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WHO: COVID-19 in China moves into mitigation stage

2020-04-07

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The World Health Organization (WHO) said Sunday that China has moved into “mitigation stage” following two months of epidemic work to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

China’s experience is helping countries currently at the start of the COVID-19 cycle to plan their responses better, the WHO said in its latest report.

“It is far too early to declare this outbreak under control,” Gauden Galea, the WHO representative to China, said in an interview with WHO/Europe on Friday.

China has passed one of the peaks and is doing the best to help prevent a resurgence, he added.

As China gradually lifts its temporary containment measures, including school closures, transport bans and workplace shutdowns, Galea said the next phase of the country’s public health response will focus on “mitigating the risk of COVID-19 across the general population over the long term.”

He said the role that everyone plays is very important to fighting the disease over the next phase.

One important lesson for everyone to learn from China’s experience is that responses to the pandemic must be tailored carefully to the local context, said Galea.

One size doesn’t fit all. Action that has worked in some countries may not be transferable to others, the representative said.

China has been “implementing a differentiated, location-specific response to limit transmission, so that public health measures are tailored to the differing realities on the ground,” Galea said, calling the strategy “very effective.”

He also called on countries worldwide to share experiences and updates, and learn from each other to “develop the widest possible range of measures to fight this virus in different contexts.”

There will be a range of long-term health priorities for China once it enters the recovery phase, said Galea.

Boosting mental health, reliable management of chronic diseases as well as a better understanding of risk factors that may be linked to COVID-19 such as tobacco use and hypertension are expected to be among the top priorities.

Chinese health authority said yesterday it received reports of 39 new confirmed COVID-19 cases on the Chinese mainland Sunday, of which 38 were imported.

The one new domestic case was reported in Guangdong Province, the National Health Commission said.

Also on Sunday, 78 new asymptomatic COVID-19 cases were reported on the mainland, 40 of those are imported ones. Five asymptomatic cases, all of which were imported ones, were re-categorized as confirmed infections, and 50 were discharged from medical observation including four imported cases, according to the commission.