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  • Epidemiologist Bruce Aylward at the China-WHO joint expert team press conference, Beijing, China, Feb. 24, 2020.

    Epidemiologist Bruce Aylward at the China-WHO joint expert team press conference, Beijing, China, Feb. 24, 2020. | Photo: Xinhua - EFE

Published 7 March 2020
Opinion

The World Health Organization stressed that international cooperation is crucial to managing the outbreak.

At an extraordinary council on the COVID-19 epidemic held in Brussels on Friday, the European Union (EU) health 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.

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Prior to this meeting, epidemiologist Bruce Aylward presented the results of a field study trip in China, mentioning that he was impressed by the Chinese 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,” the team leader of the China-World Health Organization (WHO) joint mission on COVID-19 said.

The epidemiologist also praised the Chinese people for their 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."​​​​​​​

For his part, the WHO director 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.

The Chinese experience strongly supports the 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 WHO stated.​​​​​​​

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 measures taken in response to COVID-19. They answered questions from EU experts, who thanked their Chinese counterparts for the comprehensive briefing.

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.​​​​​​​

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The EU representatives also 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 that his country will encourage more Chinese experts to share their experience with the Mediterranean country.

"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 informed.

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

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