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

The Dong-A Ilbo:

As far as I know, the situation of clustered outbreaks has already appeared. Based on this, is it possible that the epidemic situation has entered the next stage? How do you determine the current transmission ability of the virus? Is there also any mutation of the virus? Please give us more specific information. Finally, what prevention and control measures will Beijing take in the next stage? Thank you.

Ma Xiaowei:

These questions can be answered separately. Mr. Liu Xiaoming will answer questions about transportation, and Mr. Li Bin will answer questions about the virus.

Liu Xiaoming:

I have spoken about the transportation issue earlier. There were related reports last night and this morning because of the temporary suspension of Beijing's inter-provincial highway passenger bus services. As you know, Beijing is the most developed city in China in terms of transportation, for example, its roads, railways and civil aviation are very well developed. Every day, with the exception of small passenger vehicles, the number of trips by road transport is about 30,000 - 50,000, and during the peak period, this number hits 70,000 to 90,000. The number of trips by civilian aircraft is 300,000 or more. The number of trips annually from the Beijing Capital International Airport is more than 100 million. If we include the trips made from the new Beijing Daxing International Airport, we calculate that the daily volume exceeds 300,000. In addition to this, the number of trips by train is 500,000 - 600,000. In order to do a better job in prevention and control, the Beijing Municipal Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the Beijing Municipal People's Government have placed great importance on this and adopted a series of measures. You may have noticed that Beijing has issued corresponding public notices and releases. Judging from the measures taken, the demands for passenger traffic have decreased, and the temporary suspension of trips by road will not have much influence on Beijing. The Beijing transport system has been able to continue providing good and smooth services, and everyone can still buy their travel tickets. This is the overall transportation situation.

Li Bin:

After the outbreak of the virus in Beijing, the CPC Beijing Municipal Committee and the Beijing Municipal People's Government placed great importance on the disease, established a leading group led by the secretary of the CPC Beijing Municipal Committee, and also took effective prevention and control measures. Beijing's measures serve as a good guide and important reference for other cities across the country. The ten major prevention and control measures taken by Beijing have been forwarded to other local governments via the State Council's joint prevention and control work mechanism. Just now, Mr. Ma introduced the prevention and control measures across the country. It can be seen that many regions have learned from Beijing's practices. You can go to the relevant websites of Beijing for more information.

At the last press conference, our media friends were very concerned about a mutation of the virus and we communicated the situation to them. At present, we have been closely monitoring the mutation of the virus, because this issue is extremely critical. Now our information is consistent with the information given to our media friends last time -- no evidence of virus mutation has been found yet. Thank you.

Ma Xiaowei:

A mutation of the virus is a matter of great concern to all of us. Mr. Gao Fu, an academician at the Chinese Academy of Sciences and director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, has led the successful isolation of the novel coronavirus strain. Let's invite him to brief us on the mutation of the virus.

Gao Fu:

Thank you for your question. We are all keeping a close eye on this issue. Just now, Mr. Ma spoke about the process of the discovery of the virus. I am a virus researcher. Every virus has its own characteristics, and from what we know about coronaviruses, they mutate as they spread in humans. That is what we have previously known about other coronaviruses, and we are watching very closely to see whether this novel coronavirus mutates or not. We can see all its changes very quickly thanks to third-generation sequencing technology; however, this coronavirus is different from other viruses, such as the avian influenza virus. In the latter, we can observe whether it has changed and in what ways. For the novel coronavirus, we have seen no obvious changes since its discovery, regardless of whether it is isolated from the environment or the human body. That is our current understanding of the novel coronavirus. Based on our previous knowledge on coronaviruses or virology, we have not found any mutation so far, because the differences between the viruses are very small and less than 1%. We are still screening the differences, and will continue monitoring any changes. Thank you.

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