Designated hospitals, broad testing can ‘curtail outbreak in Jilin’

By Wang Qi Source:Global Times Published: 2020/5/19 20:23:40

A medical worker collects a throat swab of a resident at a residential community in Shulan, northeast China's Jilin Province, May 16, 2020. Jilin reported two new confirmed COVID-19 cases on Friday, local health authorities said Saturday. The provincial health commission said the two domestically transmitted cases were close contacts of earlier confirmed cases in the cities of Jilin and Shulan.Photo:Xinhua

Health authorities in Northeast China's Jilin city on Tuesday said that they have designated two hospitals with about 1,300 beds in total for COVID-19 patients in the city and Shulan, which is under its administration.  

A chain of infections has now spread in the city for seven consecutive days, as another five cases were announced by the city's health authorities on Tuesday. 

Yang Limin, an official from the Jilin city government, revealed at a briefing that a designated hospital with 1,075 beds and 1,100 medical workers will be used for coronavirus patients. The Party chief of Shulan's health commission said that a hospital with 188 beds in Shulan can be put into use for COVID-19 patients at any time, as it has adequate medical supplies and medical experts. 

Shulan - which is under the administration of Jilin city, the center of the ongoing outbreak - has reported 42 cases since May 8, when the first patient was identified. With the two new cases reported in the city's high-tech industrial development district, four out of five districts of Jilin city have been affected by the epidemic.

The Shulan government also announced on Tuesday that all local returnees from Russia this year must register their personal information with their residential communities, and the city will give them free nucleic acid tests.

Those who conceal information or refuse to cooperate will face legal penalties, according to the new regulation. 

Four out of six high- and middle-risk epidemic regions of China are in Jilin city, CCTV reported. 

Analysts said the situation in Jilin and Shulan is still controllable as the new cases were all on the contact chains of previous cases. They are under epidemiological tracing and strict management measures have been adopted.

After this large expansion of designated sites in the epidemic, Wang Peiyu, a deputy head of Peking University's School of Public Health, told the Global Times that it is necessary to expand the scale of nucleic acid testing within Jilin city and Shulan, especially in key clusters. That would help identify more silent carriers and patients in the incubation period.  

Wang noted that the situation in Jilin is different from the outbreak in Central China's Hubei Province, as all the cases in Jilin have the same source. "That makes it much easier to conduct a thorough epidemiological investigation."

There are 1,143 close contacts are under quarantine and medical observation at designated sites in Jilin, with 468 from Shulan. 

Liu Qi, head of a 12-member medical team from The First Hospital of China Medical University in Shenyang, Northeast China's Liaoning Province that arrived in Jilin on Thursday, revealed on Tuesday that although the number of new confirmed cases had increased for seven days, medical work is underway in an orderly manner.

Liu's team conducted CT imaging analysis for confirmed COVID-19 patients at the infectious disease hospital in Jilin city, which has 22 patients in treatment. The team moved to another designated hospital on Tuesday after finishing its examinations there. 

"The pressure here is not as great as in Wuhan and Suifenhe," said Liu, noting that experiences gained in Wuhan and Suifenhe would be helpful in aiding Jilin. 

In response to the situation in Jilin, many regions have raised their alert levels to prevent the spread of the virus.

Changchun, capital of Jilin Province, stipulated that those returning from Shulan will face 14 days of centralized quarantine and seven days of home quarantine. They will be given nucleic acid tests four times before being discharged. Dalian in nearby Liaoning Province asked  its residents who had visited Shulan or had contacted with people from Shulan in the previous 14 days to report their status.  

The neighboring provinces of Liaoning and Heilongjiang provinces reported zero new confirmed cases on Monday. There are still three patients who had close contact with Jilin's cases in Liaoning. Heilongjiang was not affected by the waves in Jilin or Shulan.  

"I never thought that a small town like Shulan would become well-known this way…I feel upset but there's a belief that we can overcome the difficulties with assistance from the people and government," a 17-year-old Shulan-based high school student surnamed Wang told the Global Times through Sina Weibo on Tuesday. She is preparing at home to take the college entrance exams since her school closed on March 10. 

According to CCTV, all the 3,005 senior high school students taking the college entrance exams this year in Shulan will undergo free nucleic acid testing organized by the local government. 

Shulan issued a notice, announcing it would implement the "strictest measures" for its COVID-19 prevention and control work, effective on Monday at noon. Communities with confirmed and suspected cases will be under closed management, and no one will be allowed to enter or leave in principle. Daily basic materials will be delivered, said the notice.


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