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How  COVID-19 outbreak slipped through China’s system?

How  COVID-19 outbreak slipped through China’s system?

Context: Nearly, 1 million are infected by COVID 19 across the world today. Though, the spread initially started in the month of December last year, until January 19, authorities in Wuhan maintained there was no proof of human-to-human transmission.

Studies suggest while China’s January 23 lockdown of 50 million people averted an additional 7,00,000 cases outside Wuhan, interventions one week and three weeks earlier may have brought down the number by 66% and 95%, respectively.

What led to the disaster?

  1. Communication gap: Every province, city and even district in China has its own Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), but these are subordinate to the health commission at every level so they do not directly report to the national level.
  2. Encroachment on freedom of speech: Doctors were told that they could not speak about what was happening in Wuhan. This downplayed the severity of the situation.
  3. Spread of infection: By the time the Wuhan province came under lockdown, as many as 5 million people had left.

Learning:

China finally came out in public on January 10 explaining the severing the situation. Only it was too late for the world. If they had acted earlier, say by January 7, it may have been an entirely different equation. The most important lesson is there has to be more transparency and an open environment for sharing and discussion. 

Sources: the Hindu.