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Engineering >> 2022, Volume 8, Issue 1 doi: 10.1016/j.eng.2020.12.019

Enlightenment from the COVID-19 Pandemic: The Roles of Environmental Factors in Future Public Health Emergency Response

a State Key Laboratory of Environmental Criteria and Risk Assessment, Chinese Research Academy of Environmental Sciences, Beijing 100012, China
b State Key Laboratory of Marine Pollution and Department of Chemistry, City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China
c Department of Veterinary Biomedical Sciences and Toxicology Centre, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, SK, S7N 5E2, Canada
d Department of Environmental Sciences, Baylor University, Waco, TX, 76798, USA

Received:2020-10-14 Revised:2020-12-22 Accepted: 2020-12-30 Available online:2021-03-13

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The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic is challenging the current public health emergency response systems (PHERSs) of many countries. Although environmental factors, such as those influencing the survival of viruses and their transmission between species including humans, play important roles in PHERSs, little attention has been given to these factors. This study describes and elucidates the roles of environmental factors in future PHERSs. To improve countries' capability to respond to public health emergencies associated with viral infections such as the COVID-19 pandemic, a number of environmental factors should be considered before, during, and after the responses to such emergencies. More specifically, to prevent pandemic outbreaks, we should strengthen environmental and wildlife protection, conduct detailed viral surveillance in animals and hotspots, and improve early-warning systems. During the pandemic, we must study the impacts of environmental factors on viral behaviors, develop control measures to minimize secondary environmental risks, and conduct timely assessments of viral risks and secondary environmental effects with a view to reducing the impacts of the pandemic on human health and on ecosystems. After the pandemic, we should further strengthen surveillance for viruses and the prevention of viral spread, maintain control measures for minimizing secondary environmental risks, develop our capability to scientifically predict pandemics and resurgences, and prepare for the next unexpected resurgence. Meanwhile, we should restore the normal life and production of the public based on the "One Health" concept, that views global human and environmental health as inextricably linked. Our recommendations are essential for improving nations' capability to respond to global public health emergencies.


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