Loopholes may lead to China's 2nd wave of viral outbreaks

2020-03-24 08:45:53Global Times Editor : Li Yan ECNS App Download
Special: Battle Against Novel Coronavirus

Loopholes in screening processes at customs and inadequate quarantine measures upon entry into Chinese cities as well as a high proportion of asymptomatic cases are making a second wave of novel coronavirus outbreak highly likely, even inevitable, as the global pandemic continues to worsen. After a new local transmitted case in southern China was reported - the first of its kind exposing loopholes in prevention work in some Chinese cities, the central government's leading work department came up with a new strategy on Monday for preventing imported cases as well as a possible rebound, in spite of domestic transmission being tamed. 

Although a drop in new cases is reported on a daily basis, all new cases now are imported infections, sparking serious concerns over a looming second outbreak in China. 

Renowned Chinese epidemiologist Li Lanjuan told reporters on Monday that China still faces a severe situation currently due to the surge in imported cases from other countries and regions. 

Central China's Hubei Province, where the first confirmed coronavirus case was reported in the country, has been reporting no new cases since Wednesday, marking significant progress in combating the disease in the country. 

All the new coronavirus cases have been imported infections since Wednesday, and China has so far reported 353 imported infections from countries like the UK, Spain and Iran.

Growing risks

"China is already facing the risk of a second outbreak as the number of imported cases already reached a small peak," Zeng Guang, chief epidemiologist of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), told the Global Times on Monday.

Luckily for now, China only reported one case of domestic secondary transmission from imported cases, so the situation is still under control, Zeng noted. 

Health authorities in South China's Guangdong Province on Sunday reported one patient who contracted the virus from an imported case. Some Chinese medical experts warned that a domestic case infected by an imported case reflects loopholes in local prevention measures and a failure to cut off these transmission channels. 

According to contact tracing, this patient in Guangdong had been in close contact with a woman who had returned from Turkey on March 9. On arrival, she had passed temperature checks at the airport and was allowed to return home via a car. 

Relevant government departments should spare no efforts to round up those imported cases, and to test all international travelers, in order to prevent secondary transmission of these cases, warned Zeng. 

As many imported infections are asymptomatic, with the onset of symptoms mimicking the common cold, this suggested other countries are not paying deserved attention to the pandemic, China's top COVID-19 expert Zhong Nanshan said in a conference earlier this month.

Some overseas experts also warned that covert coronavirus infections could lead to new outbreaks, while scientists are now rushing to estimate the proportion of people with mild or no symptoms who could be spreading the pathogen, according to an article published by Nature on Friday. Also some estimated those covert cases could represent some 60 percent of all infections. 


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