Medics from North China's Inner Mongolia autonomous region and East China's Zhejiang province keep providing treatment for severe patients with COVID-19 in Wuhan, Central China's Hubei province, on March 19, 2020. (Photo: China Daily)
China contained the novel coronavirus in an effective way because it introduced control measures early, and adjusted them in response to changes in transmission, according to a report from a leading British university.
The latest Imperial College London report on the virus and the COVID-19 disease it causes describes how the early implementation of control measures and their timely adjustment are important in containing novel coronavirus transmission.
Imperial's researchers said measures such as school closures, travel restrictions, and contact tracing, which were introduced in provinces at a stage when few cases of infection were being reported, was essential to limiting and averting transmission.
The team also noted that the focus of control strategies shifted, following the first wave of locally driven cases, encompassing compulsory testing and quarantine for all incoming travelers, and close monitoring of asymptomatic infections, all of which helped China maintain a relatively small number of cases over time.
To understand the epidemic trends of COVID-19 in China, the researchers carried out data collation and descriptive analysis from mid-January up to the end of March in 31 Chinese provinces and municipalities, with a focus on the six most affected provinces.
In comparison to Hubei province, the five other most-affected provinces－Guangdong, Henan, Zhejiang, Hunan, and Anhui－reported a lower case-to-fatality ratio and smaller proportion of severe hospitalized cases over time.
In Hubei, there were fewer contacts traced per case, which might be explained by reduced contact activity during the lockdown period.
From March 2020, the first waves driven by local transmission declined, while the burden of imported cases increased. The focus of control measures, therefore, shifted toward testing and quarantine of inbound travelers, to continue the suppression of transmission.
Fu Han, co-author of the report, said: "The analysis shows consistency with the interpretation of the importance of early implementation and proper adjustment of control strategies over the changing epidemic."
Xi Xiaoyue, another co-author, said: "By collecting both epidemic data and intervention strategies from the provincial health commission in mainland China, our study compares differences in epidemics and level of controls between provinces and provides detailed data to potentially assess the effectiveness of control policies, which might support the response to the ongoing global pandemic."
Since the emergence of the novel coronavirus in December 2019, the Imperial College COVID-19 Response Team has adopted a policy of immediately sharing research findings on the developing pandemic.
In June, the leaders of the university and Tsinghua University called for global collaboration in tackling the novel coronavirus pandemic and other global challenges.
A joint symposium organized by the two universities brought together academics from the fields of economics, vaccine development, and diagnostic tools, to share their thoughts on the impact of the pandemic and ways in which their research can help.