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Whole world needs to take pandemic seriously: China Daily editorial

chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2020-10-25 20:47

Health workers work at a testing station in Shibei District of Qingdao, East China's Shandong province, Oct 14, 2020. [Photo/Xinhua]

Following an all-out response to a recent cluster of novel coronavirus infections linked to a local hospital, including city-wide nucleic acid tests, the city of Qingdao was able to swiftly announce an otherwise all clear.

The detection of 138 asymptomatic cases in Kashgar in the northwest Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region has triggered an equally rigorous local containment response. Expansive quarantining and testing are underway. Travel alerts have been issued. Outbound travel in particular is subject to stricter control measures.

While it might not be feasible for other countries to copy and paste these Chinese responses, that, however, does not mean they are meaningless elsewhere.

As the world braces for what is expected to be a difficult winter with the virus still rampant, the experiences of China and several Asian nations offer food for thought for the rest of the world on how to cope with the public health threat.

Clearly a combination of resolute leadership and fine citizenship matters when combating an adversary that is so hard to pin down.

If there is anything to learn from what the world has suffered so far, it is this — had governments and peoples all taken the matter more seriously in the early stage, we would probably not be in the situation we are today.

The biggest mistake, and one that is still being made, is a reluctance to take the pandemic seriously. It is disheartening to learn from the World Health Organization that infections are still growing exponentially in some countries, where hospital beds and intensive care wards are being stretched to their limits. The global public health watchdog is calling on countries to take immediate actions to reduce otherwise avoidable deaths, and prevent the collapse of basic medical care regimes and a fresh round of school closedowns.

The WHO's initial warnings about the severity of the public health emergency did not receive their due attention in some countries. But that must change now. The past months should have taught every country a lesson on the need for everyone to play their part to cut the transmission chains.

The five key actions the WHO has requested, which focus heavily on public awareness, are based firmly on the initial successes in all countries and communities that have managed to do a decent job in containing the pandemic, and are worth being adopted broadly.

This is important as global infections have now surpassed 42 million, and the single-day increases in new infections are again breaking records.

It is never too late to get serious about the pandemic. More feet-dragging and downplaying will only cost lives.

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