By M.A. Saki & Eshrat Mardi

Chinese ambassador: Iran enjoying fine public health system 

April 13, 2020 - 21:38

TEHRAN – As Iran is fighting to contain the deadly coronavirus pandemic, China’s ambassador to Tehran says “Iran is among the countries enjoying fine public health system in the Middle East.”

In an interview with the Tehran Times, Ambassador Chang Hua also says the collaboration between medical experts from Iran and China “has produced positive results”.
Following is the text of the interview:

Question: China enforced a strict quarantine in Hubei province, especially Wuhan. However, other countries did not follow such an approach. Your view, which approach has proven more effective?

Answer: The prevention and control efforts have a direct bearing on the lives and health of the public of all countries, as well as on the livelihood of people, economy, and politics, which should be thought comprehensively and fully by their governments, especially regarding quarantine and lockdown measures. The outbreaks of COVID-19 in various countries differ, and it’s not the policy of countries to adopt the same strategy of quarantine and lockdown, with many countries imposing no home quarantine on its residents. 

“It is expected that China will make great progress in vaccine development in two or three months.”As early as late January, the Chinese government has taken the most comprehensive, rigorous and thorough measures, and mobilized the whole country to support Wuhan and Hubei Province in a determined attempt to block the spread of the virus and save lives of patients to the greatest extent. China’s great success is grounded on China’s national conditions, and the great efforts and sacrifice of the Chinese people should be noted. The COVID-19 is still spreading, and various countries are constantly upgrading and adjusting their responses. It is the freedom of various countries to determine independently whether to enforce a strict quarantine or not in accordance with their specific conditions and in the interest of their peoples. We have noted that many countries are learning from China’s experience and taking isolation measures of various levels with obvious effects.

Q: Are experts in Iran and China sharing views on how to contain COVID-19 in Iran?

A: At the end of February, not far from the outbreak of COVID-19 in Iran, a team of volunteer experts from the Red Cross Society of China came to Iran to share with their Iranian counterparts China’s experience and conduct cooperation in fighting the disease. In one month’s stay in Iran, the Chinese experts worked very hard. They exchanged views on prevention and control measures, especially epidemiological surveys, and clinical diagnosis and treatment with Iranian counterparts from the Ministry of Health, Center for Disease Control, Red Crescent Society of Iran, research institutions, visited hospitals and communities in Tehran, and advised on epidemic prevention. The collaboration between the experts has produced positive results. Furthermore, China’s COVID-19 diagnostic and therapeutic package has been updated to the seventh edition and has been provided to the Iranian side for reference in the first place.

Q: In view of its 1.4 billion population, what is the reason behind China’s success in containing the highly transmissible COVID-19 in comparison to certain other countries?

A: In China, Early detection, reporting, quarantine, and treatment of cases has been emphasized, and resources, high-caliber experts and medical facilities have been channeled to treating patients with severe conditions. These measures have proved effective in raising the admission and cure rates and lowering the infection and fatality rates. China has mobilized medical workers across the country to support Hubei Province. A total of 346 medical teams of more than 42,600 medical workers have been dispatched to Hubei.

“Origin-tracing of the virus is a complicated matter.”Two special hospitals were built within 10 days respectively and 16 mobile hospitals converted from public venues were built in Wuhan, which greatly contributes to ensure hospital admission and treatment for all those in need. Under the strong leadership of the Communist Party of China and the Chinese government, it is the arduous efforts, solidarity, and sacrifice of 1.4 billion people that account for the temporary victory in battling COVID-19 and the low case-fatality rate. Iran is among the countries enjoying fine public health system in the Middle East. I believe Iran can effectively tackle the outbreak.

Q: At what stage is China in producing medicine or vaccine for the virus?

A: Zhong Nanshan, a leading expert tackling the virus and an academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, said that since the outbreak of the pandemic, researchers from various countries have been working hard to develop vaccines. The COVID-19 vaccine has passed animal experiments in China and will be used in human clinical trials. It is expected that China will make great progress in vaccine development in two or three months. Now the world is struggling to find effective vaccines and drugs. Various countries have shown solidarity in tackling the pandemic. And we also need solidarity in developing drugs and vaccines? which is the only way to pool excellent scientists and quicken the process of developing effective vaccines and medicines.
    
Q: There is a war of words between the U.S. and China about the origin of COVID-19.  China says the U.S. deserves an explanation to China in this regard and the U.S. calls it "Wuhan virus". Can you explain this?

A: As China has repeatedly pointed out, origin-tracing of the virus is a complicated matter, where we should rely on professional views from the science community. WHO and the international community explicitly object to linking the virus with specific countries or regions or seeking stigmatization. They have commended China's response. However, some American politicians continue to defy global consensus, stigmatize China and discredit its pandemic response. The sinister intention behind this attempt is to deflect attention at home and shift the blame to the innocent.

“Unilateral sanctions on Iran at this time will worsen the situation.”I have to point out that the COVID-19 pandemic is spreading across the globe and the situation in the U.S. is getting worse. Under such circumstances, I hope these American politicians stop provoking political disputes and disrupting international cooperation in combating the virus, rather focus on containing the spread at home and contributing to global cooperation. We advise these politicians not to go further down the wrong path. 

The U.S. side is trying to stigmatize China's efforts in an attempt to shirk responsibility. They have ignored the huge sacrifices the Chinese people made in safeguarding the health and safety of all mankind and vilified China's significant contributions to global public health security. Their moves run counter to the WHO's professional advice and the expectations and efforts of the international community to fight the pandemic together. We hope the U.S. side will respect facts and the international consensus, and keep its own house in order rather than slander others and shift responsibility. It needs to play a constructive role in enhancing international cooperation and safeguarding international public health security.

Q: Against the background of sanctions, it will become more difficult for Iran to fight the COVID-19 epidemic. What responsibility should the international community bear? Now, assuming that Iran failed to fight the epidemic due to sanctions, what will happen in the world?

A: China and Iran maintain close cooperation. We provided assistance supplies such as test kits to Iran and dispatched a team of volunteer experts to help Iran fight the epidemic. Now is the critical stage of epidemic control for the Iranian government and people. To continue the unilateral sanctions on Iran at this time will worsen the situation, and is taking advantage of tragedy. It is obviously contrary to the humanitarian principle and seriously obstructs Iran’s fight against the epidemic as well as the humanitarian aid to Iran by the UN and other international organizations. Iran’s 80 million people’s difficulties in their fight against COVID-19 due to American sanctions are also not conducive to the efforts in the Middle East and beyond. China urges the United States to immediately lift sanctions against Iran, avoid hindering Iran’s epidemic response and further harm to Iranian people’s livelihood.
    
Q: On April 6, a joint statement from 24 former world dignitaries stated that sanctions against Iran should be relaxed in the context of the current epidemic. What do you think this statement means?

A: China has always resolutely opposed the United States invoking its domestic laws and imposing unilateral sanctions and so-called "long-arm jurisdiction" against other countries including China. Against the backdrop of the current epidemic, China urges the United States to immediately lift its sanctions against Iran, to avoid hindering Iran’s epidemic response and further harm to Iranian people’s livelihood. We also call on the international community and Iran to strengthen cooperation and jointly safeguard global and regional public health security.

Q: As Iran's largest trading partner, how do you assess China-Iran economic and trade relations under the dual pressure of epidemic situation and sanctions?

A: China and Iran enjoy strong economic complementarities and huge cooperation potential. To be honest, the United States’ unilateral withdrawal from the JCPOA and reinstating sanctions on Iran have caused difficulties and obstacles to China-Iran economic and trade cooperation. However, China has always been safeguarding legitimate cooperation with Iran in areas of trade and energy by taking concrete actions and encourages international efforts to guarantee Iran’s legitimate economic benefits. Unilateral sanctions and bullying are unpopular and definitely not to last. China and Iran should have in mind a long-term picture and enrich their comprehensive strategic partnership through enhancing mutual trust, overcoming difficulties and deepening practical cooperation in various fields.
   
    
    
 

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