China sends medical team to Iraq to help tackle coronavirus epidemic

Echo Xie

China sent a team disease control experts to Iraq over the weekend and contributed US$20 million to the World Health Organisation as part of its contribution to global efforts to contain the coronavirus epidemic.

The team, comprising seven specialists from the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, arrived in Baghdad on Saturday night and are expected to stay in Iraq for one month to help with testing, treatment and follow-up care of patients, state news agency Xinhua reported on Sunday, quoting team leader Tao Zhongquan.

Last month, Beijing sent a medical team to Iran, the country worst-hit in the Middle East, with more than 6,566 cases and 194 fatalities from Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

So far, 54 cases of the coronavirus have been confirmed in Iraq, of whom four have died, according to the Iraqi Ministry of Health.

“The arrival of Chinese experts and medical equipment will enhance prevention and control of the coronavirus epidemic in Iraq,” Xinhua quoted deputy Iraqi health minister Jassim al-Falahi as saying.

According to the Red Cross Society of China, which is acting on behalf of Beijing, a shipment of diagnostic kits, medical supplies, and traditional Chinese medicine was also sent to Iraq.

Despite criticism over its initial slow response to contain the outbreak, which started in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, Beijing has repeatedly pledged to work with the WHO and other countries to tackle the outbreak.

With the epidemic at home appearing to have peaked, Chinese President Xi Jinping told a meeting of top Communist Party leaders that China would “deepen its international cooperation in containing the outbreak and demonstrate itself to be a responsible major power”.

WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus announced Beijing’s US$20 million contribution after meeting Chen Xu, China’s top envoy to the United Nations Office at Geneva, on Saturday.

Tedros said the WHO would continue to strengthen coordination and cooperation with China to push for greater international cooperation on epidemic prevention and control.

Chen said Beijing was willing to contribute to international cooperation on Covid-19 prevention and control, and help developing countries with vulnerable public health systems respond effectively to the epidemic, according to Xinhua.

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