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If Winter Comes, Can Spring be Far Behind?
H.E. Zhang Yiming, Chinese Ambassador to Namibia

A few days before the Chinese Spring Festival of 2020, a sudden outbreak of novel coronavirus pneumonia (NCP, or COVID-19) emerged in Wuhan, the capital city of Hubei Province of China and spread to the whole nation. Under the leadership of President Xi Jinping, the Chinese government promptly established a national framework of comprehensive and inter-agency response, and took the most comprehensive, stringent and thorough measures to contain epidemic. Over 20,000 healthcare workers and 100 plus medical teams converged in Hubei, the hardest-hit province, from across the nation to support epidemic control. Several thousand engineers and workers worked around the clock and completed two specialized hospitals equipped with 2,500 beds in less than 15 days. Through these arduous efforts, the epidemic is generally under control now. Until 19 February, outside Hubei, the number of confirmed cases had recorded a 15-day consecutive drop and many provinces did not record new infections. The number of cured cases across the nation came near 15,000 and scientists and researchers are working day and night to find the cure. Dawn is breaking and the light is coming through. We have full confidence, capacity, and determination to win this "war without smoke".

As a responsible major country, China always attaches the same importance to the health and safety of people from other countries as its own. From the start of the outbreak, the Chinese government has acted in an open and transparent manner in releasing relevant information to the world and seeking close cooperation with the World Health Organization (WHO). We have shared the genetic sequence of the virus with the world community and invited foreign experts to help. Also, we actively provide assistance and facilitation for foreigners living in China. To date, confirmed cases outside China account for less than one percent of the world's total, which means China has effectively curbed the spread of the outbreak beyond its borders and made great contribution to global public health. As WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, China has paid huge efforts and even sacrifice in the fight against COVID-19 and thus bought time for the international community to response.

In regard of the epidemic prevention and control, Chinese and Namibian governments have been working closely and are on the same page. Since the outbreak, the Chinese Embassy in Namibia has shared timely information on the epidemic and discussed the responding measures with Namibia Ministry of International Relations and Cooperation, Ministry of Health and Social Services and WHO country representative's office. China appreciates the scientific proper and effective precautions taken by the Namibian government. Considering the concerns of Namibian people, the Chinese Embassy in Namibia demanded all the 160 or so Chinese citizens who came to Namibia recently to conduct self-quarantine for 14 days at home and put themselves under supervision upon them one by one. Some other people who want to return to Namibia were also requested to postpone their agenda. All of the above measures show our responsible sense and care for Namibian people's health. Meanwhile, the Chinese government pay attention to the safety of Namibia citizens in China by keeping in close touch with the Namibian Embassy in Beijing and working with universities and colleges to deal with the difficulties met by Namibians. As far as we know, even in Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak, all the 27 Namibia students have full access to daily food and household items, medical and prevention supplies as well as psychological counseling services. We are joining hands with Namibian friends and try our best to realize the target of zero infections in Namibia.

Virus respects no borders while all human beings have compassion. Facing the virus, China is not fighting alone. The International community has given us valuable moral and material support. Until now, more than 160 countries and international organizations have sent letters or messages to express their sympathy, trust, and firm support. Many countries and institutions donated disease prevention goods to China. Just like China extended helping hands immediately after the outbreak of the Ebola virus in Africa, African brothers and sisters have also given us precious support when we are suffering. Some African countries donated cash and materials and some students from Zambia and Zimbabwe in China posted a warm song at social media to cheer up for China in the fight against the epidemic. President Hage Geingob was one of the first butch of African leaders to render sympathy to China. Some Namibian NGOs initiated activities to support Wuhan on social media and extended their sincere wishes. I also noticed that many ordinary Namibians attached encouraging messages on my Facebook page. Those kind deeds and benign words, full of shining humanity, manifesting the deep friendship between China and Africa, have moved me a lot. Chinese people worship a motto that "when receiving a favor, you should repay more than double". That is why we will always remember and hold dear every inspiring word and every act of support.

I also noticed a handful of extreme comments distorting facts and stirring up discrimination against Chinese citizens, which makes me very uncomfortable. A virus in mind is even worse than that an actual one in body. As WHO Chief Tedros said, "this is the time for facts, not fear. This is the time for science, not rumors. This is the time for solidarity, not stigma." We sincerely hoped that at this very time, the international community could get rid of prejudice and discrepancy to respond to the epidemic in a rational and scientific way.

The outbreak of COVID-19, declared as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) by WHO, is a severe test for the Chinese government and its people. On the other hand, it will inevitably strengthen China's national governance capacity and advance the modernization of its governance system. As an old saying goes, every dark cloud has a silver lining. I firmly believe, with the joint efforts of Chinese people and the international community including Namibia, China is bound to defeat the epidemic and usher in a blooming and splendid Spring.

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