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Remarks of Ambassador Zhou Pingjian at the Dialogue Held by Centre for China Studies in Nigeria on the Theme of "Nigeria-China Cooperation in the Context of Health Emergency: Imperative of Joint Efforts and Collaboration"

1. Monday this week marks the 49th anniversary of China-Nigeria diplomatic relations. Since February 10, 1971, the all-dimensional, wide-ranging and high-quality bilateral cooperation has been a pacesetter in China-Africa cooperation. Particularly in recent years, under the strategic guidance and personal attention of President Xi Jinping and President Buhari, the brotherly relationship between China and Nigeria has reached new heights unmatched in history, bringing tangible benefits to our two countries and peoples. China always appreciates Nigeria's invaluable support wherever China's interest is concerned.

2. At the moment, the prevention and control of the Covid-19 outbreak is the top priority of the Chinese government. China has leveraged its institutional strengths and started an all-out, nationwide  people's war against the epidemic. The government has taken the most thorough and rigorous measures, many of which have far exceeded what WHO and International Health Regulations required. As President Xi Jinping stressed yesterday at the meeting of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, the epidemic control and prevention are now at their toughest and most critical period, and the country must spare no effort to continue with key tasks against the contagion. The epidemic control efforts have seen some positive, hard-won results. There have been some positive developments in the contagion situation.

3. Since February 1, cured cases began to outnumber deaths. As of 8:00 a.m. February 13, a total of 5998 persons had been discharged from hospital after recovery. Since February 3, newly reported confirmed cases are declining day by day outside Hubei, the province with Wuhan as its capital, from 890 cases that day to 731 cases (February 4), 707 cases (February 5), 696 cases (February 6), 558 cases (February 7), 509 cases (February 8), 444 cases (February 9), 381 cases (February 10), 377 cases (February 11), 312 cases (February 12). The Covid-19 epidemic is preventable, controllable and curable.

4. We need to put things in perspective so as to have an objective and accurate analysis of the situation. As of 8:00 a.m. February 13, the mortality rate of Covid-19 in the Chinese mainland is 2.28% ( 1368 deaths out of 59885 confirmed cases), and the mortality rate in Chinese provinces and cities other than Wuhan is merely 1.23% (332 deaths out of 26891 confirmed cases), even lower than that of ordinary pneumonia. The mortality rate outside Hubei is 0.34% (58 deaths out of 17091 confirmed cases). In contrast, the H1N1 flu of 2009 had a mortality rate of 17.4%, the mortality rate of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) of 2012 was 34.4%, the mortality rate of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) of 2013 was 10.91%, and the mortality rate of Ebola of 2014 was 40.4%. According to a recent United States CDC estimation, from October 1, 2019, through February 1, 2020, in the US there have been 22-31 million flu illnesses, 10-15 million flu medical visits, 210-370 thousand flu hospitalizations, and at least 12-30 thousand flu deaths.

5. The epicenter of the ongoing Covid-19 epidemic is Wuhan, Hubei province. What happens in Wuhan or Hubei should be interpreted as it is. Stereotyping the story of Wuhan or Hubei and applying it to all China or the whole world is misleading. Take the confirmed cases. As of 8:00 a.m. February 13, a total of 59885 cases had been reported in the Chinese mainland. Among them, 48206 cases were in Hubei (80.5%), 32994 cases were in Wuhan (55.1%, and 68.44% of the total cases in Hubei). The Covid-19 cases of infections worldwide is far less than 1% of the case count in China, while the H1N1 flu outbreak spread to 214 regions and countries.

6. As you may be aware, the sudden surge of 14840 confirmed cases yesterday (Wednesday) compared to 1638 new cases on Tuesday in Hubei tops the news headlines this morning. The surge is the result of a revision in the diagnosis criteria for the Covid-19 in Hubei. The Provincial Health Commission now considers patients who are clinically diagnosed as having the Covid-19 as confirmed patients when releasing figures. Previously, only patients testing positive for the virus were regarded as confirmed cases in Hubei. Among the 14840 new cases reported on Wednesday, there are 13332 clinically diagnosed cases according to the revised diagnosis criteria. Were not for the revision in the diagnosis criteria, the new cases yesterday would have been 1508, less than 1638 new cases the day before yesterday.

7. All the responses to the epidemic should be based on science instead of fear. It is understandable that some countries have taken necessary and appropriate prevention measures. But we disapprove of measures out of proportion. As WHO insists, there is no pandemic yet and there is no reason for measures that unnecessarily interfere with international travel and trade. WHO doesn't recommend and actually oppose limiting trade and movement.

8. Guided by the vision of a community with a shared future for mankind, China is fulfilling its responsibility for the life and health of its own people and for global public health. China's effective response has averted the further spread of the virus in the world. China will work more closely with the international community to contain the epidemic in the spirit of openness and transparency and safeguard global public health security. We encourage other countries to follow and act on WHO's travel and health recommendations. China will continue to take good care of foreign nationals in China like its own. We will stay in close communication with Nigeria and provide updates on latest developments, protect the life and health of the Nigerian nationals in China, thereby safeguarding the health and safety of people in both countries.

9. Foreign nationals are safe in China. According to the professional evaluation of WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros, the safest way for foreign nationals in Wuhan is to stay put and ensure effective self-protection. He has cautioned against hasty movement as it will add more uncertainties. Now confirmed cases have been detected among some foreign evacuees, which increase the risk of further spread. This is what has happened. We still suggest that countries to follow WHO recommendations and educate their nationals to ensure sound protection in accordance with local health regulations. The majority of the countries including Nigeria understand the opinion of the Chinese government. They have full confidence in and support China's control efforts. China highly appreciates the deep trust.

10. The Chinese are a resilient nation that has emerged stronger from numerous trials and tribulations. The bigger the difficulties and challenges China faces, the more cohesion and fighting spirit the Chinese nation demonstrates. With its people united as one under the leadership of the CPC, with China's institutional strength in mobilizing resources for major undertakings, with strong material and technological capacities and with rich experience, China has the confidence, capacity and determination to not only win a full victory against the epidemic but also meet its economic and social development goals. The fundamentals of China's long-term economic development remain unchanged and the impact of the Covid-19 epidemic is short-lived. China will surely prevail over this epidemic and emerge stronger and more prosperous.

11. The health sector is an important area in China-Africa cooperation. China has sent medical teams of altogether 21,000 members to Africa and has treated 220 million African patients. They are deeply respected by local people as some Chinese doctors even sacrificed their lives in this cause. After the Ebola epidemic raged through Africa in March, 2014, certain countries closed their embassies and evacuated diplomats and citizens from three West African countries hit by the epidemic. By sharp contrast, the Chinese government helped Africa at the earliest time possible. We sent not only urgently needed supplies but also medical teams of over 1,000 military and civilian doctors to areas stricken most severely by the epidemic. Chinese diplomats and medical experts chose to stay there instead of withdrawing. They fought together with local people until the virus was defeated. Since the start of the outbreak, Nigeria and other African countries and regional organizations have expressed valuable support through various means. Hardship reveals true friendship. This is a testament to great solidarity between China and Africa in trying times.

12. As the biggest developing country in the world, China highly values its strategic partnership with Nigeria, the biggest developing country in Africa. China remains committed to working with Nigeria to implement the outcomes of the FOCAC Beijing Summit and advance the Belt and Road cooperation for common development. We will continue to do whatever we could to support Nigeria in achieving independent, sustainable development at an early date. We are convinced that China and Nigeria can forge an even stronger relationship through win-win cooperation. 

I thank you for your attention.


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