China’s Delta outbreak slows as Fujian reports falling case numbers

21-Sep-2021 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 5:02 AM Print This Post

There are hopeful signs that community transmission of Covid-19 may be easing in Fujian, with the Chinese coastal province reporting 28 cases on Sunday, its lowest number of new cases in seven days.

This compared to 43 new cases a day earlier in the province, which has been the focus of the latest outbreak of the highly transmissible Delta variant, first reported on September 10. There have now been 363 infections in Fujian, but no deaths.

The National Health Commission also reported one asymptomatic case in Yunnan province in the update.

At an afternoon press conference, Fujian officials said 92 children, aged 14 and below, had been hospitalised 81 in Putian and 11 in Xiamen. No details were provided on their condition, but they are known to include at least eight kindergarten and 28 primary school pupils in Putian, where the outbreak was first detected. China’s vaccination campaign includes children as young as 12.

Vice-Premier Sun Chunlan, who is in charge of the national Covid-19 response, arrived in Fujian on Saturday and visited the three cities at the centre of the outbreak Putian, Xiamen and Quanzhou.

Sun said the infected children should receive proper treatment, addressing both their physical and psychological needs.

She also called for a boost in the efficiency of nucleic acid testing and the screening of at-risk groups to “take all efforts to prevent the spread of the virus”, according to state news agency Xinhua.

There were still uncertainties in control of the pandemic while community infections continued. And lockdowns should be implemented accurately and strictly to “thoroughly cut down the chains of community infection”, Sun said.

Putian authorities on Monday said the children were receiving the best possible care. They also said the city’s designated Covid-19 hospitals were treating 214 patients in total, including 21 who had been transferred from Quanzhou.

A third round of testing began in key areas of Putian on Sunday, and the city was still recruiting volunteers to help in community lockdown and services, testing, and psychological consultations, they said.

Local media, backed by the provincial government’s official Fujian Daily, said on Monday that extra efforts were needed to curtail the risk of loopholes in home quarantine to stop community infections.

The 28 new cases were spread out among several cities in Fujian province, with 16 in Xiamen, seven in Putian and five in Quangzhou. Zhangzhou, which had reported a total of three cases in recent days, recorded no new infections, according to local officials.

Provincial authorities had taken a number of steps in response to the numbers of children in quarantine and isolation, according to state news agency China News Service. Cartoon-themed areas had been created at Putian University Affiliated Hospital and they were also being provided with activities, including drawing classes.

Nurses at the hospital had also been instructed by counsellors on how to care for distressed children, as well as how to comfort parents who may be blaming themselves for their child’s infection.

Zhang Boli, honorary president of the Tianjin University of Traditional Chinese Medicine and academician at the Chinese Academy of Engineering, said children under the age of 12 may be a weak point in epidemic control.

“It was first discovered in a school, causing more infections among younger individuals, and the outbreak took place in a rural area where Covid-19 controls are weaker, which has resulted in this level of transmission,” Science and Technology Daily quoted Zhang as saying.

With the country preparing to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival this week, local authorities have taken a variety of measures to control the outbreak. Residents of Putian have been urged to continue to avoid unnecessary travel and to take precautions against the spread of the virus during the holiday.

Officials in the city of Zhangzhou have closed cultural and entertainment venues, including museums, internet cafes and tourist attractions, to prevent the spread of infections.

In several cities, civil servants, and staff at Communist Party bodies, public institutions and state-owned enterprises have been asked to remain on duty during the holiday to help tackle the outbreak.

Respiratory medicine expert Leung Chi-Chiu said it was not enough to look at just the number of cases the spread of the outbreak and the measures taken also needed to be considered.

“Looking at their tracing for the past few days, the spread remains confined to either traceable transmission links or areas where suitable containment measures have already been taken, [such as in] certain hot areas in Xiamen and Putian,” Leung said.

He said that given the contact history for most cases could be established, the outbreak could be controlled in a relatively short time.


Category: China

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