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Study hails impact of lockdown on outbreak

By ZHOU JIN | China Daily | Updated: 2020-04-02 07:30
A resident rides past the closed Huangpu Road metro station in Wuhan, Hubei province, on Jan 25, 2020. [Photo by Zhou Guoqiang/for]

A study published on Tuesday by Science magazine suggests that the lockdown of Wuhan, capital of Hubei province, combined with the Level 1 national emergency response, averted hundreds of thousands of COVID-19 cases in China.

Stringent controls in the first 50 days of the epidemic gave other cities across China valuable time to prepare and introduce their own measures, according to the paper by researchers in China, the United States and the United Kingdom.

China's decision to lock down Wuhan may have prevented more than 700,000 new cases by delaying the spread of the virus, researchers said.

"China's control measures appear to have worked by successfully breaking the chain of transmission-preventing contact between infectious and susceptible people."

The paper's findings are consistent with the view of the World Health Organization as well as the consensus reached by leaders and experts from many countries, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said on Wednesday.

"The Chinese government has taken the most comprehensive, thorough and rigorous countermeasures at the earliest time possible," she said, adding that the country bought time for the international community in combating COVID-19.

China would like to continue international cooperation, sharing experience on containing the virus to win the battle against the pandemic as soon as possible and safeguard global and regional public health security, she said.

To investigate the impact of travel restrictions and social distancing measures on infection spread, the researchers used data on COVID-19 epidemiology, human movement and public health intervention in China in an analysis that spanned from Dec 31 to Feb 19.

During this period, China imposed a travel ban on Wuhan on Jan 23 and raised its national public health response to the highest level, including suspension of public transport, closing entertainment venues, and bans on large public gatherings.

Without the travel ban on Wuhan or the national emergency response, there would have been approximately 744,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases outside Wuhan by Feb 19, the study suggests.

Xinhua and Agence France-Presse contributed to this story.

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