VI. Command system and strategic policies
Immediately after the COVID-19 outbreak, the central authorities led by President Xi Jinping put people's life and health first. Under Xi's personal leadership, command and deployment, the whole Party, armed forces and all Chinese people launched a "people's war" of disease prevention and control and fought to block the spread of the virus. With a centralized, unified and efficient "wartime pandemic command system" as well as strategies formulated in accordance with the situation, the top leadership offered key instructions and scientific guidance.
1. The top decision-making mechanism and fundamental strategies and policies
— Under the command of the top leader, China strengthened the centralized and unified leadership for the fight against the pandemic, which was put on top of the agenda for the Party, the country and the armed forces. In the course of more than two months, Xi, general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, president of China, and chairman of the Central Military Commission, presided over 10 meetings of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, three meetings of the Political Bureau and many other meetings at the central leadership level. The president gave clear instructions on pandemic prevention and control from different perspectives. China established the Leading Group for Novel Coronavirus Prevention and Control led by Premier Li Keqiang, working under the top Party leadership. A central government team was sent to guide epidemic control work in severely-hit regions. Xi was briefed by the Leading Group and the Guiding Group, and presided over a video conference to give direct instructions to more than 100,000 officials nationwide. He also inspected medical treatment and scientific research efforts in Beijing, traveled to Wuhan to inspect and instruct those at the forefront, made major decisions and gave instructions every day for comprehensive, systematic and strategic deployment.
— By defining overall principles and setting the general goal, China set up a strategic mechanism. The top leadership made a comprehensive judgment of the situation and put forward the overall principles of shoring up confidence, strengthening unity, ensuring science-based control and treatment, and implementing targeted measures. It set the general goal of stemming the spread of the virus and securing a victory. Taking the situation in the whole country into account and making overall plan, it focused on controlling the source of infection and cutting off the routes of transmission, set Wuhan city and Hubei province as the main battlefield of the country and gave differentiated instructions to other areas to secure victory in the people's war. A strategic framework was set up to mobilize, deploy and strengthen prevention and control work in a comprehensive manner. At the same time, the leadership regarded the control of epidemic as a major test for the country's government system and governance capacity. By sorting out and overcoming shortcomings, the state's public health emergency management system would be improved.
— By tracking and analyzing the situation, the top leadership identified new challenges and gave targeted instructions at each critical point. At the beginning of the outbreak, it made a resolute decision to impose strict restrictions on the flow of people from Hubei province to halt the spread of the virus as much as possible. Preventing the virus from spreading within Wuhan and Hubei, and elsewhere, were the goal of the battle. It was pointed out that "Hubei will not win unless Wuhan prevails, and China will not prevail unless Hubei wins". Early detection, early reporting, early quarantine and early treatment were emphasized. And so were the concentration of the infected, the concentration of experts, the concentration of resources and concentration of treatment. All confirmed patients were required to be hospitalized, all suspected cases were required to be tested and all cases of close contact to be quarantined in a timely manner. Racing against the time was imperative. Medical treatment was the top priority, and efforts were focused on targeted therapies to save as many lives as possible. Painstaking efforts were required to prevent the virus from being transmitted to as many people as possible. Hospitalization and the cure rate were required to be raised and the infection and fatality rate reduced substantially. Hospitals and residential communities were considered the two battlefields — both were critical for the fight against the epidemic.
Coordinated efforts are required for both the prevention and control, and scientific research and material production. Scientific research was set as a major and urgent task and solutions were sought from science. As the control and prevention situation changed, strong efforts are required to continue the painstaking efforts for the final triumph.
Facing the rapid spread of the virus overseas, the focus should shift to guarding against imported cases and preventing a resurgence of another outbreak at home so that the hard-won positive trend will not be reverted.
2. Efficient execution mechanisms and comprehensive countermeasures
— The joint prevention and control mechanism of the State Council fully implemented the instructions of the CPC Central Committee and General Secretary Xi. Having followed the instructions of the Leading Group of the CPC Central Committee for Novel Coronavirus Prevention and Control, it made coordinated efforts to resolve urgent problems and timely, overall and detailed arrangements were made. On the one hand, it administered 32 government departments and coordinated the complex relationship among epidemic control and prevention, economic development and people's lives. It pooled the country's resources to support the seriously-hit region, involving expenditure, infrastructure, medical human resources, scientists, protective equipment and materials, transportation, electricity and natural gas supply, disposal of medical waste and the supply of food and daily necessities in urban areas.
On the other hand, it coordinated prevention and control in other regions, initiated the first-level response to public health events, and strengthened support to provinces with a heavy flow of people. It postponed the new semester for schools, allowed flexible resumption of work, staggered work hours, and expanded production capacity. Concrete measures were adopted to "guard against imported cases from abroad and prevent the spread of virus at home" and resumption of work and production was encouraged with strict safeguards. At the same time, people were encouraged to provide suggestions on problems in control and prevention through the State Council's "Internet + Supervision" platform so that problems could be resolved in a timely manner. Any covering-up of epidemic information was investigated and punished.
— The central government guiding group supervised epidemic control work in Wuhan and Hubei province. The group is headed by Sun Chunlan, a member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and vice-premier of the State Council. Consisting of 11 ministerial-level officials as well as academicians and experts, the group arrived in Wuhan on January 27. The group conducted investigations on the lack of information, foot-dragging in hospitalization of the infected and slack management which bogged down prevention and control in the initial stages. The group organized 35 themed studies on therapies for treatment, and made 23 fact-finding trips to hospitals. Based on its investigations, the group put forward the concept of "control and prevention measures being shifted further to the immediate source of infections, coordinating the treatment of the infected with severe and mild conditions, and scientific and targeted treatment". The group proposed that efforts be made in the prevention of the virus from the very source, treatment of the infected and adequate supply of necessary materials. The group emphasized the importance of full-coverage screening, hospitalization of all the infected for treatment and a final round of screening. The group made the decision to establish a network of designated hospitals, makeshift hospitals and quarantine venues to ensure quarantine, hospitalization, transfer of the infected, material transport and logistics services. The group forwarded more than 20,000 pointers to the provincial and city level governments for further investigation and solutions. The group made appropriate allocation of medical resources to raise work efficiency and boosted the confidence and solidarity of those working at the frontline.
— Local governments set up their own leading groups headed by leading officials to ensure the full implementation of the central government's arrangements. They set and adjusted the level of emergency response in accordance with local developments. They organized specific measures to have people from severely-hit regions quarantined at home or in designated venues. They collected the necessary information and statistics, and forwarded them to higher level authorities. Meanwhile, the provincial governors and city mayors were obliged to ensure the production and supply of daily necessities.
President Xi pointed that the facts have once again proved that mankind is a community with a shared future, and the international community should boost confidence and make joint efforts to win the fight against the pandemic. Since the COVID-19 outbreak, China has always upheld the concept of building a community with a shared future for mankind and released information about the virus in an open, transparent and responsible manner. From early January, China started to report information about the epidemic, and prevention and control measures to the World Health Organization, the United States and other countries as well as China's Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan regions. China shared its experience without reservation with the World Health Organization and the international community, strengthened scientific research, and offered assistance to other countries. China has set up bilateral joint prevention and control mechanisms with other countries, pushed forward international cooperation, worked together with the international community, fulfilled its duty to safeguard global public health security and made contributions to preventing the spread of the virus worldwide by doing a good job in its own prevention and control of the virus at home. According to the joint research group of China and the World Health Organization, the WHO director-general, the WHO chief scientist, and many others, the unprecedented "most ambitious, agile and aggressive" measures taken by China in response to this public health event achieved a great deal in blocking the transmission of the virus among humans and provided useful experience for the scientific world and the international community.