One of China’s top coronavirus experts has warned that the nation is facing a second outbreak due to the increasing number of infections detected among new arrivals from abroad.
Professor Li Lanjuan, a member of Beijing’s expert team on the virus, said she was ‘very worried that imported cases could trigger another large-scale epidemic in our country’.
Her comment came after health officials reported the country’s first case of someone who is believed to have contracted the disease, known as COVID-19, from another person returning from abroad.
It also came as life in former epicentre Wuhan is slowly returning to normal following a two-month draconian lockdown.
Prof Li, 73, told China News today that the control and prevention of imported cases was an ‘arduous’ task for medical workers.
She said: ‘This requires us to continue to intensify our efforts and work tirelessly to prevent the coronavirus pneumonia epidemic from spreading in other cities.’
Prof Li has led her medical team to fight the virus in Wuhan for more than 50 days.
She told reporters in Wuhan: ‘Cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Hangzhou have frequent international communications. [I am] very worried that imported cases could trigger another large-scale epidemic in our country.’
She also demanded officials identify those who were struck down by the virus but have not been officially diagnosed. She warned that they could re-ignite the epidemic.
Doctors in Guangzhou, the provincial capital of Guangdong, have diagnosed a coronavirus patient who fell ill after having close contact with a person entering China from Turkey.
This is the first coronavirus case in the country with a direct link to an imported case. The Guangzhou Municipal Health Commission called it ‘a case related to an imported case’ in a statement yesterday.
The 54-year-old man, known by his surname Jin, experienced muscle pain and a lack of strength on March 17. He was hospitalised on March 20 with a slight fever and tested positive the next day.
Mr Jin was a close contact with another confirmed case, 34-year-old Ms Lin, who stayed in Istanbul from January 22 to March 8 on a business trip.
Ms Lin flew back to Guangzhou on March 9 via Bangkok. She did not show any symptoms upon entering the country and stayed at home most of the time afterwards.
She was diagnosed on March 21 after the city’s infectious disease authority gave her a test.
People’s Daily, the mouthpiece of China’s Communist Party, warned of the emergence of Mr Jin’s case.
In explaining its significance, the newspaper quoted health experts from Guangzhou and said: ‘Cases related to imported cases are the second-generation cases brought in from abroad. It means the close contacts of [the imported cases] have been transmitted and fallen ill.’