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Containing epidemic in Wuhan one of key tasks for epidemic control work group

By CUI JIA in Beijing and LIU KUN in Wuhan | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2020-02-20 19:08
The key tasks of the central government work group guiding epidemic control work in Central China's Hubei province are to contain the novel coronavirus pneumonia epidemic in the provincial capital of Wuhan and prevent the situation in other cities from worsening, a member of the work group said on Thursday. [Photo/Xinhua]

The key tasks of the central government work group guiding epidemic control work in Central China's Hubei province are to contain the novel coronavirus pneumonia epidemic in the provincial capital of Wuhan and prevent the situation in other cities from worsening, a member of the work group said on Thursday.

"Wuhan is the epicenter of the outbreak. We must prevent the virus from spreading and transforming into a storm. The medical resources in other cities are relatively weak and people may also lack knowledge to protect themselves. So it's even more unimaginable if the situation in Wuhan is duplicated elsewhere," said Ding Xiangyang, deputy secretary-general of the State Council, China's Cabinet. "The sudden epidemic is a special battle for China. The viciousness of the virus, the speed of infection and the challenge it has posed to society are unprecedented," he said at a news conference organized by the State Council Information Office in Wuhan.

The work group is determined to cut the source of the virus and prevent it from spreading. Isolating those who are infected from others is the most practical and effective way to achieve such goals, Ding said.

People may not understand the measures, such as putting Wuhan under lockdown, when the epidemic didn't seem to be that serious at the beginning, but the work group must make the decision to control the epidemic, he said.

The work group is headed by Vice-Premier Sun Chunlan. After she arrived in Wuhan on Jan 27, the work group made the decision to isolate the city, which is key in preventing the virus from spreading to other areas.

Ding Xiangyang, deputy secretary-general of the State Council, China's Cabinet. [Photo/Xinhua]

"The move has protected the rest of the country, as well as Wuhan," Ding said.

The work group also decided to add an extra 10 days to the Spring Festival holiday for people in Wuhan.

"To reach consensus at that time wasn't easy," he added. "We'd rather have people questioning the moves than lose the chance to control the risks."

The work group also has been trying to solve the problem of the shortage of protective gear for frontline medical staff, Ding said. "The shortage of protective suits has constrained the treatments. At the beginning, medical staff in Hubei needed about 50,000 protective suits a day, but we could only provide 10,000."

The epidemic in Wuhan and Hubei started to become widespread on Jan 27, he said. "There were a large number of patients but there weren't enough hospital beds for contagious disease. No matter how our hearts are torn with anxiety, we cannot solve that problem in a short while."

After two new hospitals and mobile cabin hospitals were set up in gymnasiums and exhibition centers were put in to use, the hospital bed shortage has been significantly improved, he added.

On Feb 7, Sun, head of the work group, required Wuhan government to launch door-to-door inspections to find people who were infected and suspected to have been infected, as well as people who had a fever of an unknown cause and close contact with diagnosed patients.

Due to the previous hospital beds shortage, many patients were sent home. So they must be found and isolated from their communities immediately. The move will help to win the final battle against the epidemic, Ding said.

Treating patients and reducing the mortality rate will be the focus of the epidemic from now on, he added.

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