Interview: Sealing off Wuhan buys time for globe to fight epidemic: expert-Xinhua

Interview: Sealing off Wuhan buys time for globe to fight epidemic: expert

Source: Xinhua

Editor: huaxia

2020-02-24 13:02:49

SHANGHAI, Feb. 24 (Xinhua) -- Sealing off Wuhan has not only helped curb the epidemic in China, but also won precious time for the international community to prevent its further spread, according to Tang Bei, associate professor at Shanghai International Studies University.

On Jan. 23, China implemented unprecedented traffic restrictions in Wuhan, home to over 10 million residents and capital of Hubei Province, to curb the spread of the deadly coronavirus.

All urban public transportation, including city buses, ferries and metro lines have hence been suspended and outbound channels at the airport and rail stations closed.

In mid-February, Wuhan further tightened its community and village management to minimize the flow of personnel, with each family only permitted to have one person go out every three days.

In a public letter issued Sunday to its residents, the Wuhan government said that they will continue to close off districts and villages for some time in Wuhan to cut virus transmission, and that the short-term measures "will lead to long-term happiness."

The traffic restrictions in Wuhan are urgently necessary, Tang, an international public health researcher, told Xinhua.

Though some say the death rate of the novel coronavirus is not high enough to necessitate such strict measures, it must be remembered that the public lacks immunity to the new virus, she said.

"Given the large population base, it can easily have a serious impact on the health system. In fact, what happened in Wuhan has already verified this. If the spread of the disease is not contained in time, it may lead to a global pandemic," said Tang.

Quoting the comment of WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus that he would and did give credit to any country that "fights an outbreak aggressively at its source to protect its own people and the people of the world," Tang regards it as a positive attitude of the organization toward China's policies.

Highlighting that vaccination and reduction of social contact are the only two effective ways to hinder interpersonal transmission of a virus, Tang said: "Considering that the first method is not yet in place, the high infection rate and the large number of close contacts in Wuhan at that time, there's no better alternative than cutting off traffic to reduce population outflow."

Moreover, along with cutting off transportation, there are also supporting policies such as sending medics and medical supplies across the country to Wuhan, she said. "The move is not a simple closure, but a "sealing-and-supporting method to better control the epidemic."

However, she admitted that the move did interrupt residents' daily lives, and needs continuous improvements.

"In general, the Chinese government is making unremitting efforts to protect the public health interests of citizens in Wuhan," said Tang.