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


I have two questions. First, during the Spring Festival travel rush, will the transmission risk increase as passengers from Wuhan continuously travel to other destinations? Second, according to an epidemiological study last week, researchers from a UK university said there are an estimated 2,000 people infected with the new coronavirus in China. Have you ever estimated how many infected persons haven't received medical treatment? Thank you.

Li Bin:

This is an important question. To start things off, I have some information to share regarding your first question. And then, Mr. Gao Fu, academician with the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and director-general of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (China CDC), will brief you about the UK university's study in this field and answer your question about the pneumonia situation.

Considering the recent epidemic situation and the large passenger flows during the Spring Festival holiday, the Chinese government put in place institutional arrangements at the national level for the coordination of prevention and control of the new coronavirus-related pneumonia. We have intensified pneumonia prevention and control efforts by establishing a joint prevention and control mechanism initiated by the National Health Commission (NHC) and comprised of 32 government departments. As I have just mentioned, we established several task forces under the joint mechanism to urge the departments to perform their requisite responsibilities. Focusing on the pneumonia prevention and control work, we will break down departmental boundaries, build synergy and jointly contribute to realizing multidimensional and efficient nationwide coordination.

The NHC has made arrangements and issued directions to local health sectors on strengthening pneumonia prevention and control measures. On Jan. 14, during the national health system video conference, the commission released reports on the epidemic situation to health sectors in all provincial-level regions, requiring them to intensify monitoring and prepare for mutation. On Jan. 17 and Jan. 18, the NHC dispatched seven work teams to eight provinces, including Hebei and Guangdong, to conduct surveillance and direct local work on epidemic prevention and control. Also, we have established several special inspection teams composing of officials and experts to further strengthen supervision and push for implementation of the prevention and control work. On Jan. 19, clearer requirements were issued to health sectors nationwide to strengthen the on-duty system, and strictly implement the prevention and control measures during the Spring Festival travel rush.

On Jan. 15, Ma Xiaowei, minister of the National Health Commission, paid a visit to Wuhan in Hubei province, to direct local work on further implementing disease control and prevention measures.

First, the management of outbound travelers from Wuhan will be tightened. Currently, stationary infrared thermometers have been installed in airports, railway stations and coach stations to screen passengers with fevers. There are 15 stationary infrared thermometers at Tianhe Airport in Wuhan, and another 20 at the city's three railway stations.

Second, the control of the infection's source will be strengthened. Just now, I explained that besides tightening the management of market places, we will focus more on supermarkets and the catering industry, and severely crack down on the trade of wild animals.

Third, large-scale public events will be decreased and properly regulated.

Fourth, a patriotic health campaign has been launched. On Jan. 21, the Wuhan government appealed to local residents through the media to reduce unnecessary travel to other places, and called on travelers from other cities to delay or cancel any unnecessary visits to Wuhan, in order to reduce the flow of people and the possibility of the virus spreading.

Provinces which already have patients infected with pneumonia caused by the novel coronavirus should, first, strengthen monitoring and supervision, and implement the "five-early measures" of early detection, early reporting, early isolation, early diagnosis and early treatment. Second, they should allocate medical resources for timely treatment, manage the tracking of close contacts, strengthen infection control and prevention in hospitals, and focus on biosafety in related laboratories. Third, they should launch patriotic health campaigns and make more effort in environment protection to reduce the possibility of the virus spreading.

Provinces which haven't reported such patients yet should, first, make and improve contingency plans and work plans. Second, they should prepare enough negative pressure ambulances, negative pressure rooms, medicine, detection reagents, disinfection products, protective equipment, experts, control and prevention staff, and emergency response teams. Third, they should organize training for medical workers and public health staff to help them respond properly and effectively.

By carrying out all these measures, I believe we will curb the trans-regional and trans-border spread of the new coronavirus-related pneumonia during the Spring Festival travel rush to the maximum extent. Mr. Gao Fu will answer your second question.

Gao Fu:

Thank you for your excellent question, which I think is based on science. I also saw the calculations from this scientist, which is a mathematic model. The number you mentioned just now is the largest of the range he calculated. We all know that as we start to understand any new thing – especially this kind of virus – fact and theory are separate. We warmly welcome all kinds of models, and in fact we have already seen plenty. However, whether they are in line with the facts, it will take some time to prove.

As far as we currently understand it, the facts are quite different from the calculations in this model.

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