2021-09-14 17:00


96 Local Covid Cases in 3 Days, 1st School-centered Flareup!

96 Local Covid Cases in 3 Days, 1st School-centered Flareup!

Students in Fuzhou University taking test on Saturday. Photo: cnsphoto

First School-centered Flare-up, with Its Source Driving Doubts against Incubation 

Putian, a city of 3 million residents in East China's Fujian Province, is dealing with the country's first school-centered flare-up that has seen more than 90 infections in the province in three days.

Experts who called on the country to expand its vaccination program to cover children aged 3 to 12 said the Putian epidemic will unlikely be worse than the Nanjing outbreak in July and they said that the flare-up is unlikely to be tamed before the Mid-Autumn Festival (September 21), but could be put under control before the National Day holidays.

The suspected source of the outbreak is a returnee from Singapore who arrived in China in August but tested positive in September after "14+7" quarantine, prompting speculations on prolonged incubation and calls for longer quarantine requirements. But experts reached by Global Times noted such a long incubation is rarely seen and the outbreak may have started from other sources. 

Since September 10, infection number linked to Putian's epidemic outbreak has soared to 96 in three days, 79 in Putian, 10 in Xiamen and 7 in Quanzhou, as of press time. 

2 Chains of Transmission, Raising Awareness to Get Vaccinated for All Good

Putian's locally-transmitted epidemic mainly has two chains of transmission - the one related to Putou Primary School and one to the Xiesheng shoe factory. The total infections from the school increased to at least 15 and 10 other infections from the factory.  Xianyou county where the school and shoe factory are located started county-wide nucleic acid testing on Monday, covering more than 900,000 residents. 

The city has since asked residents to stay in the city and all schools and kindergartens, excluding grade three senior high students and boarding schools, were asked to go to online classes starting Monday. 

More cases from communities, schools and factories are likely to be detected and the risk of epidemic spreading to other places still exists, the visiting experts' team of the National Health Commission said on Monday. 

So far, around 20 cases involved children younger than 12 years old, according to the local authority. The first school outbreak has highlighted the urgency of vaccinating students and children in China, experts said. 

Jin Dongyan, a professor at the School of Biomedical Sciences at the University of Hong Kong, told the Global Times on Monday that schools can easily be virus hubs, and the severity of a school outbreak in China lies in risks of more severe cases of elderly people, as most children live with their grandparents who may also be unvaccinated due to underlying health conditions. 

How Would China Respond This Time? Predicted to Control It around National Holiday?

Under the current level II response policy, the outbreak in Putian city would be controlled around September 26, with the cumulative confirmed patients during this outbreak likely staying between 214 and 322, a research team from Lanzhou University predicted on Monday. 

If the response level is lowered to level III or if there are still undetected chains of infection, the outbreak in Putian would be controlled around October 4, with confirmed cases of about 529, the research team told the Global Times. 

Affected districts and townships in Putian have been undergoing district-wide nucleic acid testing, and medical staff from neighboring cities were dispatched to help in the testing, with volunteers being mobilized to provide daily necessities to the elderly and others in need, and various government departments have joined to prevent the spread of the virus. 

The Fujian Communication Administration on Monday said that it launched epidemic big data immediately after the outbreak was reported on Friday, which worked day and night screening and analyzing travel records of people in the key areas and helped local health departments identify the information of people who tested positive. 

Source: Global Times

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