'Zero growth' not 'risk-free'
By Xu Keyue and Wang Qi Source:Global Times Published: 2020/3/23 22:33:41 Last Updated: 2020/3/23 23:50:41
Local govts urged to report infection truthfully
It would be medically normal to see setbacks and report new cases of infection in Wuhan and Hubei Province, which have recorded zero new infections for five consecutive days, experts said, and encouraged the public to tolerate such case instead of blindly pursuing a quick elimination of new cases which may put too much pressure on local officials.
Wuhan government said on its WeChat public account on Monday that discharged patients who retest positive for coronavirus and asymptomatic cases will not be recorded as new confirmed cases. The city government noted they haven't seen people-to-people transmission from the relapsing patients.
Such official response came after recent public concerns if some regions had reported false data in pursuit of the goal of a sustainable "zero growth."
Wuhan government on Sunday dismissed such rumors, stressing the figure is objective and true.
"It's medically normal even if a few new infections emerge after consecutive days of the 'zero growth,'" said Peng Zhiyong, director of the intensive care unit of Wuhan University's Zhongnan Hospital, noting that there is no need for the public to panic about such possible cases.
Peng called on the public to allow Wuhan to "unload the burden of a sustainable 'zero growth' of new infections."
According to National Health Commission, no new confirmed case has been reported in Hubei for five consecutive days since Wednesday, which reflects the epidemic situation is getting much better but doesn't mean the region is risk-free, Peng told the Global Times on Monday.
As the virus is new which no one has understood thoroughly so far, it's normal that the consecutive zero growth could be interrupted, Yang Zhanqiu, a Wuhan-based virologist, told the Global Times on Monday.
The blind desire for "zero cases, zero deaths" is not conducive to scientific prevention and control, instead, seeking truth from facts and early detection and reporting are the basis and premise of scientific prevention and control, Yang noted.
Yang warned the local government should never conceal the truth if there are cases detected in the future, which would otherwise heavily blow the credibility and reputation of government, as well as impair the current situation made by the two-month nationwide efforts.
China's central leading group for COVID-19 prevention on Monday urged local governments to report daily new infection numbers in a transparent way.
"Hiding the numbers is more terrible than the virus itself, which will cause the huge wave of public discontent," one netizen wrote on Sina Weibo.
Yang said the focus currently is to follow up the discharged patients who could retest positive and keep vigilant against imported cases from abroad.
Some discharged patients retest positive usually because it takes time for the human immune system to clear all the virus or tests were not complete before the discharge, Yang said.
People who have retested positive and show symptoms will be sent to designated hospitals for observation and treatment, said Tu Yuanchao, the vice head of the Hubei provincial health commission on Sunday.
These patients will then undergo a 14-day quarantine after being discharged again. Those who are positive but asymptomatic will be sent to designated isolation sites for a 14-day observation, Tu noted.
Tu noted that they have not seen these patients infecting other people so far, but have required disease control departments to conduct epidemiological follow-up investigations.
Wuhan and other areas in China should prepare for the long fight against the COVID-19 as the domestic work resumption started and global pandemic breaks out, which could cause a second wave of outbreak, Yang noted.
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