Factory in Kashi likely the starting point of the latest outbreak in Xinjiang: local authority

A medical worker stands by as people line up to have their samples collected for nucleic acid testing in Shufu County of Kashgar Prefecture, northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, Oct. 26, 2020. Photo: Xinhua

A factory in Zhanmin town of Shufu, Kashi prefecture in Northwest China’s Xinjiang Autonomous Region is very likely the starting point of the latest outbreak in the region according to an epidemiological survey showing the virus has been found in warehouses and washrooms in the factory, local health authority said at a press conference Thursday night.   

Xinjiang reported six new confirmed cases and 15 asymptomatic cases, bringing the number of confirmed cases in the region to 78 and 339 asymptomatic cases, local health authority said at the press conference. 

All of the confirmed cases and 318 of the asymptomatic cases were discovered in Kashi. Twenty-one other asymptomatic cases were found in neighboring Kizilsu Kirgiz Autonomous Prefecture, according to the local authority. 

Cui Yan from the Xinjiang diseases control and prevention center said at the press conference that as of Wednesday, the regional authority had finished primary epidemiological survey on 409 infection cases. 

The authority has also finished collecting information of patients who showed symptoms of respiratory disease and had a fever and cough or who bought medicines in pharmacies from September 20 to October 24. Meanwhile, 1,135 samples of the environment, items and animals have been collected 

Most of the samples that tested positive were collected from a factory in Shufu, and included warehouses, washrooms and workshops of the factory, which indicates that the factory is highly likely the starting point of the latest outbreak in the region, according to Cui.  

A 17-year-old woman, a villager in Zhanmin town of Shufu, who tested positive during regular nucleic acid testing on October 24 and was diagnosed as an asymptomatic case, may be the first patient in the latest outbreak.

Chinese Vice Premier Sun Chunlan visited Kashi and Kizilsu Kirgiz to investigate the epidemic prevention and control work on Wednesday and Thursday, during which she stressed that the epidemic should be stopped as soon as possible in an urgent wartime situation, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

Sun noted that most cases are asymptomatic and young people. The epidemic is mainly found in village-run enterprises in rural areas, which have relatively closed operating spaces. 

The full gene sequencing of virus is different and the task to stop the spread of the virus and prevent a rebounding remains arduous.

Quarantine management should be strictly enforced, she noted.

Medical resources in southern Xinjiang are relatively weak, so it is necessary to incorporate them into the construction of regional medical centers and increase support to better meet the long-term anti-epidemic work and people’s medical needs, Sun pointed out.

The epidemic has exposed some shortcomings in the prevention and control of the epidemic in rural areas, Sun said noting that anti-epidemic plans and guidance have to be promoted in light of the epidemiological characteristics of the epidemic in rural areas.

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