Village doctor Li Renbang examines a girl at the clinic in Shaoji village of Yuncheng county, East China's Shandong province, Jan 10, 2023. (Photo/Xinhua)
Authorities are ramping up COVID-19 response preparedness in key institutions and services ranging from nursing homes and logistics companies to rural clinics as Spring Festival approaches.
The State Council's Joint Prevention and Control Mechanism, the country's COVID-19 control task force, recently issued a guideline on COVID-19 control at nursing homes and other care facilities.
While elaborating on the document at a news conference on Wednesday, Li Banghua, who oversees elderly care services at the Ministry of Civil Affairs, said the rules were made in line with China's decision to downgrade COVID-19 management from Sunday.
He said local authorities can temporarily close such facilities to nonessential visitors if outbreaks worsen, but the control measures need to be constantly adjusted based on realities such as medical resources.
"In general, it is hoped that nursing homes will be able to avoid large numbers of infections when local infections peak," he said.
Green channels must be established for nursing home residents to be transferred to health facilities if they develop severe conditions, he added.
As large numbers of migrant workers are expected to return to their rural hometowns, Li said his administration is working to create partnerships among nursing homes and rural clinics, township hospitals and higher-level medical facilities.
Bian Zuodong, deputy director of the State Post Bureau's market regulation department, said courier companies and postal services have handled a large number of deliveries in recent months, as people rushed online to buy protective gear such as N95 masks, antigen test kits and medications.
He said his administration has asked courier companies to mark packages containing medical supplies so that they can be prioritized amid the surge of orders. Local post authorities have been asked to fast-track the handling of complaints involving COVID-19-related goods.
"If medical supplies are lost or destroyed in transit, we encourage companies to reimburse or replace the supplies at their destination," he said.
Li Jian, an official overseeing the Ministry of Civil Affairs' social governance division, said the priority for neighborhood authorities is to ensure older residents and children stay safe.
To that end, community workers have established connections with the relevant groups and their families on social media. A door-to-door campaign has also reached out to those without access to the internet.
"Health services for such groups will mainly focus on three aspects — medical treatment, medication and vaccination," she said.
Neighborhood workers will offer assistance to people needing medical advice, medicines and transfers to hospitals, and guide vulnerable groups to get vaccinated. "Shared medicine boxes" are also being used so that neighbors can pool medical resources in times of need.