“Door-to-door” testing helped China control epidemic, says expert

UNTV News   •   March 26, 2020   •   804

As much of the world goes into tighter coronavirus-induced lockdown, China, where the virus outbreak was first reported, is doing the opposite in many areas.

Hubei province, the epicentre of the outbreak in China, ended two months of lockdown on Wednesday (March 25) across most of the province. Wuhan, which has been the worst-hit city in China, will lift its lockdown on April 8.

Likewise, more and more people are returning to work across the country and some of China’s premier tourist sites, such as the Great Wall have partially re-opened.

It is in this context that two leading experts, one in Hong Kong and one in Beijing, spoke to Reuters this week to discuss their views on China’s strategy in dealing with the outbreak.

“In China, one of the very successful components of their strategy in Wuhan was going into the community, door-to-door, looking for people with symptoms,” said Professor Benjamin John Cowling, a public health and infectious diseases expert at the University of Hong Kong.

“Knocking on the doors. Checking their temperature. Test them. And if they are symptomatic isolate them and quarantine their family members, and that was really a very effective way to find all sorts of people even with mild symptoms,” said Cowling.

Tsinghua University’s Professor Xue Lan is one of China’s leading experts on public policy. He is also a member of the expert committee of National Coordination Mechanism for Controlling COVID-19, which consults for China’s National Health Commission (NHC).

Xue said the key factors in China’s virus management have been “decisive” government policy such as the sudden Wuhan lockdown in late January and also the willingness of the population to cooperate in containing the epidemic. That’s because of their experience of outbreaks like SARS and H1N1 flu as well as a cultural factor, Xue added, which means the Chinese may be more likely to observe strict rules.

“I think that this is perhaps a cultural characteristic of people in East Asia,” Xue said. “People here are more willing to work towards the needs of the group.”

However, he also noted that with the strict stay-home measures, there could be a higher chance of spreading the virus between family members stuck in the same home.

In recent weeks, China has reported a steady fall in new domestically transmitted cases of coronavirus, but a steady stream of new imported cases. On Thursday (March 26) the NHC said that there were 67 new cases reported as of end-Wednesday, up from 47 a day earlier, all involving people arriving from abroad, putting the total accumulated number of confirmed coronavirus cases to date at 81,285. The NHC also reported a total of 3,287 deaths at the end of Wednesday, up by six from the previous day.

Such figures along with reports of asymptomatic cases not being included in China’s figures have added to fears domestically that China could be facing a “second wave” of the outbreak.

“We know that if life goes back to normal,” Cowling said, “there will be re-introductions of infections, there will be transmission and there will be a second wave. I’m not sure there’s really a recognition of that so far.”

If there is no big “second wave” of cases soon and current trends of low domestically transmitted cases continue, then China is likely to continue to phase out some of its virus control measures, such as the ubiquitous temperature checks, Xue said. However international travel restrictions are likely to persist until other countries have also got the virus under control, he said.

However, life as we know it may not return to normal, in both the short and long term, Xue said.

“I think from now on our social lives will enter a new normal.”

“Perhaps there will be limitations on those events or occasions with lots of people crowded together. However people should be fine to go about their daily life activities, such as university students returning to campus to have class as normal,” he added. (Reuters)

(Production: Martin Pollard, Irene Wang, Aleksander Solum, Travis Teo)

2 areas in San Juan City under lockdown due to spike of COVID-19 cases

Aileen Cerrudo   •   July 9, 2020

Two areas in San Juan City are placed under lockdown due to the high number of confirmed coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases.

C. Santos Street in Barangay Balong Bato and J. Eustaquio Street in Barangay Proseso are considered critical zones by the local government of San Juan after a total of 13 COVID-19 cases were recorded.

Seven are from C. Santos Street while six are from J. Eustaquio Street. The two areas will be under lockdown from July 7 to July 22.

Based on National Task Force on Covid-19 Memorandum Circular No. 2, “a street shall be categorized as CrZ (Critical Zone) if at least two (2) cluster of cases, composed of either suspect, probable and/or confirmed COVID-19, are present in different houses, buildings or establishments along a specified street.”

The local government has provided assistance to 255 households affected by the lockdown, while police are deployed to monitor lockdown violators.

Meanwhile, San Juan’s Agora Market will remain closed until July 15 after 23 employees and vendors tested positive for COVID-19. The said market is now under disinfection and sanitation procedure.

As of July 8, the San Juan local government recorded a total of 481 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with 134 active cases, 300 recoveries, and 47 deaths.

Based on the report, there is a spike in the daily number of new cases from June 27 compared to the recorded cases from June 15 to June 26. –AAC (with reports from Vincent Arboleda)

Tokyo 2020 expects to secure all venues for Games — local media

UNTV News   •   July 9, 2020

Tokyo Olympics organizers expect to be able to use all the venues as originally planned at next year’s rearranged Games, several Japanese media outlets reported on Thursday (July 9).

Securing venues was a top priority for organisers after the Games were pushed back to 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and Kyodo and NHK, citing unnamed sources, said they were now confident they would be tied down for Olympics use again.

However, at his regular weekly news conference, Tokyo 2020 spokesman Masa Takaya said the reports were “optimistic” and that nothing had been announced.

Last month, Tokyo 2020 CEO Toshiro Muto said 80% of all venues needed had been secured, with the Athlete’s Village and Tokyo Big Sight, the planned media centre, among those yet to be fully secured.

Thursday’s reports also said the competition schedule would remain largely unchanged and that all tickets holders would be eligible for refunds, and that organisers would seek approval of these decisions from the IOC’s General Assembly on July 17.

Asked to confirm those details, Takaya said nothing had been decided and Tokyo 2020 did not expect to seek approval from the IOC next week. (Reuters)

(Production: Jack Tarrant)

42 apprehended in QC village for violating face mask ordinance

Robie de Guzman   •   July 9, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Quezon City’s Department of Public and Safety and Order (DPOS) on Thursday said it apprehended around 42 individuals, including minors, for violation of face mask ordinance.

The DPOS said the individuals were from Barangay Paltok, which is one of the villages that have high cases of coronavirus disease in Quezon City.

The city implements Ordinance No. 2936 which requires the use of face masks or other face-covering when in public places.

DPOS chief retired General Elmo San Diego said apprehended individuals will be charged with violation of the ordinance. They will also be fined with P1,000 for first offense, P2,000 for second offense and P3,000 for third offense.

San Diego also reiterated that face mask should be worn properly, covering the person’s mouth and nose.

“Pagka kalahati lang ang mask strap o kaya naka-expose yung ilong mo as good as no mask din yan. nilagay mo sa baba ganun din yun, kailangan covered ilong at bibig natin,” he said.

He also urged the city residents to immediately wear their face mask after drinking or eating in public and to seriously follow this policy as this is for their safety.

The wearing of face mask was made mandatory in the city due to rising coronavirus cases. — RRD (with details from Correspondent Dante Amento

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