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An aerial view of the two new specialised hospitals in Wuhan that can accommodate 2,500 beds. (PIX COURTESY OF CHINA EMBASSY)

KUALA LUMPUR: The past two weeks have been agonising, and my heart is extremely strained with the outbreak of the novel coronavirus in my motherland.

Right now, some 1.4 billion Chinese are sparing no effort in the fight against the outbreak. Countless medical teams from all over China are in Hubei province assisting in the fight, and saving lives 24/7.

Chinese citizens have devoted themselves to the strictest measures of prevention and control. We have our hearts set on one goal — the race against time and fight against the virus. Every day, we witness heroic deeds from ordinary individuals, which brings tears to my eyes.

About 60 medical teams comprising 11,000 doctors and medical staff have been despatched from other provinces to Hubei.

Many medical personnel have voluntarily asked for this dangerous assignment.

A nurse, who has worked on the frontline for a week, could only give an air hug to her visiting daughter from a safe distance.

Face masks and protective goggles have left deep marks on the faces of medical personnel after wearing them daily. The hands of some of the nurses have been scarred by constant disinfectant soaking. It’s arduous and exhausting, yet the medical staff have remained steadfast in their tasks.

After many sleepless days and nights, thousands of construction workers finished building two specialised hospitals that accommodate 2,500 beds.

Many have been calling China a “concrete superpower”, but we do not have superpowers. We are just ordinary people doing extraordinary works, determined to save our motherland and her citizens.

In recent days, our efforts have begun showing results. Although the number of confirmed and suspected cases are still high, the number of cases across all provinces in China, excluding Hubei, has dropped. We are seeing a rise in the number of cured cases, counting 3,496 in total.

Daily use of face masks and protective goggles leaves deep marks on the face of a medical staff member.

With the Chinese New Year holidays drawing to a close, and with people preparing to return to work, we cannot yet jump to the conclusion that the outbreak has reached its inflection point. But we are hopeful, nevertheless.

Thanks to the prompt efforts by the Chinese government to release information about the outbreak to the World Health Organisation (WHO) and other countries, we have managed to contain it within China — only less than one per cent of all confirmed cases happened outside China.

A nurse’s hands are scarred due to constant use of disinfectant.

This, to a large extent, is because of the meticulous restrictive measures taken by the government to prevent exportation of the virus, including a lockdown of the affected cities in Hubei.

These actions have been recognised and commended by WHO and the international community. Dr Tedros Adhanom, WHO director-general, recently praised China for its speed and efficiency in handling the outbreak.

Since the outbreak started, China has called off all outbound Chinese tourists groups, and has identified and shared the gene sequence of the coronavirus with WHO and other countries.

The Chinese government has also encouraged the Chinese people, who left China after visiting their families, to “self-isolate” themselves for two weeks to avoid the risk of the virus from spreading in the country of their residence. We understand this measure is quite effective.

This “war” against the virus will cost China. There will be repercussions to our economy, but the health and safety of our people are paramount. I think we have done a good job so far. We will win, I’m sure of it.

Our confidence comes from the invaluable support and aid from the international community. As of Feb 5, 21 countries, including Malaysia, and scores of international organisations have contributed medical supplies in large quantities. Friends of China have also joined in. We are not alone in this war.

I was deeply moved by the support from the Malaysian government and Malaysians. Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said the government would provide assistance whenever needed, in the form of food and medical supplies and essentials such as face masks and gloves. Two weeks ago, Malaysia donated 18 million clinical gloves.

I have received many video clips, in which Malaysians are heard chanting “Wuhan jiayou” (Keep on fighting, Wuhan), that have tugged at our heartstrings. We have forwarded those clips to China to show our people that Malaysians are with us in this war.

I am also grateful for the donations by generous Malaysians from all walks of life. One of them, a good friend, said it was “a small contribution in time of need”, when I thanked him profusely. He speaks the truth. Every word of support, every form of assistance helps. It demonstrates the unwavering brotherhood between China and Malaysia in times of adversity.

A nurse (left), who has been working on the frontline for a week, giving her daughter an air hug.

Thank you Malaysia, for your invaluable support.

In this globalised world, we may differ in race and nationality, but we share the same sky, same Earth and same future. Viruses, regardless of kinds and types, are the common enemies of the human race. It brings to mind what Dr Adhanom said: “This is a time for science, not rumours. This is a time for solidarity, not stigma”.

This “war” is far from over. But I believe with determination, confidence and patience, victory will be ours.

The world is no stranger to public health emergencies — in the decade before the novel coronavirus, our generation has confronted directly with Influenza A (H1N1), MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) and Ebola. And from 2003 to 2008, China and her people overcame the grave challenges posed by SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) and the Wenchuan earthquake in Sichuan province.

As the Chinese always say, “a country will emerge stronger from adversities”. With the support from all the countries, we will defeat the novel coronavirus and overcome the crisis.


The writer is China’s ambassador to Malaysia

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