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Global Times

Has latest round of COVID-19 infections in Hebei reached turning point?

Global Times

By Liu Caiyu and Cui Fandi Published: Jan 17, 2021 06:22 PM

The latest round of COVID-19 infections in North China's Hebei Province remains at a high level despite more than two weeks of anti-epidemic control measures, with experts saying the province will take another week to see a turning point.

Hebei reported 92 new infections on Saturday, including 72 confirmed and 20 asymptomatic cases. On Sunday, the provincial capital Shijiazhuang reported 27 new confirmed and three asymptomatic cases.

Wang Peiyu, a deputy head of Peking University's School of Public Health, told the Global Times on Sunday that it can only be called a turning point if "we see a sustained downward trend in the number of infected people, adding that this point has yet to be reached."

The Hebei outbreak will take another week to reach its turning point and is basically brought under control, Wang said, explaining that this round of infections demonstrates the virus' strong transmission capability, which is being amplified by the cold weather.

Feng Zijian, a deputy director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), had said that based on previous experience, it usually takes two to three weeks to clear new infections, which means the Hebei outbreak is expected to be brought under control soon.

Hebei alone has reported 703 cases from January 2 to Sunday noon, and at least nine provinces have reported cases related to Hebei, reports said. There are 202 positive asymptomatic cases.

Despite the daily surge, experts said the public should not worry about the further spread of the virus, as anti-epidemic measures taken by Shijiazhuang in early January have meant related patients and their close contacts have been put under quarantine.

The large number of confirmed and asymptomatic infections suggested that the number initially infected in the epicenter of Xiaoguo village, Shijiazhuang, was also quite large, experts said.

A number of provinces in China have reported locally transmitted COVID-19 cases since December, including Northeast China's Liaoning, Heilongjiang, Jilin, South China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, North China's Shanxi, Beijing and Hebei. China reported 96 locally transmitted COVID-19 cases on Saturday, the first time since Tuesday the number had fallen to two digits.

The wave of COVID-19 infections was unexpected, as no local transmission of this magnitude had occurred in China in the past few months. Hebei reported China's first COVID-19 death in eight months, raising concerns ahead of the forthcoming "Chunyun" travel rush during the Spring Festival period, the world's largest annual human migration.

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