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

Ta Kung Pao and Wen Wei Po:

There are a lot of rumors on the internet, and we are very concerned about the actual situation in Wuhan right now. Is it true that there are cases where patients in Wuhan could not be hospitalized? Is it recommended that people from Wuhan who currently work in other provinces still return home and visit their relatives during the Spring Festival? Thank you.

Li Bin:

As we have introduced earlier, understanding these newly-emerging cases requires a process. During this process, plans regarding their diagnosis, treatment, prevention and control need to be constantly adjusted and improved based on the scientific evidences we gather as well as the way these cases evolve. Recently, Wuhan has indeed seen an increasing number of diagnosed cases. This is mainly because as soon as the pathogen was determined to be a new type of coronavirus, we had quickly developed and improved our lab tests and diagnostic procedures, as well as the reagents we use to diagnose the pathogen. This makes the process of identifying infections much faster. But again, all of this requires a process, and we will continue to optimize our methods in this regard and build our capacity for diagnosis, treatment and clinical application accordingly. At the same time, according to the epidemiological investigation analysis, we have promptly covered more patients with pneumonia in relevant medical institutions in Wuhan during our search, tested relevant samples and provided timely diagnosis. We will keep the public updated on the epidemic situation in regard to the confirmed cases as well as our progress in diagnosing the virus.

There are also public concerns regarding traveling to Wuhan. As I mentioned earlier, the Wuhan Municipal Government has already issued some reminders. Since more than 90% of the diagnosed cases are concentrated in Wuhan, and human-to-human spread as well as the cases of medical workers being infected have proven to be true, the virus is likely to follow a pattern of community-based transmission. At present, the virus is mainly spread through the respiratory tract. There is also a possibility that the virus will mutate, creating the risk of the epidemic spreading further. Not long ago, Zhong Nanshan, an academician at the Chinese Academy of Engineering and head of the High-level Expert Team of China's National Health Commission, noted that pneumonia cases caused by a new strain of coronavirus saw a localized outbreak in Wuhan, and that the focal point of control and prevention was still in Wuhan. As a scientist, Zhong put forward his suggestion to the public in a very responsible manner, which is in principle that people outside Wuhan should avoid going into the city, while locals should remain inside. This is very responsible advice for everyone.

In order to prevent the spread of this epidemic, the heads of the Wuhan Municipal Government have appealed to the public through the media on Jan. 21. They said that in principle, people outside Wuhan should avoid going to the city, and locals should remain in Wuhan as far as possible. This will reduce the mobility of people as well as the possibility of a further spread of the virus, making control and prevention effective as soon as possible. This fully demonstrates the sense of responsibility and mission of the Wuhan Municipal Government as well as the people of Wuhan in preventing the spread of the epidemic. This shows their determination and confidence in defeating the disease. Thank you.

Nippon TV:

Mr. Gao Fu mentioned earlier that we are still in the process of understanding this virus. What has the progress been so far? Can you please tell us, for instance, the source of the virus; how long its incubation period is; the risk factors, especially to children and young people? Thank you.

Gao Fu:

As we have introduced earlier, we are still in the process of understanding this virus. It now appears that in many aspects this new strain of coronavirus has some common characteristics with the coronavirus when it first appeared. But this new strain is also unique in its own way, including its source. As far as we know, the source of this new strain of coronavirus has been narrowed down to a market where there were wild animals being sold. Thus, it probably comes from wildlife as well as from the area where the virus from the animal spread. At the very beginning, the virus spread from animal to human, and also had some adaptive mutations to its hosts. The relationship between this new strain of coronavirus and humans is just like the one between the cat and the mouse in American cartoon "Tom and Jerry." They are constantly adapting to each other. At this stage, human-to-human spread and community-based transmission have indeed occurred. Therefore, the virus has gone through three stages. Currently we believe that the virus comes from wild animals being sold in a seafood market. This virus originally from a wild animal is also gradually adapting, which coincides with our understanding of this type of coronavirus. Of course, further studies need to be conducted over time, regarding to, for example as you mentioned just now, the risk factor of the virus to children and young people. However, based on our current understanding and epidemiological knowledge, these questions remain unanswered. Thank you.

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