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China uses anti-SARS experience to fight Ebola in W. Africa

Updated: Nov 4,2014 2:48 PM     Xinhua

China is making full use of its experience and lessons from the prevention and treatment of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) to help fight Ebola in West Africa, officials said.

By following the principle of early detection, early reporting, early quarantine and early treatment, China will build a 100-bed treatment center in Liberia where the epidemic is most serious, Wang Shengwen, director-general of the Commerce Ministry’s Foreign Aid Department, told reporters on Nov 3.

The center will be managed and operated by a medical team from the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), and the Chinese government has selected and trained 480 medical personnel from the PLA to be sent to Liberia, Wang said.

During the construction of the center, China will strictly meet the requirements for building infectious hospitals, where buffer zones will be built between the clean area, the polluted area and the semi-polluted area.

Following the treatment guidelines set by the World Health Organization, Chinese medical workers have closely observed suspected Ebola patients and treated the patients diagnosed with the virus.

They have also carried out campaigns to popularize knowledge about the prevention and treatment of Ebola, as well as sanitation and health.

Since April this year, China, the first foreign country to provide assistance to the affected nations, has delivered four batches of emergency relief materials to the affected countries, Vice Minister of Commerce Fang Aiqing said.

In addition to providing funds and food, China has also provided disease prevention materials, such as protective clothes and goggles, sprayers, gauze masks, body thermometers as well as temperature monitors.

China has also set up laboratories and holding centers and sent expert groups and medical teams to the affected countries.

So far, China has offered aid worth $122 million in four batches to West African countries, Fang said.

To answer the calls from the African countries, China will provide ambulances, motorcycles, healthcare kits, hospital beds, pickup trucks and incinerators, he said.

Meanwhile, Sierra Leone has expressed “heartfelt appreciation” of China’s support and technical assistance in the fight against the Ebola virus.

In a note dated Oct 15 sent by the African country’s permanent UN mission in Geneva to its Chinese counterpart, Sierra Leone said it “is grateful for this important and generous contribution.”

Sierra Leone looks forward to further cooperation and collaboration with the Chinese government as the country strives to eliminate the spread of the terrible disease, added the mission.

Since the Ebola outbreak, the Chinese government has taken the lead in responding to the appeals of the affected countries and the WHO.

Domestically, China has strengthened preventive measures and is confident, capable and ready to battle a possible Ebola outbreak, said a health official on Nov 3.

Wang Wenjie with the National Health and Family Planning Commission said at a news conference that a national joint prevention and control mechanism can help China contain the disease in a timely manner in the event of an outbreak.

China has not reported any confirmed cases of the virus, but experts say risks exist with the rise of international travel between China and African countries, said Wang.

The official also revealed that there have been no confirmed Ebola cases among Chinese citizens living and working abroad or among Chinese medical workers helping to combat the disease in Africa.

“China has devised contingency plans to give timely and effective treatment to Chinese citizens once there is a confirmed case abroad, including transferring patients back home if necessary,” said Wang.

The WHO said in its latest release that 4,951 people had died from Ebola in eight countries and there had been a total of 13,567 reported cases by Oct 29. Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone are the hardest-hit nations.

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