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Latest updates on battle against COVID-19: Promote public diplomacy and strengthen international cooperation
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Ever since the outbreak of COVID-19 in Wuhan in late January, Wuhan University has received consolations from many universities around the world. Meanwhile, WHU has taken the initiative to promote public diplomacy and reassure the public in the wake of the global outbreak.

Strengthen public diplomacy and exchange consolations with partner universities

Since the start of the epidemic, WHU has received consolations from many of its partner universities and international friends, including former politicians, university principals, administrative departments, experts, scholars and students, covering 47 institutions from 18 countries, including Yukio Hatoyama, the former Japanese Prime Minister, Bajrakitiyabha, Princess of Thailand, Harvard Medical School, University of Chicago, University of California, Davis, University of California, Riverside, Ohio State University, University of Pittsburgh, USA, University of British Columbia, University of Waterloo, University of Alberta, Canada, University of Leeds, University of Dundee, England, ParisTech, University of Clermont-Auvergne, France, University of Duisburg-Essen, University of Jena, Germany, University College Cork, University College Dublin, Ireland, Free University of Brussels, Belgium, Saint Petersburg State University, Russia, National University of Singapore, Chuo University, Sophia University, Japan, Ewha Womans University, South Korea, Kathmandu University, Nepal, Benha University, Egypt.

Meanwhile, WHU has also received some relief goods: Fukushima Medical University donated 20,000 surgical masks and 150 sets of protective suits; Kaetsu University of Japan donated more than 4,000 masks, pairs of rubber gloves and disinfection cards; Duke University, USA donated 2,110 pairs of goggles, 100 pairs of gloves, 5.15 tons of disinfectant fluid, 50 bottles of disinfectant spray, 1,000 pieces of quick-dry clothes and some other living supplies for 12 hospitals in Hubei province and Wuhan city through Duke Kunshan University.

After the global outbreak of Covid-19, and in response to the previously received support, WHU took the initiative to send letters of consolation to its sister schools and some prestigious universities, including Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Rice University, the University of California-Los Angeles, the University of Aberdeen in the United Kingdom, the University of Sydney, the University of Melbourne, Monash University in Australia, the University of Auckland in New Zealand, Paris University, the University of Paris X-Nanterre in France, Sapienza University of Rome in Italy, the Polytechnic University of Milan, Radboud University Nijmegen in the Netherlands, the University of Graz in Austria, Stockholm University in Sweden, the Autonomous University of Madrid in Spain, Waseda University in Japan, the University of Malaya in Malaysia and so on. WHU also donated 10,000 masks to the Alumni Association of Ohio State University, a sister school that has maintained a warm friendship with WHU for 40 years.

WHU’s donation of masks to the alumni association of Ohio State University

Launch international cooperation and contribute WHU wisdom

Following the global outbreak of Covid-19, in a spirit of cooperation in the joint global fight against COVID-19, WHU utilized its clinical experience and multidisciplinary expertise gained during the early fight against the disease to offer its knowledge and insight to the world during ten video conferences with countries and regions including the United States, Canada, Europe, Africa, Southeast Asia, etc.

On March 28, WHU and Ohio State University connected by video to exchange expertise on clinical treatment experience and protective measures for medical staff. 18 foreign experts and five frontline experts from WHU attended this conference, which lasted for two hours. American counterparts expressed their gratitude and gave high commendations after the video conference, hoping that such close academic exchanges between the two sides would continue.

On April 3, at the invitation of the Consulate-General of the PRC in Montreal, Prof. Chen Xiaobei, deputy director of the Infection Department in Renmin Hospital of Wuhan University, introduced his knowledge on the prevention and control of COVID-19, family and high-risk group protection, and answered questions from the audience. Hosted by Prof. Xiong Lan of McGill University in Canada, and broadcast live on Quebec TV and YouTube, it was warmly welcomed by the local Chinese.

On April 3, WHU connected with Bernardette Felice Grasso, the vice-president of the region of Sicily Italy, and Prof. Giuseppe Nunnari, chief expert of the Infectious Diseases Department in Messina Hospital. Major anti-epidemic departments of Renmin Hospital of Wuhan University, including the emergency department, the critical care medicine department, the department of traditional Chinese medicine, and the department of infectious diseases, shared their experience on epidemic diagnosis, treatment,  prevention and control, as well as the construction and management of mobile cabin hospitals.

On April 3, WHU connected with Ireland. More than ten experts, including Paul Reid, CEO of the Health Service Executive of Ireland, president of the COVID-19 national crisis management group, Anne O 'Connor, COO of the Health Service Executive of Ireland and president of the COVID-19 national integrated operation center, participated in the discussion. WHU answered the questions from Ireland in details, such as nursing mode, ICU admission standards, bed demands, ventilator usage, etc.

On April 3, WHU connected with Benha University, Egypt. The COVID-19 expert team of WHU shared diagnosis, treatment, prevention and control methods in their respective professional fields, and gave detailed explanations and answers from transmission channels, clinical symptoms and diagnosis, clinical research findings, treatment plans, patient isolation, medical protection, surgical measures, hospital management, construction and management of mobile cabin hospitals and other aspects.

On April 5, WHU and Harvard University held the online ‘Harvard-Wuhan University: Chinese and American Medical System Academic Seminar on COVID-19 Response’. Four academicians of the Academy of Medical Sciences attended this seminar, including Academician Harvey V. Fineberg, president of the United States ‘New Infectious Diseases and Health Threats in the 21st century’ Standing Committee, Academician Margaret Hanburg, president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and former director of the Food and Drug Administration, Academician David Blumenthal, former national coordinator of health information technology and Academician William C. Hsiao, the economic adviser of the United States Senate and foreign adviser of the Policies and Management Expert Committee of the Ministry of Health, China. Vice-president of WHU, Prof. Tang Qizhu, director of the National Laboratory of Virology, Prof. Lan Ke, Prof. Peng Zhiyong from Zhongnan Hospital of Wuhan University, Prof. Mao Zongfu from the School of Health Sciences, Wuhan University, together with 3 alumni entrepreneurs, also participated in this seminar to jointly explore international cooperation in the fight against COVID-19.

On April 10, WHU connected on video with the University of Chicago. Nearly 40 doctors from the University of Chicago took part in the online video conference. Tang Qizhu, vice-president of WHU, and Yu Xiangting, executive vice dean of the Medical Sciences Faculty attended the meeting and the departments of critical care medicine, cardiology, infection and respiratory medicine of Zhongnan Hospital of Wuhan University shared their experience. Prof. Schell from the University of Chicago expressed his appreciation to WHU for rapidly gathering experts to effectively share experience in fighting against the epidemic. He believed that these experiences provided guidance for the diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19 in the hospital of the University of Chicago, and the two sides would continue to share experience in the future.

In addition, Ohio State University of the United States and universities in Ecuador sought expertise from WHU on campus management measures taken during the epidemic. Ohio State University plans to establish a joint working group with WHU to exchange experience on the management and service during campus lockdowns.

Harvard-Wuhan University: Chinese and American Medical System Academic Seminar

on COVID-19 Response

Take care of international faculty and share WHU stories

110 international faculty work in WHU, including Nobel Prize winners, foreign academicians, and other world-renowned scholars. They are an important part of the university's faculty and international development. Since the outbreak of the epidemic, especially after the temporary closure of Wuhan City on January 23, WHU swiftly formulated a work plan to ensure the smooth continuation of services to international faculty

Firstly, the university contacted international faculty for comprehensive checks and has stayed in regular contact since. On January 24, WHU forwarded the Announcement on the Protection of the Legitimate Rights and Interests of Foreigners Staying and Residing in Wuhan City during the Temporary Closure of Departure Channels in multiple languages. Since late January, under the guidance of the provincial Foreign Affairs Office, WHU has assisted foreign embassies and consulates in China to send their citizens in need back to their home countries. On January 30, WHU issued A Letter to international faculty in Wuhan University, reminding them to strengthen protections. After the global outbreak of COVID-19, WHU sent letters of consolation to its international faculty overseas, urging them to protect themselves and offering help if needed.

In order to ensure the normal life of international faculty in this special period, the Office of International Affairs, Wuhan University contacted relevant schools and departments to provide peer-to-peer services for international faculty, such as online shopping for daily supplies and regular psychological counseling. At the same time, it also cooperated with teaching departments to guide international faculty’s online teaching, so as to ensure their normal working order.

International faculty also responded positively to the university's work. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, Chinese and foreign media have been very concerned about the foreigners living in Wuhan. Prof. Professor Timo Jochen Balz and researcher Stephen Charles McClure, both from the State Key Laboratory of Information Engineering in Surveying, Mapping and Remote Sensing, Wuhan University, Associate Prof. Ghamgeen Izat Rashed from the School of Electrical Engineering and Automation, and Sylvia Schroeder, lecturer in the School of Foreign Languages and Literature, have been interviewed by a number of Chinese and foreign media, expressing their firm support for and confidence in the Chinese government's anti-epidemic policies.

Prof. Jean-Pierre Sauvage, the 2016 Nobel laureate in chemistry and foreign director of the Sauvage International Centre for Molecular Science, Wuhan University, wrote in response to the consolation letter, ‘I think China has adopted the most appropriate approach to the outbreak: strict discipline and quarantine.’

‘Canada is trying to reduce social activities, and this practice has been very successful in China,’ said Danny Summers, Academician of the Royal Canadian Academy of Sciences and professor of the ‘Overseas Masters’ program of WHU.

Researcher Stephen Charles McClure interviewed by news media

Deepen medical cooperation and explore new growth in international exchanges

The outbreak of COVID-19 has triggered significant changes in China's external environment, posing challenges to international exchanges in higher education, but also providing new opportunities for extensive and practical cooperation between China and foreign countries in the medical field.

In early February, Prof. Ajay Singh, the senior vice-president of the School of Medicine, Harvard University took the initiative to contact the vice-president of WHU, Prof. Tang Qizhu, expressing a new plan for cooperation:strenghthening disciplines system construction related to critical care medicine, epidemic prevention and control, building a clinical big data platform for critical care medicine and a WHU-Harvard remote ICU, carrying out clinical training based on cases in critical care medicine, carrying out clinical scientific research training on the basis of clinical big data, and joint consultations between the two sides, etc. This cooperation will provide technical support for WHU and hospitals in Wuhan to improve the remote critical medical treatment, facilitate the discipline construction of critical care medicine in WHU, and also provide strong support for the training of interdisciplinary talents equipped with clinical medicine, public health and information technology.

In February, the Office of International Affairs, Wuhan University discussed with the University of Chicago on the establishment of a ‘Wuhan University-University of Chicago Joint Research Institute’ that was included in its annual work plan. Many foreign professors gave positive feedback and expressed their willingness to further promote the cooperation between two sides, especially in clinical medicine. Due to the impact of the pandemic, experts from the University of Chicago have not been able to come to WHU for teaching and communication as planned. However, the two sides are conducting continuous exchanges through video, email, WeChat and other means. In March, the president of the University of Chicago, Prof. Robert Zimmer, sent a letter to WHU, reiterating that the university would continue its exchanges with China beyond COVID-19.

Rewritten by Chen Muying

Edited by: Wu Buer, Sylvia and Hu Sijia


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