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Ex-HA chief: HK can't beat virus without joint effort of nation

By Gang Wen | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2020-08-11 16:28

The former head of Hong Kong's Hospital Authority said the city can't beat the pandemic by itself, as experience shows that the national efforts are essential to the fight against COVID-19.

In a one-on-one interview with China Daily on Thursday, Anthony Wu Ting-yuk cited the examples of Beijing in June and Wuhan in February, when the nation united to quell the pandemic when those cities were hard hit by the coronavirus.

These efforts proved to be effective and essential in subduing the pandemic quickly, Wu said.

"The central government's support for Hong Kong shows that we are one country," Wu said.

Guangdong province has selected 60 virus-testing technicians to boost Hong Kong's virus-testing capacity. The seven who are spearheading the mission arrived in the city on Sunday and began work. Hubei province's Wuhan, the Chinese city hit hardest by COVID-19, will also send six experts to Hong Kong to help convert more sections of AsiaWorld-Expo into a mobile-cabin hospital and to build a new temporary hospital on a vacant land in the city.

That is substantial assistance for Hong Kong, said Wu, adding that the help is being provided in areas that Hong Kong currently needs but cannot accomplish on its own, such as testing capacity and building mobile-cabin hospitals used for large-scale medical isolation.

Wu said that some voices in Hong Kong have questioned the help, saying the city has the ability to handle the pandemic by itself, and they have called for rejecting the mainland's aid. He said they do not realize that Hong Kong has never built such temporary hospitals before and needs to learn from scratch how to design and manage them.

Building a 2,000-bed hospital is easy for the mainland, but Hong Kong lacks the resources for such a large-scale project, Wu said.

While Hong Kong cannot replicate every mainland control measure because of institutional differences, Wu believed it can learn a lot from Beijing, which managed to contain the spread of the virus in about 10 days during a sudden surge of local infections in June.

He also disagreed with many claims that the different health systems in the two places will adversely affect cooperation between the medical staffs.

"There may be differences in the way you practice and the way you work. But if you look at medical (standards), I think it's only one standard worldwide," he said.

He recalled that in his capacity as Hospital Authority chairman after the 8.0-magnitude earthquake in Wenchuan, Sichuan province, in 2008, he led a team of 60 doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals to a local hospital in the province to help treat and look after the injured.

"Helping together is good. I really don't think anybody should criticize (it)", he said.

Wu called on the public to stop viewing the fight against the virus as a political issue.

"We have to be hand-in-hand to fight this very scary pandemic and therefore, hope that we can all come to our senses and work together to fight the coronavirus," he said.

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