2nd global COVID-19 outbreak has begun, could worsen as winter comes: experts

▲A man walks past a sign warning of fines for not wearing a face covering at Waterloo Station in London, Britain, on Sept. 23, 2020. (Photo: Xinhua)

The second global COVID-19 outbreak has begun as some European cities enter lockdowns again, and the US reports tens of thousands of new cases per day, China’s top respiratory expert Zhong Nanshan said Friday, warning that the situation may continue to worsen as the weather gets colder in the northern hemisphere.  

Zhong made the remarks via video call while addressing the Healthy China Summit Forum of TCM Promotion Conference held in Shijiazhuang, North China’s Hebei Province.  

In China, to be specific, a second national outbreak is unlikely due to complete anti-epidemic measures and nationwide strict implementation, but attention should be paid to prevent sporadic outbreaks in some places, Zhong said, referring to the previous eight regional outbreaks in the country from Wuhan to the latest in Kashi. 

The period between each outbreak is getting shorter and shorter, Zhong noted. 

The epidemic related to the Xinfadi market in Beijing was discovered on June 11, 64 days after Wuhan, where the world’s first COVID-19 case was discovered, ended 76-day lockdown. But there were only 13 days between the discovery of the latest outbreaks in Kashi and Qingdao.    

As winter is approaching in the northern hemisphere, the public has been worrying over dual infection of flu and the novel coronavirus, which, according to Zhong, had occurred in previous COVID-19 patients.    

The most effective way to prevent COVID-19 infection is still self-protection measures including wearing masks, physical distancing and keeping good indoor ventilation, which have helped reduce the spread of other infectious diseases like the flu, hand-foot-mouth disease and parotitis, Zhong said. 

From October 1 to 10, the number of flu cases reported in Beijing showed a 31.2 percent year-on-year decrease, media reported, citing the Beijing health authority.

Zhong called for simultaneous testing for COVID-19 and flu infections to reach a diagnosis and prescribe suitable treatment as soon as possible. 

Gao Fu, director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Chinese CDC), also attended the forum.

To the public, the COVID-19 pandemic is a Black Swan event that is difficult to predict, but to scientists and researchers, it is actually a Grey Rhino event whose appearance was just a matter of time, Gao said. 

Gao warned that the SARS-CoV-2 which led to COVID-19 is the seventh coronavirus that humans have been infected with, and will not be the last. 

“The next coronavirus may be sleeping somewhere and could wake up at any time,” Gao said.

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