Testing kits urgently needed in Wuhan

By Leng Shumei and Hu Yuwei Source:Global Times Published: 2020/1/24 19:31:23

Photo: Xinhua

Shortage of medical resources, especially the testing kits, keep hovering hospitals in Wuhan, capital of central Central China's Hubei Province, while the whole China is fighting together against the novel coronavirus originatinged in the city.

A doctor from a Wuhan hospital confirmed with the Global Times that there's severe shortage of detection reagent for nCoV, coronavirus that has been identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness in Wuhan. 

The shortage caused a local man and his father could not able to receive timely diagnosis and treatment on Wednesday night, according to media report. 

The same problem also happened in other hospitals in the city, which reportedly lowered down the city's speed in disease control and prevention and left local suspected patients in a difficult situation.

Many patients in Wuhan revealed to the media that only hospitalized or highly suspected cases would be referred for examination of nCoV due to the shortage of the reagent kits. Patients with milder conditions are less likely to be admitted to the hospital immediately, but have to be treated and observed at home.

The National Health Commission announced on January 19 that it had delegated a batch of nucleic acid test reagent for the coronavirus to the local  hospitals, and asked local authorities to step up testing.

However, many hospitals in Hubei Province only received only the first batch of reagent kits on TuesdayJanuary 22, and the number was pretty small, far less than the number of people who needed to be tested, media reported. 

The reagent kits were first sent over to local centers for disease control and prevention (CDC) in each place. For now, at least, the CDC remains the primary users of the agency controlling kits use, whereas the main task of the hospitals is are to diagnose and treat suspected and confirmed patients.

Li Hui, the head of Shanghai Huirui Biotechnology Co Ltd, a company that produces the reagent kits, told the Global Times on Friday hat some company employees workers volunteered to get back to the production line from Spring Festival holidays as orders soar these days. 

They can produce more than 400 boxes of reagents a day currently to serve more than 20,000 patients, and about a third of the kits are sent to Wuhan, said Li, adding that there are over 30 companies across country that are able to supply reagents in the market.

But their biggest pressure during the Spring Festival comes from the fact reality that many companies, along their supply chains, have been on vacationbegun to take holidays, with "greater pressure on procurement and transportation," said Li.

Many hospitals in cities in the vicinity of around Wuhan or other provinces have not yet to got get such testing kits and are still unable to diagnose the disease.

A medical worker from the First Hospital of Shanxi Medical University told the Global Times on Friday that even the top hospitals in Shanxi Province are currently unable to diagnose the new coronavirus, and the period from onset to report is relatively long, since biopsies of all patients must be sent to Beijing for testing.

Hubei raised the level of respond to public health emergency to the level I, the highest, on Friday to curb the spread of the new coronavirus while more cities in the provinces shut down outbound  transport channels as part of a city lockdown.

The cityWuhan also started s construction work to build 25,000 square meters of a temporary special hospital with containing more than 1,000 beds for Novel coronavirus-related pneumonia patients in the city.  The construction is due to complete on February 3.

Zeng Guang, former chief epidemiologist of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention and a member of the national expert group for the new coronavirus battle, told the Global Times, if necessary, cruises in Wuhan, a costal city adjacent to near the Yangtze River, could also be used as temporary hospitals, but attention should be paid not to contaminate the river.

In a report of Caixin, Guan Yi, a professor in microbiology at Hong Kong University, estimated that the infected scope of the new coronavirus would be ten 10 times more larger than SARS in 2003. 

However, according to Zeng, the current epidemic this time is far more less serious than SARS. 

"The situation is serious, but only serious only in Wuhan," Zeng told the Global Times, noting that what the city has to do now is to release information in a timely manner and closely follow every case. 

It is necessary to be cautious, but there's no need to panic, Zenghe said.

Wuhan locked down the entire city on Thursday morning and suspended its public traffic to prevent the wide spread an outbreak of the Novel coronavirus-related pneumonia.

The measure triggered controversy on Chinese social media with some questioning if it the lockdown was too late. 

Photo: Xinhua

"The lockdown is necessary to cut the source of the coronavirus as most patients discovered in other places and foreign countries are from Wuhan, it is aimed to protect the whole country," Zeng said. 

In response to question over the timing of the lockdown, Zeng told media that he thought the timing is proper as residents would not cooperate if the lockdown was launched too early. 

"The measure is early enough as no matter World Health Organization (WHO) nor any other country has issued such requirement to China," Zeng said.

WHO held a meeting over the Wuhan epidemic on Thursday receiving reports of current situation from China and some other countries and regions where related cases were found like Thailand and Japan.

According to a statement WHO sent to the Global Times, it is still too early to declare a public health emergency of international concern over the Novel coronavirus-related pneumonia, given its restrictive and binary nature.

Media reported that Wuhan residents' daily life have been largely affected by the traffic suspension. Even some medical workers could not make it to work in time. 

These are issues defects that local governments should have taken did not take into account before launching the lockdown  and have to be remedied, Zeng said.

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