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China CDC Expert: Chinese Localities Able to Contain Infections Promptly

2020/07/23

At the press conference on Beijing’s COVID-19 response on 21 July, Wu Zunyou, chief epidemiologist of the Chinese Center for Disease Prevention and Control, said Beijing lowering its emergency response level from Level 2 to Level 3 meant that the cluster infections surrounding the Xinfadi wholesale market and its ensuing transmissions had been brought under control, signaling an end to the latest COVID-19 situation in Beijing.

Wu noted a continued rise in global COVID-19 cases, and a daily increase of more than 200,000 confirmed cases worldwide over the last week. In Americas, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, the numbers of cases are climbing. In Europe, the situation is stable but the number of cases remains high. In some Asian countries and regions, there have been rebounds of infection, including in the ROK, Japan, Singapore and China’s Hong Kong SAR.

After the virus was put under control in Wuhan, we have seen local transmissions caused by imported cases in northeastern provinces from April to May, cluster infections surrounding Beijing’s Xinfadi market in June, and the sudden emergence of cases in Xinjiang in July. The risk China faces now is two-fold. One is the mounting risk of case importation as resumed flights and inbound passengers increase. On 11 June, 17 passengers on a China Southern Airline flight tested positive. On 27 June, 6 passengers on a Sichuan Airlines flight tested positive. The other risk comes from cluster infections like those surrounding the Xinfadi market, which may happen again in any Chinese city.

As autumn and winter approach, COVID-19 response will be complicated by a surge in other respiratory illnesses that are common in cold seasons. Wu is confident that China will not repeat the serious situation in Wuhan early this year, due to the country’s success in two fronts. First, in January and February, 30 Chinese provinces (including autonomous regions and municipalities), except for Hubei, had successfully controlled the infections caused by cases coming from Hubei. The total case in each province was kept under 2,000. In fact, only four provinces —Guangdong, Henan, Zhejiang and Hunan — had more than 1,000 cases. Second, the successful control of local transmission in the northeastern region and cluster infections surrounding the Xinfadi market has proved that the Chinese localities have the ability to promptly bring COVID-19 emergencies under control.

Wu said that imported cases will remain the big part of China’s COVID-19 cases for some time to come. Sporadic cases may appear in some places, but citywide, large-scale transmissions will be unlikely.

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