Re­minder war against virus not yet won

China Daily Global Edi­tion (USA), United States of Amer­ica, 17 Septem­ber 2020, https://www.pressreade­r.com/ar­ti­cle/2818873007­31358

COVID-19 News - - News -

As busi­nesses restart, schools re­open, and the econ­omy re­gains vi­tal­ity, the coun­try is in­creas­ingly close to pre-pan­demic nor­malcy. But just as peo­ple may be eas­ing their vig­i­lance and em­brac­ing the “post-pan­demic new nor­mal”, the small bor­der town of Ruili in south­west of Yun­nan prov­ince of­fered a stern new warn­ing that there can be no com­pla­cency.

Fol­low­ing the con­fir­ma­tion of two fresh im­ported COVID-19 in­fec­tions in Ruili from neigh­bor­ing Myan­mar on Sun­day, eight pre­fec­tures/cities and 25 coun­ties in Yun­nan prov­ince’s bor­der ar­eas were or­dered to “im­me­di­ately en­ter a wartime state” to fend off the virus.

In Ruili, in par­tic­u­lar, all res­i­dents in the city proper are un­der week­long com­pul­sory home quar­an­tine, re­ceiv­ing nu­cleic acid tests, and pro­hib­ited from leav­ing the city “ex­cept un­der spe­cial cir­cum­stances”. All busi­ness venues, ex­cept su­per­mar­kets, phar­ma­cies, and farm­ers’ mar­kets, have been shut down. All lo­cal traf­fic, with the ex­cep­tion of that for es­sen­tial sup­plies, has come to a stop.

Since the city­wide freeze came all of a sud­den, there was lit­tle time to pre­pare. As a result, there have been re­ports of dras­tic price hikes for many ev­ery­day ne­ces­si­ties.

For­tu­nately, the city has only slightly more than 210,000 per­ma­nent res­i­dents, and with the Yun­nan au­thor­i­ties mo­bi­liz­ing quickly and broadly to guar­an­tee sup­plies, the pos­si­bil­ity of sus­tained short­age or spec­u­la­tive ac­tiv­i­ties sig­nif­i­cantly dis­rupt­ing lo­cal sup­plies is very low.

As the coun­try has learned over the past months, early de­tec­tion and in­ter­ven­tion re­mains the most ef­fec­tive safe­guard in the ab­sence of an ef­fec­tive vac­cine or treat­ment. Pre­cau­tion in such a form is no doubt costly and con­tro­ver­sial. But there is sim­ply no bet­ter al­ter­na­tive for the time be­ing.

The trou­ble for Ruili started with the il­licit en­try of two peo­ple in­fected with the virus, which again high­lights the im­por­tance of proper bor­der con­trol. But it has been rel­a­tively easy to prac­tice con­trol over law­ful en­try and exit at bor­der passes, it is com­pletely dif­fer­ent when it comes to those cross­ing the bor­der il­le­gally.

That is a weak­ness in the

coun­try’s de­fenses against im­ported in­fec­tions that needs to be ad­dressed.

Since the dif­fi­cult ter­rain in Yun­nan’s moun­tain­ous bor­der re­gions con­sid­er­ably adds to the dif­fi­culty in ex­ert­ing ef­fec­tive con­trol, there might be no bet­ter pre­cau­tion than the prov­ince or­der­ing a broad freeze on peo­ple cross­ing the bor­der.

What has hap­pened to Ruili as a result of two il­le­gal im­mi­grants in­fected with the highly con­ta­gious virus entering il­le­gally — the shut­ting down of the en­tire city — is a timely re­minder the fight against the virus must be on a war footing wherever it launches a new of­fen­sive.

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