【明報專訊】THE curious outbreaks of local COVID-19 cases in Wuhan and Shulan, Jilin are a reminder to us that the pandemic is still around and could make a comeback anytime. Zhong Nanshan, a mainland authority on infectious diseases, has even warned that China's fight against the pandemic is not more promising than those of other places abroad, as the country is still faced with the threat of a second wave of infections. It is true that the novel coronavirus is transmitted in some mysterious ways, but it is not unpreventable. Success in tackling the challenge depends on whether governments are dealing with the matter seriously.
It has been nearly five months since the mainland witnessed the first case of infection. Though the situation is under control, experts still have not fully grasped all the properties and routes of transmission of the virus. Wuhan, where the virus originated, reopened on April 8. However, in a small district in the city's Dongxihu District, there was a new cluster of infections on May 9. An 89-year-old patient, who has not left his home since the Chinese New Year and who had a fever but then recovered previously, has tested positive recently. Five other people who live next door in the same district have tested positive one after another. The district had a dozen cases previously. What has attracted the most attention concerning the outbreak in Wuhan is when the patient was infected and whether our understanding of the incubation period has once again been shattered, as it might incubate in the body for as long as 30 or even 50 days.
Another cluster of infections emerged in Jilin. The province did not have a high incidence of the disease, as it had fewer than 100 cases prior to the emergence of the recent cluster. On May 7, a laundry worker who worked for a police office in Shulan tested positive. 32 people, including the laundry worker's family and people in close contact with her, contracted the virus one after another subsequently. The virus then spread to nearby places such as Jilin. There remains an unresolved issue of whether the laundry worker contracted the virus by touching a contaminated police uniform or by getting in contact with a patient from abroad.
The mainland saw sporadic cases of local infection for some time before these two recent clusters of cases. The case in Shulan even ended Jilin Province's 73-day streak of zero local infections. However, as far as infectious diseases are concerned, it is normal for an outbreak to be followed by sporadic, regional outbreaks even after it has been brought under control. This is nothing to be surprised about, and there is no need to get into a panic as long as it is handled seriously.
The novel coronavirus has some very mysterious attributes, which is why it has wrought such unprecedented havoc. The US and Brazil remain reluctant to deal with the virus seriously and have thus caused unnecessary casualties. This is a lesson that should be learned. However, as long as a government and its people join hands and deal with the virus seriously, it is not a lost cause. China has been able to address the first wave of outbreaks, and it has not lowered its guard. It is trying as hard as it can to prevent the occurrence of a second wave of outbreaks with supposed confidence.
attribute : a quality or feature of sb/sth
wreak : to do great damage or harm to sb/sth
havoc : a situation in which there is a lot of damage, destruction or confusion