A second coronavirus outbreak in China is ‘highly likely’ and ‘even inevitable’ as the pandemic escalates, China’s state newspaper has warned.
Loopholes in the health screening process and inadequate quarantine measures for people arriving from abroad are the main factors for the looming new crisis, according to state-run Global Times.
The stark warning comes as former epicentre Hubei Province, apart from its capital Wuhan, is set to lift travel restrictions tonight after being locked down for two months.
It also comes as Wuhan has registered its first native infection, a doctor, after reporting zero cases for five consecutive days.
China is facing a looming new coronavirus outbreak, China’s state-run newspaper Global Times has warned. Pictured, residents cheer as members of a medical assistance team from Chongqing depart after helping with the locals in Xiaogan city, China’s central Hubei province
A high proportion of asymptomatic cases – people who carry the virus but show no symptoms – is another contributing factor to the potential outbreak, said Global Times in an article published yesterday.
One-in-three positive coronavirus tests are from ‘silent carriers’ who show no symptoms, according to classified Chinese government data viewed by South China Morning Post.
Even though the number of daily cases has dropped to zero in Wuhan, where the epidemic emerged in December, the city is not counting in asymptomatic infections, sparing public fears that they can be a ticking time bomb.
Faced with public pressure, Wuhan Municipal Health Commission yesterday released a statement, saying all asymptomatic cases would need to be isolated in quarantine camps for 14 days.
These silent carriers would be identified when officials screen the close contacts of confirmed patients and investigate cluster infections, according to the document.
The stark warning comes as former epicentre Hubei Province, apart from its capital Wuhan, is set to lift travel restrictions after a two-month lock down. Pictured, staff members line up at attention as they prepare to spray disinfectant at Wuhan Railway Station in Wuhan on March 24
A second wave outbreak in China is probably inevitable until we have a vaccine or effective treatments or prophylaxis, Larry William Chang, a US-based infectious diseases expert, told the Global Times.
‘But with intensive testing, contact tracing, and isolation, I think the extent of the wave can be managed,’ he said.
China has so far reported more than 350 ‘imported cases’ detected among new arrivals from other countries as overseas Chinese flock to return to their homeland after the epicentre shifted from Hubei to Europe.
The UK is now the worst offender for sending cases to the Chinese capital of Beijing.
Out of the 107 ‘imported cases’ reported by Beijing, more than a third were detected among people travelling from Britain, followed by those coming from Spain and Italy, authorities revealed.
China reports first case of local transmission from an imported case
China has strengthened health checks at airports after the first case of local transmission from an imported case emerged. Pictured, police officers wearing protective suits check information of inbound passengers in Shanghai on March 20
Doctors in Guangzhou, the provincial capital of Guangdong, have diagnosed a coronavirus patient who fell ill after having close contact with a person entering China from Turkey.
This is the first coronavirus case in the country with a direct link to an imported case. The Guangzhou Municipal Health Commission called it ‘a case related to an imported case’ in a statement on Sunday.
The 54-year-old man, known by his surname Jin, experienced muscle pain and a lack of strength on March 17. He was hospitalised on March 20 with a slight fever and tested positive the next day.
Mr Jin was a close contact with another confirmed case, 34-year-old Ms Lin, who stayed in Istanbul from January 22 to March 8 on a business trip.
Ms Lin flew back to Guangzhou on March 9 via Bangkok. She did not show any symptoms upon entering the country and stayed at home most of the time afterwards.
She was diagnosed on March 21 after the city’s infectious disease authority gave her a test.
People’s Daily, the mouthpiece of China’s Communist Party, warned of the emergence of Mr Jin’s case.
In explaining its significance, the newspaper quoted health experts from Guangzhou and said: ‘Cases related to imported cases are the second-generation cases brought in from abroad. It means the close contacts of [the imported cases] have been transmitted and fallen ill.’
China’s top coronavirus experts yesterday said she was ‘very worried’ about a possible second outbreak.
Epidemiologist and Professor Li Lanjuan, 73, told state newspaper People’s Daily in Wuhan: ‘The mission in Wuhan has not been accomplished, and there are still many critical patients. Furthermore, I think the current situation in our country is very tough.
‘[I am] very worried that imported cases could trigger another large-scale epidemic in our country.
‘Can we make every effort to guard our country and prevent another epidemic from happening? This is a tough challenge.’
Professor Li Lanjuan (pictured), a member of Beijing’s expert team on the virus, said she was ‘very worried that imported cases could trigger another large-scale epidemic in our country’
China’s National Health Commission today reported seven new deaths and 78 new cases, including 74 imported infections and one native case in Wuhan.
While the daily tally in Hong Kong soared by 356 and four more people there died of the disease yesterday.
Worldwide, more than 16,500 people have been killed by the contagion and over 384,400 people have been infected.
China to lift lockdown of Hubei province tonight
Migrant workers and their relatives queue as they prepare to get on a special train before departing to Shenzhen in Yichang in China’s central Hubei province on March 23
China will lift restrictions on movement in most areas of Hubei province on Wednesday, ending a lockdown of the area brought on by the coronavirus.
People who are cleared will be able to leave the province after midnight on Tuesday.
Restrictions on the hardest-hit city of Wuhan will remain until April 8.
China barred people from leaving or entering Wuhan and the wider province on January 23 as the bug began spreading to the rest of China and overseas during the Lunar New Year holiday, when many Chinese travel.
Hubei has had almost no new infections for more than a week.
The move to end the lockdown shows the authorities’ apparent faith in the success of the drastic measures in much of China.
After barring people from leaving or entering Wuhan, authorities swiftly expanded what were, at the time, unprecedented measures to most of Hubei and its tens of millions of residents, as well as many other parts of a country with a population of 1.4 billion.
It remains unclear, however, whether other cities and provinces, such as the capital Beijing, will allow people leaving Hubei to enter their jurisdictions. Quarantine rules are expected to remain in place for those travelling outside their local areas.