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China's hard-and-fast approach needed to constrain Delta variant: New Zealand expert

WELLINGTON, July 19 (Xinhua) -- A New Zealand microbiologist has advocated for a hard-and-fast approach, as that taken by the Chinese government, to contain the spread of COVID-19 Delta variant.

Associate Professor Siouxsie Wiles from the University of Auckland has argued for a prompt and complex government response when dealing with potential COVID-19 Delta variant infection, by comparing the Australian government's slow-and-steady approach with the hard-and-fast approach by the Chinese government in pandemic control restrictions, local news media Stuff reported on Monday.

In mid-June, an unvaccinated and unmasked van driver working with the Sydney airport responsible for transporting international aircrew, became infected with the Delta variant.

"We know how Sydney ended up where it is now. That one case has gone on to seed an outbreak. It may even be approaching 1,500. More than 70 people were in hospitals, about 20 of them in intensive care. Sadly, deaths are possible," said Wiles.

Wiles believed that the outbreak is a combination of the increased infectiousness of the Delta variant and a state government that decided to take the slow-and-steady rather than hard-and-fast approach to enacting pandemic restrictions.

"A new study sheds light on just how much more infectious Delta is. Researchers from China and the UK examined the first Delta variant outbreak in mainland China. It started in late May, and like Sydney's, with one case. China takes the hard-and-fast approach to deal with COVID-19, so the outbreak was over by mid-June with 167 cases," said Wiles.

Wiles said Chinese health officials started population-wide screening as soon as the first case was detected, and the close contacts of anyone who tested positive were put into managed isolation and were given daily PCR tests.

"Researchers found that people with Delta tested positive on average around 3.7 days after exposure compared to around six days with the earlier variants, a shortened incubation period," said Wiles.

"This reinforces that hard and fast is the right way to stamp out Delta outbreaks," stressed Wiles.

She also warned that New Zealand could easily end up with a community outbreak of Delta, given that two boats with Delta-positive mariners have docked in New Zealand's ports last week.

Wiles also warned of the faster replication rate in the early stages of the Delta variant infection.

"This means the infected people will be shedding more virus and more opportunities for new variants of Delta to evolve," said Wiles.

"With so many countries currently experiencing uncontrolled transmission of Delta, it's scary to think about how much worse the virus might get," said Wiles. Enditem

[ Editor: JYZ ]