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Western coverage of coronavirus is its own epidemic

By Seymur Mammadov | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2020-02-01 16:00

A volunteer carries free vegetables to the kitchen of a medical observation site in Nanxun District of Huzhou, East China's Zhejiang province, Jan 31, 2020. [Photo/Xinhua]

The rapidly developing coronavirus in China and the active fight against it is today one of the most discussed topics in the world media. China’s large-scale response to a possible epidemic is impressive, but not everyone thinks so. Hysteria is being inflated by the world media, which turned the topic of coronavirus into an excuse for an all-out attack on China, attributing to Beijing a host of sins in solving this problem. As if it was a test of a “new biological weapon,” not an outbreak of infection. It’s never too soon for Western countries to unite against China.

If you look closely at the media attacking China, you can conditionally divide them into two camps: those who blatantly accuse China of being unable to solve the problem and hiding facts about the size of the disaster, and a less aggressive group that is still actively fanning the hype around the virus and its development.

So some Western media outlets find faults and weaknesses in China's struggle against the virus. They manage to connect the emergency construction of full-fledged hospitals with the idea that the scale of the disease has reached the nature of a global epidemic and China is deliberately downplaying the number of infected.

Such stories create a certain atmosphere for the public, one of an epidemiological apocalypse in China which Beijing can no longer cope with. This is the main conclusion some media outlets are trying to introduce into the minds of the reader: "China can’t cope."

China’s ill-wishers have completely forgotten this is not the first time China has been confronted with viral epidemics in its territory - bird flu in 1997, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2003 and acute fever with thrombocytopenic syndrome (SFTS) in 2010. China has a stellar track record in countering such infections, one could say it has the world's most successful experience in treating and localizing such epidemics.

After all, it was China that demonstrated this to the world during the SARS outbreak by creating a full-scale medical hospital in just six days. Now in Hubei province, two large-scale medical centers are being built at an even faster pace to quarantine and treat all patients in the region. This work speaks for itself — in contrast to the opinions of critics who see in the construction of such hospitals an attempt by China to hide the true number of infected people, in reality this fact suggests the opposite, that China is taking necessary measures to localize treatment and keep the virus contained.

Through quarantines of patients and even entire residential areas, China solves the main problem — nipping the virus in the bud and preventing it from developing into a pandemic throughout all regions of China. So in Beijing and other cities, mass events are prohibited. Tens of millions of people in Hubei are under quarantine. Almost 12 million people live in Wuhan, the epicenter of infection. After the outbreak, authorities stopped the movement of public transport, metro and buses. The airport and train station are also closed. It is impossible to leave the city. Is this good or bad? Consider the consequences. Uncomfortable for citizens, yes, but reasonable. All this is done for their safety.

It is already known that the Ministry of Finance of China intends to spend $144 million on the fight against the coronavirus. Meanwhile, based on statistics, not everything is as bad as the Western media writes — mortality from coronavirus is only 3% of the total number of cases, while the ratio of deaths to the number of infected in the case of SARS and other coronaviruses of the 21st century ranged from 10 to 35%, which is really scary.

It is clear that only China, which has resources and experience in suppressing a new type of virus, is capable of such powerful and prompt measures to prevent infection. China acts ahead of the curve and the Western media, reacting to this, agitates around the kind of outbreak which was resolved quite successfully before.

The author is director of the international expert club "EurAsiaAz".

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