Nurses learn about a pregnant woman's health condition at the emergency clinic of the International Peace Maternity &Child Health Hospital of China welfare institute in Shanghai, April 1, 2022. (Photo/Xinhua)
Medical demands during a COVID-19 outbreak must be addressed and handled properly, and turning away patients due to claims of virus control is strictly prohibited, a senior health official said on Saturday.
Lei Haichao, vice-minister of the National Health Commission, said during a news briefing that communities hit by the virus should set up an emergency protocol to ensure the delivery of regular medical services by obtaining a full account of the elderly, pregnant women and patients on dialysis, as well as making special arrangements by designating hospitals to receive COVID-risk groups and setting up green channels for hospital visits.
For medical facilities affected by COVID-19, Lei said necessary precautionary measures, such as disinfecting places where infected people had been, should be implemented, but that hospitals should not be closed for prolonged periods.
"Once disinfection is completed and the risk is deemed under control, the normal operation of medical institutions should be resumed immediately," he said.
"The principle of putting people and their lives first is embedded not only in our disease control work, but is also a provision of regular healthcare services," he added.
As part of preparedness for an outbreak, Lei also urged community officials to conduct comprehensive investigations into the healthcare needs of the elderly, pregnant women, patients on regular chemotherapy or dialysis, as well as those with chronic illnesses or requiring regular medication.
"First aid vehicles should be dispatched quickly and we must not turn away patients for any reason," he said.
He added that workers at centralized quarantine facilities should also familiarize themselves with the health conditions and preexisting illnesses of those in isolation, and monitor them carefully.
The commission said in a statement released on Sunday that local authorities that impose additional disease control measures, including closing hospitals unnecessarily, will be publicly reported and thoroughly investigated.