Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian's latest update on Covid-19

Zhao Lijian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson in a media briefing on March 3rd, shares the statistics from the National Health Commission. He updates that there are 49,856 patients have discharged suffering due to Covid-19 from hospitals in China’s mainland. 

Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian's latest update on Covid-19

There has been total 49,856 patients have been cured from Covid-19 in mainland China. Outside Hubei, the number of newly confirmed cases per day has been hovering around 10 for six days running, and that of newly reported suspected cases per day has been capped under 100 for five days running. In Wuhan, the number of patients cured and discharged has exceeded that of confirmed cases.

In a press briefing he replies the media personnel’s questions. Extract from his briefing about Covid-19 is being reproduced here as interview. 

Q: It was once speculated that the virus was leaked from a lab in China and such speculation was already countered by the Chinese side. Still, there are many versions about the origin of the virus and “patient zero”. Some media and netizens still talk about it in ways like “China virus”and “Wuhan virus”. There are also news stories saying that some US seasonal influenza patients actually came down with COVID-19. What is your response?

Zhao Lijian: It is highly irresponsible for some media to dub it “China virus”. We firmly oppose that. I want to stress two points.

First, no conclusion has been reached yet on the origin of the virus, as relevant tracing work is still underway. The WHO has said many times that what we are experiencing now is a global phenomenon with its source still undetermined, and we should focus on containing it and avoid stigmatizing language toward certain places. The name COVID-19 was chosen by the WHO for the purpose of making no connections between the virus and certain places or countries. Dr. Zhong Nanshan, respiratory specialist and member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, said that the epidemic was first reported in China but was not necessarily originated in China.

Second, we should all say no to “information virus” and “political virus”. By calling it “China virus” and thus suggesting its origin without any supporting facts or evidence, some media clearly want China to take the blame and their ulterior motives are laid bare. The epidemic is a global challenge. The right move should be working together to fight it, which means no place for rumors and prejudice. We need science, reason and cooperation to drive out ignorance and bias.

Q: The confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been on the rise worldwide. Some countries are feeling increasingly strained in epidemic prevention and control. But in China, we see a climbing cure rate, and the numbers of newly confirmed and suspected cases have been kept low for several days on end. What has China been sharing with other affected countries, in terms of prevention, control, diagnosis and treatment?

Zhao Lijian: China has been closely following the global footprint of COVID-19. We have been strengthening international cooperation in this area with the vision of a community with a shared future for mankind in mind and in an open, transparent and responsible attitude. That’s what we’ve been saying and we’ve been doing.

Yesterday afternoon, together with the National Health Commission, the Foreign Ministry had a video conference with COVID-19 experts from Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Armenia, Turkmenistan and the SCO Secretariat. The video conference was attended by officials from the NHC, the Foreign Ministry, the General Administration of Customs and China’s embassies in the relevant countries, experts from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention and Peking University First Hospital, officials from foreign diplomatic and health departments, foreign diplomatic missions in China, foreign experts in the health field, and representatives from relevant international organizations.

The experts on the Chinese side gave a full account of the epidemic situation in China and our experience in epidemic control and treatment. All participants had an in-depth exchange of views on control measures, diagnosis, screening and laboratory tests, pledging further actions on sharing information and coordinating actions to safeguard regional and global health security.

Prior to yesterday’s video conference, China has already had such communication with the EU via two video conferences. You can look for more details of these meetings from the press release we’ve already issued.

Q: According to reports, due to the COVID-19 epidemic, Japan and China will delay President Xi Jinping’s planned visit to Japan in April. Can you confirm that?

Zhao Lijian: I responded to this question yesterday. We will let you know if there’s any update.

Q: Can you give us an update on which countries China has sent experts to fight the coronavirus and medical equipment to? And are any new flights planning to bring Chinese citizens from countries hit by the virus? Also, do you have a total number of cases brought into China by international arrivals?

Zhao Lijian: On your first question, please refer to yesterday’s transcript of the press conference for my answer.

Regarding your second question, the foreign ministry and our diplomatic missions overseas are closely following the situation on the ground in relevant countries and actively carrying out consular protection and services. In case of emergencies, we hope Chinese nationals overseas will contact local government departments for help and also contact our embassy or consulate. If the epidemic worsens to a degree that puts Chinese citizens’ health and security under serious threat, we will take necessary measures to assist their return home. We will keep you updated if there’s anything new.

As to your third question, we’ll try to gather more information from relevant authorities before I come back to you.