As Coronavirus control in China improved and China started closing hospitals erected in Wuhan, the rest of the world now started realizing that strategic measures taken by China were apt and timely.

Participating in a discussion on CNBC Jim O’Neill, the chair of U.K. think tank Chatham House, on 11 March commended the “fast, aggressive” Chinese response to the coronavirus outbreak, suggesting western countries should follow suit. “Thank God this didn’t start in somewhere like India, because there’s absolutely no way that the quality of Indian governance could move to react in the way that the Chinese have done”.

His comments drew widespread ire from Indian officials. Indian High Commission Minister Vishwesh Negi told CNBC Wednesday that O’Neill’s comments were “ill-informed and irresponsible.”

Science Magazine also praised the Chinese strategy and said that China’s aggressive measures have slowed the coronavirus. Chinese authorities also built two dedicated hospitals in Wuhan in just over one week. Health care workers from all over China were sent to the outbreak’s center. The government launched an unprecedented effort to trace contacts of confirmed cases. In Wuhan alone, more than 1800 teams of five or more people traced tens of thousands of contacts.

Aggressive “social distancing” measures implemented in the entire country included canceling sporting events and shuttering theaters. Schools extended breaks that began in mid-January for the Lunar New Year. Many businesses closed shop. Anyone who went outdoors had to wear a mask.

Two widely used mobile phone apps, AliPay and WeChat—which in recent years have replaced cash in China—helped enforce the restrictions, because they allow the government to keep track of people’s movements and even stop people with confirmed infections from traveling. “Every person has sort of a traffic light system,” says mission member Gabriel Leung, dean of the Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine at the University of Hong Kong. Color codes on mobile phones—in which green, yellow, or red designate a person’s health status—let guards at train stations and other checkpoints know who to let through. “As a consequence of all of these measures, public life is very reduced,” the report notes. But the measures worked.

Those who criticized China for Lockdown of Wuhan and made fun of their emergency hospitals are now praising on how you handle corona-virus. With Europe locked down followed by US, it’s a global pandemic.

Unfortunately the western press remained glued to their biased agenda and tried to discredit Chinese leadership and the people, at times crossing the red lines of race and xenophobia. As Coronavirus started affecting western countries the tone and the message on Coronavirus changed dramatically.

Global Times of China ticked the stance of New York Times and stated that the New York Times’ contradictory comments on the lockdown policies of China and Italy sparked criticism among Chinese netizens, in which it labelled China’s epidemic prevention measures as infringements on personal liberties while deeming Italy’s move to risk its economy as “brave.”

Few days back the New York Times reported on its twitter platform about the lockdown situation in various Italian regions, saying the action is “risking its economy in an effort to contain Europe’s worst coronavirus outbreak.” The post showed a different stance from its other tweet 20 minutes ago that claimed the lockdown in China “came at great cost for its people’s livelihoods and personal liberties.”

Pakistan and Russia were amongst few countries who not only publically supported measures undertaken by Chinese leadership in management of this epidemic but also lent a helping hand to China by sending medical supplies and masks as a symbol of everlasting friendship between both countries. Pakistan was criticized by Indian and some western media outlets for this gesture.

It is interesting to watch the western media and health care experts who are acknowledging the fact that they are not equipped to handle such epidemic at this scale and they need to learn from Chinese strategy.

What are the lessons learnt:

The leadership has to rise to the occasion and lead the anti-epidemic drive from the front, something displayed by President Xi,Premier Li Kiqiang, governors of affected states and PLA.

The disaster control system has to be agile and well equipped, Chinese strategy to build two tailor made hospitals, rush the medical supplies and lock down affected areas paid well.

Use of Artificial intelligence and Information technology to keep the public informed and monitor the disease control was marvelous step. Use of robots in delivering health care to affected communities was very creative and novel.

Aggressive social distancing was imposed in affected communities and the people were educated to avoid panic, this stringent measure combined with discipline of Chinese people was a hallmark of disease control. Can the champions of social liberties learn from it by remembering that in case of epidemic breakout the social discipline is necessary? Western countries including the US are learning it the hard way that social curbs in times of emergencies save lives and should not be trashed to target a particular country to drive vested agendas.

Pakistan and the developing countries a have a lot to learn from Chinese Model. The implementation of Chinese Model, suitably modified must start now and we should educate the masses to overcome their cultural sensitivities. Corona-virus does not identify Sect, Faith, Rich or Poor; whether it is the Tom Hanks or a pizza delivery boy, all need protection.

Our Holy Prophet(PBUH) had clearly advised to observe Quarantine at time of plague, no one goes out and no one comes in. There is also the issue of Demographics and Health care system collapse in Europe. You need a younger and agile population to help in looking after the sick and elderly. Pakistan has a clear advantage with 150 million youth which could become handy if properly trained and educated.

Avoid public gatherings, restrict physical contact, wash your hands with soap at least five times a day, that’s Wuzu, and above all, pray to Almighty Allah. Sanitize homes and your mobile phones daily, educate people in your family and work place.

This Global Epidemic is going to stay for months and we need an awareness and management campaign on the lines of Chinese model.

Adeela Naureen and Umar Waqar

The authors are freelance journalists. They can be reached at waqarkauravi

@gmail.com

and adeelanaureen

@gmail.com respectively.