Letters to the Editor: The world is a global village
Jeffrey Yaw Gyamera Asamoah
Editor's note: This letter is from Jeffrey Yaw Gyamera Asamoah, a Ghanaian international student of Renmin University of China.
Have you already taken the COVID-19 jab? The world needs you to. Life hasn't been the same since the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic.
Economies have been hurt badly due to the disruption of global trade and mobility. Families have been divided as a result of border closures and travel restrictions. Migrant workers and international students continue to wait for the ease of these restrictions.
Four million people have tragically lost their lives and a lot more continue to battle this virus.
For the sick, I wish a speedy recovery and the dead, eternal peaceful rest. To the many survivors of this virus worldwide, felicitations.
In the midst of this pandemic, a few countries displayed adequate preparedness in response to a global emergency and ability to assuage the unavoidable adverse circumstances.
Applause has been given to the exemplary leadership of China.
When China placed 11 million people in and around the city of Wuhan under a lockdown on January 23, 2020, Gauden Galea of the World Health Organization referred to the move as unprecedented in public health history.
By the April 6, 2020, China had already donated medical supplies to 17 African countries.
One of the most popular phrases these days is "We are not in normal times". What was common in 2019 may not be acceptable today. Handshakes have been replaced with fist bumps, and hugs, reserved for close-knit friends and family. Social distancing has become a responsibility and we are continuously redefining what is normal.
About one thousand years into the common era, Chinese were already practicing variolation, a process of exposing people to materials that had been in contact with smallpox infected persons or recently variolated individuals. The goal was to cause a mild infection that would eventually build resistance to the virus.
Edward Jenner's innovation in 1796 eventually created immunity to smallpox and is credited to be the first vaccine. Since then, vaccines have been used to tackle the common flu, pneumonia, polio among others.
These once fatal viruses have been controlled thanks to vaccines. The production and distribution of vaccines is a discussion that has been reserved for wealthy nations while developing countries continue to struggle to procure these vaccines.
China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the June 2, 2021 communicated the provision of over 350 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to approximately 80 countries worldwide. China also permitted the manufacture and transfer of technology and chemical patent to produce vaccines between Vacsera, an Egyptian pharmaceutical company and Chinese company Sinovac in April 2021.
Egypt has since then been able to produce over one million COVID-19 vaccines for domestic consumption, and export in the future. When it comes to global public health, the choice to vaccinate or not becomes one sided as vaccines are required to protect the general public.
China's hard earned control of domestic coronavirus infections remains of paramount importance to the CPC.
There has however been a drastic drop in the number of domestic and international travel in China especially at the Beijing Capital International Airport; China's biggest airport for instance.
Forbes reported a loss of more than $100 million in the first half of 2020. The airport which saw over 100 million passengers in 2019 saw the number drop to less than 35 million passengers in 2020. These are but a few of the repercussions to the missing travelers.
The internet has proven to be a wonderful tool in recent times with the adoption of virtual platforms for basically everything. But not everything can be done online and not everyone has access to the internet. China has already established a strong stance on the requirement for quarantine and self-isolation for inbound travelers.
Will the country remain closed to international travelers not traveling for the purpose of business or humanitarian reasons? A combination of the current entry requirements for in-bound passengers (separate tests for the virus and antibodies, and in some cases vaccination) with quarantine and self-isolation should surely allay whatever health fears exist.
Time is of the essence. Nations and people need to move on from this virus. Health precautions should be prioritized for international travel. Doctors in training, among students, and professionals who require practical interactions ideally cannot continue to have these activities virtually.
Although business travel has not been as badly affected as other forms of travel such as tourism and education, traders (especially from developing nations) are at a disadvantage due to the current travel dependence on digital access and literacy. Everyone has a role to play in this pandemic.
For things to get back to normal, the price to pay may be to take the COVID-19 jab for individuals. For countries, it could be to open up to the outside world.
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