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16 April

American, Chinese health experts emphasize testing, public education to fight COVID-19

American, Chinese health experts emphasize testing, public education to fight COVID-19

American and Chinese health experts agreed Wednesday that COVID-19 testing and public health education are crucial at this moment to slow down the spread of the novel coronavirus.

During a video U.S.-China symposium on COVID-19, health expert from the U.S. city of Houston and the Chinese city of Shanghai shared their experience in fighting the global pandemic.

David Persse, an official with the City of Houston Public Health Authority, said the United States has some challenge in COVID-19 testing, but "the situation is improving."

"With the absence of any known anti-virus medicine or vaccine, we should really focus on as much possible accurate testing as we can," he said.

Persse said Houston has done a lot trying to expand the testing because the important data coming from testing sites can help the isolation and quarantine of confirmed or suspicious cases.

Sharing the experience in Shanghai, Zhang Wenhong, who heads a Shanghai medical team to fight the COVID-19 epidemic, agreed to the importance of testing to control the spread of the virus.

"Diagnosing as many as possible by maximizing the testing in the city is the first step," he said. "Then trace the close contacts and quarantine them."

In order to decrease the mortality rate, find the patients and give them treatment at an early stage "as quickly as we can," he added.

When it is proper to reopen business was also discussed by the experts. Wu Fan, vice-dean of Shanghai Fudan University Medical School, argued that authorities should make sure there is no community transmission and suspicious cases are all in control before reopen business, no matter how many patients are in hospital.

Besides, she said social distancing should continue for a longer period of time even after business is reopened. Hospitals and clinics should also remain in high sensitivity in case newly infected cases are found.

Admitting the challenge, Persse said, "we have to be very careful and tactical to our approach that the decisions are to be made as we move forward."

Regarding public health education, experts from both countries shared the view that the pandemic has brought about new challenge and urgency. Wu said that in Shanghai, she and her college have used every method of mass media and social media to fight rumor and send correct message to the public.

Educating the public by daily briefing, Persse said the Houston authorities need to make sure to send "consistent message" to the public.

While there can be cultural difference regarding wearing face masks in China and the United States, Zhang argued that wearing masks in public places can be considered as a way of social distancing.

"Social distancing is the core to win the battle and wearing masks strengthens the social distancing," he said.

Zhang and Persse agreed that China and the United States should work together and help other countries fight the pandemic. "It is the battle all around the world and we will win the battle in the end," said Zhang.

TV BRICS reports with reference to Xinhua News Agency

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