By Zhang Hui and Leng Shumei
The World Health Organization (WHO) has sent a team of international experts to China to work with Chinese counterparts on prevention and control of the novel coronavirus epidemic, and the advance team is scheduled to arrive in Beijing on Monday, February 10, the Chinese health commission said.
The “China-WHO joint expert inspection team” will conduct in-depth exchanges between experts from the two sides on the current situation of the epidemic, and prevention and control to provide suggestions regarding the next steps for China and other affected countries and regions in the world, Mi Feng, spokesperson for the National Health Commission said at Monday’s media briefing.
Mi said that the advance team of the WHO will discuss specific arrangements for the China-WHO joint mission, and China welcomes all foreign experts to join including those from the US.
According to the WHO, the team will be led by Bruce Aylward, a veteran of public health emergencies.
WHO experts are experienced epidemiologists who have dealt with many different outbreaks worldwide, they can assist Chinese experts in evaluating the situation more accurately and provide suggestions on preventive and control measures, Zhou Zijun, a professor at the Peking University’s School of Public Health, told the Global Times on Monday.
What the experts learn in Wuhan during the visit will also serve as a basis for the WHO to launch further preventive measures in a global scope, Zhou noted.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said on Monday’s briefing that acting in an open, transparent and responsible way, China has been sharing information and strengthening cooperation with WHO and the international community to jointly safeguard global and regional public health security.
The WHO declared the outbreak a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC) on January 30, days after the epicenter Hubei was under lockdown.
After the experts’ visit to Wuhan, the WHO may reevaluate the epidemic and decide whether to prolong or terminate the PHEIC situation, according to Zhou.
At the 146th session of the WHO Executive Board meeting that kicked off from February 3, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus spoke highly of China’s effective control measures.
He said China “is taking serious measures at the epicenter, at the source,” which not only protected Chinese people, but also prevented the spread of the virus to other countries.