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PANDEMIC

Using social administration to defeat Covid-19: China’s experience

It is worthwhile to change some habits, sacrifice some freedoms for the sake of health.

In Summary
  • China’s experience shows that the Chinese people proactively cooperated with their government's epidemic emergency policy, despite the inconvenience.
  • Residents and volunteers organised themselves into full-time and part-time teams to implement seamless management with accountability.
Chinese wear face masks to protect themselves from the coronavirus.
VIRUS FEARS: Chinese wear face masks to protect themselves from the coronavirus.
Image: COURTESY

China has largely brought the Covid-19 outbreak under control. Across the world the number of cases is rising as countries battle a second wave of the disease and some their first wave.

Many European countries and the United States downplayed the threat of Covid-19 and did not react to the potential outbreak at an early stage when China was solely fighting the pandemic for the world for more than two months. Disregard for early warning and China’s successful experience has made them the victim of this pandemic later. African countries should avoid this mistake and learn from China’s successful experience.

Due to the novel properties of this coronavirus, we still know little about it except its gene sequence. No specific antiviral treatment or vaccine for Covid-19 has been found. Special drugs and vaccines cannot be developed and deployed in a short time.

Thus, social and organisational administration must play a more important role than medical science in the control of this pandemic. To prevent the spread of the coronavirus, we need to isolate its source to protect susceptible people, do our best to eliminate all transmission possibilities.

Isolation of the source of the coronavirus includes actions such as early testing, early reporting, early quarantine, and early treatment" . Elimination of all transmission possibilities requires avoiding droplets, airborne aerosol, contact, and faecal-oral transmissions.

China adopted a series of strict social and organisational administrative measures by vast testing, strict quarantine, and treatment, resulting in high hospital admission and recoveries. For example, Wuhan city, which was hard hit by the epidemic, was locked down for 76 days, while other Chinese cities also implemented cross-city travel bans to minimise the possibility of the virus spreading.

Epidemic prevention and control headquarters were established and became functional at all communitY (village), town, county, city, and province level. Residents and volunteers organised themselves into full-time and part-time teams to implement seamless management with accountability.

Local governments executed a strict stay-at-home order and people were only allowed out to purchase essentials such as food and drugs in specific time slots. People must wear masks whenever out in public. People believe that some freedom is worth giving up temporarily as the price for their safety.

China’s experience shows that the Chinese people proactively cooperated with their government's epidemic emergency policy, despite the inconvenience.

The protests against coronavirus lockdowns and stay-at-home orders in western countries expose the short-sighted and harmful thoughts of some people, who will cause the coronavirus to spread further around the world. In China, people wear facial masks, practise social distancing and avoid gathering in groups, even after the outbreak was effectively controlled, to reduce the risk of being infected.

But in some western countries, many people do not wear masks. They are irresponsible and are putting themselves and others in danger. It is worthwhile to change some habits and to sacrifice some freedoms in a special period temporarily for the sake of health.

Although the medical resources in African countries are not as developed as in western countries, the pandemic can be kept at bay if governments inform their people of the importance of preventive measures, utilise the power of social and organisational administration, and execute the strictest quarantine and stay-at-home orders.

African countries should carefully study China's ‘Novel Coronavirus Pneumonia Prevention and Control Program (Sixth Edition)’ and ‘Novel Coronavirus Pneumonia Diagnosis and Treatment Plan (Trial Seventh Edition)’ to adopt appropriate prevention and control policies.

Hopefully, China’s success will help African countries to overcome this pandemic. 

Dean of Management School at the University of Shanghai for Science and Technology