SCIO briefing on the joint response to the new coronavirus-related pneumonia outbreak

A press conference was held Sunday afternoon to explain the work being carried out to jointly prevent and control the new coronavirus-related pneumonia outbreak. January 27, 2020


Ma Xiaowei, minister of the National Health Commission (NHC) and secretary of the CPC NHC Leadership Group

Wang Jiangping, vice minister of industry and information technology

Liu Xiaoming, vice minister of transport

Li Bin, vice minister of the NHC


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


Jan. 26, 2020

Xi Yanchun:

Ladies and gentlemen, friends from the media, good afternoon. Welcome to the press conference. News media have paid great attention these days to the outbreak of pneumonia caused by the new coronavirus (2019-nCoV). The safety and health of the people, especially of Wuhan residents, have become a shared concern to all of us. Today, we have invited Mr. Ma Xiaowei, minister of the NHC and secretary of the CPC NHC Leadership Group; Mr. Li Bin, vice minister of the NHC; Mr. Wang Jiangping, vice minister of industry and information technology; and Mr. Liu Xiaoming, vice minister of transport. They will explain the joint efforts to tackle the pneumonia outbreak and answer your questions.

First, I will give the floor to Mr. Ma.

Ma Xiaowei:

Friends from the media, good afternoon. Since the outbreak of the new coronavirus-related pneumonia, the CPC Central Committee and the State Council have given earnest consideration to 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 prevention and control work. Yesterday, which was the first day of the Chinese Lunar New Year, the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee held a meeting on the work surrounding the pneumonia situation. General Secretary Xi Jinping chaired the meeting and heard reports on the prevention and control of the outbreak. It was decided in the meeting to set up a CPC Central Committee leading group to oversee the work, and also send groups to Hubei province and other hard-hit regions to direct the work on the ground. These decisions have made a great impact to curb the epidemic through synergy and coordinated actions. Premier Li Keqiang presided over a State Council executive meeting, making arrangements for the prevention and control of the outbreak with measures typically used for category-A infectious diseases even though the outbreak has been classified as a category-B infectious disease. Vice Premier Sun Chunlan made multiple studies on the issues related to the pneumonia situation, and visited Wuhan to inspect the work and make necessary arrangements. Under the strong leadership of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council, the NHC and other departments within the joint prevention and control network acted swiftly to cooperate on implementing preventive and control measures, with an emphasis on localized administration. We have made efforts in the following areas:

First, we investigated the origin of the infections and offered technical guidance. We had experts evaluate the pathogen test results, and preliminarily identified the new coronavirus in just over a week since the outbreak. Then we issued plans for diagnosis and treatment, emergency monitoring, epidemiological investigation and management, as well as sampling and detection. We developed kits that help facilitate diagnosis, and distributed them to medical institutions after evaluating them so as to improve the efficiency of case detection.

Second, we gave guidance to Wuhan on implementing preventive and control measures. Taking the prevention and control work in Wuhan as the top priority, we set up a front-line working group. It urged local authorities to close relevant markets, strengthen regulation on the breeding, sales and consumption of wild animals, crack down on illegal trade, as well as suspend airports and railway stations to outgoing passengers. We coordinated the transfer of protective clothing, masks, gloves and goggles from the central medical reserves to Wuhan. The Finance Ministry also allocated a total of 1 billion yuan to support Hubei province's battle against the outbreak. We mobilized and deployed medical resources across the country. More than 900 medical workers in seven groups have been dispatched to Wuhan, and medical staff for future rotation are ready to leave for the city. 450 medics from the military have arrived in Wuhan, and eight medical teams comprising more than 1,000 people are on standby.

Third, we strengthened prevention and control work across the country. Currently, a total of 30 provinces have launched the level 1 public health emergency response (the highest level of response). We have drafted and implemented prevention and control measures among communities, launched "grid-style administration" and "blanket management," and kept track of the health situations of people from Wuhan, and worked to manage the health situations of people who have traveled to the area. We also promoted the prevention and control experiences of Beijing and Hebei, in order to discover cases as soon as possible. Passengers who have previously booked trips by air, train, roads and waterways can cancel their trips and get a full refund, and travels of tourist groups have been suspended. Large public gatherings are also restricted to reduce crowds. We have also published public prevention guides, which cover six aspects including travel, family, public venues, public transport vehicle, and stay-at-home medical observation. We also strengthened ventilation, sterilization and the checking of body temperatures in key places and tried to curb the spreading of the virus by public movement. Meanwhile, we intensified market control on wild animals. 

Fourth, we spared no efforts in the treatment of patients. We have revised diagnosis and treatment plans, and released the lists of designated hospitals above-county-level and fever clinics. We have strengthened medical treatment, and strictly followed the rules of "concentrating patients, experts, medical resources and treatment." We have combined treatment of both traditional Chinese and Western medicine, and practiced case-by-case treatment regarding those in critical condition, in order to reduce the number of deaths as much as possible. We implemented medical assistance policies for patients, to ensure that no one is left untreated due to medical expenses.  

Fifth, we accelerated scientific research on the new coronavirus. We have set up a national expert team on related research, and launched emergency projects. We are adhering to the problem-oriented principle, and have carried out scientific research on tracing the source of the virus, screening potential drugs, prevention and control of the disease by using traditional Chinese medicine, treatment of critical cases and research of vaccines. 

Sixth, we worked on information disclosure. Every day before 8 a.m., the National Health Commission releases data of the outbreak that is collected the day before, and organizes experts to popularize prevention measures among the general public. 

Seventh, we deepened exchanges and cooperation. We have informed the World Health Organization (WHO) of the situation of the outbreak and continue to share technical information in a timely manner. We have also shared with the WHO the whole genetic sequencing of some strains. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus thanked the Chinese government for the measures taken in responding to the outbreak. We also invited WHO experts to visit Wuhan, and organized experts from Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan to make field trips to Wuhan. After assessing the virus-related information, the WHO decided not to declare it as a "public health emergency of international concern."

The prevention and control of the outbreak is currently in a critical stage. Experts believe that the Spring Festival holiday week is the best window for large-scale quarantine and sterilization measures to work out, and it is also the key period for curbing the spread of the virus in regions outside Wuhan. In the next stage, we will work under the CPC Central Committee leading group overseeing the work, put the prevention and control of the disease in the first priority, give different guidance according to different situations, carry out targeted measures and prevent and control the outbreak in a legal and scientific way. 

Ma Xiaowei:

First, we are keeping a close eye on the situation in Wuhan. We have urged Hubei province and Wuhan city to maintain the most stringent prevention and control measures in accordance with the laws, supervise strict home quarantine for close contacts , reduce various gatherings by the general public, identify and keep cases and suspected cases in quarantine in a timely way, and take strict and resolute measures to curb the spread of the epidemic.

Second, we are keeping a close eye on the whole country. We have mobilized and arranged resources nationwide, strengthened prevention and control in communities, and managed people traveling elsewhere from Wuhan to other provinces within 15 days. We are motivating various communities to identify the people, record their information for community management, and closely observe their health condition. The patient, once detected, has to be transferred to a qualified hospital for quarantine. We are also stepping up efforts like alerting hospitals in counties and townships as well as strengthening the leadership of township governments to curb the spread of the epidemic in rural areas.

Third, we do our best to treat cases. Severe cases are gathered for treatment in the best local hospitals, or safeguarded by teams of local respiratory experts around-the-clock. We are trying our best to reduce severe cases and fatalities by adopting both traditional Chinese medicine and Western medicine in treatment. Medical staff in Hubei province, in Wuhan city in particular, have been fighting on the frontline, trying their best to cure patients and control the epidemic through their hard work, showing universal love. We will send an additional 1,600 plus people in 12 teams over the next two days. Relevant government departments are also mounting efforts to ensure a sufficient supply and timely delivery of materials urgently needed for the prevention and control of the epidemic.

The outbreak of the epidemic is like a call for action, and the prevention and control is our responsibility. We will make full use of the strengths of socialism with Chinese characteristics, apply experience we accumulated in dealing with major public health events over time, rely on the concerted efforts of the medical staff and the general public, and do our best to win the battle against the epidemic. We have the confidence, determination, and the ability to win.

Xi Yanchun:

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

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