Xi'an, the provincial capital of Northwest China's Shaanxi Province, issued an emergency notice on Wednesday to prepare for a surge in influenza cases, saying it will suspend business and school operations in the city if necessary.
In addition, the temporary controls at the community level will also be applied to epidemic prevention and control, so as to reduce the flow of people and the risk of cross infection, said the notice, adding that these measures aim to effectively prevent the spread of the virus without affecting the normal order of society.
The annual influenza season has entered a high level recently with the influenza A (H1N1) virus sweeping across the country in a matter of weeks, bringing up the proportion of influenza-like illnesses in both southern and northern areas. A total of 390 influenza-like illness outbreaks were reported nationwide during the eighth week of 2023 between February 20 and 26.
In the latest weekly epidemic report released by the Beijing Center for Disease Control and Prevention on Feb 22, the number of reported cases of influenza topped the list, the first time this year that the coronavirus has fallen from the top spot.
According to the latest WHO report, the reason for the rise in influenza infections in China since February is related to the simultaneous transmission of two influenza A virus subtypes.
Moreover, some experts believe that the reason for the inconspicuous flu outbreak last winter may be that it was covered up by coronavirus cases, and the prevention and control measures for the pandemic also weakened people's ability to resist other respiratory viruses, resulting in a rebound of influenza infection.
The alternating seasons of winter and spring typically see a high incidence of respiratory infectious diseases and influenza cases in China are seeing an upward trend, Wu Zunyou, chief epidemiologist at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Chinese CDC), said in a Sina Weibo post on Tuesday.
Kindergartens in several districts of Xi'an issued notices for suspension of classes, stating that there might be implementation of class suspension from March 4 to 7 due to the outbreak of influenza on the campus, according to media reports.
In response, the emergency plan issued by local authorities said there might be temporary lockdown and quarantine measures as well as public transit restrictions and suspension of work and production in the affected areas, depending on the severity of the epidemic.
Besides, all kinds of crowd gathering activities will be temporarily suspended, and crowded public avenues such as shopping malls, cinemas, museums and tourist attractions will be closed temporarily.
China's current flu infection still remains at the level of a seasonal flu as in previous years before the COVID-19 epidemic, Wu said on Tuesday in response to the public's concerns over the current influenza cases.
Several cities across the country, including Xi'an, said they would strengthen the management and deployment of emergency medical resources, including the use of hotels, restaurants, sports venues and other social resources to establish temporary medical treatment sites if necessary.