Protecting lives in disasters seen as priority amid epidemic period

Quake relief supplies are distributed to residents in Moxi township of Luding county, Southwest China's Sichuan province, Sept 5, 2022. (PHOTO / XINHUA)

Protecting the lives of people in disasters such as earthquakes, fires and floods should be the priority amid a period of COVID-19 epidemic prevention and control, the health commission in Chengdu, Sichuan province, said on Monday after a strong tremor hit a county in the province and was felt all the way to the provincial capital.

The health commission in Chengdu urged residents to take good protective measures while evacuating, if conditions permit, and to avoid close contact with others while taking refuge

The commission urged residents to take good protective measures while evacuating, if conditions permit, and to avoid close contact with others while taking refuge.

A 6.8-magnitude quake jolted Luding county at 12:52 pm on Monday, the China Earthquake Networks Center reported. The temblor was felt in Chengdu, 226 kilometers from its epicenter. The epicenter was at 29 degrees 59 minutes north latitude and 102 degrees 8 minutes east longitude at a depth of 16 kilometers, in the mountains southwest of Chengdu.

"We felt strong shocks when the earthquake came and immediately ran into the bathroom — the most solid place indoors," said 41-year-old Chengdu resident Liu Shucen. "When the shocks ended, we went downstairs to an open place, of course wearing masks."

"Staff members from the community and residential property gave several safety tips in WeChat groups, bringing us a sense of security," he said. "The statement from the commission gave us a clear explanation about epidemic prevention and disaster protection."   

"My neighbors didn't appear very hurried or confused, and most of them had good protection when they ran outside," he added.

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Chengdu reported 59 local COVID-19 cases and 31 asymptomatic carriers who did not show any symptoms on Monday, the commission said on Tuesday. It was the largest number of new confirmed infections on the Chinese mainland.

Based on the scientific assessment of the epidemic prevention and control situation, Xinjin district and the city of Qionglai will gradually resume normal activities, said a statement released on Sunday by Chengdu's epidemic control and prevention headquarters. Both areas are administrated by Chengdu.

All the other regions in the city remain under static management, where residents are required to stay at home and unnecessary business activity is suspended. Under static management, households under lockdown have been permitted to send one member with a negative nucleic acid test result obtained within 24 hours to go out for two hours a day to buy supplies.

Experts advised the public on how to avoid danger when a strong earthquake hits during the epidemic.

"Everyone should prepare an earthquake emergency kit containing drinking water, compressed biscuits, thermal blankets, flashlights, whistles, folding knives, toilet paper and medical kits," said Wang Tun, an expert on earthquake early warning and multi-disaster warning information technology at Sichuan University. "Masks and alcohol disinfectant are also necessary, but be careful to stay away from fire."

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When an earthquake strikes, people who are under home quarantine should judge the distance and strength of the quake and try to protect themselves, he said.

"If there is a slight earthquake, try to protect yourself from falling objects. And if encountering a strong one, please take shelter in a safe indoor area together with the emergency kit," he said.

If people can reach the outdoors, they should wear masks and run to open areas as soon as possible, he said, adding that it is "necessary to maintain a safe distance from crowds."

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