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Experts: Calm needed amid cases

By CANG WEI in Nanjing | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2021-07-30 06:58
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A man receives nucleic acid tests at a testing site of Longxi community in Jiangning district of Nanjing, capital of East China's Jiangsu province, July 25, 2021. [Photo/Xinhua]

Jiangsu governor reflects on lesson of outbreak at Nanjing airport

The COVID-19 outbreak in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, can be controlled within weeks when the strict measures adopted by the city take effect, Zhang Wenhong, a renowned Chinese infectious disease expert, said on Thursday.

Since July 21, the city has reported 171 locally transmitted cases, with 18 newly confirmed cases on Wednesday, and seven people in severe condition, after a group of workers at Lukou International Airport tested positive for the virus on July 20.

"We should have confidence," Zhang said on Weibo, adding that the outbreak will remain under control if other regions around the country reported no more variations of the virus in the next one to two weeks.

As of Thursday, a number of cities across China, including Beijing, Dalian in Liaoning province and Zhongshan in Guangdong province, reported confirmed cases that could be linked to the outbreak.

"Keeping calm is what is most needed at this stage," Zhang said. "People need to strictly follow the epidemic control measures, including wearing masks, washing hands frequently and frequently ventilating rooms.

"The situation in the next one to two weeks will be crucial. The spread of the virus will accelerate if more cases emerge that are not directly related to Lukou airport.

"More decisive measures may need to be taken (if that happens)," said Zhang, advising people to limit the number of times they go out. He said that this and nucleic acid testing would ensure that "the worst time will pass".

Wang Hesheng, director of the National Administration of Disease Prevention and Control, is guiding virus-control work in Nanjing.

Wu Zhenglong, governor of Jiangsu, met on Wednesday night with Wang and Lei Haichao, head of the Jiangsu work team of the Joint Prevention and Control Mechanism of the State Council, to coordinate epidemic prevention and control work.

"The lesson of the outbreak at the Lukou airport is very profound," Wu said. "We must deeply reflect and be vigilant.

"The situation's complexity and severity must be fully understood, and pandemic control is our primary task and top priority," said Wu. "The most resolute, decisive and severe measures will be taken to contain the virus."

A newly built nucleic acid testing facility is put into operation in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, on Wednesday. The laboratory has the capacity to test 2 million samples a day. FANG DONGXU/FOR CHINA DAILY

Nanjing launched its third round of nucleic acid testing on Wednesday. It has closed public spaces and adopted strict management in all communities and villages. It has also suspended long-distance buses, taxis and vehicles used by ride-hailing services from leaving the city.

Negative nucleic acid testing results taken within 48 hours must be presented before leaving the city by train or car.

All flights from Nanjing Lukou International Airport have been suspended until Aug 11, and the possibility of a further suspension has not been ruled out, according to the Global Times.

On Thursday, all of the Lukou subdistrict, which has a population of more than 80,000 people, became a high-risk area.

Many people, who have had two doses of the vaccine still were infected by the Delta variant in the recent COVID-19 outbreak in Nanjing.

"Vaccination can be effective if the goal is to slow the transmission and reduce the fatality rate," Zhang said. "But it may fail if the goal is to eliminate the pandemic."

Bao Changjun, director of the Acute Infectious Disease Control Institute of the CDC in Jiangsu province, said the transmission capacity of the Delta variant is significantly enhanced-double that of past strains and 40 percent more contagious than the Alpha variant discovered in the United Kingdom.

The length of hospitalization for infections of the coronavirus Delta variant was shorter for vaccinated people than for unvaccinated ones, according to a report published in June by the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Vaccination should be the first strategy used against the coronavirus and should be promoted efficiently, the report said.

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