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Timely disclosure key to contain virus

GLOBAL TIMES. / No Comments Share:
A medical worker takes a passenger's body temperature at Hankou Railway Station in Wuhan, capital of central China's Hubei Province, Jan. 22, 2020. (Xinhua/Xiao Yijiu)

The city of Wuhan, in Central China’s Hubei Province, has temporarily shut down its public transport as it tries to halt the spread of 2019-nCoV, a new strain of coronavirus amongst a population of eleven million. It proves that the government has known for some time that the virus is capable of human-to-human transmission. Surely this information should have been disclosed earlier?

Local governments have a particularly heavy responsibility to maintain social and economic stability, so upgrading the control measures for the epidemic cannot be done hastily. So it’s understandable that even though the government has made a judgment that the epidemic has reached emergency level, local officials still tend to try and stabilise the situation through internal control; attempting to minimise losses to economic and social development.

But in the internet era, people will not accept such governance. They value their independent judgment and do not want their lives to be controlled in this way. People want to have parity with  officials over the right to know about the major matters that affect them. Therefore, local authorities are criticised rather than appreciated if they try to hoodwink the public.

The timing of a full disclosure in the public health field is critical because it affects people’s judgment and the measures they will take to protect themselves against the sudden outbreak of an epidemic. Many people would be more prepared if they fully understood the risks of the latest pneumonia virus earlier, and therefore the spread of the epidemic would be more constrained.

But the progress of shared information in recent days does show that Chinese society has still made a big step forward when compared to the 2003 SARS outbreak. Previous cases of the new virus have already been reported, with overseas reactions spreading to China and helping to increase our internal vigilance.

Having undergone outbreaks of SARS and H5N1, China is able to launch preventive control measures rapidly in the face of the seriousness of the new coronavirus. With our previous experience of dealing with similar outbreaks, China is highly capable of allocating medical and other resources and both preventative and control measures have been adopted across the country in a relatively short period of time. And although the current – and busy –Spring Festival will create a particular challenge in terms of controlling the new virus, Chinese society will not panic.

The good news is that based on what is known, the new coronavirus is not as lethal as SARS, which infected 5,237 people in the Chinese mainland and killed 349. We are confident that this current pneumonia virus will infect and take the lives of far fewer people as well as cause fewer economic losses. GLOBAL TIMES.

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