It is a time calling for enhanced international preparedness and greater confidence when the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that the novel coronavirus outbreak has become a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC).
PHEIC does not mean panic. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO, stressed that the WHO disfavored imposing travel or trade restrictions on China. The WHO announcement signifies a new starting point for international collaboration to combat the enemy of global health.
Much remains to be understood about the new virus. The source of the outbreak and the extent to which it has spread are not yet known. The announcement of PHEIC might influence the world economy. But confidence is more precious than gold in face of epidemic. As long as the international community stands together, with scientific prevention and cures, and precise policies, the epidemic is preventable, controllable and curable.
It is based on this confidence that the WHO does not recommend overreactions such as trade and travel restrictions.
China is now engaged in an arduous battle. Its measures, swift, strong, and smart, have shown that early discovery, diagnosis, treatment and quarantine are the most effective method to bring the outbreak under control.
Since the outbreak, the Chinese government has put paramount importance on the prevention and control measures and is working with the international community in a spirit of openness, transparency and scientific coordination.
The world is impressed with the commitment from China's top leadership, the efficiency of national mobilization in response to the outbreak, the actions to limit transmission, including the lockdown of Wuhan, an 11 million population city and center of the outbreak.
Virus can cross borders in an integrated world, but it is the integration and borderless collaboration that allow us to stop it.
After identifying the pathogen in a record-short time, China shared the genetic sequence of the novel coronavirus in a timely manner with the WHO and relevant countries and regions. China invites WHO experts to do field study in Wuhan. The government attaches great importance to the safety of all foreigners in China.
Progress is being made day by day. Development of vaccine, diagnose and treatment is accelerated. Researchers have selected 30 existing drugs, biologically active natural products and traditional Chinese medicines which may have therapeutic effects on the virus for further tests. More patients have recovered and been released from hospital. China is willing to share the experience with the world.
Renowned Chinese respiratory expert Zhong Nanshan said Tuesday that the outbreak in China would reach its peak in one week or around 10 days, and then there will be no large-scale increases.
Standing on the frontlines, China is beefed up to deal with the most difficult issue. Its efforts are not only protecting its people, but also protecting the people in the whole world.
As Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, the announcement of PHEIC is not a vote of no confidence in China, and the greatest concern is "the potential for the virus to spread to countries with weaker health systems."
It is time to test the strength, wisdom, and solidarity of the international community as the world did when reining in viruses including swine flu, polio, Ebola, and Zika.
Facing an extraordinary challenge posed by the outbreak, the world needs extraordinary confidence. In the joint fight for global health security, sacrifice cannot be made in vain.