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People's Daily Online

China approaches zero confirmed COVID-19 cases, open dialogue key to pandemic response: experts

People's Daily Online

(People's Daily Online) 16:25, July 16, 2020

The Chinese mainland is approaching zero COVID-19 patients despite sporadic outbreaks, which is attributable to an open communication between Chinese scientists and the leadership as well as the speed with which close contacts of patients had been isolated, wrote South China Morning Post on July 13, citing China's top epidemiologists.

China's goal of zero COVID-19 cases was the "most efficient way" to contain the pandemic and minimize its impact on economy and society, Zeng Guang, a leading expert with the National Health Commission, said during an online forum hosted by the magazine Caijing on July 12.

As of July 15, Beijing had reported zero new COVID-19 patients for 10 consecutive days, while other provinces have had no locally transmitted cases for months, declaring a temporary victory in the containment of the outbreak.

China now has entered into a new normal, meaning that the coronavirus is basically under control, with sporadic outbreak taking place from time to time, Zeng said.

The expert attributed China's success to the involvement of the whole country in the fight against the pandemic, during which various government departments worked together under a coordinated mechanism and scientists were able to have direct dialogue with state leaders.

The communication between Chinese scientists and the leadership, as revealed by Zeng, casts a stark contrast with the US, where top infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci has been "increasingly vocal in his concerns about the national surge in cases, as well as his lack of access to President Donald Trump over the past several weeks", the article shared.

The ability to quickly seperate and isolate close contacts of COVID-19 patients has been another advantage for China. According to Zeng, this was why China has outperformed Western countries.

However, Zeng warned that the autumn and winter months would be challenging, as people would have to worry about both the coronavirus and flu, which could greatly challenge the public health system.

Zhang Wenhong, a Shanghai-based infectious disease expert, said that the biggest difference between China and the US in controlling the pandemic iswas thein community management. China was able to make sure every person in affected communities was tested, while it would be impossible in the US, he said.

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