by Ren Jing, Li Jizhi
BRUSSELS, Feb. 21 (Xinhua) -- A leading Belgian infectious diseases specialist has praised China for its strong measures to stop the COVID-19 outbreak.
Referring to locking down the central Chinese city of Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak, Erika Vlieghe, head of the department of general internal medicine, infectious diseases and tropical medicine at Antwerp University Hospital, said "that's not an easy decision for a country."
"It's very tough for the city and people living there," she said in an interview with Xinhua this week.
So far, only one case has been confirmed in Belgium, with the patient recovering from the virus. Vlieghe said that Belgium, like other European countries, has taken various measures to beef up readiness against any possible outbreak of the COVID-19.
"The first step was to give lots of information to the public. In this way, we're able to raise awareness, distribute knowledge, correct facts and so on," she said.
She gave an example of a special website that has been created by the Belgian Health Ministry to provide knowledge on the virus and up-to-date news on the epidemic, as well as scientific and research findings, instructions on how to avoid infection, and briefings of actions taken by the government.
A scientific committee at the national level has also been set up to consult on the epidemic and give advice on public guidelines, with Vlieghe as one of its five members.
"Preparedness is something you need to maintain and continue," said Vlieghe. "We need to check in day by day and adopt new procedures, as COVID-19 may mutate and change over time."
Vlieghe also underlined the importance of international cooperation in the fight against the epidemic.
She said that there is already a lot of cooperation trying to map the problem, and to better understand how the disease is spreading, with leading institutions sharing knowledge and ideas.
"Every day, every week, we learn more about COVID-19. We share lots of information globally. It's really important to understand and make a plan through global cooperation," said Vlieghe.