Associate professor & doctor, Institute of Social Development, Southwestern University of Finance and Economics, Chengdu, China.
Address: 55 Guanghuacun Road, Chengdu city, 610074, China.
The prevention, control, and intervention measures implemented after the COVID-19 outbreak in China have been praised by WHO, UN, and the international community. However, it is of utmost necessity to note the deficiency that desperately needs improvement for future reference. Judging by the increasing speed of epidemic outbreak, it seems that it is with no doubt extremely important to confront a public health emergency that may result in substantial threats and damages to the health of the general public. In this short blog, I will focus on a few rising issues exposed from the existing crisis response and intervention mechanism after the SARS epidemic in China.
Epidemic prevention and control does not only concern the medical field, but rather requires the cooperation of all relevant disciplines and personnel, which cannot be better demonstrated during the outbreak in China. China has also built up a crisis response and intervention mechanism after SARS that emphasizes the need “to identify to origin of infection, to cut off infection channels, and to protect susceptible population”.
Although many provinces have launched the established crisis response and intervention mechanism, it is not enough to cope with the rapid spread of SARS-CoV-2, especially in virus testing and isolating stages (Li, et al., 2020). Qualified testing kits would take several years to appear on the market, which often involves scientific research, medical ethics approval, qualification certifying, production, distribution, and so on. In the wake of a national and even global epidemic, the question arises of how to ensure that qualified health institutions obtain certified qualifications at the first instance under the premise of rigorous tests and standards of biosafety. After the outbreak, many qualified institutions could not obtain test certification in good time, and a huge number of suspected cases were piling up consequently. The communication channel was not set in proper place between the relevant authorities (e.g. CDC), and research and medical institutions capable of testing the virus. Being unable to accurately and efficiently test the virus makes it enormously difficult to isolate the confirmed and suspected cases from the general public, and to cut off the infection channels. Moreover, according to Ding et al. (2020), the hospital bed population ratio of infectious disease was 0.64/10, 000, which is far below the national standard of 1.2-1.5/10,000. Even though the Chinese government created hospitals such as Leishenshan, Huoshenshan, and Fangcang hospitals (mobile cabin hospitals) in unprecedented speed, lack of sufficient medical facilities played a major role in causing more deaths and increasing the difficulty of infection quarantine in the early stage of the outbreak.
(Inside of mobile cabin hospitals)
Therefore, a crisis response and intervention mechanism needs further development in improving the collaboration and communication channels between the relevant government sectors, CDC, medical institutes, and research organizations, as well as optimizing relevant medical facilities to meet the needs of combating the outbreak of such an epidemic.
- Ding, L., Cai, W., Ding, J. et al. (2020). An interim review of lessons from the Novel Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) outbreak in China. Scientia Sinica Vitae. Doi:10.1360/SSV-2020-0044.
- Li Q., Guan X., Wu P., et al. (2020). Early transmission dynamics in Wuhan, China, of novel coronavirus-infected pneumonia. N Engl J Med. Doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa2001316.