Can other countries follow China to contain COVID-19 and maintain academic calendar?

By Nitesh Khadka (KATHMANDU, 5 April 2020) – In December 2019, an outbreak of pneumonia cases (severe acute respiratory syndrome) occurred in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. The outbreak was reported from novelcoronavirus, which is supposed to have been transmitted from wild animals to humans.

Since the virus was novel, and no anti-viral vaccine and drugs were available, by then the virus widely spread across China and probably abroad before the lockdown of Coronavirus epicentre (Wuhan and other cities in Hubei) in 23-Jan-2020.

Additionally, large mass movements during Chinese New Year and spring festival holidays over China stimulated the epidemic. On February 12, 2020, WHO officially named the disease caused by the novel coronavirus as Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) and later at March 12, 2020, it announced COVID-19 outbreak as a pandemic. By now, the global spread of COVID-19 has resulted in the global crisis, resulting in thousands of active cases, deaths and economic recession.

However, China has effectively controlled the pandemic within its boundary with a wise decision and a series of collective prompt actions from central, provincial and local governments. The author witnessed that the citizens with high confidence, hope and discipline strictly followed their government spontaneously to contain the spread of the virus and for diagnosis and treatment.

The lock down of the epicenter was a boon to the global countries; otherwise, it would have resulted in the worst global pandemic than observed now. Lock down and self-quarantine in China not only helped to seize the spread of the virus but it precisely aided the officials to isolate the people with viral symptoms (dry cough, fever and breathing problem and chest pain), trace the probable spread, diagnose and treat them—the repeated process significantly dropped the number of cases and finally seized the pandemic.

The ability of China to build the hospitals in Wuhan within a short time astonished the world, which proves the responsibility of government towards its people. A series of effective response and measures were delivered to control and seize the pandemic (Figure).China has an extensive and magnificent online shopping system, which delivered the goods and food to doors, which not only managed the crisis but also maintained social/physical distancing simultaneously.Great disinfection efforts in all cities, with a compulsion of a mask and regular body temperature checkup, were simultaneously carried out in every public place. The effective way to cut off the spread of the virus was the diagnosis of all the citizens who showed symptoms, which maybe either from regular flu or coronavirus. 

The spring festival holidays were extended to deaccelerate the spread of the virus, and universities and research institutes were closed until further notice. Author supposed that the regular university classes and research activities will be suspended, which may affect the academic calendar, but this did not happen.International College-University of Chinese Academy of Sciences(IC-UCAS) and Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) research institutes significantly dealt to contain the virus and keep the health records of students daily.

Additionally, the officials from IC-UCAS and, professors and educational department from research institutes managed their time to resolve the queries and panic of students and activated the emergency services. Students seeking permission were allowed to travel their home country with their own risk but with great precautions. Masks and hand sanitizers were distributed to students freely. The author witnessed the regular temperature checkup for all students in the dormitory, research institutes and universities. The health status of the students outside China was collected from the online form through WeChat system.

WeChat is the popular social media in China with payment gateway, which was also used by the Nepal Embassy in China to collect information of its citizens inside China during the epidemic. WeChat payment system in cell phones likely reduced the risk of virus transmission from using paper currency.UCAS and research institutes managed to disinfect their premises. In a nutshell, all students, whether inside or outside China, were given due attention and care.

In due time, when all students were found safe and secure, IC-UCAS initiated the regular courses as online, while research institutes held regular research group meetings through apps, where students can login and attend the meeting online. Research institutes, for instance, Institute of Mountain Hazards and Environment, CAS, Chengdu has managed the online system, where the final year masters and doctorate students outside China can attend their thesis pre-defenceon-time. However, in this high-time, research students are given the flexibility to choose whether to graduate on-time or on next authorized date.Excellent Chinese governance, utilization of science and technology along with high cooperation from citizens, jointly helped China to cope with the pandemic.

Meanwhile, universities through technology have been able to maintain their regular schedule. Once again, China has again proved to handle the pandemic and maintain routine life. Is not China a real hero in the contemporary world? In this COVID-19 pandemic, isn’t it good to follow and learn a lesson from China and IC-UCAS to contain COVID-19 and maintain academic calendar, respectively?

  • Khadka is Phd Scholar of Institute of Mountain Hazards and Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Chengdu, China

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