Press conference on epidemic prevention and control updates, protection and caring for medical staff

A press conference was held Friday afternoon to introduce the latest situation on the prevention and control of the COVID-19 outbreak, especially measures to improve protection and caring for medical staff. February 15, 2020


My question is for the National Health Commission. Recently, as the NHC decided to exclude those without symptoms from the list of confirmed cases, some people suspect this is done to bring down the number of confirmed cases. Why did NHC make the decision? Please illustrate its influence on the total number of confirmed cases and what's the number of those without symptoms? Thank you.

Zeng Yixin:

Thank you for your question. As for the COVID-19 infected persons without symptoms, we generally refer to those who do not have clinical symptoms like fever and coughing, but the pathogen test of their respiratory tract or other samples is positive. We named them infected persons without symptoms. They were detected mainly from four sources: first, the voluntary test of those who had close contact with COVID-19 infected cases during the medical observation period; second, the voluntary test of those being investigated in the gathering epidemic cases; third, the voluntary test of those found to be exposed to the infectious sources during the tracing process; fourth, the voluntary test of those who has travelled or lived in the COVID-19 hard-hit areas.

On the basis of the general infectious pattern of epidemics and current statistics, experts made the judgment that, if the nucleic acid test of the infected persons without symptoms is positive, there is a possibility that they will discharge the pathogen. But since there are no symptoms like fever and coughing, the possibility of their pathogen being discharged and infecting others is relatively low.  

According to the rules of the COVID-19 Pneumonia Prevention and Control Plan (Fourth Edition), once all kinds of medical organizations at all levels detected those persons without symptoms, they should quarantined them for 14 days at designated sites and the cases should be reported directly through an online report system within two hours. Once the county or district-level disease control and prevention centers received the report of those without symptoms, investigation of the cases should be completed within 24 hours and those who had close contacts with them should be registered and quarantined in a timely way. At the same time, the investigation form and report should be reported to a higher authority through the online report system in time. According to the epidemic release rules, we only publish the suspected and confirmed cases, and those without symptoms do not belong to these categories, so there is no need to publish them. However, if they have symptoms during the quarantine period, they will be incorporated as confirmed cases and the figure will be released to the public. Thank you.

Lianhe Zaobao of Singapore:

We noticed some reports that Wuhan City and Hubei Province were suffering a great shortage of medical resources in the frontline. Some medical staff are almost on the brink of zero protection. Can you disclose how many medical staff were infected at the frontline in Wuhan and Hubei? What's the infection rate? What measures have authorities taken to protect their safety? Thank you. 

Zeng Yixin:

Thank you for your question. With the changing situation of epidemic prevention and control, the number of newly-confirmed cases of COVID-19 and infected medical staffs is increasing. The National Health Commission (NHC) has attached great importance and released relevant documents, such as The Technical Guideline on the Prevention and Containment of COVID-19 Infections in Medical Institutions (First Edition), and Notice on Strengthening Management of Fever Clinics in Key Areas and Hospitals and Work of COVID-19 Prevention and Control in Medical Institutions. In addition to stressing the implementation of various prevention measures, these documents put forward new requirements for individual protection and  health of medical staffs.

Since COVID-19 was declared a notifiable disease in China on Jan. 20 this year, all of the confirmed cases have been reported directly through an infectious disease network system. The statistics of infected medical staffs is analyzed based on the information in the category of "medical staffs" of this system. Further analysis needs to be conducted to determine the source of infection. A total of 1,716 Chinese medical workers had been infected with the novel coronavirus by Feb. 11, accounting for 3.8% of the overall confirmed cases in China. Among them, six people died from the virus, standing at 0.4 percent of the country's total deaths. The number of infected medical personnel in Hubei province reached 1,502, or 87.5% of the national confirmed cases of medical staff, while the figure for the capital city of Wuhan was 1,102, or 73.4% of the infected medical workers in the province. Thank you.

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