Jan 9, 2013, 9:47 AM
(Friday 14th February 2020 Issue)
His Excellency Ma Jianchun, the Chinese ambassador on 12 February 2020, met with WHO Representative Dr. Desta Alamerew Tiruneh, who called on him at the Chinese Embassy premise.
The WHO rep. and Chinese diplomat had a discussion centering on the recent outbreak of the novel coronavirus pneumonia, which was officially named “COVID-19” by the WHO on 11 February.
Ambassador Ma updated Dr. Desta on the latest development of the outbreak in China, pointing out that although the situation was still serious, positive changes were taking place; the number of daily new confirmed cases had seen a significant decrease in the past week, and more than 5,000 patients had recovered after receiving proper treatment. Ambassador Ma also briefed Dr. Desta on newly-adopted measures by China to curb the outbreak, including concentrating more medical resources to the epicenter region, rigorously preventing the outbreak from spreading, and conducting further international cooperation. Ambassador Ma appreciated WHO for its valuable support and consistent assistance in helping strengthen The Gambia’s disease control capacity, and expressed readiness of the Chinese Embassy in coordinating with the WHO office to assist The Gambia in better preventing the COVID-19 outbreak.
Dr. Desta commended China’s thorough measures in containing the outbreak at home and in controlling it from spreading to other countries. He said that it was due to these efforts that the number of infection cases outside China remained small, and that “what China did was not only helping itself, but also helping the whole world”. Dr. Desta elaborated on how the WHO had been collaborating with The Gambia in forming comprehensive preventive measures to keep the country free from the COVID-19 outbreak. He mentioned that while much work need to be done to get people prepared for the epidemic, panic should be avoided.
Ambassador Ma and Dr. Desta both agreed that the measures taken to prevent and control COVID-19 and other epidemics should be based on scientific evaluation and professional assessment, thus it is advisable for countries to follow WHO’s advice. Just like WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus put it, “This is the time for facts, not fear; this is the time for science, not rumors; this is the time for solidarity, not stigma.” Ambassador Ma and Dr. Destaalso decided to keep in close contact to further assist The Gambia in improving its capabilities of responding to health emergencies.