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Global Times

Top epidemiologist warns of blind spots in epidemic control in Wuhan

Global Times

By Li Sikun Published: 2020/3/19 3:13:08

The Chinese central government has called for attention to community epidemic prevention and control work in epidemic-stricken Hubei Province and its capital Wuhan despite apparent improvements in those places, while China's top epidemiologist has warned of possible blind spots in communities as new confirmed cases keep popping up in community clinics.

The tasks of medical treatment, community prevention and control and follow-up work remain arduous in Hubei Province and its capital city of Wuhan, said Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, on Wednesday, when he chaired a leadership meeting on epidemic control and economic development, Xinhua reported.

The National Health Commission announced on Wednesday that Hubei reported no suspected cases on Tuesday, while existing suspected cases in the province have also been eliminated. The province reported one confirmed case the same day.

However, community prevention and control work in Hubei Wuhan attracts public attention as new cases keeping popping up making people wonder what causes the endless infections.

And as some cities in Hubei have gradually eased total lockdown measures, residents in some places have reportedly gathered in restaurants and public places which is causing fresh concerns about whether these activities could increase the risk of infection.

Blind spots may still exist in some communities, experts have warned.

In the past five days, Wuhan saw 6 new confirmed cases via outpatient diagnosis, reported Changanjie Zhishi, a WeChat public account associated with the Beijing Daily newspaper.

"Wuhan has seen new confirmed cases in the past few days. Although each day only had about one new case, they were all confirmed in outpatient departments rather than found in suspected cases that were under our control," said Zeng Guang, chief epidemiologist of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

"This means there might still be some blind spots remaining in the screening of COVID-19," Zeng said.

It will take time to see if more of these cases arise, and if they do, they need to be neutralized in time, Zeng said, noting that each case must be treated as an important incident and epidemiological investigations should be conducted.

People should be careful about the situation in which one case was confirmed but multiple others go unnoticed, which would cause the virus to keep spreading, and this is the worst-case scenario, Zeng said.

But he is confident that China has built a complete and quick screening system to identify new cases and treat people who have close contact with them.

According to the World Health Organization, the COVID-19 epidemic has affected 159 countries and regions around the world. As of 6pm Wednesday, global confirmed cases had reached 198,178 with more than 100,000 cases outside China, which indicates that preventing and controlling imported cases has now become a vital mission for China.

"It is just the start," Zeng said, estimating that the pandemic is still at an early stage considering the global situation.

The COVID-19 has become the most serious pandemic in recent years, according to Zeng.

He noted that the following factors may affect the future development of the pandemic in different places around the world, namely variation of the virus, different natural environments in different places, as well as each country's and region's anti-virus measures.

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