In China, the Battle Continues
By Carlos Miguel Pereira Hernández
March 22, 2020
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
As you know, there has been encouraging news of the last few days in China indicating substantial progress towards controlling the spread of the virus at the mainland level. Together with the strengthening of quarantine measures in major cities to stop the upsurge of new cases “imported” from abroad, are reflected important changes in the scenario we have experienced in recent weeks.
While cities such as Wuhan and others, considered epicenters or areas most affected by the epidemic could move towards a gradual relaxation of the quarantine measures imposed, others such as Beijing and Shanghai will have to remain under strict mandatory quarantine measures for those arriving by air from abroad. This will involve adjustments to air routes, with previous stops in other cities and even changes in the planned destinations of international flights, as part of the measures taken to control the upsurge of new cases arriving from abroad. Only six new cases were reported in Beijing in this way.
The situation in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Macao still remains complicated, although the trend of increasing new cases is also showing an encouraging slowdown.
As it is known, the situation of all our colleagues and relatives in China has remained unchanged and uneventful. This is largely thanks to the joint efforts of all and the discipline maintained in complying with the measures indicated. However, while the situation here is improving after two very critical months, in the rest of the world, including our country, it is tending to worsen and become more critical. That is why we must redouble our efforts so as not to compromise what has been achieved, to avoid complacency and, at the same time, to prepare for a gradual return to normality.
These have been intense days. In addition to taking care of ourselves and preserving the health of our collective to the maximum, it has been necessary to deploy an intense battle for the truth in our networks. [We want] to close the way to the lies and manipulation that have proven to be more contaminating and lethal viruses than COVID-19 itself. From our pages in different platforms, we responded to incredulous and manipulative people about the successful use of nebulized applications of Cuban interferon manufactured in the Changheber plant, both from the preventive point of view by the Chinese medical staff before attending the patients and in the treatment itself of the patients infected with the virus.
Just a few days ago, when we were in the midst of that other battle, in an inexplicable way, Facebook, based again on its questionable algorithms, surprisingly deleted the official page of our embassy, from which we had been informing the world in an objective and systematic way about what had happened in these long months of the epidemic, the situation of our compatriots and the work of the diplomatic mission and the consulates in the People’s Republic of China.
However, Cuba’s commitment to the truth can never be erased, not even with all the clicks in the world. Barely 24 hours later, a new page was created from which we have followed and will continue to disseminate to the world our bilateral work, as well as reiterating our support and recognition to the Chinese people and government. [In addition, there are such] humanist acts as the decision to receive the British cruise ship infected with COVID-19 in Cuban territory to enable its passengers to return to their countries of origin, or the decision by China and Cuba to send medical brigades and to strengthen international cooperation as the only effective way to win this battle for life.
Taking into account the evolution of the situation in China, the embassy, the consulates general of Shanghai and Guangzhou, the Cuban representative offices and the Antillean personnel on official missions will continue to implement planned measures, which take into account the persistence of the danger and the call for strict compliance with measures to avoid contagion, in the midst of a gradual return to normality.
The medical post will remain in operation at the embassy headquarters, with the services of the medical team that is among us. It will continue to support us in the important task of providing medical guidance and advice, and also in complying with the medical protocol established since the beginning of the epidemic. Given the current epidemiological conditions of our country, this acquires even greater importance in order to ensure that nationals traveling to our country strictly comply with it. The impeccable implementation of that protocol has enabled dozens of our compatriots to return to the country in good health and no cases of contagion from China have been reported so far.
As it has been reported through different channels, all Cubans who plan to return to the country in the next few days must also strictly comply with the indicated medical protocol, for which they must contact the corresponding consular office and the medical post.
On the other hand, taking into account the evolution of the situation and the gradual reestablishment of face-to-face work by the Chinese institutions, starting tomorrow, Monday, March 23, the Cuban embassy and consulates in China will begin to resume their work in person, which will be done in a flexible manner according to the situation in each locality and in coordination with the respective heads of offices and consulates according to the priorities to be undertaken.
In the case of the Embassy, the following measures will be mandatory:
The mandatory use of masks. Once you arrive at the parking lot and before entering the offices, have your temperature taken at the medical post.
Hands and shoes will be disinfected at the entrance of the Embassy.
No inter-office visits will be allowed and only those meetings duly authorized and coordinated by the embassy management and with the measures duly taken.
Do not use common glasses, cups or spoons. Each colleague must have and use his or her own.
Meetings with external personnel will be analyzed on a case-by-case basis and with due authorisation and will be carried out in strict compliance with the measures indicated.
It is necessary that the offices are kept clean and aired at least twice a day for 30 minutes each time.
The Consular Office in Beijing and the Consulates General in Shanghai and Guangzhou will continue to provide services as before. Secretaries may be incorporated as long as services are provided for which they are required and with strict compliance with all measures, including the use of nasobuco on a permanent basis. The consulates must permanently have all the resources to ensure prevention and timely disinfection.
In the case of the group of students studying at different Chinese higher education institutions, general compliance with these measures will continue to be observed, and they will have to be adapted to the characteristics of each university and the decisions that will be announced by the corresponding authorities for the current school year. For the time being, the Chinese authorities recommend that students abroad do not return to China until otherwise indicated.
To the resident Cuban community, we reiterate that the embassy and its consulates will remain as they have been up to now, open and in permanent communication with you, to assist and support you in whatever may be necessary. As soon as the situation allows it, we will meet to take stock of what has happened during these days, in which the unity and cohesion of all becomes the main possible and necessary path towards the future.
To all of you, no matter the task or mission that has brought you to China or the migratory status you have today, I reiterate, on behalf of the leadership of our Embassy, that it has been a true honor to have shared these difficult days with you. We have made real the permanent call of President Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez to “think as a country”. At the same time, I congratulate you for the exemplary attitude that has been maintained, which is allowing us to arrive little by little at the goal and to contribute our share in the battle that is being fought. I am not exaggerating if I say that you have been up to the task of our always hardened people and also of the brotherly and stoic Chinese people.
Reciprocal solidarity between Chinese and Cubans has always been present in the common history of our peoples. There are many and countless pages written throughout these years, in which each party has spared no time or effort in supporting and reaching out to the other, in the midst of situations of disasters, epidemics, media campaigns, and unprecedented manifestations of hatred and economic warfare.
These have also been days of deep solidarity and mutual support. Cuba has not only been among the leading countries in supporting and recognizing the epic battle waged by China, which has also been a crusader for the world. But China has also provided its concrete contribution in solidarity in many ways. These include the joint work of experts who have joined forces in the development of new medicines or therapies to confront a disease that, beyond announcements and predictions, remains dangerously unknown. Likewise, Chinese and Cuban doctors are working side by side today to confront COVID-19 in the region of Lombardy, Italy, one of the most affected regions in that country.
More recently, after the appearance of the first cases of the new coronavirus in the country, we have felt the human and supportive accompaniment of the Chinese government and authorities. They were among the first again, as well as their people, their companies, institutions and friends in general, to whom we extend our deepest gratitude. Increasingly, they contact us from all parts of China to send us their encouragement and support and their confidence in the capacity of our country and its health system to face the COVID-19.
As has already been announced by the Chinese authorities, an important government donation is ready, which will be joined by others that will generously send Chinese companies with a long history of links with the Island, including equipment, inputs, and others of great practical value that will reinforce the proven capacity of the Cuban health system to act, always focused on preserving the life of the people. In addition, a modest donation is being prepared by the community of Cuban residents through the Association of Cuban Residents in China “Ernesto Che Guevara”.
The battle continues, there is still much to be done. COVID-19 constitutes a global threat that must be faced with the cooperation and responsibility of all. In its prevention and containment, solidarity and international cooperation is the only possible way.
Beijing, 22 March 2020