Expert reckons peak epidemic to pass within two weeks

Chinese respiratory scientist Zhong Nanshan

Mainland epidemiology expert, 83-year-old Zhong Nanshan, has recently amended his prediction regarding the peak of the current coronavirus outbreak, stating that he believes it will take place within the next 14 days at most, Chinese state media reported.
“We believe the epidemic will peak in the next 10 to 14 days, but we still need to enhance preventive measures and not lower our guard,” he said.
Back in 2003, Zhong was the official appointee in the mainland to oversee the response to the epidemic of the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), which infected 29 territories across the world and killed 774 patients from a total of 8,096 infected.
“We have learned from the successful therapy of SARS and established a set of effective treatment plans,” he said, as cited by China Daily. “And with the help of various life-support measures we have ensured the recovery success rate of patients.”
Similar to SARS in the early stage of its outbreak, the novel coronavirus has no effective cure yet, but Zhong pointed out that there are at least seven drugs targeting the virus’ genetic material going through various stages of clinical trials. A vaccine is also in the works, although it requires more time to reach clinical application.
Several news reports have pointed out that a vaccine for the new virus has been separately invented in several places, including Hong Kong. However, the vaccine must pass animal testing before being approved for administration to people.
The incubation period of the virus ranges from five to 14 days, but the expert noted that the average incubation period is around five days, with fever being the most common symptom.
Nonetheless, positive cases have been found to be infectious even without the patient presenting symptoms. Zhong added that these cases are the minority and that preventive efforts should be undertaken in full by all.
The Macau government has, from day one, reminded residents about the importance of avoiding crowded places, because it can be the main channel of contagion. Zhong visited Macau during the very early period of the local epidemic.
Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng earlier said he and Zhong maintained daily phone conversations to consult about the situation. Zhong stressed that the most effective preventive measures are early detection and quarantine.
Zhong reminded the public of two issues in the global fight against the outbreak. Firstly, differentiation between patients with the common flu and those infected with coronavirus can be a tricky task since both illnesses share symptoms. The eighth case in Macau had been to hospital at least three times for a prolonged fever before being diagnosed with the 2019-nCoV.
Secondly, Zhong advocated for optimizing the management and allocation of resources to better protect hospitals and medical staff working on the frontline from infections.
The Health Bureau of Macau has conducted measures accordingly, such as shortening the work time of frontline medical staff in the isolation ward. Anthony Lam

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