China is confident the outbreak of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) will be brought under control by the end of April, Zhong Nanshan, the head of the country’s high-level expert team on the outbreak, said at a press conference in Guangzhou City on Thursday.
He further clarified that "under control" meant everything will be back on track by that time.
Zhong's team previously predicted the peak of the epidemic in China to arrive in mid to late February. He said, as expected, the number of people infected has been declining. “And we are confident that it will be largely contained (in China) by the end of April,” he noted.
He said at the beginning of the outbreak, there were foreign epidemiologists predicting the number of infected cases in China would reach 160,000 by early February based on a research model, and that the situation could be controlled as early as the end of May.
Zhong pointed out that their predictions did not take into account the powerful prevention and control measures taken by the Chinese government.
He said his estimate is based on the scientific model plus two strong influencing factors: the powerful measures taken by China and the possible travel peak after the Spring Festival holiday.
The virus might not have originated in China
Although the first coronavirus case was confirmed in China, the virus might not have originated in China, as many other countries are also reporting cases, Zhong said.
He said his team made the forecast based on the situation only in China. Now the development in other countries needs to be taken into consideration separately, he added.
China will share its experience with other countries
Zhong said he will give a video presentation to the European Respiratory Society this weekend at their invitation to introduce China's experience.
"It is a disease of humans, not of a country," said Zhong. "We need more international cooperation."
"I find the number of new cases in China is less than that of abroad," said Zhong. "South Korea, Iran and Italy are facing a quick increasing number of new confirmed cases. The measures China has taken may give them some inspiration."
Under strict mechanisms from mass prevention and control to joint prevention and control, China has seen a rapid decrease in new cases of coronavirus. The mechanism is rare, and countries with rapid spread of the virus can refer to China's approach, suggested Zhong. It's a key to ensure an early detection and quarantine of infected cases.