Key Words to Understand China: The Fight Against COVID-19
I. Decisions by the Central Leadership
1. Coordinated National Response in Epidemic Prevention and Control
At the meeting held on February 3, 2020 by the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, Xi Jinping instructed that there should be a coordinated national response in epidemic prevention and control.
To ensure a coordinated national response, the centralized and unified leadership of the CPC Central Committee must be strengthened. Party committees and governments at all levels must resolutely follow the unified command, coordination and deployment of the CPC Central Committee, and ensure strict enforcement of orders. All localities and government departments must think in big-picture terms and take a holistic perspective, and resolutely obey the command of the Central Leading Group for COVID-19 Prevention and Control and the Joint Prevention and Control Mechanism of the State Council. When devising epidemic control measures, they should take into account both the needs of their areas and sectors and the potential impacts on key regions and the whole nation.
Since the outbreak of the epidemic, under the unified leadership and command of the CPC Central Committee with Xi Jinping at its core, various localities and government departments have performed their duties, coordinated efforts, taken joint actions, and acted promptly with all their strength. A large number of medical workers from all over the country assembled and rushed to the rescue of Wuhan. By working non-stop shifts, thousands of builders raced against the clock and completed the Huoshenshan Hospital in 10 days. The PLA efficiently delivered anti-epidemic materials and dispatched medical personnel to join the rescue. The manufacturers operated at full capacity to maximize the production of materials for national unified distribution.
As WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom said, “The speed with which China detected the outbreak, isolated the virus, sequenced the genome, and shared it with WHO and the world are very impressive, and beyond words.”
All of these have fully proved that by ensuring a coordinated national response, China can arouse the enthusiasm of all parties and concentrate resources on major initiatives. This forms a strong guarantee for the country to win the war against the novel coronavirus, and also demonstrates great strengths of China’s state institutions and governance system.
2. All Donations to Be Used for Epidemic Control Without Delay
Since the outbreak of the epidemic, Wuhan and other places in Hubei have received a large number of donations from around the world. At a meeting of the Commission for Comprehensive Law-based Governance of the CPC Central Committee on February 5, Xi Jinping pointed out that the donated property must all be used without delay for epidemic control to fulfill the wishes of the kind donors. This reflects the CPC Central Committee’s efforts in enhancing legislation, law enforcement, judicial justice, and observation of the law to provide a strong legal guarantee for epidemic prevention and control.
According to the Chinese law, the donee shall promptly make public the true information about all the donations received and the use and management of the donated property, and distribute the property for disaster relief without delay; and the charities shall use the donation to fund charity activities, fully and efficiently. The law also stipulates that the donee shall be subject to government and public scrutiny, and the law violators in charity activities shall be held accountable.
3. If Wuhan Wins, Hubei Wins. If Hubei Wins, the Whole Country Wins.
Wuhan and Hubei are the top priorities in China’s epidemic prevention and control, and the main battlefield of the war against the virus. On February 10, in a video call with a hospital in Wuhan which treats severe cases, Xi Jinping pointed out, “If Wuhan wins, Hubei wins. If Hubei wins, the whole country wins.”
Since the outbreak of the epidemic, the CPC Central Committee with Xi Jinping at its core has been concerned about the anti-epidemic work in Hubei and Wuhan. Xi has chaired more than one meeting of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee to study and discuss epidemic prevention and control. He emphasized that Hubei must put epidemic prevention and control at the top of the agenda. He also made deployments for Hubei and Wuhan in their combat of the virus.
The CPC Central Committee has sent the Central Guiding Team to Wuhan to comprehensively strengthen guidance on the front line, and to fight side by side with the people of Wuhan and other parts of Hubei province. More than 40,000 medical workers from all over the country came to assist Hubei, about 35,000 of whom worked in Wuhan. Practices have proved that the situation of the whole country will become stabilized if the epidemic in Wuhan and Hubei is put under control.
II. Anti-Epidemic Guidelines and Arrangements
1. Treating the Infected in Dedicated Facilities by Senior Medical Professionals from All Over the Country and with All Necessary Resources
The meeting held on January 25 by the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee laid down a guiding principle of “treating the infected in dedicated facilities by senior medical professionals from all over the country and with all necessary resources.” Severe cases must be gathered into designated medical institutions with strong treatment capabilities, and all confirmed cases must be received by hospitals without delay.
Gathering the patients for medical treatment is an important means to prevent the spread of the epidemic and to provide effective treatment to confirmed cases. With the infected people being received in dedicated facilities, medical observation and treatment can be carried out at the same time, which can highly facilitate the allocation of resources. Also, patients can get treatment as early as possible, thus reducing the possibility of deterioration. Plus, gathering the patients together can prevent cross-infection among healthy people.
Following this guiding principle made by the CPC Central Committee, Hubei has gathered the four groups of people: confirmed cases, suspected cases, febrile patients and close contacts. This has made it possible to accurately learn of the number of confirmed cases, suspected cases, symptomatic cases in fever clinics, and symptomatic cases in close contacts. It is also possible to get accurate information about the number of beds available, occupied or vacant in relevant hospitals, isolation centers and temporary treatment centers.
Assembling medical experts and concentrating all necessary resources are important measures to deal with the epidemic. Medical materials from all over the country have been collected to help Wuhan treat severe cases, and new medical institutions in the city that are designated to receive severe patients have been taken over wholly by appointed medical teams. On this basis, an array of working mechanisms such as academician visits, multidisciplinary comprehensive treatment and holistic nursing have been established, ensuring that severe cases can receive science-based treatment.
2. Key Regions: Focus of Epidemic Control
On February 3, the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee held a meeting to study and discuss the issue of epidemic control. Xi Jinping chaired the meeting and underscored key regions as the focus of epidemic control. Only by concentrating efforts to control the epidemic in key regions can China fundamentally curb the spread of the virus across the country as soon as possible. It is highly necessary to coordinate regional resources, concentrate treatment and protective resources to the front line, and ensure the needs of frontline medical personnel and the patients as a matter of priority.
Hubei province, especially Wuhan and other key regions, are the top priorities of the nationwide war against the novel coronavirus. The situation of the whole country will become stabilized if the epidemic in Wuhan and Hubei is put under control. Making greater efforts to control the epidemic in key regions echoes the urgent wishes of the people in Hubei, especially patients and their families. It is also a must to contain the virus.
The meeting pointed out that Hubei province, especially the city of Wuhan, should further improve and tighten their control, strictly implement the principle of “early detection, early reporting, early isolation and early treatment,” strengthen epidemic monitoring, gather the patients for medical treatment, require all close contacts to stay at home for medical observation, and apply effective measures to prevent the spread of the epidemic.
The meeting required that local Party committees and governments must fully take on their responsibilities, strengthen community grid management, and take more thorough, more targeted and more effective measures to contain the outbreak.
Treating the patients on the one hand and blocking the virus from spreading on the other hand – these two together contribute to effective containment of the epidemic.
3. Ensuring Medical Supplies and Treating Patients at All Cost
The Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee emphasized at its meeting on February 3 that the supply of all kinds of medical protective materials must be ensured and no effort shall be spared to treat the patients. It also demanded raising the admission rate and the recovery rate, and lowering the infection rate and the case fatality rate.
Sparing no effort to treat the patients is a prominent task of epidemic control. The central leadership decided at the meeting that more hospitals for collective treatment would be built and put into use as early as possible, and more medical workers from other parts of the country be dispatched to meet Wuhan’s need. They also urged protecting the physical and psychological health of medical workers. They required coordination in the deployment of personnel to concentrate the competent medical workers and gather all severe cases for treatment, and timely promotion of the effective practices of various hospitals in curing severe patients.
When inspecting the national distribution center for major anti-epidemic medical supplies, Premier Li Keqiang called for greater efforts to ensure the production and supply of key medical protective equipment, speed up the manufacturing of anti-epidemic medical supplies, and enhance supply capacity. He said that these efforts together would provide necessary conditions for lowering the mortality rate, raising the recovery rate, and implementing solid prevention and control measures. To increase supply is to enhance fighting capacity against the epidemic, therefore it is a must to fully tap the production potential, to race against the clock to increase output while ensuring quality, and to take possible measures to expand supply.
The premier emphasized improving the standards for appropriate use of anti-epidemic medical supplies in different places and for different groups of people. He said that medical workers fighting at the front line also need protection and they should have priority access to key medical protective equipment.
He required the Joint Prevention and Control Mechanism of the State Council to improve unified distribution of major anti-epidemic medical supplies across the country. All functional departments should make concerted efforts to ensure the supply of medical resources to Hubei province, especially Wuhan and other key regions hit hard by the epidemic.
4. Reinforcing Scientific R&D Against COVID-19
The Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee at its meeting on February 3 underscored the support of science and technology for defeating the epidemic, and urged reinforcing scientific research in this regard. The meeting highlighted the need to find the origin of the virus, identify the infection source and transmission route as soon as possible, closely track the variation of the virus, and develop prevention and control strategies and measures without delay.
Universities, scientific research institutes and enterprises shall be mobilized, and researchers across the country be organized to join anti-virus research. It is also necessary to promote the sharing of relevant data and medical records, speed up research on the traceability, transmission and transmission mechanism of the virus, and make timely improvements to prevention and control strategies and measures. More efforts are needed to strengthen the development of effective drugs and vaccines, and interaction between scientific research, clinical trials and prevention control practices. Experts and scholars should take on more responsibilities, and come up with more professional proposals and solutions based on scientific research.
Science has a direct bearing on the health and safety of the people, and scientists play a key role in the campaign against the virus. From decoding the coronavirus to vaccine development, from identifying the infection source to cutting off the transmission route, all work must be conducted following scientific methodologies, so as to provide a strong force to win the war against COVID-19.
5. Maintaining Normal Economic and Social Order
Maintaining normal economic and social order was stressed by the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee at its meeting on February 3.
Adequate supplies and market order ensures stable operation of the macro-economy. The meeting pointed out that as the nation is fighting the epidemic, it is necessary to maintain social stability and orderly production, so as to avoid public panic and “secondary disasters” caused by the increase of confirmed cases and the shortage of daily necessities.
It is necessary to ensure the production, distribution and supply of staple and non-staple food, and the supply of vegetables, meat, eggs, milk, grain and other daily necessities for residents. City mayors must earnestly fulfill their responsibility of guaranteeing the people’s “vegetable basket” (non-grain food supply), actively organize the production of vegetables and other non-staple food, coordinate the allocation of materials and market supply, and take measures to ensure smooth passage of vehicles transporting daily necessities. Supply of coal, electricity, oil and gas must be maintained to satisfy the energy demand of residents. Psychological intervention and counseling and humanistic care will be provided to those in need.
The meeting also required efforts to properly handle all kinds of difficulties and problems in epidemic control, and maintain law and order. To safeguard social stability and national security, severe punishment will be meted out in accordance with the law on criminal and other illegal offenses such as price gouging, hoarding, speculation and other acts that disturb social order during the outbreak, as well as production and sale of fake and shoddy medicines, medical devices and medical sanitary materials.
III. Effective Measures
1. The Joint Prevention and Control Mechanism of the State Council
Xi Jinping has reiterated the importance of society-wide efforts in epidemic prevention and control, and of building a strict line of defense by mobilizing the public.
On January 20, facing the outbreak of the epidemic and considering the large mobility of people during the upcoming Spring Festival break, the NHC proposed setting up a joint anti-epidemic prevention and control mechanism within the national health system, improving inter-agency preparation and coordination, and providing guidance and support to relevant local work.
On January 21, the Chinese government upgraded the joint mechanism to the national level and launched the Joint Prevention and Control Mechanism of the State Council in Response to the Novel Coronavirus Pneumonia (“Joint Prevention and Control Mechanism of the State Council” for short).
The Joint Prevention and Control Mechanism of the State Council is an institutional arrangement made by the Chinese government. Focusing on the mission of epidemic prevention and control, the mechanism breaks down the boundaries of different government departments and agencies and has achieved inter-agency coordination with high efficiency. With the NHC as the coordinator, a total of 32 central government departments cooperate under the mechanism, with internal work teams set up covering epidemic prevention and control, medical treatment, scientific research, publicity, foreign affairs, logistics support, and work at the front line. These work teams are each headed by a leading official of a relevant ministry or commission with clear duties and division of labor. They form strong synergy against the epidemic through close collaboration.
In addition to holding press conferences, the Joint Prevention and Control Mechanism of the State Council had issued more than 30 notices, technical guidelines and work plans by February 28, briefing the public about the latest progress in epidemic prevention and control, material supplies, scientific research and resumption of work and production, interpreting policies and measures, and responding to public concerns.
Following the decisions and deployment of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council, all provinces and cities have established joint prevention and control mechanisms and mechanisms for society-wide efforts against the virus, and taken law-abiding, science-based and orderly measures to fight the epidemic.
2. Wuhan in Lockdown
On January 22, 2020, the CPC Central Committee decisively demanded Hubei province implement comprehensive and strict control over personnel outflow.
On January 23, a meeting held by the Epidemic Prevention and Control Headquarter of Wuhan announced that from 10:00 a.m. on January 23, 2020, the city’s urban bus, subway, ferry and long-distance passenger transportation would be suspended, the departure channels of airport and railway stations be temporarily closed, and the citizens should not leave Wuhan without special reason.
To contain the epidemic from further spreading, Wuhan blocked public transportation between Wuchang, Hankou and Hanyang on January 25. From 00:00 on January 26, all non-essential vehicles were banned in downtown Wuhan except for vehicles with permits that are used to guarantee material supply, provide free transportation, and serve public affairs.
These lockdown measures are highly necessary to effectively block the virus and curb the epidemic from spreading. But a lockdown does not mean putting Wuhan out on a limb or leaving it desperately alone. To ensure the citizens’ basic life not be affected much, the Epidemic Prevention and Control Headquarter of Wuhan has made prompt briefings on the city’s material reserves and supplies, and reminded the public that there is no need for panic or hoarding. A 24-hour hotline was opened to receive donations from all walks of life, and solid measures have been taken to receive and deploy the donated properties. A total of 6,000 taxis have been urgently mobilized to serve communities and provide free services for those in need.
Wuhan is a key city in central China and an important transportation hub of the country. The lockdown has yielded a great impact on the city. However, in the face of the epidemic, Wuhan, Hubei and China have resolutely taken effective measures and actions, and by making great efforts and sacrifices, they have bought valuable time for the whole world to fight against the epidemic.
3. Preventing the Coronavirus from Entering and Spreading Within a Region
The outbreak of the COVID-19 epidemic coincides with the home return peak during China’s Spring Festival break. Controlling the number of infections and preventing the spread of the virus is the key to epidemic control. The CPC Central Committee with Xi Jinping at its core has repeatedly urged all provinces and municipalities to take targeted measures and prevent the coronavirus from entering and spreading within the regions under their jurisdiction. This is a differentiated strategy for the regions that are not vital for epidemic prevention and control as well as for the provinces and municipalities with mass transient populations.
The community is the front line of joint prevention and control, and also the most effective line of defense against imported cases and spread from within. By deploying tight check at the entrance and strict grid management, the community can build strong defense and effectively cut off the infection source.
The CPC Central Committee and the State Council also called on the public to refrain from traveling and thus contribute to the epidemic fight. For this end, flexible measures have been adopted in advance such as extending the Spring Festival holiday, postponing the reopening of schools, flexible resumption of work, and staggering the time of return trips of workers. Meanwhile, strict health monitoring and personnel management has been taken to firmly prevent the spread of the virus within a certain region while guarding against imported cases.
4. A Dedicated Team and a Personalized Treatment Plan for Each Patient
On January 20, the Epidemic Prevention and Control Headquarter of Wuhan decided to exert all-out efforts in the treatment of patients. For severe cases, the practice of “a dedicated team and a personalized treatment plan for each patient” will be applied, and mild cases will be cured and discharged as early as possible.
In adopting such a practice, it is highly necessary to mobilize all resources to provide patients customized medical teams and targeted diagnosis and treatment schemes with the strongest technical force and the best nursing service, and carry out timely, efficient and targeted treatment to raise the recovery rate. This practice has been widely adopted in the treatment of patients across the country.
While the epidemic situation is still grim and complex, and prevention and control work is in the most critical stage, this practice complies with the principle of “treating the infected in dedicated facilities by senior medical professionals from all over the country and with all necessary resources.” It has been proved effective in treating the patients.
2020年2月17日至19日, 武汉市展开集中拉网式大排查, 对各区各街道辖区居民进行筛查甄别，坚持“不落一户、不漏一人”。这是坚持人民生命至上、遵循应收尽收原则的具体举措。
5. Massive Dragnet Screening of Potential Virus Carriers
From February 17 to 19, Wuhan launched a massive dragnet screening of potential virus carriers among its residents in every community, “leaving no one unscreened.” This follows the belief that “saving lives is of paramount importance,” and the principle of getting all confirmed cases hospitalized for treatment.
This large-scale screening was conducted in search of the four groups of people (i.e. confirmed cases, suspected cases, febrile patients who cannot rule out the possibility of infection, and close contacts), in order to ensure 100 percent of admission for confirmed cases, 100 percent of nucleic acid tests for suspected cases, 100 percent of diagnosis for febrile patients, 100 percent of isolation for close contacts, and 100 percent of 24-hour close-off management of communities and villages.
By the use of AI technology, the investigation was conducted with great efficiency, and reached approximately 10 million people in more than 3,300 communities and villages within three days. Based on the big data platform, the information collected was integrated with the records kept in the hospitals, disease control centers, medical insurance agencies, public security and civil affairs authorities, telecommunication carriers and other relevant units. Targeted nucleic acid tests and epidemiological studies were carried out on the four groups of people, which helped to accurately and rapidly find close contacts and isolate them without delay, therefore effectively identifying and blocking the infection source.