The New Corona Virus and the Global Response

The new coronavirus was officially named Covid-19, the same species as the SARS-CoV virus in 2002 and the MERS-CoV virus in 2012. The new coronavirus is a respiratory virus that first appeared in Wuhan, China, finding the first group of infected people – workers and customers – at the Hunan Seafood Market. The pandemic was so rapid that by February 12, 2020, there were more than 40,000 cases of infection and more than 1,000 deaths that had spread to nearly 30 countries, including Cambodia.

The outbreak of the new coronavirus has a huge economic impact on the countries where the virus is transmitted. It has not only caused health and economic consequences in the world, but the virus has also had a negative impact on society. China now seems isolated so far, and many countries have taken steps to protect their citizens, such as the evacuation of its people from China and the closure of flights or borders with China, including suspension of Chinese visa issuance etc.

The new coronavirus is growing day by day, both in China and in some parts of the world. China first switched to swine flu in 2002, but this time, unlike swine flu, Beijing has reacted quickly against the new coronavirus. Following the rapid spread of the disease, the World Health Organization has also declared a global alarming outbreak of coronavirus that it could endanger global public health.

Immediately after the outbreak of the Corona virus, the Chinese government sent two planes to Thailand and Malaysia to transport Chinese citizens in Hubei and Wuhan provinces to return to their homes. Meanwhile, foreign nationals trapped in China were also evacuated by the governments of each country and evacuating people from Wuhan or Wenzhou were detained 14 days to check on their health
So far, China built a new hospital, which spent only 10 days, and has continued to build another hospital to treat the new coronavirus. However, we are still noticing the shortcomings and difficulties to the Chinese government’s actions, especially as China lacks and urgently needs medical equipment, masks and sunglasses to prevent infections. Countries like France, Britain, Japan and South Korea have sent medical supplies to China, but that is not enough.

In addition to China, each country has taken steps to prevent the spread of the virus and save its own people. Measures used to avert the epidemic include closing borders, blocking entry of Chinese nationals and foreigners who have been staying in China for the last two weeks. The United States and Japan took the lead in evacuating their citizens from Hubei and Wuhan provinces. Later, countries such as Italy, Germany, Canada and Bangladesh also evacuated their citizens from the outbreak.

Hong Kong, Russia and Mongolia have closed the border with China. Russia has decided to close overland with China for more than 4,000 kilometers. And Japan has banned its citizens from going to China if necessary. The move is led by the United States, which appears to be the most restrictive. Britain, Spain, India, South Korea also returned their citizens back to the country.

For Southeast Asian countries, Singapore has announced the closure of all Chinese-origin flights. Vietnam has announced the suspension of tourist visas for Chinese and foreign nationals staying in China for the last two weeks. Other countries have gradually evacuated their citizens, but the Cambodian government has declared its position as a “steel friend of China” by not abandoning China and even denying Khmer students who is studying in Wuhan, China, to escape China in the emergency time, and there is no shuttle to China.

Separately, the Ministry of Health has confirmed that Cambodia has the ability to respond to the coronavirus, not to kill developed countries. By February 12, 2020, Cambodia had found only one Chinese infector, and under the care and treatment of Cambodian doctors for nearly two weeks, he was released from Preah Sihanouk Provincial Referral Hospital in the morning of February 10, 2020, after the third test showed no new corona virus in his body anymore. Then, He and his family, including his wife, daughter and son-in-law left Cambodia in the night of February 11, 2020.

Meanwhile, a 70-year-old Dutch tourist who arrived in Preah Sihanoukville on the Norwegian Jade in the afternoon of February 10, 2020, was suspected of having Corona but the results of a laboratory test of the Institut Pasteur du Cambodge show negative a new Corona virus in the evening of February 11, 2020.
The new coronavirus epidemic is a new security concern, and it has become a major threat to the stability and prosperity of many countries in the world, especially China and those with more trade ties with China.

The new coronavirus epidemic does not affect just one country – it has implications for human security worldwide. The security of a state depends on the security of each citizen. If citizen have no security, state also has no security. State has no security, world also has no security. Therefore, the fight against the new epidemic is not a Chinese issue alone; it is a global issue that must join hands to fight the deadly virus.

By Thun Chhaypiseth,
International Politics and Security Department,
International Relations Institute of Cambodia,
Royal Academy of Cambodia