SCIO briefing on efforts of the Central Guidance Team in Hubei to organize and guide epidemic control

The State Council Information Office held a press conference on Thursday afternoon in Wuhan, the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak, to introduce the efforts being undertaken by the Central Guidance Team in Hubei to organize and guide the work related to epidemic prevention and control. February 21, 2020

China Daily:

As Wuhan has implemented stricter management, what is the overall plan to guarantee medical supplies? Thank you.

Lian Weiliang:

Thank you for your question. Guaranteeing medical supplies is the foundation in winning the battle against the epidemic. You may have noticed that yesterday General Secretary Xi Jinping once again gave an important instruction on protecting and caring for medical workers, and demanded ensuring the health of medical workers is maintained while they are dedicated to fighting the epidemic. The most important way to protect medical workers is to ensure medical supplies. 

As Mr. Ding just stated, the shortage of medical supplies was previously a prominent bottleneck that threatened the health of medical staff and affected the effective treatment of patients. Through joint efforts across the country, the shortage of medical supplies has improved greatly. Take for example N95 masks and protective suits which everyone is most concerned about: Yesterday, 336,000 N95 masks and 133,000 protective suits were supplied from various channels across the country to Hubei. What do these numbers mean? Well, they are equivalent to twice the previous national production capacity of such medical products. 

Things are still tightly balanced, which means, ensuring supplies by relying on daily scheduling. Many hospitals may only have enough stock for one day, but the protective supplies required by frontline medical workers and high-risk personnel can be guaranteed. Only a country like China could form such a large supply capacity in such a short amount of time, as it has the advantage of a system that can mobilize resources for major undertakings.

As the Wuhan government has implemented stricter management and control measures, the demands for medical supplies will increase significantly. As such, in terms of the overall plan for the next step, I can sum it up in four phrases. They are: increase the quantity, ensure the quality, guarantee what should be guaranteed, and handle special cases with special methods.

"Increase the quantity" means accelerating the release of new capacity, and continuing to work harder to mobilize and collect resources through various channels. In this way, the increase of medical supplies can meet the needs arising from increasing numbers of medical workers and hospital beds to receive more patients. 

"Ensure the quality" means effectively strengthening the monitoring of product quality, especially for products from enterprises which recently started production. We must strictly control the quality and ensure that all medical supplies are up to the standards and safe to use.

"Guarantee what should be guaranteed" means we should guarantee more supplies that are needed. In the early stage, the focus on guaranteeing supplies was on protective suits, N95 masks and goggles. But now, the needs for many disposable consumables such as hospital caps, gloves and long boot covers are also increasing rapidly, and shortage problems have begun to emerge. Considering the needs for treating patients, more and more hospitals will also add more medical equipment to their lists, such as ventilators, ECG monitors, blood gas analyzers, and mobile X-ray machines, which shall be included in the scope of guaranteed material supplies.

"We should handle special cases with special methods" means that as we are fighting a "general war and a sniping war," medical supplies must also be part of the wartime mechanism. We set the first goal as saving lives and the first principle as working rapidly. All medical supplies must be provided first, with procedures postponed in the fight against COVID-19. Thank you.

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