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China at "crucial time" of novel coronavirus prevention, control: official

(Xinhua)    14:18, January 27, 2020

BEIJING, Jan. 26 -- China is at a crucial time in the prevention and control of the novel coronavirus outbreak, a senior health official said Sunday.

Ma Xiaowei, director of the National Health Commission (NHC), said at a press conference that the one-week Lunar New Year holiday from Jan. 24 to 30 is the best time to allow massive isolation and disinfection to take effect.

Recent clinical results showed that the virus has more transmissibility, but studies are still needed to understand its pathogenicity, Ma said, adding that preventive and control measures taken in Wuhan are playing an important role.

"The outbreak is still in the early stage," Ma said. "With strict measures taken by various localities in the country, we will be able to curb the spread of the virus with lower costs and at a faster speed."

The new coronavirus pneumonia broke out first in the city of Wuhan in central China's Hubei Province and then quickly spread across the country. By the end of Saturday, a total of 56 people had died, mostly in Hubei, and 1,975 cases had been confirmed.

Ma urged strengthening community-based prevention and control work across the country and strict management of personnel who have, in the last 15 days, traveled to other parts of the country from Wuhan.

He also stressed efforts to strengthen monitoring and preventive measures to contain the possible spread of the virus in rural areas.

The transportation system is a possible way transmitting the virus, said Liu Xiaoming, deputy minister of transport, noting that travel restrictions imposed on some cities are necessary because they can effectively cut off the transmission of the virus.

After Wuhan announced the suspension of public transport in the city as well as airport and railway stations to outgoing passengers Thursday, multiple cities in Hubei and other provinces followed suit. Shanghai and Beijing also announced traffic restrictions.

Ma also spoke of medical aid to Hubei's pneumonia outbreak, saying that more than 900 medical staff in seven teams have been sent to Hubei.

An additional 12 teams of more than 1,600 medical staff will be sent to Hubei Province where the local medical system was overwhelmed by the novel coronavirus outbreak, Ma said, adding that the medical staff will be sent out shortly and authorities are also coordinating supplies urgently needed to control the outbreak.

Wuhan will have nearly 5,000 additional beds for patients in the following three days, Ma said.

China will place severely ill patients of the novel coronavirus in the best hospitals and treat them with the best medical resources, Ma said.

The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention said earlier that it has started developing vaccines against the novel coronavirus.

The country has stepped up efforts on global exchange and cooperation by providing timely information to the World Health Organizations (WHO), Ma said, adding China has also shared technological information and the full genome sequence of some virus strains with the WHO.

To further ensure transparency, the NHC will arrange daily press briefings on the outbreak starting Monday and similar press briefings will be held in Hubei and other severely affected region, according to State Council Information Office.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Du Mingming, Bianji)

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