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Global Times

Jilin reports COVID-19 superspreading event

Global Times

Health seminars targeting elderly 'blind spot' of viral fight: experts

By Wan Lin Published: Jan 17, 2021 03:41 PM

The COVID-19 superspreader in Northeast China's Jilin Province, who was engaged in a health-related marketing promotion, caused more than 100 people to be infected. Experts warned that health seminars targeting elderly people are blind spots in the epidemic prevention and control work in residential communities.

The 45-year-old male surnamed Lin, who was identified as a silent coronavirus carrier on Tuesday, was reported to have become a confirmed case on Sunday. He came from neighboring Heilongjiang Province and has traveled on trains and buses in three cities in Jilin.

Lin gave four lectures at two health clubs in Jilin's Gongzhuling and Tonghua as a self-employed marketer from January 8 to 11, causing a total of 102 people to be infected directly and indirectly, including 79 people who attended the lectures and 23 of their close contacts.

The infected people are mostly middle-aged and elderly, with an average age of 63 and the oldest being 87, said Zhang Yan, a deputy director of the Jilin Health Commission, at a press conference on Sunday.

Authorities have carried out a joint investigation into the health clubs that organized Lin's marketing promotions to determine if the clubs' operations or the products being sold were illegal or in violation of local regulations, said an official from the market supervision department of the Jilin government at the press conference.

Health clubs that regularly hold marketing promotion lectures for elderly people are usually a blind spot of the epidemic prevention and control work in residential communities, which makes it necessary to strengthen the monitoring of this area with a large concentration of elderly people, health experts noted.

With sporadic cases still occuring in many places, any mass gathering events, especially indoors, are risky, whether it is a health seminar or a conference training session, Wang Peiyu, a deputy head of Peking University's School of Public Health, told the Global Times on Sunday.

Jilin has ordered restrictions on the operations of recreational public venues and mass events in the worst-affected cities, and adjusted the emergency response level to medium in residential communities where infections have occurred.

This superspreading case also prompted other cities to order the suspension of sales activities that involve mass gatherings, such as Fushun in Northeast China's Liaoning Province and Shaoxing in East China's Zhejiang Province.

Jilin has become one of the provinces in China worst-hit by the current outbreaks, with a total of 34 active confirmed cases and 80 asymptomatic patients as of press time.

The fresh outbreak in the province started on Monday, and was imported from Wangkui county, the epicenter of Heilongjiang.

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