Participants in the video conference said they appreciated China's sharing of experiences in combating the virus, adding that China's help came at a criticaljuncture for Europe.
by Xinhua writer Yu Shuaishuai
ATHENS, March 13 (Xinhua) -- Before 9:00 a.m. local time (0700 GMT) on Friday, Amela Lolic has already arrived at the conference room of the World Health Organization (WHO) office in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), with two sheets of paper listing 17 questions concerning COVID-19.
As the assistant minister of health and social welfare of the Republika Srpska, one of the two entities of BiH, Lolic was here for a video conference with Chinese health officials, experts and their counterparts from Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries as well as Malta.
During the video conference, the Chinese officials and experts introduced the latest progress in combating COVID-19 and various prevention and control strategies before answering questions.
When it was her turn to ask questions, Lolic said there was no need since "all my questions have already been answered satisfactorily."
A FRIEND IN NEED
Europe has now become the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic, with more reported cases and deaths than the rest of the world combined, apart from China, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Friday.
Helena Maltezou (C), head of the Department of Epidemiological Surveillance and Intervention of the Hellenic National Public Health Organization, attends a video conference with Chinese health officials, experts and their counterparts from Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries in Athens, Greece, March 13, 2020. (Photo by Cai Ling/Xinhua)
The video conference was the latest move from China to push for enhanced global cooperation to battle the outbreak.
Though the situation in CEE countries is not as severe as in other European areas for now, several CEE countries have declared a national emergency over concerns about the worsening situation.
Participants in the video conference said they appreciated China's sharing of experiences in combating the virus, adding that China's help came at a critical juncture for Europe.
"China has taken very impressive measures in order to contain this epidemic. China has behaved with responsibility towards not only the Chinese people, but also the global community," Helena Maltezou, head of the Directorate for Epidemiological Surveillance and Interventions for Infectious Diseases of Greece's National Public Health Organization, told Xinhua after attending the video conference in Athens.
Ludmila Viksna, chief infectious diseases specialist at Riga Eastern Hospital and dean of the Infectious Diseases Department at Riga Stradins University, said that China's sharing of experience and its specialist expertise reflect its commitment to the fight against the coronavirus, as well as its great sense of responsibility towards protecting global health.
"We are extremely thankful for that," Viksna said.
Latvian participants attend a video conference with Chinese health officials, experts and their counterparts from Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries in Riga, Latvia, March 13, 2020. (Photo by Janis/Xinhua)
Before the video conference on Friday, an academic video conference on COVID-19 had already been held between Chinese and German experts in early February.
"BEST EXPERIENCE IN THE WORLD"
Impressed by the Chinese performance in battling COVID-19, participants said they now better understand the difficulties in China's fight against the epidemic and how valuable China's experience is.
"It's very important for Poland to receive the information from China because you have the best experience in the world," said Iwona Paradowska-Stankiewicz, a Polish national consultant in the field of epidemiology.
Peteris Apinis, Latvia's former health minister and ex-chairman of the Latvian Medical Association, said that the discussions with the Chinese counterparts were very useful, adding that China's expertise in this field is much more extensive than that of the rest of the world.
Maltezou, the expert who is now leading the battle against COVID-19 in Greece, said that her country "truly relies on the Chinese experience on this issue."
Jelena Rjabinina, chief specialist from the Infection Prevention and Control Department of the Estonian Health Board, said that Estonians' public knowledge about the coronavirus is still insufficient, and that the materials provided by the Chinese side are very professional and pertinent.
The Chinese knowledge and materials on the disease will be handed out to Estonian hospitals and related institutions, she added.
Calin Alexandru, head of the General Directorate for Management of Medical Emergency of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Romania, told Xinhua that the Chinese introduction is specific, practical and highly operable, and is worth learning from.
"We truly admire the Chinese people and our colleagues who managed in such a short time to share with us the best of the lessons they have learned," said Danijel Nikolic, assistant secretary general at the General Secretariat of the Serbian government.
Estonian health officials and experts attend a video conference with Chinese health officials, experts and their counterparts from Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. (Xinhua/Zhang Xiuzhi)
COOPERATION WITHIN "17+1" FRAMEWORK
The video conference was held as part of the cooperation between China and CEE Countries (17+1).
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, China has been at the forefront to mobilize joint global response against the infectious disease, and the various cooperation mechanisms it advocates have proved to be effective in times of crisis.
Under the "17+1" platform, the cooperation between China and CEE countries has reached fruitful results. This time, with a shared goal of overcoming the epidemic, the two sides are coming together to strengthen their constructive cooperation.
"Today's video conference is just a new beginning for China-CEE countries' cooperation in epidemic prevention and control," said Costin Iliuta, an expert from the Health Ministry of Romania.
"We owe great thanks to the Chinese people, authorities and experts, for showing us that the Belt and Road Initiative and the '17+1' mechanism are not just about the economy, but the wellbeing of the whole world," Nikolic said.
Serbian heads of medical institutes, hospitals and representatives of government attend a video conference with Chinese health officials, experts and their counterparts from Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries in Belgrade, Serbia on March 13, 2020. (Xinhua/Shi Zhongyu)
Maltezou told Xinhua that both sides can further collaborate on research on drugs and vaccines for COVID-19.
"We would like to collaborate with specific universities or healthcare facilities in China to promote exchange of knowledge, and also to work with the Chinese side on treating patients," she said.
Kart Sober, an Estonian health official, also praised the "17+1" cooperation as "a very good platform" to enhance collaboration.
(Xinhua reporters Li Xiaopeng from Athens, Chen Xu and Zhang Zhang from Warsaw, Zhang Xiuzhi from Sarajevo, Shi Zhongyu from Belgrade, Guo Qun from Riga, Chen Jin from Bucharest, Gao Lei from Zagreb, Guo Chunju from Tallinn, Guo Mingfang from Vilnius, Jiang Xue from Bratislava, Tian Ying from Berlin, Yuan Yun from Valletta, Yuan Liang from Budapest, and Yang Xiaohong from Prague contributed to the report. Video editor: Ma Ruxuan.)