Expert warns of Covid-19's lasting power

Top News | Charlotte Luo 21 Feb 2020

Charlotte Luo

A mainland respiratory specialist has said Covid-19 could become a long-standing disease, comparing it to the persistence of influenza.

In an interview with state broadcaster CCTV, Wang Chen, vice president of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, said the novel coronavirus is distinct from SARS and may continue to exist in a manner similar to influenza viruses.

"We must be prepared for that," he said.

Wang stressed the need to make arrangements for clinical prevention and treatment of the virus, in addition to taking precautions during daily lives.

The specialist said while the spread of the virus is slowing down, the regulation of the disease has to be considered before a turning point is confirmed.

Existing knowledge about the disease is limited, with the exploration of new drugs and therapies all currently in their preliminary stages, he said.

"It's a brand-new disease, its pathology is not yet clear," Wang explained.

Mainland authorities yesterday reported its lowest number of new cases in Hubei province since Wuhan came under lockdown on January 23.

There were 349 new cases and 114 additional deaths reported on Wednesday.

Provinces and cities outside of Hubei reported 45 new cases, marking a continued drop in cases over the past 16 days.

Meanwhile, senior Chinese diplomat Wang Yi said the country's efforts to control the outbreak of Covid-19 "are working," referring to the recent drop in new cases after "forceful action" against the virus.

Speaking during an Asean-China meeting in Laos, he said: "China is not only protecting its own people but also the rest of the world."

He added: "We reached an important consensus on China and Asean joining hands to fight against the epidemic. We agreed to stand united and stay confident and support each other in this time of difficulty.''

The National Health Commission said 17.18 billion yuan (HK$19 billion) in advanced funding has been allocated to treat coronavirus patients, with Hubei province set to receive 3 billion yuan. An official with the National Healthcare Security Administration, Xiong Xianjun, said the funding could meet current medical needs.

As of Wednesday, the virus had killed 2,118 people in the mainland, in addition to 74,576 confirmed cases of infection.

In other news, a research paper published by University of Hong Kong virologist Guan Yi and his team wrote that pangolins should be considered possible intermediate hosts for the virus.

The paper reported that tests identified an 85.5 to 92.4 percent similarity between Covid-19 and coronaviruses discovered in pangolins, and called for the removal of pangolins from wet markets to prevent animal-to-human transmission.

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