Monday, March 30, 2020

Botswana’s faces COVID-19 risk from west not east – says China

Chinese Ambassador Zhao Yanbo warned Friday that the worst possible coronavirus outbreak that is likely to hit Botswana will be from Europe, Middle East and not his own country. 

Addressing reporters via an online press conference, Yambo said “Now the infectious risk I worry about is not coming from China, but now coming from Europe, Middle East and the other worst-hit counties.” 

He said as confirmed cases have reported in some African countries, especially in South Africa, Botswana continues to intensify its prevention and control response to fight against the COVID-19. 

He revealed that the Chinese Embassy in Gaborone has already shared the Diagnosis and Treatment Protocol for Novel Coronavirus Pneumonia (Trial Version 7) with Botswana’s Health Ministry.

“I’m talking and coordinating possible medical assistance with Botswana authorities. The first batch of test reagents has been provided to the African CDC last month. The second batch is on the way,” he said. 

He added that “Also we plan to offer a video conference with AU and some African countries between officials and experts of our two sides to share China’s experiences of prevention and control of the virus spread. Further assistance is also under discussion and coordination.”  
On whether it was prudent for Botswana to continue with plans to evacuate its citizens from China, Yambo said “As recommended by the WHO, it is the best choice to stay put to avoid cross-infection. As a matter of fact, some countries have seen imported cases from the evacuees. We respect the decision of the Botswana government on whether to evacuate.” 

Yambo said he regularly shared epidemic prevention updates with Vice President Slumber Tsogwane and relevant ministers and officials from the very beginning. 

“I meet and call Minister of Health and Wellness Dr. Lemogang Kwape frequently. Our Embassy also works closely with your relevant ministries on the prevention of the spread of the Novel Coronavirus. We share our information about China’s response to the epidemic with your Botswana side,” he said.

According to the need of the entry ports in Botswana, Yambo said “we donated a dozen of touch-free thermometers to Ministry of Health and Wellness, so that passenger screening could be conducted at major entry ports since the outbreak of the epidemic.” 

He added that “As I just mentioned in the opening remarks, China has so far published 7 guidelines on COVID-19 diagnosis and treatment and 6 guidelines on prevention and control, all of which have been translated into multiple foreign languages.”

Yambo said in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province and the hardest hit area, the daily number of new confirmed cases dropped to 5 12 March, which is a decline of more than 99% compared to the peak number. He said Wuhan has already closed all the temporary hospitals considering the number of remaining cases is limited. Hubei Province, excluding Wuhan city, reports no new cases since 5th March. 

“With arduous efforts, the epidemic has been largely contained within China, and we can say that the peak of the coronavirus outbreak in China is over. With continued epidemic prevention and control efforts, China has introduced a variety of financial, fiscal, and material policies to expedite resumption of work and production of enterprises and ensure normal running of the economy in a bid to complete this year’s socio-economic development tasks,”  said Yambo.

He said outside China, the virus “is rampaging around the world, with over 45,000 confirmed cases reported in more than 100 countries and regions.”

In Africa, 10 countries including South Africa have reported 105 confirmed cases, which shows that COVID-19 is posing a rising threat to southern Africa region.

“Against such a backdrop, it is more important and urgent for all countries to step up communication, cooperation in jointly fighting the epidemic and safeguarding regional and international public health security. While combating COVID-19 at home, China is ready to contribute to the global response,” said Yambo.

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