Phnom Penh (FN), Feb. 2 – An outbreak of respiratory illness caused by a novel (new) coronavirus first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China.

Chinese authorities identified thousands of confirmed cases, including cases outside Wuhan City. Additional cases have been identified in a growing number of other international locations, including Asia Pacific, Europe, North America, and the Middle East.

Below is the interview of Chinese Ambassador to Cambodia Wang Wentian with Fresh News on 2 February 2020 on “Update of Coronavirus Outbreak”:

I. The novel coronavirus outbreak in China has attracted world attention. Please brief us on the current situation as well as prevention and control measures taken by the Chinese government.

The Chinese Communist Party and government have attached great importance to the novel coronavirus outbreak. Regarding life and health of the people a top priority, President Xi Jinping has made a series of comprehensive instructions in this battle against Coronavirus. On the very day of this Chinese New Year, he chaired a meeting of the Standing Committee of the Political bureau of the CPC Central Committee to listen to reports on the virus prevention and control, and established immediately a leading group to enhance relevant work.

On 27 January, Premier Li Keqiang flew to Wuhan to instruct on the prevention and control work and visited patients and medical personnel at the frontline. So far, China has been mobilizing resources throughout the country to fight against the epidemic, taking quick, strong and scientific measures. Emergency mechanisms of joint prevention and control at national and local levels are operating effectively.

Medical personnel and materials have been rushing to Wuhan. In an open and transparent way, our prevention and control work is being carried out scientifically and orderly. As Director-General of WHO Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has put it, China’s action is unprecedented with the most comprehensive and strict prevention and control measures, many of which go far beyond the International Health Regulations. China is showing through its action the Chinese speed, the Chinese strength, and the Chinese efficiency.

Currently, the prevention and control work is being pushed ahead with greater efforts, but the epidemic remains complicated and severe. According to Prof. Zhong Nanshan, Director of the high-level expert group for prevention and control, the outbreak may reach its peak and become under control in 7 to 10 days. We firmly believe that under the strong leadership of the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping as its core, with the whole nation working together, Chinese people will surely achieve victory in the battle against the epidemic at an early date.

II. The Ministry of Health of Cambodia confirmed the only imported case of coronavirus on 27 Jan. Please brief us on relevant work of the Chinese Embassy in Cambodia.

The Chinese Embassy in Cambodia has attached great importance to the epidemic since its outbreak. We have released epidemic reminders and published channels to seek help through the official website and Wechat official account, and have been paying close attention to Chinese nationals in Cambodia and maintaining communication with health departments of Cambodia.

The Embassy informed the Ministry of Health immediately after learning that a Chinese tourist in Sihaboukville was suspected of having coronavirus on 27 Jan. After the case was confirmed, I made a phone call to H.E. Mam Bunheng, Minister of Health, asking the Cambodian side to try its best to help the patient and take necessary prevention and control measures.

In the meanwhile, in order to prevent the virus from spreading, the Embassy worked closely with the Cambodian side to look for tourists on the same flight with the patient, and coordinated Lanmei Airlines to transport 34 related Chinese nationals to Shenzhen, China on 29 January.

The Embassy also coordinated the Hubei Chamber of Commerce to follow on the quarantine and logistical support of the patient and his 3 accompanying relatives.

Consular officials of the Embassy have been keeping in touch with relatives of the patient, and forward their requests to the Cambodian side. Thanks to the timely and effective treatment, the patient has been recovering well. He has expressed gratitude to the Cambodian government and medical personnel through cell phone videos, and his relatives have been much grateful to the Embassy. This case demonstrates again that the novel coronavirus can be effectively controlled and cured.

The Embassy will continue communication and cooperation with the Cambodian side in the principle of openness, transparency and responsibility. We will release information on latest development of the epidemic and on health condition of Chinese nationals in Cambodia, and provide necessary assistance whenever needed.

III. Since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, Chinese communities and institutions in Cambodia have been actively assisting the prevention and control. Please brief us about their work.

Since the outbreak of the virus, Chinese communities and institutions in Cambodia have followed its developments very closely. Deeply concerned about the raging outbreak and suffering of the Chinese people, they have supported China’s prevention and control work through concrete actions.

For instance, the Federation of Khmer Chinese in Cambodia has raised over 300,000 dollars to support China’s prevention and control work. Chinese enterprises, nationals and local chambers of commerce have also launched fundraising activities.

Meanwhile, Cambodia Airways has donated 12,000 medical masks to the Shenzhen Baoan International Airport, and helped the Zhejiang Chamber of Commerce in Cambodia to deliver 396kg of N95 masks, medical masks and other medical materials to the municipal government of Lishui, Zhejiang.

Lanmei Airlines has promised that all flights to China can deliver prevention and control materials for free. The Hubei Chamber of Commerce in Cambodia has donated over 20,500 N95 masks to Wuhan. Huawei Cambodia has offered to provide free WeLink service to enterprises and individuals in need during the epidemic.

All of these demonstrate the traditional Chinese virtue of mutual assistance.. Their valuable support and assistance have greatly enhanced our confidence in defeating the epidemic.

IV. On 30 January, Samdech Prime Minister Hun Sen addressed at a televised news briefing on the recent Coronavirus outbreak. What is your comment?

China highly appreciates and is very much grateful to Samdech Prime Minister Hun Sen's remarks of 30 January. In his speech, Prime Minister Hun Sen highly commended the Chinese government's prompt and effective prevention and control measures against the epidemic.

He emphasized that the Cambodian government and people will stand firmly with the Chinese government and people to overcome the difficulties.

Cambodia will not require suspension of all flights from China, and the Cambodian tourism, transportation and service industries must not discriminate against Chinese tourists and citizens. The Prime Minister then encouraged Cambodian citizens who work and study in Hubei to stick to their posts, which fully reflects the trust of the Prime Minister and the Cambodian government in the Chinese government.

China will continue to safeguard the safety and health of Cambodian brothers and sisters in China, providing them with all necessary assistance. On 30 January, Prime Minister Hun Sen and Deputy Prime Minister Prak Sohkonn sent letters of condolences to Premier Li Keqiang and State Councilor Wang Yi respectively, expressing the desire of the Cambodian government and people to fight shoulder by shoulder with the Chinese government and people against the epidemic.

A friend in need is a friend indeed.

Samdech Prime Minister Hun Sen and the Royal Government of Cambodia have been standing firmly with the Chinese people to fight against the epidemic at this very difficult moment. Chinese people are deeply touched and will never forget this friendship. This has once again demonstrated that Cambodia is an “ironclad” friend of China, and that China and Cambodia are truly a community of shared future through thick and thin.

V. On 31 January, WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus declared the novel coronavirus outbreak a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC). What is your comment?

The Chinese government has taken the most comprehensive and rigorous prevention and control measures with a strong sense of responsibility for people's health. Many of these measures go far beyond the International Health Regulations. We have full confidence and capacity to win the battle against the outbreak.

By acting with openness, transparency and in a responsible manner, China has provided timely updates of the outbreak for and shared the genome sequence of the coronavirus with relevant sides. Such efforts have been fully recognized and highly commended by WHO and many countries.

China has always stayed in close communication and cooperation with the WHO, and coordinated a field trip to Wuhan by WHO experts recently. Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus also visited China and exchanged views on the containment of the outbreak with the Chinese side.

He applauded China's prevention and control efforts and expressed gratitude for China's great contribution to the world in fighting against the outbreak. In the days to come, China will continue to work with WHO and other countries to safeguard global and regional public health security.

As is generally acknowledged, some of the most terrible things during an epidemic are indeed rumors and panic. The WHO declared the epidemic a PHEIC to alert those countries with comparatively weaker health systems to strengthen prevention and control measures, not to let any country to discriminate or make unnecessary interference to international travel and trade, as this epidemic is a challenge to all mankind.

As an old Chinese saying goes, " Much distress regenerates a nation." We will not forget the SARS epidemic in 2003. We survived it and achieved a giant leap in national development. I firmly believe that we will overcome the difficulty this time, because we have the strong leadership of the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping as its core, huge development advantages accumulated over the past 70 years, and the rich experience in public health prevention and control gathered during fights against SARS in 2003 and Ebola epidemic in 2014. Moreover, we have the advantage of the country’s socialist system and the strong support of the international community in fighting against the epidemic. We have full confidence in winning the battle against the epidemic to reassure our people and the world.