Zhong Nanshan, a prominent infectious disease expert, has been nominated for a highly prestigious honor for his outstanding contribution to fighting the COVID-19 epidemic in China.

Born in 1936, Zhong has long been dedicated to the research, prevention and treatment of major respiratory infectious diseases and chronic respiratory diseases, and has made fruitful and prominent achievements, according to a notice released on Monday by a working committee on Party and State medals and honorary titles that recommended Zhong should receive the Medal of the Republic this year.

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 concluded that the novel coronavirus could be transmitted between humans, stressed strict prevention and control efforts, and led work in drafting COVID-19 diagnosis and treatment plans. He has made distinguished contributions in areas including the prevention and control of the epidemic, treatment of severely ill patients and related scientific research, the notice said.

In addition to Zhong, who was nominated to receive the Medal of the Republic, which was first awarded last year, the 70th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China, three others were also shortlisted for national honorary titles for their contributions in fighting COVID-19, the notice said.

They are Zhang Boli, also a member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering and president of Tianjin University of Traditional Chinese Medicine; Zhang Dingyu, deputy director of Hubei Provincial Health Commission and president of Wuhan Jinyintan Hospital; and Chen Wei, a researcher at the Academy of Military Medical Sciences.

The list was finalized after an extensive process of selection, discussion and review, said the working committee, which invited the public to contribute their views before Friday by email, telephone or letter.

Zhong has been a highly popular figure in the fight against the COVID-19 epidemic in China since January. He revealed at a news conference on Jan 20 that the novel coronavirus that caused the outbreaks in Wuhan, Hubei province, can be transmitted between humans, making him the first public figure to confirm the important characteristic of the virus.

Three days later, in an unprecedented move in modern history, Wuhan-the largest city in Central China-imposed a lockdown, cutting itself off from the rest of the world to contain the outbreaks in the city. China mobilized the whole country to help Wuhan and Hubei province fight the epidemic, which effectively brought it under control.

In addition to his contributions in fighting COVID-19, Zhong was also a major figure who made outstanding contributions to fighting the severe acute respiratory syndrome outbreak in 2003 in China by identifying the pathogen and proposing effective epidemic control and prevention measures.

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