Beijing(ANN)- China’s leading respiratory expert has warned that the country still faces the danger of a second wave of COVID-19 infections due to a lack of immunity among the population.
Zhong Nanshan, China’s senior medical adviser and the public face of the government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic made the comments in an exclusive interview with CNN on Saturday.
“The majority of… Chinese at the moment are still susceptible of the Covid-19 infection, because (of) a lack of immunity,” Zhong said.
“We are facing (a) big challenge, it’s not better than the foreign countries I think at the moment,” he added.
The new coronavirus, which causes a respiratory disease known as COVID-19, emerged in the city of Wuhan in December last year, incrementally affecting the rest of the world.
The virus has so far infected 4,753,943 people worldwide, and over 313,896 have died, according to a running count by worldometers.info.
China is believed to have brought the country’s coronavirus outbreak under control, but there is now growing anxiety about an influx of new infections as fresh clusters of cases have emerged across China in recent weeks.
China has reported more than 82,000 coronavirus cases, with at least 4,634 deaths, according to data from the country’s National Health Commission (NHC).
Zhong, who has also led Chinese medical workers to beat the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndromes (SARS) back in 2003, further cautioned that finding a “perfect” vaccine for the novel coronavirus could take “years”.
“We have to test again and again and again … by using different kinds of vaccines. It’s too early to draw any conclusion which kind of vaccine is available for this kind of coronavirus … that’s why I suggest that the final approval of vaccine (will) take much longer,” he said.
Scientists are working at breakneck speed to develop a vaccine for COVID-19.
The search for a vaccine became even more urgent after the World Health Organization said the disease many never go away and the world would have to learn to live with it for good.
The prospect of the disease lingering leaves governments facing a delicate balancing act between suppressing the pathogen and getting their economies up and running.
Children ‘seem less capable of spreading virus’: WHO’s chief scientist
The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Sunday that children are less capable of spreading COVID-19 and are at low risk of getting ill from the disease itself.
Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, WHO Chief Scientist Soumya Swaminathan said that there are reports of children getting admitted with a strange syndrome that causes inflammation of the blood vessels.
She added that it’s not clear what links are between COVID-19 and this syndrome. “There are some children who tested positive for the virus and some who haven’t.”
Several cases of this syndrome have now been reported from Spain, Italy, UK, US and other countries.
The WHO on Friday urged clinicians to be alert to the rare syndrome, but cautioned that links to COVID-19 were still unclear.
The condition, known as pediatric inflammatory multisystem syndrome (PIMS), shares symptoms with toxic shock and Kawasaki disease including fever, rashes, swollen glands and, in severe cases, heart inflammation.
Qatar imposes mandatory masks on pain of prison
Qatar has begun enforcing the world’s toughest penalties of up to three years’ imprisonment for failing to wear masks in public, as it battles one of the world’s highest coronavirus infection rates.
More than 30,000 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in the tiny Gulf country — 1.1 percent of the 2.75 million population — although just 15 people have died.
Only the micro-states of San Marino and the Vatican had higher per-capita infection rates, according to the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control.
Violators of Qatar’s new rules will face up to three years in jail and fines of as much as $55,000.
Drivers alone in their vehicles are exempt from the requirement, but several expats told AFP that police were stopping cars at checkpoints to warn them of the new rules before they came into force.
Most of the customers who gathered outside money lenders on Doha’s Banks Street on Sunday wore masks, while those that didn’t produced a face covering when asked.
Wearing a mask is currently mandatory in around 50 countries, although scientists are divided on their effectiveness.
Authorities in Chad have made it an offence to be unmasked in public, on pain of 15 days in prison. In Morocco similar rules can see violators jailed for three months and fined up to 1,300 dirhams ($130).
India’s NDMA seeks lockdown extension to May 31
India’s National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has asked the government to extend a nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus to May 31, as cases exceeded 90,000 and further clashes erupted between police and stranded migrants.
The NDMA, responsible for setting policy on the lockdown, made its request in a letter to India’s interior ministry, which is expected to issue detailed guidelines later on Sunday.
India has now reported more cases than China, where the virus first emerged late last year, although its number of deaths so far, at 2,872, is much lower than China’s 4,600. The death toll in the United States and some European countries is much higher.