A race against virus: Chinese medical experts help neighboring countries battle COVID-19

April 8, 2020

Cambodian medical student Sok Sambo volunteered to work as an interpreter for the Chinese COVID-19 medical team in Cambodia without hesitation, though he knew the job had high risks.

The seven-member team of Chinese doctors, along with tons of medical supplies, arrived in Phnom Penh, capital of Cambodia, in late March to help combat the bruising pandemic, as the Southeast Asian kingdom has reported more than 80 confirmed cases by then.

The long-awaited arrival of the Chinese medical team has proved a booster for Cambodia's endeavours to fight the COVID-19.

"When the Chinese experts met with Cambodian health officials, they always share with them their experience in preventing and containing the virus spread, and in treating the patients," Sambo told Xinhua. "I believe that with their assistance, Cambodia will be able to contain the virus soon and treat patients more effectively."


Since their arrival, the Chinese experts had been visiting designated hospitals, communities and testing agencies to carry out epidemiological investigations and review the diagnosis and treatment process of the hospitals.

"Starting from the entrance to the hospital, we have gone through the entire treatment process twice, including admission to hospital, triage and sample testing," said Ai Xiang, leader of Chinese medical team in Cambodia.

The medical experts also went to the Cambodian Ministry of Health to discuss the prevention and treatment system of COVID-19 with local officials and health workers.

"We need to have an idea of the epidemic situation in Cambodia as soon as possible. We talk to the Cambodian medical staff on the spot, finding problems and discussing solutions," said Ai.

Sambo, a medical student at the Guangxi Medical University in Nanning, southwest China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, was busy working together with the Chinese experts.

However, the 32-year-old man deemed the volunteering job as a very good opportunity to learn experiences from the Chinese doctors.

"They worked very hard, visiting various places and meeting people at daytime and writing reports at nighttime," he said. "They are role models for other doctors, and when I graduate I'll try my best to serve my people."

"I know it's a risky job because I have to accompany them to designated hospitals for COVID-19 patients, and visit patients, communities and people who had close contact with patients," he said. "But this is my meager contribution to help my motherland fight against the virus."


Less than five days after Laos detected the first cases and asked for assistance from China, a team of Chinese medical experts flew to the Lao capital of Vientiane.

When welcoming the Chinese team at the airport, Somdy Douangdy, Lao deputy prime minister and chair of the Task Force Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control, said China's gesture reflects the profound friendship from the Chinese side to the Lao people.

Along with the team that brought Chinese experiences and solutions to Laos' epidemic prevention and control, as Somdy said, also came medical supplies, including testing kits, protective clothing, face masks, and medicines donated by southwest China's Yunnan Province.

Soon after arriving in Vientiane, the Chinese team started investigating epidemic situation and local medical conditions, and joined hands with the Lao side to draw up an anti-epidemic roadmap for the country.

"We will join the Lao side to perfect its epidemic prevention and control system, and draw up a diagnosis and treatment guideline that suits the Lao situation. In short, we are together to formulate a roadmap for the fight against COVID-19 in Laos," Huang Xingli, head of the Chinese medical expert team to Laos, told Xinhua.

"A friend in need is a friend indeed," Chinese Ambassador Jiang Zaidong said, adding that China would not forget in the early days of the COVID-19 outbreak in China, Laos's donation of money and anti-epidemic materials and the fact that Laos also hosted the China-ASEAN Special Foreign Ministers' Meeting on Coronavirus Disease in February.

In Pakistan, an eight-member Chinese medical team was also racing against time to help the "iron brother" to contain the killer virus.

Ma Minghui, head of the Chinese expert team there, and his colleagues shared their experiences on the disease diagnosis, quarantine and treatment to the critically ill patients.

"I would like to thank the Chinese people, and the Chinese government ... for going out of the way to support Pakistan and our effort to fight the COVID-19," Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said when greeting the Chinese medical team at the airport in Islamabad on March 28.

On April 5, a 12-member Chinese medical contingent arrived in Manila along with 12 tons of medical supplies to the Philippines, which has detected over 3,700 COVID-19 cases with some 177 deaths.

"We'd like to see how China did contact-tracing and surveillance, that's very important," Philippine Health Assistant Secretary Kenneth Ronquillo noted.

Ronquillo added that the Philippines wanted to learn the "good practices and best practices" that China implemented to isolate and contain COVID-19 patients, including the proper way of doing things like personal hygiene, and experiences like putting up the personal protective equipment.


The novel coronavirus has posed a common challenge to all humanity and only by joining hands can the international community prevail over it.

More than 1.27 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 had been reported as of Tuesday, including more than 72,000 deaths, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

The disturbing data underlines the urgency of international collaboration to jointly fight COVID-19 as the "cruel" virus knows neither borders nor races.

"We are in a shared struggle to protect both lives and livelihoods," WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in Geneva.

Guided by the vision of building a community with a shared future for mankind, China is enhancing international cooperation in a comprehensive fashion.

At a virtual meeting of the Group of 20 on March 26, China laid out a set of proposals on pooling global efforts against the "unprecedented" pandemic and stabilizing the world economy, in an effort to address the public health emergency and ensuing economic fallout together with other countries in the world.

In addition, China have been keeping its words with active actions.

Besides Cambodia, Laos, Pakistan and the Philippines, the Chinese government also dispatched medical expert teams to Italy, Serbia, Iran, Iraq and Venezuela, and offered medical supplies and donations to a number of virus-stricken countries.

The medical experts sent by China overseas are highly valued and welcomed for helping the countries fight the ravaging pandemic.

"We are very confident in Chinese experts' skills and experience. The World Health Organization also highly values and cherishes China's resources and experience. As a public health professional, I think what China has done is of great significance to Cambodia," said Li Ailan, WHO representative to Cambodia.

After learning that the Chinese medical team is from southwest China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Cambodian netizens created a video clip dedicated to the Chinese doctors by using the melody of a famous folk song from Liu Sanjie, a classic Chinese movie in the 1960s.

"Thank you! Thank you so much my beloved Chinese relatives. Even if there is no good food for you, I want to dedicate a song from your hometown to you, my beloved Chinese relatives!" read the video clip with Cambodian lyrics.

Noting that China was giving Pakistan preference in provision of medical equipment as it started controlling the outbreak, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan said, "China gave priority to Pakistan and the whole equipment coming to Pakistan is from China."