SCIO briefing on epidemic control and medical rescue in Hubei

The State Council Information Office held a press conference on Saturday morning in Wuhan, epicenter of the novel coronavirus outbreak, to introduce an updated picture of epidemic control and medical rescue in Hubei province. February 16, 2020

Ta Kung Pao and Wen Wei Po:

I have a question. As the treatment of patients in severe cases has been the priority as well as the difficulty, my question is: what major measures have been taken to decrease the fatality rate? Thank you.

Wang Hesheng:

Thanks for your question. We have Ms. Jiao answer this question.

Jiao Yahui:

Above all, our analyses and studies on severe and fatal cases have enabled us to conclude that severely-ill patients in Wuhan now account for about 18% of the total confirmed cases in hospital, and that there are some similarities between these patients and a fatal outcome. The first aspect is that both are of a senior age. The second is that both have underlying diseases. In addition, as patients in severe cases experienced a relatively long period from being infected with the virus to being hospitalized, many were already in severe or critical condition when they were admitted to a hospital. In view of this situation, we have taken various measures, pooled the best resources and intensified the treatment of severe and critical cases in an effort to increase the recovery rate and decrease the fatality rate.

First, we have set up medical treatment expert groups at the national level respectively led by academicians Zhong Nanshan, Li Lanjuan and Wang Chen, as well as academicians Tong Xiaolin and Huang Luqi in traditional Chinese medicine. Under the leadership and guidance of these academicians, medical treatment work across the country has been carried out. Based on nationwide exchange of medical treatment experience, the expert groups have constantly updated and improved diagnosis and treatment plans to provide better guidance to the medical work all over China.

Second, in Wuhan we have designated hospitals under the jurisdiction of the National Health Commission and hospitals at the provincial level, and in some isolated areas of these hospitals we have set up special facilities for severe and critical cases. We have set up teams consisting of experts at national level and provincial level, as well as experts from these designated hospitals. The experts conduct daily consolidated evaluations on all the hospitalized patients and implement a 24-hour critical case reporting system. In other words, we have a list clearly displaying the information of all the patients in severe and critical condition. Every day, the expert teams conduct consolidated evaluations on the cases and propose targeted treatment plans for them. To ensure that patients are treated timely and effectively, we have also set up a discussion and consultation system concerning difficult and complicated cases, a discussion system concerning fatal cases, a regular ward inspection system, a holistic nursing system and a multidisciplinary diagnosis and treatment system.

In addition, based on the previous experience of treating severely-ill patients in these designated hospitals in Wuhan, we have also come up with diagnosis and treatment plans targeted to severe and critical cases, and proposed therapies including anti-virus therapy, oxygen therapy, a therapy of combining traditional Chinese and Western medicine, and a therapy of using the blood plasma from recovered patients. In particular, we are recently focused on the usage of invasive ventilators. We have required doctors to grasp every chance to save lives and use the invasive ventilators at an early stage to help restore patients' blood oxygen saturation and reduce fatalities.

We are happy to see that our efforts in recent times have shown effect. For instance, so far, up to 30 to 39 percent of patients infected with the COVID-19 have been discharged from the Jinyintan Hospital and Wuhan Pulmonary Hospital, the first two hospitals designated for treating severe and critical cases. This inspiring figure gives us great confidence. Thanks.

Wang Hesheng:

I want to add one point. Right from the beginning, we have implemented the principles and requirements put forward by General Secretary Xi Jinping on integrating Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) with Western medicine to treat COVID-19 patients. Vice Premier Sun Chunlan, who heads the special work group sent by the central government to Hubei, has mobilized many top experts in integrated therapies of traditional Chinese and Western medicine. The academicians introduced by Ms. Jiao Yahui just now are among the major representatives. To my knowledge, many other academicians fighting on the frontline have also carried out relevant work focused on the formulation, discussion, research and improvement of a treatment plan combining TCM with Western medicine. For example, the academicians I saw on the frontline include TCM expert Zhang Boli from the Chinese Academy of Engineering, and Qiao Jie, president of Peking University Third Hospital, along with many other experts. We have amassed the strongest scientific research and medical force to help combat the new coronavirus under the guideline of integrating TCM with Western medicine in the treatment of COVID-19 patients, and I think this is an extremely important feature in our medical rescue work since the outbreak of the epidemic. That's all I want to explain.

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