Editor's note: The author, David Aikman, is the chief representative officer of the World Economic Forum's (WEF) China Office.
While China recovers and heads back to work, many other parts of the world are grappling with how to respond to a sudden influx of cases. The lack of preparedness in some countries has made the surge in cases around the world a painful wake-up call about the need for quick, effective responses. As countries around the world take action to manage and mitigate the crisis, there’s a lot that governments, businesses and individuals can learn from China’s experience.
China has shown the delicate balancing act between getting the economy growing again and protecting public health. Public transport services shut down, and factories, offices and schools were closed. For weeks, few people could be seen on the streets of Beijing, a city of more than 20 million people.
Even now, as daily life resumes, people living in China can expect to have their temperature taken, sometimes as often as 10 times each day, to use the subway, enter a building, or even go home to their own apartment building. An app on mobile phones tracks travel and location information for the previous 14 days.
The idea of a country-wide lockdown may have seemed extreme to some a few weeks ago, but now other countries are applying similar policies to help prevent the spread.
It’s also important to note that many of the measures taken in China were true sacrifices and often came at a high personal cost. Many people were forced to spend weeks in small apartments and had to rely on local community workers to bring food to their doors.
Responding to the virus may not require adopting all the measures used in China. But due diligence, careful planning, and considering at least some of the hard-earned lessons from China’s doctors, nurses, and local leaders might help better prepare countries for the inevitable spread of the virus.
In dealing with this global pandemic, we must come together – not as national citizens, but as global stakeholders who must all do our part to ensure global public health and restart the economy.
It’s heartening to see specialist doctors and medical equipment from China arrive in other countries to help tackle the spike in cases. We can also learn from efforts by Chinese companies to offer new mobility solutions, repurpose manufacturing to produce necessary equipment like masks, and apply new technologies including drones to find innovative ways to help people.
Moving forward, governments must take immediate action to stem the spread and help those most affected. Businesses must enable remote working and put in place policies to help support their employees while also adapting to the new economic realities. And we must all do our part to practice social distancing and other smart public health practices like washing our hands. At the World Economic Forum, we launched the COVID Action Platform to bring stakeholders together to cooperate on mitigating the risk and impact of this crisis.
COVID-19 doesn’t see people as rich or poor, it doesn’t see race or religion, and it could not care less if its victims are Chinese, European, African, or American. We are all on the same side and we need to rely on each other in the global fight against COVID-19.
(The article reflects the author's opinions and not necessarily the views of People’s Daily app.)