Chinese medics commend Samoa's coronavirus response

 The Government’s immediate response to prevent the deadly coronavirus pandemic from reaching the shores of Samoa has been commended by a Chinese medical team - but the country is not out of the woods yet, they warn. 

The team have been working in Samoa for nine months, mostly at the Tupua Tamasese Meaole Hospital at Moto’otua. 

The team of five doctors from the China-Japan Hospital of Jilin University is made up of Professor Wang Yonggang (Urologist and team leader), Dr. Zheng Qingfan (Gastroenterologist and Endoscopist), Professor An Lifeng (Otolaryngologist), Professor An Zhe (Cardiologist) and Dr. Wu Qiong (Pathologist).

“It’s terrific that Samoa has zero cases of the infection and Samoa is one of the few countries that have not been affected by it,” Dr. Zheng said during an interview with the Samoa Observer. “Samoa’s reaction to COVID-19 such as closing its borders and putting all travelers into quarantine has made sure Samoa will not be affected by the virus.”

Dr. Zheng compared Samoa’s quick response to that of North Korea.

“While Samoa was closing its borders, other countries weren’t concerned about the disease,” he said.

 “But if a country goes into lockdown early, the economy will be damaged but if the lockdown is later then people will be affected by the disease."

The team also thanked the media for giving COVID-19 information to the public.

But Professor Wang cautions that Samoa is not out of the woods yet and called to maintain three things, social distancing, washing hands and wearing facemasks.

“The Ministry of Health has done a great job and I believe your Government has everything under control,” Professor Wang said.

 “But we just want to advise people to maintain social distancing, wash hands and wear a face mask.

“These three things are very important. We have learned much from the doctors that have experienced the COVID19 in China so we want to share this knowledge with everyone."

The medical team delivered a presentation about COVID-19 and about an effective emergency system for the hospital at the Tupua Tamasese Meaole hospital on Wednesday.

 “We gave a presentation about prevention and control of COVID-19 in hospitals. So we want to share the experience of the Chinese expert’s knowledge and experience of the disease,” Dr. Zheng said.

 “China first experienced COVID-19 so we have the first-hand experience.

“We send a lot of medical teams and equipment to different countries now, such as the U.K, Iran, Italy and to some of our neighbor countries. The medical personnel in China now have experience in treating COVID-19 so we want to share that experience."

The team promoted social distancing during the workshop by having the medical staff sit meters away from each other and limiting people within the room.

Other people who attended the workshop tuned in on the live stream that Dr. Zheng had hosted.

“I was already a doctor during the SARS epidemic in 2002,” Dr. Zheng said.

“SARS is similar to COVID-19, however there is a little bit of difference in these diseases. The SARS patients they have a fever but COVID-19 doesn’t only 70% of the patients have a fever. We measure the temperature first and the only thing to ask them is about travel, if you have been to the virus affected area.

Asked about the conspiracy theories that have been circulating online about China and virus, Dr. Zheng said the issue is a scientific question, not a political one.

“As you can see now our cities in China have recovered and people can go back to work and school. Sometimes you would see too much of these fake news on Facebook and Twitter. If you take a look at the results, China is telling the truth,” he said.

 “This is a scientific question not about politics, it’s just science. I trust that China has controlled the virus really well.”

The team was only supposed to be in Samoa for three months but they extended their stay to offer further help.

“W stayed here and signed our names and told our Government that we want to stay here. You know we are volunteers, it is not about the money, we only care for the health of the people,” Professor Wang said.

“Samoa is really great, the people are friendly and even though we don’t know each other some people will always wave and say hi and sometimes even say “Ni Hao.”

As of Friday afternoon, coronavirus had killed 145,541 people from 2.23million cases worldwide.

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