The incredible story of how China stopped Covid-19
Recently, alongside the rise in cases in Western countries, reports and commentaries have appeared that without any evidence that China has been covering up and faking its number of cases. “0 cases outside Hubei just a month after the outbreak? Impossible, China must be faking it”.
China is a victim of its own success.
This post lets people understand the various drastic and effective measures that China has taken, so that readers will realise that China’s numbers are most likely not faked, but simply the result of effective measures.
Outside Hubei, after lifting of lockdown
This video of a Japanese living in Nanjing shows what quarantine measures the city has taken. Remember, the province that Nanjing is in, Jiangsu, only had 633 cases in total and at the time of filming, there had been no new cases in the city for days.
This video taken in Shanghai basically shows the same things.
Strict adoption of safety measures
In China, everyone is wearing a mask anytime they are out. People take mask wearing very seriously, and you get shamed and fined if you don’t wear a mask.
Banners are everywhere, instructing people to practice safety measures like wearing masks and disinfecting. Celebrities are roped in to create mask-wearing billboard ads and public transport PA systems blast warnings.
Usage of tracking data
In the video, one of the most obvious measures the government took was the usage of tracking data. Everywhere the Japanese man went, no matter whether it was to use the train, or to eat a meal, or to enter a public space, he had to use his phone to fill in his identification details, travel history and temperature.
Because of this, health authorities are able to track infections and create an Infection Detection Map showing all the locations of nearby cases and their details.
There are constant temperature screenings everywhere. Side exits of residential areas are sealed off and to enter you have to go through the main entrance to take your temperature. Public spaces limit the maximum number permitted to enter and also require temperature to be taken.
The lockdown in Hubei was probably one of the largest and strictest ever seen in human history. On 23 February, all travel in and out of Hubei province was banned, with no exceptions.
Within the province, all citizens have been ordered to stay at home. The only exception is the case of an emergency. In addition, only one person from each household was allowed to leave the building every three days to buy food and essential items.
In housing estates, all side entrances were sealed and only one main entrance is kept open, manned by guards who take the temperatures of anyone going in or out.
Except chemists, hotels, food shops and medical services, all businesses and transport were closed.
Swift and extensive testing
Each community had their own Wechat group where they had to report their temperature and symptoms daily. Once a suspected case is detected, within hours a medical team with Hazmat suits will arrive to test the suspected patient.
In order to encourage testing, cities in Hubei offered cash incentives for citizens to report their symptoms. The city of Qianjiang offered citizens a US$1,425 reward.
As a result, China has had one of the highest testing rates around the world.
Mobilisation of medical staff and equipment
One of the reasons China has a lower mortality rate than Italy is because China is large country and since the virus was only most prominent in Hubei, large numbers of medical staff and equipment could be sent from other parts of China to Hubei.
Reports state that over 40,000 medical staff and large amounts of medical equipment were shipped all over the country into Hubei
Mobilisation of construction workers
I’m sure most have seen the videos of how China built 2 hospitals in literally days. The reason it was possible was because of the mobilisation of thousands of construction workers and engineers. Many have tried poking holes at this, dismissing it as propaganda, but a makeshift hospital with basic medical facilities is a lot better than letting patients sleep on floors as is the case in Italy.
Mobilisation of factory workers
China has the world’s largest industrial capacity, and its the reason they’ve been able to enforce mask-wearing and ensure sufficient supply of medical equipment. All sorts of companies repurposed their factory production lines to make medical equipment.
At the start of February, China only made only 10 million masks per day. By the middle of March, they are producing 200 million a day.
N95 mask capacity increased 4.7 times from 1 February to 1.07 million pieces a day by the end of February.
Looking through the measures that China took, it is obvious that China’s quarantine measures cannot be compared to any other Western countries. China’s ability to mobilise its huge population’s medical staff, construction and factory workers allows it to brute force its way to stopping the virus a way no other country can.
China’s measures have been criticised by Western media as draconian, brutal, desperate. They’ve also used isolated incidents like the person whose door was welded to paint a dystopian picture. But at the end of the day, it has proven to be successful.
Locally transmitted cases dropped to the single digits. Temporary hospitals have closed. China is sending millions of masks, ventilators and doctors to Europe. Actions show better than words. If China was really having large numbers of infections there is no way it would make these actions.
China response is not perfect, but it has proven its ability to contain the virus, and that its efforts should not be dismissed as simple “fake numbers”