China’s strict public health interventions have ended the country’s first wave of COVID-19 – but authorities must be proactive to prevent a more destructive second wave without collective immunity through vaccination, Hong Kong-based researchers said in a study published Wednesday in The Lancet.
“Although these control measures appear to have reduced the number of infections to very low levels, without collective immunity from COVID-19, the cases could easily reoccur as businesses, factories and schools gradually resume and increase social mix, especially given the growing risk of cases imported from overseas while COVID-19 continues to spread worldwide, “Professor Joseph T. Wu of the University of Hong told the Guardian Kong, who co-led the research.
China has lowered its reproductive number – or the average number of people each person with COVID-19 will infect – from two or three to less than one, causing the epidemic to decrease in the country.
However, the researchers concluded that this number could easily increase again if normal life resumes too quickly and that the authorities are too optimistic about the lifting of the controls.
“Although control policies such as physical remoteness and behavior change are likely to be maintained for some time, find a proactive balance between resuming economic activities and keeping the number of reproductions below one is probably the best strategy until effective vaccines are widely available, “Wu said at the exit.
Allowing infections to escalate a second time would likely result in “slightly greater health and economic loss”, even if tight controls are restored again, the study found.
Researchers used Health Commission data from laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 cases between mid-January and February 29 in Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Wenzhou.
In Hubei Province, the epicenter of origin of the virus, the death rate was almost 6%, but in other parts of the continent the rate was much lower, less than 1%, according to the study.
But “even in the most prosperous and resource-rich megacities like Beijing and Shanghai, health care resources are limited and services will find it difficult to cope with a sudden increase in demand,” said the professor. Gabriel M. Leung, lead author of the study at the University of Hong Kong. the Guardian.
“Our results underscore the importance of ensuring that local health systems have adequate staff and resources to minimize deaths from COVIDs,” he said.
The study was published just as Wuhan, the city at the center of the pandemic, reopened after a 76-day lockdown – and saw a mass exodus.