One of China’s top health advisers has warned the country could still be at risk of a second wave of COVID-19 due to lack of immunity among citizens.
Dr. Zhong Nanshan, the Chinese government’s senior medical adviser, told CNN though the country has been easing restrictions it still faces a “big challenge” in the fight against coronavirus.
“The majority of … Chinese at the moment are still susceptible of the COVID-19 infection, because (of) a lack of immunity,” Dr Zhong said.
“We are facing (a) big challenge, it’s not better than the foreign countries I think at the moment.”
Since the virus first emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan late last year, the country has officially reported more than 4000 deaths and almost 83,000 cases.
However, the country does not include people who test positive but show no symptoms such as a fever in its tally of confirmed infections.
By February, China was reporting more than 3800 new virus cases daily but a month later the number of reported cases dropped dramatically.
At the start of the year Dr Zhong headed a team assigned by the country’s National Health Commission (NHC) to investigate the initial outbreak in Wuhan.
He toldCNNthat when he arrived in Wuhan on January 18, he received multiple calls from doctors and former students claiming the outbreak was a lot worse than what was being officially reported.
“The local authorities, they didn’t like to tell the truth at that time,” Dr Zhong said.
“At the very beginning they kept silent, and then I said probably we have (a larger) number of people being infected.”
The medical adviser said he became even more suspicious of the reported numbers when the number of new cases remained at 41 for more than 10 days.
“I didn’t believe that result, so I (kept) asking and then, you have to give me the real number,” he said.
“I suppose they are very reluctant to answer my question.”
China has been widely criticised for how it handled the initial outbreak, with claims the government delayed reporting the emerging cases.
The number of new cases being reported in China has dropped dramatically, with just seven new cases being reported on Monday.
Four of the cases were from citizens returning from abroad and three were from local transmission.
Two of those were in the northeastern province of Jilin, parts of which have tightened restrictions in response to a local cluster of still unknown origin.
No new COVID-19 deaths have been reported in China in more than a month, although some have been announced retroactively after further tests were performed, and 82 people remain in treatment while another 450 are under isolation and monitoring as suspected cases or after testing positive for the virus without showing symptoms.
Restrictions are slowly easing across the country, despite fears of a second wave of the virus.
The number of domestic flights in China has returned to 60 per cent of pre-outbreak levels, exceeding 10,000 per day for the first time since February 1, the country’s civil aviation regulator reported.
In Shanghai, students retain the option of continuing to take classes online rather than facing virus testing and social distancing measures at schools.
As in Beijing and other cities, Shanghai has already restarted classes for middle and high school students preparing for exams.
With the summer holidays approaching, numerous tourist sites have reopened, including Beijing’s Forbidden City palace complex and Shanghai’s Disneyland resort, although with strict social distancing measures still in place.
– With AP