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Cambodia must have rationality to overwhelm panic in battle against coronavirus

Zhong Sheng / China Daily Share:
Volunteers visit a community in Jiang'an District of Wuhan, central China's Hubei Province, Wuhan, the epicenter of the novel coronavirus outbreak, is combing communities to ensure every confirmed or suspected patient is located and attended to. Xinhua

When the first and so far, to Cambodia’s fortune, only now cured novel coronavirus patient was detected and made public, the country went into panic.


Facial masks, hand sanitisers and anything to do with personal sanitation and hygiene flew off the shelves and profiteers started hoarding these products or even hiked up the prices 50 folds.

To date, sanitisers and facial masks of any kind are not available in the pharmacies and if they are, are priced atrociously.

Imports of these items have not been made public, and though the panic seems to have died down, concern remains as with each passing day, the death toll increases, the number of people from China continue to arrive and the potential cluster outbreak of the novel coronavirus remains high.

Looking at the following statement by WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, “This is the time for facts, not fear. This is the time for science, not rumors. This is the time for solidarity, not stigma,” has not clearly resonated in Cambodia as in many parts of the world.

Obviously, to respect the authoritative suggestions from the WHO and take measures recommended by the organization to avoid the impacts on regular international exchanges of personnel and practical cooperation in each field is what countries should do in the face of the current epidemic.

Whether countries can evaluate the severity of the epidemic in a just and rational manner, and inform the public about the low mortality rate and the fact that the cured cases have outnumbered the deaths to avoid secondary crisis has become a standard that measures wisdom, rationality and humanity. It’s foreseeable that it will be much easier for the world to get through the current difficulty as long as this standard is met by all countries.

However, some countries ignored the WHO recommendation that there was “no reason for measures that unnecessarily interfere with international travel and trade.” Their overreaction and measures have caused trouble for normal international travel. Such “exaggerated” measures have triggered panic and are indulging the emergence of hostility, vicious remarks and evildoings.

This has no doubt signaled an alarm. Countries are cautioned against actions that promote stigma or discrimination, in line with the principles of Article 3 of the International Health Regulation (IHR). However, some western media, with ulterior motives, called the virus a “yellow peril made in China”, publicly labeling the Chinese and even Asians.

As a result, some people in western countries even committed violent crimes targeting Asians. Such ridiculous remarks and practices will do nothing to help the world combat the coronavirus, but only instigate racism and create panic.

Without doubt, the mainstream public opinion in the international society still stands with justice and righteousness. Any prejudice or discriminatory action against China is now condemned by the power of justice, as the practices and achievements made by the Chinese people to race against time and combat the epidemic are touching the world.

Many foreigners have denounced the discriminatory remarks, saying such remarks are stupid and intolerable. With “ImNotVirus” hashtags, they posted messages on social media saying that the epidemic is not an excuse for exclusiveness and the crisis shall not overwhelm humanity.

Prime Minister of Singapore Lee Hsien Loong criticized such remarks, saying “that is foolish and illogical,” and the virus does not check people’s passports before it goes into their bodies.

He stressed that the situation is a public health emergency and not an issue of race or nationality, and is a problem that all countries must work together to solve.
Leaders from Germany, Canada and the Philippines also made voices to stop discrimination.

In Cambodia Prime Minister Hun Sen said that fear was more dangerous than the virus itself and he couldn’t be more right in this aspect.

Michael Levitt, winner of Nobel prize in Chemistry and a scholar of virus research pointed out that western media broadcast what is happening in China from a selfishly focused perspective: how to limit the outbreak of illness outside the country’s borders. How narrow and sad that they never give China a voice or send words of encouragement and solidarity, he said.

Panic shall never worse the epidemic, and solidarity to protect lives shall never be obstructed. It tells from the human history of battles against viruses, especially today’s world where globalization is developing in a profound manner that the experiences in and lessons learned from the epidemics of influenza A/H1N1, MERS, Ebola and Zika all proved that the impacts of public health issues are beyond borders. “We are all in this together, and we can only stop it together,” said Tedros in a statement.

Addressing the challenges facing the world from the novel coronavirus outbreak, UN Secretary General António Guterres urged “a strong feeling of international solidarity.”

The spirit of solidarity and cooperation showcased by China in the battle against the epidemic has won wide respect and support from the international society. China has quickly spotted, isolated and sequenced the virus, and shared the information with the world, as well as taken a slew of measures that have much higher standards than the requirement in the IHR. These forceful measures are hailed as a good example for epidemic response.

The Chinese people, particularly in Wuhan and other affected cities in Hubei Province, are currently bearing the burden, said Michael Schumann, chairman of the German Federal Association for Economic Development and Foreign Trade. They are protecting the world from an even faster spread through their willingness to make sacrifices and their commitments, Schumann added, noting that the world will lose more if it cannot maintain humanity in front of such challenge.

The epidemic is ruthless, but humans aren’t. To have rationality control panic, to have sympathy, understanding and support overwhelm prejudices, narrowmindedness and anxiety, and to show solidarity to cope with the global public health challenge will lead to the final victory over the epidemic.

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