Caixin
Aug 19, 2021 05:38 PM
CHINA

Zhang Wenhong: My Dream Scenario for Fighting Covid

Zhang Wenhong, director of China’s National Center of Infectious Diseases. Photo: VCG
Zhang Wenhong, director of China’s National Center of Infectious Diseases. Photo: VCG

Recently, many people have expressed their concern for me. In gratitude, I would like to share what I have been up to over the last few days.

Monday, Aug. 16

The Shanghai Public Health Clinical Center’s expert group made the rounds at the center’s wards and summarized the experience of treating the delta variant of the coronavirus. We concluded that we are able to cure patients infected with the variant and the virus remains under control. Vaccinated patients show mild symptoms and are less likely to fall seriously ill.

What made Monday less perfect was the suspension of the Special Needs Clinic in the afternoon, where I was supposed to see patients. The clinic was suspended because of the expert group’s rounds. I felt sorry for the patients who registered for the clinic.

Tuesday, Aug. 17

Many patients fought extremely hard to register online for an appointment, especially patients from outside the city who had already come to Shanghai. It must have been devastating for them to hear about the suspension. The only thing we could do was to kindly ask them to apply for a refund and register for my general clinic Tuesday morning.

Now, these people had to spend another day in Shanghai, but at least they were able to save a few hundred yuan from the registration fee.

Because my general clinic is scheduled for Tuesday morning, I had two clinic shifts that day. I was tired, but I didn’t let my patients down. We must respect and value the people we serve. It is the least we can do as medical professionals.

Wednesday, Aug. 18

On my way to the office, at 7 o’clock in the morning, I was informed by the Shanghai Municipal Health Commission about a new Covid case in Shanghai — an employee at the Shanghai Songjiang District Central Hospital had tested positive after a routine nucleic acid test that staff must take every three days. I rushed to the Songjiang District Center for Disease Control and Prevention where Deputy Mayor Zong Ming, who is in charge of health affairs, was presiding over a meeting. The detected case triggered the city’s prevention and control system. Shanghai has achieved the following:

• Early detection: The person in question tested negative in previous routine nucleic acid tests, meaning that the infection occurred recently and was detected early.

• Rapid response: After the case was confirmed in the morning, 10 people who had been in close contact with the infected person were identified before 6 p.m. the same day, all of whom were still in the city. Since then, all have been under centralized quarantine, and their first nucleic acid test results were all negative. All of the 66 close contacts of those 10 were also identified and put under centralized quarantine, and their nucleic acid test results were all negative.

• Wide-ranging precautions: A total of 7,347 subjects for screening have been identified, and they have all taken nucleic acid tests. All their test results came back negative. All sites visited by the infected in the days leading up to the positive test result have been closed off. Test samples have been taken from the surroundings. So far, 272 samples have been taken, and all the results have been negative.

During this pandemic, we all face challenges from imported or local cases. There is nothing strange about a few cases appearing here and there. As long as the fight against the virus is normalized and professionalized, there is still hope that we return to living normal lives.

For example, as I type these words, I am watching a press conference with professor Wu Fan, Shanghai’s “anti-pandemic superwoman” and a member of the Shanghai expert group, and Gu Jieyan, deputy head of Songjiang district. As usual, Wu Jinglei, director of the Shanghai Municipal Health Commission — who has organized all the press releases — handles everything very professionally.

Someone asked me what my dream scenario would be for the fight against the epidemic. What I hope for is that the fight can proceed in a normal and orderly manner, as if there never was a pandemic, because all prevention and control measures were normalized. Just like today, out of the core team, Wu Fan worked overtime for the press conference. Meanwhile Peng Jing, head of the epidemic prevention and control expert group, and myself, the medical team leader, got off work on time.

At present, the pandemic remains very serious around the world, and China still faces huge challenges. But we must believe that we can beat the pandemic, as our country’s strategy to fight the epidemic is the best one for us at present — only the feet can know if the shoes fit well.

Contact editor Michael Bellart (michaelbellart@caixin.com)

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