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Trip.com Group Chairman James Liang: Beware the xenophobia epidemic

04/01/2020| 6:31:44 PM|

James Liang puts emphasis on information sharing, cure development, support, screening and quarantine improvement.

James Liang is an economist and entrepreneur. Trip.com Group Ltd. is one of the world's largest OTAs. The following are his thoughts on current events. These opinions are his own, and do not necessarily reflect those of Trip.com Group Ltd. as a whole:

The international outbreak of COVID-19 has been met with encouraging mutual support from many countries, but unfortunately, xenophobia and anti-global tendencies have also become more apparent than ever.

In this crisis, humanity shares a single fate, and to achieve victory, the world must come together to affirm global co-operation and prevent an 'outbreak' of blind xenophobia.

Sharing of information

Despite the various stigmas and allegations that have inevitably arisen, and although the health authorities in Wuhan and Hubei Province made various errors of judgment during the initial stages of the COVID-19 outbreak, following the intervention of the central government, China worked to provide information to WHO and the international community as quickly as possible. When the virus was confirmed to be a novel strand of coronavirus, the country ensured that the complete gene sequence, primers, and probes were made available internationally. As the containment effort progressed, China shared findings related to epidemic prevention control measures and treatment methods and held dozens of remote sessions with organizations like WHO, ASEAN, the European Union, and countries including Japan, Korea, Russia, Germany, France and the US. This information would prove to be invaluable to other countries later in the global fight against the pandemic.

Developing a cure

Experts argue that medicines and vaccines for the virus are the greatest hopes for humanity to achieve a victory in the fight against COVID-19, and there have been a number of international developments in this regard.

The most prominent development thus far is Radixivir, a drug developed by US biotechnology company Gilead Sciences, which has produced encouraging preliminary results in a 14-patient clinical trial held in Japan, in which most patients recovered. 

Providing support

In the early days of the outbreak in China, masks were a scarce commodity. In response, Japan, South Korea and others, sent medical masks and protective clothing to the country. Packages from Japan with words of encouragement drawn from Chinese poetry were well-received online and became a symbol of mutual support between countries in the fight against the epidemic.

By March, however, when the number of new cases across many Chinese provinces had reached nil, the number of diagnoses outside China had quickly grown to exceed the total number of cases within China, and various countries began to experience similar shortages of medical supplies. In response, China transitioned from the role of beneficiary to benefactor.

Improving screening and quarantine

In the early stages of the epidemic, many countries implemented entry restrictions for Chinese nationals. As the situation begins to improve in China and worsen in other parts of the world, the country has introduced stricter quarantine policies for travelers arriving from abroad, to prevent a second outbreak in the country. 

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