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17 February, 2020 10:50:32 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 17 February, 2020 12:31:20 PM

Coronavirus outbreak and Bangladesh-China ties

While the novel coronavirus originated in China's Wuhan, it is no longer a problem solely of China as the virus has spread to many countries
Arif Mahmud
Coronavirus outbreak and Bangladesh-China ties

Throughout human history, there have been outbreaks of deadly diseases in various parts of the world from bubonic plague to modern day AIDS and the people have resiliently fought and triumphed over such diseases.
The novel coronavirus (named 2019-nCoV) outbreak in Wuhan, China is one such that the world faces right now. As scientists and medical professionals race to find a cure, the virus has already caused over 1600 deaths and around 68000 cases of infections in China. The virus has spread to 25 countries, with around 700 cases and four deaths at the time of this publication.
While the novel coronavirus originated in China's Wuhan, it is no longer a problem solely of China as the virus has spread to many countries. Global efforts, spearheaded by China, are being made to combat the disease.
One vital part of fighting an infectious disease outbreak is containment. Therefore, numerous measures have been taken by countries to limit the spread of the disease. Bangladesh has also brought in some of its nationals from Wuhan and housed them at a quarantine facility. Like other countries, we have introduced travel restrictions to high-risk areas and medical screening at all air, sea and land ports.

China has displayed a high degree of discipline, efficiency and commitment to contain and combat the  epidemic. Cities have been shut, large population have been quarantined, hospitals have been established in a matter of days and large number of researchers engage in finding treatment and cure. All these efforts by China give us hope that the virus spread can be effectively contained, human deaths can be kept at minimum and a cure may be discovered soon. China is setting an example and working in unison with other nations to contain and combat a communicable disease epidemic threatening humankind.

 A threat to humanity is not a burden China must shoulder alone and numerous research organisations across the world are working closely with the Chinese researchers to find a solution to the crisis. We hope the sincere efforts and the collaboration and cooperation would bring a quick result.

As for restriction of movement, China itself has restricted movement in some cities where the virus has been prevalent, as these moves are necessary. When a virus outbreak takes place, containment is extremely important and for a densely populated country like Bangladesh, it is of paramount importance that the virus is firstly prevented from coming to the land. Trade relations between Bangladesh and China should continue as before, but movement of people need to be curtailed to prevent the risk of contracting the virus. While this would create some difficulties in different areas of cooperation, it is necessary to safeguard the population from the threat of the virus until a cure is found.

China accounts for over a quarter of Bangladeshi global imports annually - from textile raw materials to consumer goods and electronics. There is no way to deny the huge role China plays in our supply chain and export product manufacturing. We also export goods worth $1 billion to China every year.

As our industries heavily rely on raw materials from Chinese factories, they are currently facing supply shortage. The country’s largest export sector RMG and many other sectors will be adversely affected if the coronavirus epidemic lingers.

Despite the outbreak of the coronavirus, the trade relations between the two countries is likely to remain largely unaffected. But business would have to be done in a way that does not cause risk of people-to-people transmission. As scientists have explained, the virus does not survive outside human body for a prolonged period of time and the imported goods and materials becoming carriers of the virus is unlikely.

However, in areas of tourism, the virus outbreak has already caused a dent as people, in their natural tendency to react sharply to an unknown phenomenon, are shying away from visiting areas affected by the coronavirus.

Cooperation between Bangladesh and China is necessary in information exchange over spread of virus, screening method and technology, proper screening of incoming and outbound passengers in both Bangladesh and China. Sharing of knowledge and information between medical professionals is also a key area as China has first-hand experience of managing the outbreak and the knowledge can help our doctors better prepare for any possible outbreak. Also, any cure or remedy and other measures that may improve chance of survival need to be communicated and technology transferred so that Bangladesh can become adequately equipped to combat any outbreak. The media in Bangladesh is playing its role to provide correct information about the outbreak, including the scale of spread and Chinese efforts to contain the virus spread.


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When a population is faced with a natural calamity never known before, it is terribly frustrating, fear evoking and disrupts lives of millions. We are deeply sympathetic to the woes of the Chinese people at the centre of the outbreak, who are facing containment, restriction of movement, illness from the virus and even death. It is deeply distressing and our prayers are for those affected by the virus for their quick recovery. We also admire the resilience and courage of the health professionals (doctors, nurses, technicians) who are standing in the line of fire and even giving life to treat the thousands affected by the yet-incurable disease. They represent the values that humanity stands for - selflessness, courage and compassion - which make us humans better and greater than the rest of the creation. We urge composure and patience in this time of great distress, and hope it is not very far when a cure to this viral disease is discovered.

Bangladesh and China are close trade partners and the two countries have been enjoying a solid relationship for decades. We have no reason to believe a virus outbreak would negatively impact the relationship. Instead, through greater understanding and collaboration, the countries will come closer to help each other at times of distress. The people of Bangladesh only have good wishes for the people in China.

The writer is the Joint News Editor  of The Independent



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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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