Experts call for epidemic evacuation zones, dedicated military unit to handle crises

By Xu Keyue, Liu Xuanzun and Chen Qingqing Source:Global Times Published: 2020/2/9 19:28:42

Medical workers pose for a photo at Huoshenshan (Fire God Mountain) Hospital in Wuhan, central China's Hubei Province, Feb. 4, 2020. (Photo by Fan Xianhai/Xinhua)

 A dedicated permanent military unit, big-city epidemic evacuation zones and a central information exchange platform were suggested by Chinese experts as they sought to learn and share the key lessons from the ongoing coronavirus crisis.

The central government should order the setting up of epidemic evacuation zones equipped with hospitals, nursing facilities and medical equipment warehouses in cities with populations of more than 10 million and operate the zones on a regular basis in advance, Liu Zhiqin, a research fellow at the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies of Renmin University of China in Beijing, told the Global Times on Sunday.

The government of Wuhan, the epicenter of the virus outbreak in Central China's Hubei Province, has built two makeshift hospitals within about two weeks. 

Hospitals like Huoshenshan and Leishenshan should become a standard part of all urban construction, Liu said.

China should build a central information exchange platform managed by competent central authorities, through which people from all walks of life can directly report emergencies to the government, Liu believed.

Such a platform would help China avoid formalism and bureaucracy by obtaining the most basic and newest data, Liu said.

He suggested the country keep sufficient personnel in reserve, and make preparations for manufacturing necessary equipment and supplies, arranging logistics to address any further expansion of a crisis.

Other Chinese experts called for the establishment of a permanent military unit dedicated to nuclear, biological and chemical disasters for occasions other than war.

The Chinese military has already dispatched personnel from different units to carry out medical missions and logistical support in Wuhan.

The People's Liberation Army are highly disciplined, responsible and capable of dealing with disasters like viruses, earthquakes and floods. Military units were often more efficient than civilians, experts said.

In disasters it is important to realize unified leadership, reduce internal losses and communication costs, Wang Peng, an associate research fellow at the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at the Renmin University of China, told the Global Times.  

"These are characteristics the Chinese military possesses," Wang said.

China has an increasing number of nuclear plants, biological and chemical development centers, factories and storage facilities, which leads to the risk of environmental contamination from hostile strikes or disasters, Wang noted.

China should build a permanent force dedicated to dealing with these potential threats under the direct command of the Central Military Commission, Wang said.

"The coronavirus outbreak has shown that a major infectious disease can have as great an impact on Chinese politics, economics and society as a regional war," Wang said. 

The new military unit could also carry out humanitarian aid missions abroad, which would help members gain experiences and enhance China's image, Wang said.


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