How China Managed Covid-19; Challenges, and Learnings for Pakistan

By Team BitBol,

Dealing with a contagious disease when it hits for the first time is not easy for any country, and
given the circumstances, China’s response was swift and effective. The epidemic, which later
turned into a pandemic of this magnitude, was unprecedented for this generation and in the
initial days, it was hard to even discover the cause of its spread.
The drastic measures taken by the Chinese administration were pivotal to prevent the possibly-
most-fatal humanitarian crisis of the recent past. It was not a single action but a series of
coherent actions that involved strict administration and economic decisions, robust
infrastructure building to fight the virus and intense research work to come up with a
prevention plan.
In late December 2019, Wuhan Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in central
China’s Hubei Province detected cases of pneumonia of unknown cause. And on the 30th
December, the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission issued an urgent notification to medical
institutions under its jurisdiction, ordering efforts to appropriately treat patients suffering from
an unknown kind of pneumonia.
On 31st December, the National Health Commission (NHC) of China made arrangements,
sending a working group and an expert team to Wuhan, to guide epidemic response and
conduct on-site investigations. During the next few days, a health manual was issued to treat
patients suffering from the virus, the WHO and US health authorities were informed about the
outbreak.
Research institutions including the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) developed testing kits on
10 th January and Wuhan City conducted tests of all relevant cases, admitted at hospitals in the
city. Though it was not part of the WHO health and security protocol, Wuhan epidemic
prevention and control headquarters issued a notice to shut down the city’s roads, airports and
railway stations from 10 am on Jan 23.
On an emergency notice, the Ministry of Transport demanded suspension of passenger traffic
coming into Wuhan by road or by waterways.
Within days, the administration constructed hospitals, factories were producing PPE kits for
health professionals, and a whole procedure was evolved to tackle the virus spread. Millions of
people were quarantined in their houses, showing the world a way to stop the spread of the
virus.
Additionally, many areas across China adopted a closed management system on a community-
basis. In most of the areas where this came into effect, villages, communities, and units kept
one entrance and exit point open. The movement of each household was restricted to a certain
number.
All supplies of basic amenities were ensured for the people restricted to the areas of strict
lockdown. In addition to this, the Chinese people worked hand-in-hand with the government to

ensure implementation of the SOPs and obeyed strict lockdowns; consequently, China was able
to curb the virus spread at a very early stage.
The pandemic shook the Chinese economy badly, as it contracted for the first time in 40 years,
specifically in Q1 2020, but sharply bounced back in Q2 with resumption of business activities.
Chinese GDP growth rate in 2019 was around 6%; but is estimated to be around 1.2% in 2020,
although reports suggest that it most likely to bounce back in 2021.
Chinese government has announced a huge fiscal stimulus of around 4.2 trillion Yuan, which
makes it around 4% of the GDP; aimed at epidemic prevention/control, unemployment
insurance, tax relief, public investment and to boost businesses activity in general.
Similarly, Pakistani government announced a stimulus package of around Rs. 1200 billion under
Ehsaas program to support the underserved communities, providing them Rs. 12,000 for three
months to cater to their basic needs, especially the families who had lost their livelihoods amid
continued lockdowns. Additionally, SBP drastically cut the interest rate and offered loans to
companies on reduced mark-up rates, for them to be able to pay salaries to their employees.
However, the already ailing Pakistani economy with an already meager 1.9% GDP growth rate
was further hurt by Covid-19, as the growth rate further slid to -0.4%, showing contraction for
the first time since 50’s. 2021 shows a slight ray of hope as IMF has projected a return of
positive growth for the country.
Following the Chinese model, we can fight the pandemic, but we Pakistanis have to adapt to
keep a coexistence with the pandemic for the time being. Things have changed a lot since the
Corona-virus first surfaced. The earlier goal was to overcome it and return to normalcy. But
now it is an established fact that it cannot be wiped out and we have to live with it at least for a
few more years. The obvious question is how?
The most common cause of its spread is the human to human interaction that allows the virus
to enter into the respiratory system of a person from another. It is also caused by touching
infected items, surfaces, etc.
The guidance is there, so we know what to do to avoid the contraction:
 Keep a safe distance from all the people you interact with
 Cover your mouth and nose with a face mask
 Don’t touch your eyes, nose and mouth
 Keep washing your hands or sanitizing them
 Avoid gatherings
 Don’t shake hands
 Take care of personal hygiene
 Don’t touch things when outside of your home
By adopting these easy practices, we will be able to cope with Corona-virus and keep the wheel
of life moving.

About Ali Raza

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