Coronavirus
CHN | Nov 11, 2020

While COVID-19 flares up again in Europe, US… China has found ways to quell virus, get back to business

Al Edwards

Al Edwards / Our Today

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Reading Time: 3 minutes
Concerned citizens cover themselves in plastic bags as they walk outside Shanghai railway station. (Photo: REUTERS/AlySong)

Both Europe and America are now seeing increased cases of COVID-19 infections and a steady uptick in deaths.

Only yesterday, the United States reported more than 120,000 reported infected persons with over 1,300 deaths.

While the U.S. presidential election has taken the pandemic off the top of the media agenda, the virus has become more virulent in the western world.

However, in China, where it is said the outbreak began, infection cases have been significantly reduced and its economy rebooted.

NATIONAL APPROACH TO CORONAVIRUS IN CHINA

China took a national approach to the coronavirus, ensuring social distancing, mask-wearing and testing became mandatory. Both Europe and America see these stipulations as an infringement of civil and individual rights and this has made it difficult to contain the virus. The public adherence to protocols was key to China containing the virus and enabling it to reopen the country.

David Harper, senior fellow at Chatham House (Photo: Twitter @DavidRossHarper)



“Reports indicated very strong compliance with the measures that were required of the people. The system that exists in China allows for this central political directive to be taken through to be implemented with enforcement at the local level in a way that doesn’t exist in many other countries around the world,” said David Harper, senior fellow at London-based Chatham House.

While many schools across both the U.S. and Europe have been shuttered, with children required to subscribe to online classes, China has reopened many of its of schools while keeping 250 million children safe from the virus.

So what was China’s strategy for its students? When the virus took hold at the beginning of this year,  its Ministry of Education (MOE) closed all schools from January 20 to February 8, also postponing regional and national exams.

The government, in collaboration with China’s largest education-technology companies, built an online platform called Empower Learning which offered a digital K-12 curriculum. It offered state-of-the art live streaming courses and Educloud for free. As time went on, the government reduced the time kids spent online, saw to it that teachers got all the support they needed, and was in constant communication with parents. It insisted on continuity in learning while colleges and universities turned to a distance learning model.

“The safety and health of teachers and students are our top priority. A thorough disinfection has been conducted in all classrooms, canteens and toilets and will be carried out everyday.

Yin Weiguo, school official in Wuhan, China

What is important here is that China got buy-in from its people and full cooperation.

Yin Weiguo, a school official in Wuhan where 1.4 million kids went back to school at the beginning of September, gives insight: “The safety and health of teachers and students are our top priority. A thorough disinfection has been conducted in all classrooms, canteens and toilets and will be carried out everyday. Anti-epidemic supplies such as masks and hand sanitisers are also available in each classroom.”

It is said that a good indication of how well an economy is doing is by the number of cars being sold. Here China is doing very well. Automobile sales were up last month, the fourth month in a row. October sales were up eight per cent, according to the China Passenger Car Association, with high end vehicles like Porsche, Mercedes and Range Rovers up by 30 per cent on last year.

China’s economy  registered five per cent growth in the third quarter (year on year). The IMF cites China as the world’s largest economy at US$24.2 trillion using the purchasing power parity measurement. The IMF expects China to grow by 8.2 per cent in 2021, whereas the U.S. is expected to grow by just three per cent next year.

Having stabilised the coronavirus, China is keen to get back to business. Last month saw Chinese exports increase 11.4 per cent from last year with its trade surplus with the U.S. widening to $31.37 billion for October.

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