Chinese doctor Chen Shuo (right) at work while aiding the Republic of Equatorial Guinea. (Photo: Courtesy of Chen Shuo)
Since 1963, China has sent around 21,000 medical personnel to African countries, helping 220 million patients there, which has been praised throughout the continent. The Chinese medical team is the most distinguished and longest cooperation project between China and Africa, involving most countries and regions, according to the China-Africa Institute.
When the COVID-19 pandemic spread around the world, current Chinese medical teams garrisoning in several African countries, such as Sudan, Ethiopia and Cameron, work to help local prevent the deadly disease.
Equatorial Guinea has close cooperation with China and is willing to learn China's experience, Chen Shuo, a deputy director of ophthalmology in Dongguan Songshanhu Central Hospital and member of the 30th batch of medical team aiding the Republic of Equatorial Guinea from South China's Guangdong Province, told the Global Times.
According to China Central Television, Equatorial Guinea reported its first confirmed case of COVID-19 on March 15, the day it announced the closure of schools, strict quarantine and testing procedures, and enhanced immigration control.
"When the novel coronavirus was found in other countries, the country began to remind people to wash their hands and wear face masks through mobile phone messages. Local epidemic prevention and control was conducted timely," Chen said.
Chen acted as the leader of medical team at Malabo, the capital of Equatorial Guinea.
The Chinese medical team selected the latest prevention and treatment plan of COVID-19 and some effective prevention and treatment experience in China, translated it into Spanish, and sent it to the Ministry of Health of Equatorial Guinea.
Medical experts in Beijing with substantial experience against COVID-19 gave online lectures about the latest and detailed exploration to Chinese medical staff aiding Africa to better assist locals fighting against the pandemic.
"For example, chloroquine was found to be effective in the treatment of novel coronavirus in China. These are the experiences of frontline doctors in China accumulated through thousands of cases, which we hope to convey to Africa. We also teach and explain the use of ventilator. Local medical resources are scarce, and there are few local doctors who can skillfully operate the ventilator," Chen introduced.
Chen said public epidemic awareness is still lacking. Many, including some local medical workers, think that the novel coronavirus is like an influenza virus, and it won't be a big problem in their country, he said. Some local doctors even exposed their noses when they felt uncomfortable breathing with a mask, Chen said.
Despite the government's call for wearing masks, few people wearing masks were seen on the streets. There is a shortage of masks on the market. Some feel uncomfortable wearing a mask which affects breathing, Chen explained.
However, when the number of new cases got higher, 80 percent of the people on the street wear masks again, Chen added.
There are 18 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Equatorial Guinea as of press time.