英文

Editorial:China should help its neighbouring countries

【明報專訊】As several COVID-19 cases by community transmission have broken out in Guangzhou, the number of medium-risk areas has increased to seven. The source of the cases is foreign-related. 90% of inbound passengers arrive in China through Guangzhou every day. Nearly 30,000 people are kept in quarantine every day in more than 300 quarantine points manned by as many as 20,000 staff. The result of a minor error in such high-risk operations can be catastrophic. Over the past two months, there has been a surge of cases in China's neighbouring countries caused by some complicated variants. But these countries' mechanisms against the virus are highly inadequate. Besieged by viruses coming from these countries, China is under a lot of pressure. What can be done now is to ratchet up measures against imported cases, while the long-term plan is to help China's neighbouring countries improve their anti-pandemic capabilities.

According to the government, the Guangzhou outbreak was ''an incident of infection caused accidentally by an Indian mutant''. It is now known that a traveller returning from Africa via Dubai was kept in quarantine at a hotel in Liwan District. The traveller tested negative for the virus during the quarantine. As for how the virus was transmitted to the ''dim sum restaurant'' cluster, the findings of investigation remain inconclusive. In any case, it is certain that the virus and its source are related to imported cases.

Compared with Europe and the US, Asia has been having lower numbers of cases. But in early April, there was a massive outbreak of cases in India. At the height of the situation, more than 400,000 cases were added every day. Though the situation has eased off recently, still over 200,000 cases are recorded daily. The virus has also spread rapidly to other nations, and the situation in Southeast Asia took a sharp turn for the worse. The Indian variant is characterised by its complicated mutations, high transmissibility and ability to spread quickly. As the vaccination rates in Southeast Asian countries are generally very low, they were defenceless against the Indian variant. Of the countries where the situations are the most serious, Malaysia has recorded a daily average of 8,300 cases over the past three days, while just 3.4% of its people have received two doses. The Philippines has 7,500 new cases per day, and the vaccination rate is only 1%. Indonesia has 6,100 cases every day and a vaccination rate of only 3.8%. Thailand has 3,900 cases per day and a vaccination rate of only 1.6%.

Apart from the vaccination rate, which is a key factor, Southeast Asian countries also have had lax anti-pandemic measures since the beginning. Furthermore, after a long uneventful period, their people showed pandemic fatigue. They also had insufficient protective equipment. When the extremely transmissible Indian variant strikes, these vulnerable countries find it nearly impossible to defend themselves. Malaysia has announced a two-week lockdown nationwide, which can only control the spread of the pandemic.

As there is community transmission in Guangzhou, demand for vaccines has greatly increased. The supply of vaccines in other parts of the country has also been affected, and it is difficult to open its doors and increase the supply of vaccines to other countries. However, China's vaccine production capacity will soon outstrip domestic demand. An increase in the export of vaccines will serve the diplomatic goal of developing good relations with neighbouring countries. When China's neighbouring countries achieve herd immunity sooner, trade and personnel exchanges will also become smoother. This will bring China both fame and fortune.

明報社評 2021.05.31:中國面臨病毒圍城 久守必失宜助鄰邦

廣州爆發社區傳播,中風險地區增至7個,源頭跟境外輸入有關,而全國每天入境旅客,九成經過廣州,300多個隔離點每天有近3萬人在隔離,工作人員達到2萬人,這種高風險運作稍一不慎,都會釀成大禍。而最近兩個月中國周邊國家的疫情驟升,變種病毒也十分複雜,但這些國家的防禦能力十分差,病毒圍城對中國造成很大壓力。為今之計是將外防輸入措施再加碼,長遠之計是幫助周邊國家提高防疫能力。

廣州這一波疫情,官方公布的原因,「由於變種印度病株意外暴露導致偶發感染」,現在已知的是一名從非洲途經迪拜回國的旅客曾經在荔灣區的酒店隔離,而隔離期間檢測結果仍然是陰性,至於病毒傳播給「飲茶群組」的途徑,至今仍然沒有確切的調查結果。無論如何,可以肯定的是,病毒以及源頭都跟輸入個案有關。

亞洲的疫情,相對於歐美來說,一直都處於較低水平,但印度疫情4月初大規模爆發,高峰期每天新增病例達到40多萬宗,最近雖然稍緩,每天也有20多萬宗,而且疫情已經迅速擴散到其他國家,整個東南亞的形勢急轉直下。印度病株的特點是,變種情况十分複雜,傳播力極強和極快,而東南亞國家普遍的疫苗接種率十分低,無從抵禦。最嚴重的幾個國家,馬來西亞過去3天平均每天新增的病例達到8300宗,但人民已經接種兩劑疫苗的百分比只有3.4%;菲律賓每天的新增病例數量達到7500宗,接種率只有1%;印尼的病例達到6100宗,接種率只及3.8%;泰國的病例也有3900宗,接種率只有1.6%。

除了疫苗接種率這個關鍵因素外,東南亞國家的防疫措施本來就不嚴格,加上經過一段時間的「久安」而呈現抗疫疲勞,防護裝備也不充足,一旦遇到滲透力極強的印度病株,防護空虛幾乎就成了無可守之城,現在馬來西亞宣布全國封城兩周,也只是控制疫情蔓延之舉。

目前廣州出現社區傳播,對疫苗需求大幅增加,全國其他地方的疫苗供應也受到影響,難以敞開大門增加對外供應,但中國的疫苗生產能力很快就能夠超過國內需求,盡快增加輸出量,既能達到睦鄰的外交政策,鄰國盡早達到群體免疫,無論商貿和人員往來都可暢通,也可得名利雙收。

■/ Glossary / 生字 /

man:to work at a place or be in charge of a place or a machine; to supply people to work somewhere

catastrophic /ˌkætəˈstrɒfɪk/:causing a lot of destruction, suffering, or death

defenceless / dɪˈfensləs/:weak; not able to protect yourself; having no protection

■英語社評聲檔:link.mingpao.com/53000.htm

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