Shanghai sets up special taskforce to cope with new coronavirus

Cai Wenjun Yuan Luhang Ke Jiayun
Shanghai Center for Disease Control and Prevention urges city residents to avoid going outside if it's not necessary and to wear masks if they have to leave home.
Cai Wenjun Yuan Luhang Ke Jiayun
Shanghai sets up special taskforce to cope with new coronavirus

Shanghai has set up a special taskforce to cope with the new coronavirus that claimed the sixth victim in China yesterday.

Local health authority will spare no effort in curbing the spread of the virus by tracking suspected infections, Yin Xin, director of the news release department of Shanghai Information Office, said at a press conference on Tuesday.

Management and supervision will be enhanced at key venues such as fever clinics, wet markets and places where people gather, Yin said.

The city government will step up information sharing and cooperation between health, police, agriculture, transport, market, airline and railways departments. Epidemic monitoring and control will be further enhanced with improved processes that include case inspections, sample collections, epidemiological research, close contact management and lab testing. Hospitals will be enhancing patient checks and infection prevention.

The health authority will step up cleaning in targeted places like wet markets, small eateries, small barbershops and small hotels for hygiene and pest control for disease prevention.

By Tuesday, Shanghai had confirmed six coronavirus-related pneumonia case and three suspected cases.

The National Health Commission has classified the pneumonia as a Class B infectious disease and are managing it as Class A infectious disease nationwide.

Experts with the Shanghai Center for Disease Control and Prevention are urging local residents to avoid unnecessary outdoor activities, especially in crowded areas, during Spring Festival to protect themselves from coronavirus-related pneumonia.

Sun Xiaodong, deputy director of Shanghai CDC, said it had taken tough measures to curb the pneumonia in Shanghai. "For the confirmed cases, suspected cases and those in close contact with the patients, we have kept them in quarantine, either gathering them together at hospitals or letting them be at home," Sun said.

Patients in suspected cases have been sent to district designated hospitals and those later confirmed as patients will be transferred to designated city-level hospitals, Sun said.

"It's better not to often go outside if it's not necessary. But for those who have to go out, they should be careful with their personal hygiene, such as wearing a mask and doing some other prevention. If one has a fever, he or she should go to hospital in time," he said. 

Healthy diet and exercise also helps with disease prevention, he said.

There are some signs showing that the virus can be transmitted among humans but how is still uncertain, Sun said everyone should wear a mask to prevent possible spread of the virus spreading via droplets when people cough or sneeze.

"Now it's a season when respiratory infectious diseases occur more often and it's still unknown about how this coronavirus-related pneumonia will develop," Sun said. "Residents should be vigilant on this disease and have fewer trips to crowded areas. But there's no need for them to worry too much."

Generally, such viruses weaken when it gets warm, Sun said. But that’s not always the case and the possibility of the number of cases increasing could not be ruled out in the future.

Sun said health authorities, government department and the public need to work together to fight the disease.

He urged residents to keep a close eye on information released by city government and health authorities as well as tips on disease prevention. "For instance, some other areas in China launched port inspection and quarantine. Shanghai government will figure out if it's necessary to do such work in the city. If it's needed, then citywide action will be taken and the public should follow the official guidance.

"People should trust the government and health authorities, which will do their best to be responsible for their people," Sun said.

Wuhan tightens control

Wuhan has taken a string of measures to tighten the control and monitoring of outbound travelers in an effort to curb the spread of the virus.

Outbound tour groups have been banned, and police are conducting spot checks on inbound and outbound private vehicles for live poultry or wild animals, Wuhan health commission announced.

Airports around the world tightened screening of travellers from China as officials confirmed the coronavirus strain is contagious between humans. The World Health Organization called a meeting today to consider declaring a global health emergency.

WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic said that more cases should be expected in China and possibly other countries in the coming days. He said that for now, a WHO team is concluding a mission with health officials in Wuhan to work on a response to the virus.

The WHO has confirmed that based on current information, an animal source seems the most likely primary source of the outbreak, with limited human-to-human transmission occurring between close contacts. It has also confirmed that human-to-human transmission is likely occurring, based on previous experience with respiratory illnesses.

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