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China to boost COVID-19 precautions during winter and spring

Updated: 2020-11-26




Ma Xiaowei, minister of the National Health Commission (NHC), speaks at a videoconference on epidemic prevention and control on Nov 22. [Photo/nhc.gov.cn] 

A videoconference was held by the National Health Commission (NHC) on Nov 22 to urge unremitting efforts in COVID-19 epidemic prevention and control in the winter and spring. NHC's Minister Ma Xiaowei attended and addressed the conference.

It was stressed at the conference that the challenges posed by the epidemic will still be serious over the winter and spring, and strict containment measures should be taken to prevent both imported cases and domestic rebounds.

It is of great necessity to consolidate the current achievements in the virus fight to ensure public health security and provide a sound environment for high-quality social and economic development, according to the conference.

Based on a recent inspection of anti-epidemic responses, measures in five aspects were underlined at the conference.

The first is to enhance the system of epidemic monitoring and information reporting. The top health authorities said that efforts should be made to appropriately expand the scope of compulsory nucleic acid testing, increase the frequency of regular testing and make reasonable arrangements for investigation, reporting and referral of cases identified at fever clinics. It is also required to report in accordance with the facts and laws and regulations when an outbreak occurs.

Second, measures related to management of inbound travelers need to be taken to prevent imported infections. Professional training for quarantine staff at airports should be intensified to ensure services are strictly based on the regulations. The closed-loop management of travelers that includes pick-up and transfer as well as medical observation at home should also be strengthened.

To prevent imported COVID-19 infections through land border, the meeting highlighted the efforts to inspect and control illegal arrivals and to improve self-protection of high-risk groups.

Third, the conference called for great attention to preventing infections at hospitals. Apart from control mechanism, shift systems and regular inspection, re-evaluation of current designated hospitals and fever clinics needs to be done and those not up to the standards should be disqualified or improved with enough personnel and equipment as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, supporting mechanism in terms of personnel and equipment must be established in large-scale complex hospitals.

Fourth, the conference stressed emergency response to COVID-19 clusters. Medical institutions should fulfill their duties in regular compulsory nucleic acid testing for outpatients and inpatients, and the role of eligible third-party testing agencies should be given full play to ensure timely feedback of testing results.    In-time response of local authorities and regional collaboration are essential to an efficient response to emergencies, according to the conference. Practical drills should also be carried out to promote training in disease control, medical treatment, testing, and epidemiological surveys. Besides, great importance must be attached to epidemiological investigation and virus traceability.

Fifth, health authorities should beef up efforts in COVID-19 prevention and control around the Spring Festival holiday. Measures proved effective during the previous holidays, including reductions in crowd flows, travel risks and mass gatherings, and increases in personal protection, need to be continued. Targeted actions are required to prevent the epidemic in rural areas.

Officials from provincial health authorities of Shanghai municipality, Yunnan province and Inner Mongolia autonomous region spoke at the conference. Other participants included officials from the NHC, its affiliated institutions and hospitals, provincial and municipal level health authorities, provincial centers of disease control and prevention, and major hospitals in provincial capitals and cities with independent planning status.