BEIJING, Feb. 10, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- Since early 2020, China has been following a unique path in combatting COVID-19. Through the Storm condenses this three-year battle into a 60-minute documentary.
This CGTN presentation has its global premiere on February 10. Through the Storm features first-hand accounts of the initial outbreak in Wuhan, the mass vaccination campaign, the Shanghai lockdown and, finally, the reopening and recovery.
Through the Storm answers three essential questions: What was China's reasoning behind choosing its unique approach to fighting COVID? What actions did China take in the three-year period between its victory in Wuhan and its re-opening? And can China achieve a solid recovery in 2023?
Through the eyes of frontline intensive care specialists, village doctors, community workers, volunteers and decision makers, the documentary reveals the answers.
THE WINDOWS OF OPPORTUNITIES
What China faced in early 2020 was the original strain of the novel coronavirus, which was far more virulent and deadly than the current Omicron strain. At the time, there were just 63,000 ICU beds for a population of 1.4 billion. Even China's finest medical minds seemed helpless in the face of this unknown enemy.
The dire situation faced by Wuhan could have been repeated all across the country. But thanks to China's rigorous COVID policies, a national disaster was averted.
Nearly 120,000 ICU beds have been added since the start of the outbreak. As a result, China now has more ICU beds per 100,000 people than developed countries such as Britain, Japan, Spain and France. Also, the country's medical staff have accumulated experience and skill in dealing with the Omicron strain, adopting a series of updated treatment protocols and diagnostic techniques. In the course of two years, China vaccinated over 91% of its population, with special emphasis on the elderly.
In the three years that followed the initial outbreak, much has changed. From stringent community lockdowns, mass PCR testing and the setting up of makeshift hospitals, the experience gained and measures adopted in Wuhan were embraced and perfected.
Since January 10, 2020, there have been a total of 250 days when no new COVID cases were reported. Zhong Nanshan, China's leading expert on respiratory diseases, estimates that over 20 million lives have been saved, as a result of China's stringent anti-COVID policies.
The Chinese people were always confident that they could defeat the virus.
Following the Alpha, Delta and Gamma variants came the Omicron strain, which infects the human body 70 times faster, but with symptoms that are far less severe.
The evolving variants brought greater challenges. In response, China regularly adjusted its prevention and control measures, until eventually the decision was taken to make a major shift in its COVID policies at the end of 2022.
BACK ON COURSE
Throughout the pandemic, China remained a major contributor to global economic growth. Over the past five years, in spite of the global instability, the pandemic and a domestic slowdown, China has still managed to achieve average annual GDP growth of 5%.
A major beneficiary of the easing of the anti-COVID measures has been the movie industry. Box-office receipts during the seven-day Spring Festival holiday were the second-highest ever on record, at one billion US dollars. During the same period, over 300 million passenger journeys were recorded on the country's transport network, generating revenue of 56 billion US dollars for the tourism industry, a 30% year-on-year increase.
The IMF raised the estimate for China's 2023 GDP growth from 4.4% to 5.2%. Morgan Stanley is even more optimistic, improving its growth outlook to 5.7% in a research note released in January, 0.3 percentage point higher than its previous estimate.
Although the world is now gradually recovering from the pandemic, the novel coronavirus is still present. To secure a more certain future for humankind, greater, more effective and broader global cooperation is essential.