Speech by Consul General Long Zhou at a Chinese Community Lunch "We are Open for Business"

(12th February, 12:30pm)

Hon Jenny Mikakos, Minister for Health,

Mr. Arron Wood, Deputy Lord Mayor of Melbourne,

Dr. Brett Sutton, Chief Health Officer of Victoria,

Distinguished Victorian Parliament Members,

Ms. Teresa Chung, President of Chinese Masonic Society Melbourne Lodge,

Mr. Haha Liu, President of Australian Emergency Assistance,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Dear friends,

Good afternoon! It’s a delight to join all of you today. I would like to express, on behalf of Chinese Consulate General in Melbourne and in my own name, my heartfelt thanks to the Melbourne Chinese Masonic Society and Australian Emergency Assistance Association Incorporated for hosting this event. My appreciation also goes to all the guests here. Your presence at this event demonstrates real support to the Chinese Community at this special moment.

I understand that many Australian friends are concerned about the outbreak of the novel coronavirus in China. And I will take this opportunity to say a few words.

First, it’s the time for facts, not fear. Currently, the Chinese government and people are making all-out efforts to control the epidemic. People’s life, security and health always come first.

The Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee has convened two meetings and established the Central Leading Group on responding to the outbreak. The group had travelled to Wuhan to direct the efforts on the ground. So far, China has taken unprecedented measures to curb the spread of the virus and cure the people affected.

In recent days, there are some encouraging information. According to the latest figures, the number of cured cases is four times of the death cases. The newly confirmed cases outside Hubei province dropped in consecutively seven days. That means the effectiveness of the prevention and control measures.

Meanwhile, China has been sharing information with the WHO and other countries in an open, transparent and responsible manner. Dr. Tedros, Director General of the WHO applauded the strong and effective measures China has taken and expressed confidence in the ability of the Chinese government to control the outbreak.

Second, it’s the time for science, not rumors.

I myself am not an expert on public health, and will respect and follow advice from experts. WHO calls for rational and prudent measures for protection and prevention, commensurate with public health risks. The Victorian Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton also called on locals to go about their lives as normal, as the situation in Australia is significantly different, with small numbers of cases and no transmission in the community at this time.

There is no reason to panic if you compare the fatality rate. Currently, the case fatality rate is 2%, far lower than other epidemics, much lower than the Ebola that is 40%, even lower than the 17% fatality rate of H1N1 in 2009 and SARS which is 10%.

It’s understandable that necessary and appropriate precautionary measures are taken. But there is no need for measures out of proportion, no need for panic or overreaction.

Third, it’s the time for solidarity, not stigma. Virus can start anywhere in the world and knows no boundary. China is doing all it can not just for herself, but for the sake of global public health. We are all on the same boat.

The novel conronavirus is not Chinese virus, but a public health issue. The world has witnessed similar situations, such as the H1N1 and Ebola. History shows that no matter how difficult the situation may be, as long as the international community stand in solidarity, we will succeed in fighting against disease. Yesterday, I read the message from Minister for Health Greg Hunt: Safety, solidarity and respect; Absolutely denounce and reject racism. I couldn’t agree more. We should not allow racial discrimination or xenophobia to hurt the society like virus.

In front of epidemic, if we are compassionate and ready to help, fear and panic will fade away; if we lose humanity, it will not just be a battle against disease that we lose.

China will always remember the sympathy and support given to us by the Australian government, Chinese community and many Australian friends. Thank you for being together with us in such a challenging time.

As a Chinese saying goes, “Just as jade is refined through polishing, a nation is made stronger by adversity. ”China is fully confident and capable to win the battle against the epidemic. The Chinese nation will come out of this big challenge better and stronger.

Thank you!

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