Coronavirus: Chinese Embassy affirms Ghanaians in Wuhan not in danger

The Chinese Embassy in Ghana has given an assurance that Ghanaians living in China, especially in the Wuhan and the Hubei provinces which are at the epicentre of the novel coronavirus, are not in danger of the disease.

It said there were designated hospitals in Wuhan and other places in China for the treatment of pneumonia caused by the coronavirus, while an effective response programme had been formulated.

Furthermore, the embassy said health authorities in China had published that in the event that anyone was taken ill, the one was to contact a medical institution in the locality as soon as possible to seek and receive medical treatment.

The Chinese Ambassador to Ghana, Mr Shi Ting Wang, said this at a press conference in Accra yesterday 2nd February on the epidemic, which had so far claimed 361 lives and affected more than 17,000 people as of today.

He assuaged the fears of Ghanaians, especially those who had relations in China, saying: “Please be rest assured that Ghanaian students in Wuhan and Hubei will receive timely and qualitative medical treatment if there is any illness suspected.”

In an answer to a question from the Daily Graphic on whether Ghanaians should be worried about the spread of the coronavirus, Mr Shi said: “I hope Ghanaian students and communities will believe in China’s capability of dealing with the epidemic.”

Logistics

He also said that the Chinese government was taking measures to tackle logistical difficulties and the labour crises that had arisen due to the outbreak of the disease, adding that it was working to ensure that areas affected by the disease were continuously supplied with necessities.

“The National Development and Reform Commission is also arranging the daily transport of vegetables, cooking oil, rice and flour to Wuhan. Please be rest assured that Ghanaian students in Wuhan and Hubei will get sufficient food and other logistical support,” he said.

Mr Shi said further that once a Ghanaian in China was quarantined and the status of illness was yet to be confirmed as coronavirus or otherwise, the consular hotlines of Ghana’s Embassy in Beijing, which are +8618612084232 and +8618612959040, must be contacted.

Strict measures

He said to contain the situation, China had taken strict measures all around, including transport restrictions, extending the Chinese New Year holiday to today,
February 3, postponing school opening dates, cancelling gatherings, temporarily closing public venues, tracking persons, managing temperature detection at subways and railway stations and airports, among other entry points.

Moreover, he said, from January 23 Wuhan had suspended city buses, subways, ferries and long-distance passenger transport services from operating and temporarily closed the departure channels of airports and train stations.

He said following Beijing’s model in its handling of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) that occurred in 2003, Wuhan was building two makeshift hospitals which would have more than 2,300 beds to treat patients infected with the coronavirus.

According to Mr Shi, the two facilities were expected to be completed in less than 15 days, while more than 7,000 doctors and nurses from other cities, provinces and the military had arrived in Wuhan and nearby communities to help treat people infected by the virus.

In spite of the outbreak, the Ambassador said, Ghanaians had not been barred from travelling to China, saying: “Imposing an international travel or trade ban is just overreaction and not helpful at all in fighting the epidemic.”

That notwithstanding, he said, the Chinese Embassy in Accra had taken certain key measures, including urging applicants with symptoms similar to those of influenza and those who had been to Wuhan recently to postpone their plans and seek medical attention.

In addition, since January 29, the embassy had been taking the temperatures of all people applying for visa at the entrance to the embassy and those with temperatures of 37.3 degrees Celsius or above were not admitted into the building, he said.

Mr Shi said the embassy sterilised its halls every day and provided applicants with hand sanitisers which must be used before an application form was tendered.

Progress made

Touching on progress made in developing a vaccine to fight the virus, he said a few days ago, a key Chinese laboratory isolated three strains of the virus which could be used for developing a vaccine.

“Institutes of the Chinese Academy of Sciences have screened several medicines in the hope of containing the virus and with the potential for clinical application.

This is good news,” he said.

He praised experts from China and across the world who were actively involved in seeking a solution to the coronavirus, stating that pharmaceutical researchers were in a race against time to develop a vaccine.

Asked whether the epidemic had adversely affected trade between China and the rest of the world, he said the time was too short to determine that.

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