英文

Editorial : Second wave of infections

【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.

明報社評2020.05.18:第二波疫情不能輕視 嚴肅處置防疫必殺技

武漢市與吉林省舒蘭市「離奇」出現新的本地群組感染事件,提醒大家疫情還沒有遠離,隨時會捲土重來。內地傳染病學泰斗鍾南山更提出警告,中國的抗疫形勢並不比國外一些地方更樂觀,仍然面臨第二波疫情的挑戰。新冠病毒的傳播確實詭異,但也並非防不勝防,應對挑戰成效取決於各地政府是否嚴肅認真處置。

新冠病毒在內地發現首個病例至今將近5個月,雖然疫情已經受到控制,但專家仍然未能完全掌握該病毒的全部特性及傳播途徑。病毒始發地武漢自4月8日解除封城禁令,但在該市東西湖區一個小區內,5月9日又再發生群組感染。一名89歲的患者,春節後再也沒有離開過住所,之前曾經有過發燒後病癒,近日確診陽性,同一小區內另外5名鄰居也相繼確診,而該小區之前有過10多例確診個案。武漢疫情最新的發展引發關注之處,究竟該患者什麼時候已經感染,潛伏期是否真的一再突破人們一般的認知,而到達30天甚至50天之久。

另一個群組感染的例子發生在吉林省,該省並非病毒的高發區,在此次群組感染發生前,全省病例不足100。5月7日,舒蘭市一名公安局的洗衣工人確診感染病毒,及後其家人及緊密接觸者等32人相繼感染,及後傳播到臨近的吉林市等地。該名洗衣工人究竟是通過接觸有病毒的公安人員制服,抑或是接觸過境外輸入病人,至今仍未有定案。

在這兩個地方的群組感染個案發生之前,內地連續一段時間只出現零星的本地感染病例,舒蘭市的個案更是打破了吉林省73天沒有本地感染的紀錄。從流行病的慣例看,疫情受到控制後的一段時間內,仍然會有可能發生零星的局部地區爆發,不足為奇,只要認真對待,也毋須恐慌。

新冠病毒特徵詭異,所以造成史無前例的災難,美國和巴西始終不肯嚴肅應對,造成不必要的傷亡,應該引以為戒,但只要政府與國民共同嚴肅應對,也不至於是完全束手無策,中國能夠應對第一波疫情,而且還在嚴陣以待,盡量控制不會出現第二波疫情,應該是有信心的。

■Glossary生字

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

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