China’s Plans For The Next Phase of COVID-19
After receiving thousands of daily cases of coronavirus transmission in February, Chinese authorities now are getting just a couple a day, with the majority coming from people coming back from traveling.
Many in the international community doubt the country’s reports, but according to official records, COVID-19 transmission has plummeted in China. However, some cases might be omitted or undetected. And, the virus can always resurface when reintroduced from outside of the country.
Despite an almost zero-percent transmission rate, several stipulations imposed during the outbreak remain. Individuals with mild symptoms stay in isolation wards, and those suspected to have COVID-19 and those who have had contact with confirmed cases remain in quarantine facilities.
Additionally, testing labs are still operating, and monitoring remains vigilant if another surge of coronavirus occurs.
Not Quite Business As Usual
Kylie Ainslie is a research associate at the MRC Center for Global Infectious Disease Analysis at Imperial College London. In the last several months, she and other experts have studied how China was able to impose one of the most extensive lockdowns in history.
In an interview with NPR, Ainslie said, “Areas, where the outbreak was less, had movement restrictions removed sooner. But that didn’t mean completely. It meant first they started major factories and started letting those people who work there go back to work so that they could restart their industries.”
Some parts of China are still under restricted movement where citizens are required to remain home, particularly in areas that are deemed high-risk. For example, some factories in Wuhan and many of the country’s schools are still closed.
Multiple provinces who showed little to no new cases have seen an influx in transmissions as travelers return from Europe.
According to Ben Cowling, an epidemiologist at the University of Hong Kong, managing these cases is much simpler. This is because they are less likely to spread as extensively as the first wave of coronavirus.
Travelers returning to China must quarantine for two weeks, where the authorities monitor their health.
Because of this, Cowling states, “So if they do turn out to be infected, which is a small minority, then they’re isolated. Their contacts are traced and put into quarantine. And that’s going to slow down any leakage into the general community.”
Suppression Through Social Distancing And Case Management
Public health officials in China and other countries are leveraging social distancing and case management to control the spread of coronavirus within its borders.
Social distancing prevents the virus from transmitting, and case management finds new and suspected cases and then confines them.
Although the governments in the US and many European countries have implemented lockdowns and restricted movements, the policies were not as severe as those used by the Chinese government.
In addition to a complete lockdown, China also implemented large-scale testing, confinement, and quarantines.
As the number of cases in China dwindles, the country is entering a new phase: suppression. To prevent the coronavirus from sweeping the nation a second time, China is investigating the limits of relieving social distancing rules while simultaneously running testing and quarantine systems.
In the upcoming months, the world will watch China’s suppression experiments and find ways to apply it in other countries as they also enter the suppression phase.
- Beaubien, Jason. “China Enters The Next Phase of Its COVID-19 Outbreak: Suppression.” NPR, NPR, 3 Apr. 2020, www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2020/04/03/826140766/china-enters-the-next-phase-of-its-covid-19-outbreak-suppression.