An Ebola epidemic sweeping West Africa has drawn global attention. It has been reported that since it was identified in Guinea this February, 729 lives have been taken away by the virus, and the number of people who have been confirmed infected or are suspected of being infected has risen to 1,323.
In the US, this virus caused controversy with people arguing whether a US aid doctor who was infected by the deadly virus should have been shipped back to the US for treatment. Some people worried that it could end up spreading the virus within the country.
The virus has also been detected in China's neighboring country the Philippines. Given the fact that China's exposure to the outside world is much more extensive than before, it needs to take more precautions to make sure Ebola will not breach its borders.
So far, few ordinary Chinese people have basic knowledge about the virus, and only some specific professional authorities are capable of taking effective protective measures.
Since China is engaged in more exchanges with Africa, we believe it is necessary to give more education to the public about how Ebola is spread. The public needs to keep an eye on it.
Africans have formed several communities in some Chinese southern cities. The authorities of these cities need to take more precautions against any entry by the virus.
They should also send warnings to their local residents who have plans to visit West Africa, suggesting they put off or cancel their trips.
There is no doubt that necessary and big events cannot be just called off because of outside possibilities. But more protective measures must be taken, which we believe can be understood by event participants.
We cannot put more focus on the displeasure of the participants than their safety and health.
The Nanjing Youth Olympic Games is about to begin in less than half a month. It can be anticipated that more people from Africa will visit China. This will be a great test for Chinese authorities to defend the community against the virus. The Nanjing government must spare no effort to make sure there is no loophole to be exploited by the virus. They mustn't compromise the protective measures for a more friendly atmosphere at the event.
We send out this warning because the "face" complex is everywhere in Chinese culture. Absolute dedication to preventing any Ebola infection should be the priority of Nanjing government during the period of the Games. If any infection occurred, the impact would be much more significant than any game results.
So far the epidemic is still limited to Africa. We should not panic about it, but nor should we think it is not a risk. As a society which faced and overcame SARS, China should have the capacity to strike a balance between normal interactions with Africa and strict controls to shield China from the virus.