Fujian COVID outbreak can be reined in by October, experts say

A health worker collects swab sample from a resident for COVID-19 test in Xianyou county, Putian city, East China's Fujian province, September 12, 2021.(Photo/Xinhua)

The novel coronavirus outbreak in Putian, Fujian province, will likely spread to more regions across China, but can be brought under control before the National Day holiday in October with the implementation of strong control measures, health experts said on September 13.

In Putian, where the first case of the outbreak surfaced on September 10, there were a total of 58 confirmed infections and 21 asymptomatic cases as of 8 p.m. on September 13, the local government said.

The virus has also spread to two other cities in the province. As of September 12Quanzhou, which neighbors Putian, reported seven confirmed COVID-19 cases that were either from or linked to Putian. As of 6 p.m. on September 13Xiamen registered 12 cases, with 11 of them clearly linked to Putian, and one being a logistics worker at a local hospital.

The National Health Commission sent a working group to Putian on September 11 to guide the virus containment efforts. Members of the team said that the city's epidemic situation is severe and complicated, and it is highly possible that more cases will emerge in communities, schools and factories in the coming days.

"The risk of the virus being transmitted to other areas remains," the working group said in a China Central Television report on September 13.

The local government in Putian said over the weekend that the cluster of infections likely stemmed from a passenger who arrived in Fujian from Singapore on August 4 and was released from quarantine on August 26. The passenger, as well as his two children, tested positive for the virus on September 10.

The working group said that from August 26 to September 10, an estimated 30,000 people had left Putian and traveled out of Fujian to other areas of China.

Regional authorities across the country have moved to track these people down and urged them to voluntarily report their condition to neighborhood authorities.

The Putian outbreak surfaced in a primary school. The working group said children ages 3 to 12 account for a significant proportion of infected people. The children, who are often unvaccinated, are at higher risk of experiencing worsening symptoms.

Members of the working group sent to Putian said most infections in the city are now clustered in the primary school and a shoe manufacturing plant.

Preliminary test results also show that the outbreak is caused by the highly transmissible Delta strain, according to local authorities.

Since May, China has successfully stamped out several local COVID-19 outbreaks driven by emerging variants. The virus-control strategies feature mass testing, swift tracing and quarantining of close contacts, and targeted small-scale lockdowns that minimize the impact on communities.

Experts said that if the measures deployed to successfully control past outbreaks are rigorously implemented, the current outbreak can be brought under control before this year's National Day holiday running from October 1 to 7.

Chinese mainland reports 59 new locally transmitted COVID-19 cases

A press conference on the COVID-19 prevention and control is held in Xiamen, East China's Fujian province, September 13, 2021. (Photo/Xinhua)

The Chinese mainland on September 13 reported 59 new locally transmitted COVID-19 cases, all in Fujian province, the National Health Commission said in its daily report on September 14.

Also reported were 33 new imported cases, including 14 in Yunnan, eight in Guangdong, six in Shanghai, two in Sichuan, and one each in Beijing, Fujian and Shandong.

No new suspected cases or new deaths related to COVID-19 were reported on Monday, the commission said.

Source: Xinhua, China Daily

Editor: Annie