China deserves "gratitude and respect" for efforts to fight virus outbreak: WHO chief

Source: Xinhua| 2020-01-30 06:56:06|Editor: huaxia

GENEVA, Jan. 29 (Xinhua) -- The director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Wednesday that China deserves the international community's gratitude and respect for having taken very serious measures to contain the novel coronavirus outbreak and prevent exporting cases overseas.

Addressing journalists at a press conference in Geneva, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus thanked the Chinese government for the extraordinary steps it has taken to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus.

Tedros reiterated that almost 99 percent of cases and all deaths have been within China, with only 68 confirmed cases and no deaths in 15 countries and regions outside China. "For that, China deserves our gratitude and respect ... China is implementing very serious measures and we cannot ask for more," he said.

The WHO chief returned to Geneva on Wednesday from China, where he met with the Chinese leadership to discuss cooperation on implementing containment measures in Wuhan (the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak) and public measures in other cities and provinces, as well as on conducting studies on the severity and transmissibility of the virus, and sharing data and biological material.

He revealed that one of the strategies the WHO and China have agreed on and are following is serious and strong intervention at the epicenter, which helps limit the spread of the virus.

The WHO chief also thanked China for having identified the pathogen in a short time and shared it immediately, which has led to the rapid development of diagnostic tools.

"China has been completely committed to transparency, both internally and externally, and has agreed to work with other countries that need support," he reiterated, citing the latest case in Germany which, due to the immediate notification and sharing of information by the Chinese government, was very quickly identified and given medical care.

The cooperation between China and Germany in responding to the outbreak is a good illustration of how China is engaging with the WHO and other countries based on the principles of solidarity and cooperation, Tedros said.

"The level of commitment (of the leadership) in China is incredible; I will praise China again and again, because its actions actually helped in reducing the spread of the novel coronavirus to other countries ... we shall tell the truth and that's the truth," he concluded.

A WHO team of international experts is to visit China as soon as possible to increase the understanding of the outbreak and guide global response efforts.

Tedros also announced that the WHO Emergency Committee will meet again on Thursday to discuss the outbreak.

Earlier, the committee already met twice on Jan. 22 and Jan. 23, and decided that the outbreak had not been a "public health emergency of international concern," citing major reasons that the cases of infection outside China were still limited in number and that the Chinese authorities had already implemented very forceful containment measures.