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Blaming China won't solve America's problems

chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2020-09-24 09:47

A timeline of Chinese transparency and response

Did China offer accurate and sufficiently detailed information on COVID-19 to the WHO and countries such as the US in a timely manner?

On December 27, 2019, Zhang Jixian, director of the Department of Respiratory and Critical Care at Hubei Hospital of Integrated Traditional Chinese and Western Medicine, reported the first three suspected cases of pneumonia of unknown cause, followed by epidemiological investigation carried out by related centers for disease control and prevention and hospitals in Hubei and Wuhan, leading to an "urgent notice on the treatment of pneumonia of unknown cause" issued by Wuhan Municipal Health Committee on December 30.

On the following day, the National Health Commission (NHC) sent an expert group and a working group to Wuhan to investigate on site and guide epidemic response. On the same day, the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission released a briefing on its website about the pneumonia outbreak in the city, confirming 27 cases and telling the public not to go to enclosed public places or gather. It suggested wearing face masks when going out. Starting December 31, 2019, the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission released briefings on the pneumonia outbreak in accordance with the law.

It can be seen that during the initial stage of detecting the disease up to December 31, a sizable group of professionals from local CDCs and hospitals as well as from the NHC scrambled to investigate and assess the disease. This level of early alertness, awareness and quick response by Chinese professionals could be attributed in some degree to their experiences of the 2003 severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak and lessons learned thereafter. While the investigation was going on and much was unknown about the virus, the Chinese government told the WHO office in China about a new unknown illness on December 31.

On January 1, 2020, the NHC set up a leading group to determine the emergency response to the epidemic, convening meetings on a daily basis since then. On the following day, the China CDC and the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences (CAMS) received the first batch of samples of four patients from Hubei Province and began pathogen identification. And on January 3, China started to send timely updates to WHO and other countries, including the US China began to inform America of the viral pneumonia outbreak and response measures on a regular basis. These early briefings include a phone conversation between the Head of the China CDC and the director of the US CDC on January 4 (January 3, US Eastern Time). The same day, US CDC director Robert Redfield informed Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar, a cabinet official in the Trump administration, of the new outbreak in China, and Azar told Redfield to inform the White House's National Security Council, according to US news reports. On Twitter, WHO publicly announced that China had informed it that there were mysterious pneumonia cases, although no deaths so far, in Wuhan, China. WHO said that "investigations are underway to identify the cause of this illness" and that it "is working across the 3 levels (country office, regional office, HQ) to track the situation."

By then, a week after the first report of the illness of unknown cause in Wuhan, China, the Trump administration as well as all other countries were officially informed of the pneumonia outbreak. As of February 3, China had given the United States briefings on the epidemic information and control measures in China for 30 times, almost on a daily basis, including sharing with US CDC project manager in China information about China's diagnosis and treatment guidelines, prevention and control guidelines, and the linkage of the novel coronavirus database that China shares with the world in real time. Since releasing its first briefing on cases of pneumonia of unknown cause in Wuhan on January 5, WHO has also provided frequent briefings and updates on the outbreak.

The above-mentioned intensity of action on the Chinese side and interaction between China, WHO and its Member States has shown that from the very beginning, the US government has never been kept in the dark by the Chinese side or WHO when it comes to COVID-19.

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