Experts praise China's efforts to contain virus

China Daily
Chen Zhuo
2020-02-29 08:08:53

Influenza and respiratory disease experts from the United Kingdom have praised China's efforts to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus, which has now infected more than 80,000 people globally.

John Oxford, the country's leading expert on influenza and an emeritus professor of virology at Queen Mary University of London, described China's battle against the virus that causes COVID-19 as a "magnificent fight" and that the country's public health response has been "totally unprecedented".

"I think that more people should be praising China for its huge efforts," Oxford said. "You put your economy at risk; you put everything at risk to battle this virus to death; you are fighting a war there. You will benefit from it and the rest of the whole world will benefit from that as well."

Fan Chung, professor of respiratory medicine at Imperial College London and consultant physician at the Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS Trust, echoed the comments.

"The fact that the entire city (of Wuhan in Central China's Hubei province) was contained and those facilities were opened, like the construction of new hospitals to meet the demands of the infected, and also the convergence of the medical workforce on Wuhan to care for patients, I think it has all been very impressive," Chung said.

"At the same time, keeping the world informed about the nature of the virus and the fact that this allowed scientists in other countries to work on it, or research a potential vaccine-this all happened so quickly, which is incredible."

Oxford suggests youth and good health have been factors in the swift recovery of some patients, but points out that there are exceptions for every disease.

In the case of the younger medical staff in China who contracted the virus and died while nursing patients, he said exhaustion and possible high levels of virus exposure could be attributed.

"The medical staff in China are working long shifts, completely exhausted-they are putting in everything they have, and their health will be compromised," Oxford said.

"It might be they get infected a couple of times as they are dealing with a lot of patients. It could be that they have been exposed to more than one patient's virus, as there can be slip-ups even in the best regulated world."

Concerns caused

Chung said the news of the outbreak in Italy and across Europe does cause concerns and that it is important to try to understand how it happened.

"One of the reasons is that there is not enough control of people coming into the country," he said. "Presumably these are people who got infected elsewhere, went back to their community, and then infected people there. That could be the reason for it. It's impossible that this is another source of infection that occurred in Italy."

Epidemiologists said the battle to prevent the spread of the virus will be fought in the behavior of ordinary people in everyday life. This includes understanding how the virus spreads, then cooperating and doing the things required to break the chain of infection, which means good hygiene, washing hands regularly and social distancing.

Looking ahead, Oxford said he is certain that "China will bring to bear its strong science to produce a coronavirus vaccine and antiviral medication, but also important will be a strategy to control markets selling exotic mammals, otherwise all this will happen again".

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