President Xi Jinping signed a presidential order on Tuesday to award four people national medals and honorary titles for their outstanding contributions to fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.
Xi’s presidential order came after the Standing Committee of the 13th National People’s Congress voted to adopt a decision to confer the national medals and honorary titles on the four renowned specialists.
Zhong Nanshan, 84, a prominent infectious disease expert, was awarded the Medal of the Republic, the highest national honor, for his outstanding work in fighting COVID-19 in China.
Three others were also awarded the “People’s Hero” national honorary title for helping combat the novel coronavirus.
They are Zhang Boli, a traditional Chinese medicine expert who oversaw research on treatments combining traditional Chinese and Western medicines; Zhang Dingyu, head of Wuhan’s Jinyintan Hospital, designated for COVID-19 treatment; and Chen Wei, a military medical scientist who made major achievements in COVID-19-related basic research, vaccine development and protective medicine.
Zhong is a member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering and director of the National Clinical Research Center for Respiratory Disease in Guangzhou, Guangdong province. He is a highly popular figure among the public for being outspoken.
He concluded that COVID-19 could be transmitted between humans, stressed strict prevention and control efforts were needed and led work in drafting diagnosis and treatment plans, according to a notice released last week about his work.
Zhong also has long been dedicated to the research, prevention and treatment of major infectious and chronic respiratory diseases, and has a long record of achievements. He was a major figure in the fight against the severe acute respiratory syndrome outbreak in 2003 in China, having identified the pathogen and proposed control and prevention measures.
Following the COVID-19 outbreak, the Chinese government mobilized the country to contain the disease in Wuhan, Hubei province, after the city was locked down in late January. More than 42,000 medical workers from across the country were sent to Hubei to fight the disease. The pandemic has been effectively placed under control on the Chinese mainland since early March.