU side noted the WHO’s recognition of China’s response measures, and expressed readiness to maintain close communication with China and draw upon China’s good practices and experience.

Talking about bilateral cooperation in combating the virus, Li Junhua, Chinese ambassador to Italy, said China will encourage more Chinese experts to share their experience with Italy, especially in the field of treating severe cases.

“We are encouraged by the continued decline in cases in China. We remain concerned about the increasing signs of transmission outside China,” the WHO Regional Office for Europe in Copenhagen told Xinhua.

“International cooperation between nations, sharing experience and best practice, has been, and will continue to be, crucial to managing this outbreak,” it added.  

(Xinhua reporters Li Jizhi in Brussels, Lin Jing in Copenhagen and Chen Zhanjie in Rome also contributed to the story.)

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