Health expert shares COVID-19 knowledge with viewers in Ireland

A member of Shanghai's Center for Disease Control and Prevention recently discussed China's coronavirus containment efforts and also cleared up some popular misconceptions.

A health expert from the city’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention shared his knowledge with Chinese groups in Ireland via a video talk this week held by the Shanghai Foreign Affairs Office and the Embassy of China in Ireland.

The session, hosted by Sun Xiaodong, deputy director of CDC Shanghai, focused on Shanghai’s experience in fighting against COVID-19, and reached nearly 200 online viewers including Chinese students and workers in Ireland.

To date, Ireland has confirmed 1,819 cases and nine fatalities, giving it a higher infection rate but lower death rate than Shanghai.

“Shanghai has implemented a lot of tough measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus, which could be useful and effective as well for our friends in Ireland,” said Liu Guangyong, deputy director of the Shanghai Foreign Affairs Office.

He Xiangdong, China’s ambassador to Ireland, said that people in Ireland are deeply concerned about the worsening situation there, and that they are particularly thankful for support from the Shanghai Health Commission and Foreign Affairs Office.

China provided large numbers of medical equipment, including ventilators, to Ireland recently.

Earlier this month, Ireland also sent its blessings to China against the epidemic by illuminating Citigroup Tower in Lujiazui in green for St Patrick's Day.

During the discussion, Sun gave a review of Shanghai’s prevention efforts since late January, stressing the importance of protecting medical workers and controlling community infections. During the Q&A session, he shared his opinions on several hot topics.

Health expert shares COVID-19 knowledge with viewers in Ireland

Experts and officials from Shanghai discuss their fight against COVID-19 during a video talk with viewers in Ireland.

Q: How can one self-diagnose and identify symptoms of COVID-19?

A: You can first examine if your travel history involves any close contact with suspected cases. For clinic symptoms, fever is common in the early stages, along with other signs such as muscle soreness and weakness, diarrhea, etc. If possible, a CT scan of the lungs is also recommended.

Q: Are there any conventional medicines, Chinese medicines or antibiotics effective in controlling the epidemic?

A: Patients should follow professional instructions for medication. Domestic experience shows that some TCM treatments are partly effective, but you must also obey your doctor's advice.

Q: It’s reported that close contact can cause infection in 15 seconds. What is close contact?

A: Close contact is mainly based on long-term contact between family members and colleagues for more than one hour with a distance less than one meter (3.2 feet). There is no evidence related to 15-second infection.

Q: Is wearing facial masks necessary for healthy people to prevent infection? When should we wear masks?

A: Wearing a mask or not depends on different people and circumstances. According to studies, droplet transmission is the most common way of spreading the virus, which can be prevented by wearing masks. If alone or in large public places away from crowds, a mask is less needed. People at close distance, healthy or not, need to wear masks because some patients show unnoticeable symptoms or are asymptomatic.

Q: It has been reported that some COVID-19 patients have suffered loss of taste and smell. Is this a reliable and effective self-test method?

A: There’s no strong evidence to that currently. This symptom can also occur in some gastrointestinal diseases and during menstration phase.

Q: How to protect students from sharing or living in dormitories? What should I do if there’s a suspected case?

A: The space in the dormitory environment is small and shared, thus it's not recommended. Wear a mask if necessary. Pay attention to personal hygiene and avoid close face-to-face contact. If someone develops symptoms, valve masks must not be worn, preferably N95 masks. The central air conditioner cannot be turned on. Instead, open the window for ventilation.

Q: What measures should be taken against aerosol transmission?

A: Currently there is insufficient evidence for aerosol transmission. If it’s proved, you need to wear at least protective glasses or a protective mask.

Q: When will the COVID-19 vaccine be developed?

A: The development of any vaccine requires a cycle. WHO expects it to take 18 months to complete, while the vaccine in China may be completed as early as the end of the year. Personal protection is more important than putting hopes on vaccines.

Q: There have been recent reports of herd immunity. Do infected people develop antibodies after recovery?

A: Herd immunity is based on the concept of transmission, that is, about two-thirds of the population is infected, which cannot replace virus blocking and vaccine immunization. According to clinical studies, a few cases have shown recurrence of infection after recovery, but the mechanism is still unknown to medical experts.

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