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Experts urge world to learn China's experience as global COVID-19 cases approach 100,000

(Xinhua)    14:56, March 06, 2020

BEIJING, March 6 (Xinhua) -- As the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 worldwide is approaching 100,000, more and more officials and experts have urged the international community to learn China's experience in containing the epidemic.

Up to 2,241 new cases have been reported across the globe in the past 24 hours, bringing the total count to 95,333 as of Thursday, according to the latest official data by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Among the four countries or territories reporting their first confirmed cases in the past 24 hours, the case in South Africa involves a 38-year-old man who recently traveled to Italy with his wife.

Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) confirmed its first case in the region of Republika Srpska, one of the two entities of BiH. The British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar also reported its first confirmed case.

Besides, Palestine on Thursday reported its first seven cases in workers of a hotel in the city of Bethlehem. All the patients were infected during contacts with a group of Greek tourists who stayed in the hotel on Feb. 23-27. The country has declared a one-month state of emergency.

Among some of the worst-hit countries, South Korea reported a total of 6,088 cases with 41 deaths on Thursday, up by 322.

Japan has confirmed 1,023 cases by Thursday, with 706 linked to the Diamond Princess cruise ship that was previously quarantined near Tokyo. The government announced that tests for COVID-19 will be covered under Japan's national health insurance system starting from Friday.

Iran said Thursday that the death toll from COVID-19 has risen to 107, up by 92. The total number of infections increased to 3,513, up by 591. The country launched Thursday a national plan to combat the outbreak.

By Thursday, Italy has confirmed 3,296 cases with 148 deaths. The Italian government has announced the closure of all schools and universities across the country until March 15 at least.

Within Europe, countries like the Netherlands and Belgium have seen confirmed cases nearly doubled in the past 24 hours.

The number of confirmed cases in the Netherlands increased to 82 on Thursday from 38 a day earlier while Belgium confirmed 27 new cases on Thursday, bringing the total to 50. Most of the new patients in the two countries are linked to recent travel to Italy.

In Belgium's two populous neighbors -- Germany and France -- the situation is no less alarming. There have been 400 cases confirmed in Germany as of Thursday, up by 138.

France also reported 138 new cases on Thursday, the biggest one-day jump in the country, raising the total number to 423. The Paris Marathon, which was initially scheduled for April 5, has been postponed to Oct. 18.

According to databases set up by several major U.S. media outlets, the total confirmed cases in the United States have topped 200 from some 20 states with at least 12 deaths as of Thursday evening.

The U.S. states of Washington, Florida, California, Hawaii and Maryland have all declared a state of emergency. The Grand Princess cruise ship in connection with the first reported death of COVID-19 in California was ordered to delay its return to San Francisco.

During a daily briefing on Thursday, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said COVID-19 is not a pandemic for now although there are very concerning signs.

"Although the situation could be worse than what we are now and it could be a pandemic level, there are countries within this situation which have shown that it (COVID-19) can be contained," Tedros said.

He praised those countries which have been fighting hard against the epidemic, noting positive signals and experience regarding the virus have already emerged.

Tedros also called for a comprehensive approach, stressing the political commitment and intervention should be triggered in all countries for COVID-19 containment.

To find the best way to contain a further spread of COVID-19, many officials and experts have turned their eyes to China's anti-epidemic experience.

Health experts from Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Armenia, Turkmenistan and the secretariat of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization have already learned China's experience via a video conference with Chinese health authorities.

Chile announced earlier this week that it will send experts to China to learn its experience.

"China's situation is extraordinarily important, because the measures they have applied -- mainly measures of public health, community awareness and controlling contact -- are working," said Chilean Health Minister Jaime Manalich.

China's experience has shown that fundamental measures do work to contain COVID-19, such as measures of identifying cases and contacts, and mobilizing population, said Maria van Kerkhove, technical lead for the WHO's Health Emergencies Program, on Thursday, calling on other countries to make full use of them.

Bruce Aylward, team leader of the China-WHO joint mission on COVID-19, told The New York Times that he has learned seven important lessons from close observation of China's efforts, such as taking aggressive measures, moving medical care and other services online and isolating the infected quickly.

China's counterattack can be replicated but requires speed, money, imagination and political courage, he said.

Charles Powell, a member of Britain's House of Lords and chairman of the Said Business School at Oxford University, said other countries have tried to imitate China's response on a much smaller scale.

"One is seeing how the Italian government is trying to isolate two parts of the country and whether it will work. I think people respect China's reaction," he said.

According to an article published Thursday by the Associated Press, public health experts around the world agreed that the Chinese experience has bought other countries time to prepare and knowledge to better understand the nature of the virus.

The Economist magazine also said in a leading article that China's experience "holds three important lessons -- to talk to the public, to slow the transmission of the disease and to prepare health systems for a spike in demand."

As China has bought governments time to prepare, "they should use it," it said.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Zhao Tong, Bianji)

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