Israeli Expert Inspired by China’s Success in Controlling COVID-19
Approximately two months after coronavirus COVID-19 broke out in China, the country has almost succeeded in halting the epidemic.
In a recent interview with the Xinhua News Agency, Prof. Arnon Afek, Deputy Director General of Sheba Medical Center and formerly Director General of the Israeli Ministry of Health, praised China for acting rapidly to contain and stop the spread of COVID-19, the viral respiratory disease that only emerged at the end of 2019. Sheba was the first hospital in Israel to accept patients infected with the virus. Prof. Afek explains further on China’s Success in Controlling COVID-19.
It has been nearly two months after the initial outbreak of the disease in China, which hit the country hard. At this point, China has almost managed to stop the epidemic.
“We want to learn (from China) how to treat them, how to do the isolation properly, and how to put up the protective garments as safely as it can be done,” Prof. Afek said. “We do hope that this message can come to the rest of the world and tell us how we should react in such a situation.”
The center of the outbreak in China was Wuhan, the capital city of Hubei province, and China was quick to quarantine people in this region. Additionally, two large hospitals were built “in a speed that I don’t think any other country in the world could achieve,” added Afek. “Even the World Health Organization praised the way the Chinese people dealt with the epidemic… it’s important that all countries learn from what the Chinese did.”
In regard to the situation in Israel, Afek expressed that the quantity of patients diagnosed with COVID-19 will increase in the coming days or weeks, but the country will be able to maintain control over the situation. As part of Israel’s efforts to contain the spread of the virus, many restrictions have been implemented – including on travel, schools, and limiting the size of public gatherings.
Sheba Medical Center is keeping a close relationship with some hospitals in China, and Prof. Afek stressed that he continuously reads articles on the epidemic that have been published by Chinese physicians and scientists.
“We are learning all the time,” he said. “Chinese scientists and physicians publish a lot of papers in the international media, which is very constructive for us because we can learn from the Chinese experience…We know today that quick response and taking the right measures is the right way.”
To protect other patients at Sheba Medical Center from contracting COVID-19, an isolated treatment unit was established at a safe distance, outside of the hospital area. Other hospitals have visited Sheba’s facility to learn about how to treat patients infected by the novel coronavirus.
Sheba has embraced a range of innovative telemedicine technologies to monitor patients and optimize protection of the medical staff. A remote-control room was set up as the central command center, and advanced sensors are used to measure the patients’ vital signs, such as fever, heart rate, and breathing. Robots are also used to provide doctors and nurses with essential details about the patients’ health condition. If necessary, physicians wearing full protective gear will enter the isolated rooms to provide treatment.
“The idea is to lower the exposure of our medical team to the patients and get as much needed data through electronic records,” Afek said.
Nowadays the world is like a global village, and it is critical to increase international cooperation to effectively fight the coronavirus epidemic. Prof. Afek emphasized the need for people to learn from each other and share data and information on coping with the threats to human security.
In their endeavors to control covid-19 and eventually eradicate the virus, many countries, including Israel, are pushing forwards quickly in their quest to develop a vaccine against COVID-19. Israel is committed to helping other countries, pharmaceutical companies, and labs in this mission.
“It’s important for the entire world to collaborate and work together to create the best solution for (overcoming) this epidemic,” Afek said.
Prof. Afek has been a frequent visitor to China in the past, and he shared his pleasure at seeing how China is succeeding in controlling COVID-19, stop its spread, and return to normal life. He shared his hope to be able to visit China again soon – “I’m already looking forward to that,” he said.