SCIO briefing on prevention and control of the new coronavirus-related pneumonia

A press conference was held Wednesday morning to explain the work being carried out to prevent and control the new coronavirus-related pneumonia. January 23, 2020


Li Bin, vice minister of the National Health Commission

Xu Shuqiang, director of the Health Emergency Response Office (Public Health Emergency Command Center), the National Health Commission

Jiao Yahui, head of the Bureau of Medical Administration, the National Health Commission

Gao Fu, academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), and director general of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention


Xi Yanchun, spokesperson for the State Council Information Office of China


Jan. 22, 2020

Xi Yanchun:

Ladies and gentlemen, friends from the media, good morning. Welcome to the press conference. Great attention has been paid these days to the prevention and control of the pneumonia caused by the new coronavirus (2019-nCoV). To help you better understand the issues concerning the prevention and control work, we have invited Mr. Li Bin, vice minister of the National Health Commission (NHC); Mr. Xu Shuqiang, director of the Health Emergency Response Office (Public Health Emergency Command Center), NHC; Ms. Jiao Yahui, head of the Bureau of Medical Administration, NHC; and Mr. Gao Fu, academician at the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and director general of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention. They will explain the work surrounding the pneumonia situation and answer your questions.

First, I'll give the floor to Mr. Li.

Li Bin:

Since the outbreak of the new coronavirus-related pneumonia, the CPC Central Committee and the State Council have given earnest consideration to the prevention and control work. General Secretary Xi Jinping has concerned himself with the pneumonia situation and the treatment of patients, making important orders and instructions on the prevention and control work. Premier Li Keqiang has also made important instructions. An executive meeting of the State Council was held Monday morning to make arrangements for prevention and control of the virus outbreak. Vice Premier Sun Chunlan listened to related reports and issued guidance on the prevention and control work. She made important arrangements during a telecom conference of the State Council joint task force on Monday afternoon, and convened another meeting in the evening to discuss and make plans.

The NHC has conscientiously implemented the important orders and instructions given by General Secretary Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang, as well as the arrangements made at the State Council executive meeting. We swiftly established a leading group for the outbreak response with the head of the NHC in charge, and held daily meetings to discuss the prevention and control work. We have sent national working and expert teams to Wuhan to give guidance for local response efforts, with an emphasis on localized administration.

First, we strengthened efforts to investigate the origin of the infections and offer technical guidance. In just over a week since the outbreak, we identified the new coronavirus as the cause of the pneumonia, and developed plans for medical treatment, emergency monitoring, epidemiological investigation and management, as well as sampling and detection.

Second, we have endeavored to reduce severe cases and deaths. In accordance with the principle of concentrating cases, experts, resources and treatment, suspected cases were brought together to designated hospitals. Each serious case was registered in a separate record for special attention. National-level experts stayed in Wuhan to provide long-term guidance on medical treatment.

Third, we focused on both information release and international cooperation. We instructed Wuhan authorities to establish a daily information release mechanism and to intensify efforts to inform the public of recommendations on disease prevention. We enhanced information sharing with the World Health Organization (WHO), related countries, as well as China's Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan; timely and regularly organized for experts to communicate with the WHO about the technical details of prevention and treatment; and invited experts from the WHO, Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan for field inspections of the prevention and control work.

Faced with the changing situation of the outbreak, we have further strengthened the arrangements for prevention and control during these days, while continuing the above-mentioned efforts.

First, we reinforced the joint prevention and control mechanism. We improved the NHC-led joint prevention and control mechanism, with more than 30 departments jointly cooperating on tackling the new coronavirus-related pneumonia outbreak. The mechanism consists of groups working on overall coordination, virus control, medical treatment, scientific research, logistical services, and front-line work, with the heads of relevant departments as the leaders. Featuring clear-cut responsibilities and close coordination, the mechanism has helped foster synergy to jointly promote the prevention and control work.

Second, we enhanced guidance on the prevention and control work in Wuhan. We urged Wuhan authorities to intensify its emergency response. Regarding the "inflow," the city was required to strengthen its regulation of local market places, prohibit the trade of live poultry, and ban wild animals and live poultry from entering the city. As for the "outflow," Wuhan was required to implement strict screening at airports, railway stations, bus stations and ports, keep patients with a fever and their close contacts in quarantine, and minimize public gatherings as much as possible.

Third, we took sound preventive and control measures at the national level. The pneumonia caused by the new coronavirus has been classified as a category B infectious disease and a quarantinable disease at the border. Preventive and control measures of category A infectious diseases are being taken to tackle the pneumonia. We have issued diagnosis and treatment plans to health authorities and activated a daily report system for new pneumonia cases across the country. The National Patriotic Health Campaign Committee initiated a health campaign with the theme of "improving the environmental hygiene in markets." As of 12 p.m. Tuesday, a total of 440 confirmed cases of pneumonia caused by the new coronavirus in 13 provincial-level regions had been reported to the NHC. Nine deaths had been reported, marking an increase of three, all of which took place in Hubei province. In total, 149 new confirmed cases were reported on Jan. 21. Overseas, one case has been confirmed in Japan, three in Thailand, and one in the Republic of Korea. A total of 2,197 close contacts have been traced, of which 1,394 are currently under medical observation and 765 others have been discharged.

There has been a rapid increase in the number of cases recently. This is partly because we have deepened our understanding of the disease, improved methods of diagnosis, and distributed optimized reagents for confirming cases across the country. Experts believe that most of the cases are related to Wuhan. People-to-people transmission has been reported, and some medical workers have tested positive for the virus. There is a certain trend of the disease spreading between communities. It is mainly transmitted through the respiratory tract, and could possibly mutate and spread further. Meanwhile, population movement has greatly increased as we are experiencing the Spring Festival travel rush. As such, the risk of the disease spreading has increased, making it more difficult to prevent and control the outbreak. We should be on high alert and not take the issue lightly.

In the next stage, we will work with members of the joint prevention and control mechanism, implement the policy decisions and plans of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council, put people's safety and health as the top priority, and guide various departments to implement concrete and effective measures under the principle of localized management to ensure that people enjoy a peaceful Spring Festival.

First, we will stay strictly on guard, and control the virus within Wuhan. We will urge Hubei province and Wuhan city to take the strictest possible prevention and control measures, strengthen the supervision of local market places and control of wild animals, and keep the virus from spreading and further transmitting. We will call on people to avoid gathering in public and reduce public events where feasible to avoid cases caused by large gatherings of people. We will take the strictest measures possible to screen those showing symptoms such as high fever, and keep them under medical investigation to prevent the virus from spreading further.

Second, we will resolutely implement disease prevention and control measures nationwide. We will vigorously monitor pneumonia with unknown causes, as well as improve diagnosis and treatment provision at fever clinics. We will be prepared for treatment of the new coronavirus-related pneumonia cases and timely discover and treat them. We will also ramp up efforts in keeping the environment clean, and as more people move around during the Spring Festival, we will carry out ventilation, sterilization and temperature-taking measures in transport hubs such as stations, airports and ports, as well as in vehicles including buses, trains and airplanes.

Third, we will spare no efforts in the treatment of patients. We will mobilize the best medical resources and experts, and combine both traditional Chinese medicine and Western medical treatment, in order to reduce the number of deaths as much as possible. We will support patients' medical expenses to ensure they are treated timely, and take care of medical workers, especially in the area of self-prevention to prevent them from being infected at work.

Fourth, we will work on information disclosure and international cooperation. We will release information related to the virus in a timely, open and transparent way, as well as objectively report the situation of the virus and the measures taken by the government. We will stay true to facts and spread knowledge about preventing the disease. Also, we will take the initiative to strengthen communications with the WHO, related countries and regions, as well as China's Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan; share the information on the monitoring, investigation, prevention and controls as well as risk assessment in a timely manner; and jointly study and improve measures on the prevention and control of the disease. 

Fifth, we will increase scientific research into prevention and control of the virus. We will give full play to the role of experts, identify the sources and methods of transmission as soon as possible, and accelerate research and screening of anti-virus medicines. We will keep a close watch on the virulence and transmission rates of the virus, so as to prevent and control the disease in a more scientific and efficient manner.

Sixth, we will arrange for necessary health-care personnel to be on duty. The health administrative bodies and medical institutions at all levels should have experienced personnel on duty during the Spring Festival. Hospitals and disease control agencies at all levels should also have enough personnel on duty.

All of us are concerned about the situation, and we will do our utmost to curb the spread of the disease. We have the strong leadership of the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core and the institutional strengths of socialism with Chinese characteristics. We have established a relatively complete prevention and control systems for sudden and infectious diseases since the SARS outbreak in 2003, and have also accumulated experience in handling other public health emergencies, including the H1N1 flu, bird flu and the Ebola virus. In addition, we have the support of the people and are confident in defeating the disease.

Xi Yanchun:

Thank you, Mr. Li. Now let's move on to questions. Please identify which media outlet you work for before asking your questions.

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