At present, the global spread of the Covid-19 hasn’t been effectively controlled. China and African countries are working together to fight the pandemic and have deepened their traditional friendship, which will play an important role in the world’s fight against the virus. Since China succeeded in containing the pandemic from further spreading, it has dispatched medical teams in many countries to assist local medical teams. In the last two months, China has as well sent its medical teams to several African countries who are willing to learn China’s experience with the pandemic. How can China’s cooperation with Burundi manifest during the pandemic to the benefit of the two countries?
In all African countries, Burundi is among the few to not yet issue the lock-down policy, but has only encouraged its citizens to observe self-hygiene, wear masks, and if possible, observe the social distancing. The mitigating measures against the virus have made Burundian’s life difficult to run as usual. Despite few cases of the virus reported in Burundi, the country continues to report daily new confirmed Covid-19 cases which have increased in number since the outbreak, with a possibility of reaching a level that is likely to overwhelm the country’s health weak system.
Burundi is one of African countries that have recorded fewer cases of the virus, and the Burundian government has followed the WHO mitigation hygiene measures. So far, Burundi recorded 15 cases with the virus, 1 death, and 7 healed. Unlike other East African Community (EAC) member countries, Burundi have fewer cases of the virus.
Even if the virus hasn’t hit Burundi, the country has followed other countries’ measures to tackle the virus. For instance, Burundian government implements mandatory quarantine for 14 days for all travelers to the country, and has avoided imported cases from neighboring countries by implementing strict screening procedures at all its borders.
Burundi has resolved to minimize cross border movement of its citizens while facilitating free movement of goods and services in the EAC region; established a surveillance system to monitor crew health and enabled contact tracing; strengthened information sharing capacity through press conferences and other channels to facilitate quick response; continued to report daily contact cases of the virus, and has the support of the EAC secretariat, which has established a mechanism to facilitate movement of surge capacity and medical countermeasures across borders to support Burundi in responding to the pandemic if need arises. In addition, Burundi is following the EAC protocol, in which the EAC board has unveiled a comprehensive Covid-19 Response Plan to reinforce measures to protect and prevent further spread of the virus within member countries.
What is China doing to support Burundi during this pandemic?
With the outbreak of the COVID-19, Burundi, like many other countries around the world, will certainly need China’s support and guidance, not only by demanding China’s medical suppliers, but also by requesting China’s medical team to monitor Burundian medical personnel on how to effectively treat patients with the virus.
Since the establishment of diplomatic relations, China and Burundi have enjoyed stable political relations, deepened and strengthened economic and trade cooperation. Burundian people are friendly to Chinese people, and the Chinese people are well respected in Burundi.
Recently, Burundi’s Ambassador to China, Mr. Martin MBAZUMUTIMA in his interview with China’s People Daily confirmed the urgent need of cooperation between Burundi and China on tackling the pandemic from spreading. Even if Burundi has recorded few cases of Covid-19, it is in its best interest to cooperate with China to effectively tackle the pandemic from further spreading. In this endeavor, Chinese medical team based in Bujumbura already started to share information and knowledge about the virus to Burundian medical personnel.
In order to better assist the Burundian medical team in fighting the Covid-19, Chinese medical team based in Bujumbura have made full use of every weekend to participate in the Covid-19 prevention and control knowledge training, which resulted in full support of the Burundian government.
However, with the Presidential election scheduled on May 20, 2020, there is an increased risk of transmission, especially with the movement of people participating in the pre-election rallies. In order to effectively tackle the virus from further spread, Burundi needs to be well equipped with necessary supplies to contain the deadly disease and prevent any further contamination in other neighboring countries. In addition, Burundi need to be on high alert of the virus by mobilizing all available resources to achieve a broad containment of the virus.
Thanks to the Chinese medical team based in Burundi which kept training Burundian medical personnel, and raised awareness of the pandemic. Now, all Burundian medical personnel have learned basic preventive measures, improved self-protection ability, etc. To date, the 19th Chinese medical team based in Bujumbura-Burundi is working firmly with Burundian medical personnel to fight against the pandemic. However, despite China’s support, Burundi is far from reaching the necessary means to tackle the virus as its health system is weak. Here are some suggestions on how China, or Chinese medical team can support Burundi:
- If possible, coordinate with the Burundian government and see if there is a necessity of sending an urgent Chinese medical team in Burundi to help in containing the virus;
- Train Burundian laboratory experts by sharing knowledge about the virus, especially train them on safe sampling and safe sample transportation methods;
- Apart from Jack Ma’s donations to all African countries, China can, if possible, support Burundi by providing more medical gears such as testing kits and respirators, as Burundi with a population of around 12 million, only have less than 100 respirators that are very needed to treat patients with the Covid-19 virus;
- Provide information to Burundian medical personnel or any other person in the health care system to help them give best practice care;
- Share relevant scientific knowledge with Burundi on new technologies, advances in care and treatment, behavior of the virus, diagnostics, etc.
- If possible, the Chinese Ambassador in Burundi should organize joint sessions with Burundian officials to discuss how to effectively curb the pandemic and ways of cooperating with China.