Preventing Mutated COVID-19 Spread During Holidays
New COVID-19 variants have been detected in several foreign countries. What will Hunan do to prevent a resurgence of the epidemic during the upcoming New Year and Chinese Spring Festival holidays? On December 24, Liu Fuqiang, director of the emergency office of the Hunan Center for Disease Control and Prevention, stressed that, the key to epidemic prevention and control at the current stage is to strictly implement prevention and control measures at ports, and to strengthen inspection of imported refrigerated products and their contacts. People can travel during the holidays on the premise of proper personal protective measures.
Hunan to strengthen epidemic prevention and control at ports, and inspection of imported refrigerated products and their contacts.
As new COVID-19 mutations were detected around the world, the anti-pandemic battle is facing new challenges. So far, there have been no imported new variants reported in China.
Liu Fuqiang stressed keeping a close watch on UK and other European countries and the worldwide spread of the mutated virus; and, on the other hand, further reinforcing current prevention and control measures. This year, Hunan has taken measures to prevent import of cases and resurgence of infections, which has effectively prevented imported cases, especially spreading of the imported virus. Right now, COVID-19 is still presenting an ongoing threat with even increasing spread. Recently, Chinese mainland has reported a growing trend of “person-to-person” and “product-to-person” spreads of virus, and imported goods packaging samples tested positive for COVID-19. All regions should strictly implement epidemic prevention and control at ports, and strengthen inspection of imported refrigerated products and their contacts; standardize technical management of re-examination triage, fever clinic, and concentrated quarantines in medical institutions; enhance supervision of ventilation at schools, restaurants, and other crowded public venues; and, make good preparations for vaccine reserve and inoculation.
Liu Fuqiang said that the key to epidemic prevention and control at the current stage is to implement prevention and control measures at ports. Inspections of imported refrigerated products and their contacts will be increased. Ports and local governments should tighten prevention and control measures for staff members involved in handling imported goods especially cargo loaders and transport workers. They should strengthen inbound traveler management and inspection of refrigerated products. Disinfection management and monitoring should be imposed on other refrigerated products, imported goods generally, aircraft, air unit load devices, and handling and transport machines. Liu stressed that Hunan will increase inspection of international logistics and management of transportation.
A thorough investigation and analysis will be done on ports that have been opened, such as Huanghua Airport and Chenglingji Port; ports likely to be opened, such as Zhangjiajie Hehua Airport; and, zones that might provide international logistics services. The investigation will inspect loopholes and problems that might allow a resurgence of the virus.
To achieve this, the provincial government will formulate guidelines for COVID-19 prevention and control at ports and locations.
Strengthening inspection of imported refrigerated products and their contacts.
First, we must put imported refrigerated food management into effect and monitor major wholesale enterprises and markets. Second, we must prevent imported refrigerated food from being sold through informal channels. Third, corporations and government must fulfill their responsibilities to inspect all refrigeration storage and operators. Fourth, other imported refrigerated products will be monitored. Their external packing should be disinfected. This would include imported special medications, reagents, agricultural products, and flowers.
The public should take personal protective measures when traveling during the New Year and Spring Festival holidays. Persons who are vulnerable, such as the elderly and the pregnant, are encouraged not to travel unless necessary.
Liu Fuqiang noted that China has effectively curbed the spread of COVID-19. Normal economic and social life is gradually resuming. China has entered into a "new normal" of COVID-19 pandemic prevention and control. Part of the “new normal” is likely to see sporadic outbreaks and regional outbreaks. Currently, the general COVID-19 situation in China is stable. The public must take personal protective measures when traveling during the forthcoming New Year and Spring Festival holidays, such as wearing a mask when going out, frequent handwashing, regular ventilation, and avoiding crowds.
Director Liu reminded citizens to pay attention to the following points when traveling:
1. Reducing the number of persons traveling. During the New Year and the Spring Festival holidays, reasonable itineraries should be arranged to reduce unnecessary travel. During the Spring Festival travel rush, people returning home or resuming work are encouraged to travel at different time periods. The elderly, those with chronic diseases, and anyone pregnant are recommended not to travel. If you plan to travel across regions, educate yourself in advance of the local epidemic situation and any prevention and control policies. Travelers should understand whether there are recent cases or epidemics at their destination. It is recommended to postpone travel in high-risk areas. Masks, hand disinfectants, and other items should be carried for use on the road.
2. Reducing travel risks. During the holidays, the ventilation and disinfection measures should be strengthened at transportation stations and on transportation. Passengers should observe order and queue in an orderly manner when taking airplanes or trains, and wear masks throughout the journey. They should perform personal protection such as hand disinfection during the journey and minimize the number of meals on transportation. Please keep the tickets properly for inquiries. Meanwhile, please do a good job of health monitoring during the journey.
3. Reducing gatherings. During the holidays, please try to reduce the number of gatherings and the number of persons at gatherings. Enterprises and institutions holding gatherings and other activities should limit the number of people. Activities with more than 50 people should have prevention and control plans. Prevention and control measures should be implemented. Private family gatherings and dinners should be limited to less than 10 people and have proper personal protection. Families are encouraged to always keep windows open for ventilation.
4. Strengthening publicity and education of health science knowledge. All localities should increase publicizing COVID-19 epidemic prevention and control measures and how to travel safely during the holidays and guide the public to strengthen self-prevention and control. People are encouraged to practice good hygiene habits such as mask-wearing at gatherings and in confined places. They should wash hands frequently. People should use serving chopsticks, share meals, and cover up when coughing or sneezing.
5. If symptoms such as fever, dry cough, and fatigue appear, go to the nearest medical institution as soon as possible.