Former epicenter for deadly virus, Wuhan strengthens defenses against winter outbreak

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Wuhan, the capital of central Hubei province, which was once the epicenter of the deadly new coronavirus, is making efforts ranging from upgrading fever clinics to expanding epidemiological investigation forces to cope with any possible coronavirus outbreaks in the winter, city authorities said on Tuesday.

Health authorities have renovated fever clinics in 62 hospitals designated for coronavirus treatment and have started building five infectious disease hospitals as part of efforts to guard against outbreaks this season, Zheng Yun, deputy director of the city's health commission, said at a news conference, China Daily reports.

Efforts are also underway to help health care institutions improve their ability to carry out nucleic acid testing for the novel coronavirus, and all secondary general hospitals and centers for disease control and prevention in the city will be capable of testing before the end of the year, he said.

Meanwhile, the city is establishing a professional epidemic prevention and control force of 1,000 members, including epidemiologists, testing technicians and sterilization workers.

Medical institutions in the city have also expanded reserves of anti-epidemic materials to ensure 30-day supplies of personal protective equipment at each site, Zheng said.

The city's health commission is also conducting pilot monitoring of the flu at 59 major hospitals in the city, and has intensified monitoring and analysis over respiratory infectious diseases that could spread in winter, he said.

"We will further strengthen epidemic monitoring and early warning measures, and improve emergency management … to solidify the achievements made in the epidemic fight," Zheng said.

To prevent importation of the coronavirus, Wuhan authorities have intensified testing of inbound travelers and of imported cold-chain food such as seafood over the past months, Zheng said.

More than 16,000 employees involved with the production, trading and transportation of frozen seafood in the city have received nucleic acid tests since July 30, and all have tested negative, he said.

Ren Liquan, director of Puai Hospital's department for medical affairs, said the hospital has upgraded 300 quarantine beds, including 30 for severe patients, as part of the contingency plan for possible coronavirus outbreaks in the winter.

The hospital has also provided training on coronavirus screening and diagnosis to 221 doctors, nurses and management staff members, he said.

Hu Yi, deputy director of Wuhan's market regulation administration, said all 318 wholesale food markets in Wuhan have been upgraded to meet epidemic control and prevention standards and reopened.

All these markets have carried out epidemic control and prevention measures, including demanding all people wear masks and receive body temperature checks before entering, and frequent sterilization has also been applied in the markets, he said.

Wholesale food markets in many areas in China contain wet areas where fresh meat and aquatic products are sold, which make them more susceptible to viral transmission. Strict epidemic prevention and control measures have been applied at such markets nationwide following coronavirus outbreaks.