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Survey praises swift and effective Chinese response to pandemic

By WANG MINGJIE in London | China Daily Global | Updated: 2020-07-10 09:39

Medical personnel pose for a photo at Huoshenshan (Fire God Mountain) Hospital in Wuhan, Central China's Hubei province, Feb 4, 2020. [Photo/Xinhua]

China's response to the novel coronavirus pandemic has been ranked among the best in the world by a consortium of technology companies and nonprofit organizations.

The consortium, known as the Deep Knowledge Group, looked at a range of factors in their COVID-19 Regional Safety Assessment, including monitoring and detection capacity, quarantine and government efficiency, and healthcare and emergency readiness.

They studied the responses of 200 countries, regions, and territories and listed China in seventh place.

The researchers used 130 quantitative and qualitative parameters to create a composite index of the health, societal, and economic status of each region in terms of their absolute and relative stability, safety, and risk in relation to COVID-19.

Switzerland topped the COVID-19 safety list, followed by Germany, Israel, Singapore, and Japan. Other nations to make the top 10 included Austria (6), Australia (8), New Zealand (9) and South Korea (10).

The United States and the United Kingdom ranked 59 and 68 respectively.

"This finding strongly suggests that one of the most critical factors impacting regional safety is not just the general level of different territories' theoretical capacity to withstand and neutralize national emergency situations, but rather the specific policies and crisis management strategies and tactics they employ in practice," the report noted.

It explains that economies that began closing borders, ordering lockdowns, and freezing their economies comparatively late in the overall pandemic timeline scored lower.

Also, regions that have prioritized economic recovery over public health and safety and that have not utilized sufficiently widespread testing for virus infections have performed poorly.

Karol Sikora, dean of medicine at Buckingham University, said the study sums up the overall quality of strategies, rather than single features, such as infection or death rates, so even poor countries can score well if they are well organized.

In the case of China, he said the country "has done remarkably well overall and, being the first country to be affected, was the pioneer.

"Discipline, cooperation, and good healthcare infrastructure all contributed positively," he said.

China was hit by the novel coronavirus with the first case reported in Wuhan last December, but the government managed to stabilize the situation through rapid testing, tracing, and isolation mechanisms.

In June, new COVID-19 cases were detected in Beijing and the localized outbreak was reportedly linked to an infected chopping board in a wholesale food market while the investigation is still ongoing. The surge was discovered on June 11 and brought under control within 14 days, thanks to local measures.

Sikora said it was remarkable how well China had handled the local outbreak, hailing it as "perfect epidemiology in action".

Franklin Allen, a professor of finance and economics and executive director of the Brevan Howard Centre at Imperial College London, echoed Sikora's view, saying: "China was the first country to deal with the problem, which makes it much more difficult. The other countries were able to benefit from the lessons that China learned and shared."

He said he was very impressed with China's response, but said it had not been widely reported in the Western press.

In reference to Beijing's response to the recent localized outbreak, Allen said: "This is a good example of how effective China is in dealing with sporadic outbreaks. By getting on top of things early and taking strong steps, China solves the problem very effectively."

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