SCIO briefing on progress of Central Guidance Team in Hubei to organize and guide epidemic control and medical rescue

The State Council Information Office held a press conference Friday afternoon in Wuhan, central China's Hubei province, to introduce the progress being made by the Central Guidance Team in organizing and guiding works related to epidemic control and medical rescue in the fight against COVID-19. February 29, 2020

The Paper:

We have learned that, over the past few days, more than 40,000 medical professionals have been sent by the central authority and provincial-level regions to Hubei province. My question is what the country has done in mobilizing these medical teams efficiently and what are their roles in treating COVID-19 patients? Also, are there any plans for the teams to get a rest? Will the country send more teams there? Thank you.

Ma Xiaowei:

Wuhan is the absolute priority for epidemic control and medical treatment. As General Secretary Xi Jinping said: "China's triumph (against the outbreak) depends on Hubei, and Hubei's triumph depends on Wuhan." We have sent over 40,000 medical workers drawn from across the country to Hubei, covering the province thoroughly with our strongest forces, in order to win this war of annihilation against COVID-19. A lot of work needs to be documented, a lot of experiences need to be summarized, and a lot of stories need to be chronicled. Let me ask Jiao Yahui, deputy director of the Bureau of Medical Administration, NHC, to answer your question.

Jiao Yahui:

Thank you for your questions. Hubei and Wuhan form the main battlefield of the fight against COVID-19. As medical demands in Wuhan rapidly increased, the lack of medical forces there became a prominent problem. Since Jan. 24, the National Health Commission has organized medical workers nationwide to assist Hubei and Wuhan. These people offered a comprehensive range of specialties and have taken over the ward work as a whole. We have undertaken the following work in terms of dispatching medical teams: first, we mobilized medical resources in a scientific and rational way. As treatments differ between severe and mild cases, we organized different medical teams accordingly. Regarding medical teams required to treat severe cases, we organized personnel who already have experience of working in respiratory, infection and critical care departments, as the COVID-19 is recognized as a kind of a respiratory infection. One ward comprises 50 beds, and one medical team consists of 30 doctors and 100 nurses. When it comes to mild cases, for example, for patients in shelter hospitals, 500 medical workers are responsible for 1,000 beds. Those doctors and nurses are mainly from internal medicine departments, and the ratio between them is 1:4.

Second, we comprehensively assigned medical teams capable of treating severe cases to hospitals designated for severely-ill patients. We adopted a model that the assisting medical staff from the same provincial-level region or the same hospital should take charge of one specific department in the affected area, and we also let medical teams that treat severe cases take overall charge of one specific ward. Also, these teams have joined hands with local hospitals and their medical teams to form joint medical affairs offices, infection-control offices, nursing departments and expert teams, in order to carry out joint evaluation and management of all severe cases. The medical quality management system that we established previously has also played a key role this time.

Third, we set up special medical teams manning Fangcang shelter hospitals in such a way that they consist of groups assigned to treat patients with mild symptoms, the national-level emergency medical assistance teams and mobile P3 laboratories. With an eye to the conditions of these shelter hospitals, we made a deployment in which the provincial-level medical teams have been tasked with the overall work in different wards, and thus ensured that these shelter hospitals are rapidly equipped with standardized medical treatment, nursing and clinical examination units. By so doing, we made it possible for these shelter hospitals to receive patients with well-allocated resources immediately upon their handover.

Fourth, we have sent medical teams in a proactive way to ensure frontline personnel can rotate and have enough rest. In line with General Secretary Xi Jinping's important instruction on giving priority to the protection and care of medical workers to ensure they can maintain their own health to fight the epidemic, we drew up a rotation scheme for our medical teams, and it has been implemented in the following three ways. The first is to look for ways within the medical teams to reduce work intensity and achieve rotation of medical workers. Today's data shows that there are more than 26,000 COVID-19 inpatients in Wuhan, over 6,700 of whom are in a severe or critical condition. As the numbers of inpatients and severe cases have sharply declined since they peaked, the number of patients at the wards taken over by some medical teams has reduced accordingly, creating favorable conditions for shortening the working hours of a shift for medical staff in insolation wards. The second is to strive for rotation and rest for the entire team. Those recently sent to Hubei have taken over the overall work of others that arrived there as early as January. For example, all members of the medical teams from Fujian province and Tianjin Municipality, which went to Hubei at an earlier time, are now having a break. The third step is to regroup the newly arrived medical teams and assign the smaller new groups to medical teams that arrived earlier to expand their numbers, and thus reduce their work shifts with desirable breaks. For example, with new members coming in, doctors and nurses in the medical teams from Gansu province can now rest for 1.5-2 days and 2.5-3 days respectively after they have worked for one full day. Among the medical teams from Chongqing municipality, the average weekly working hours have dropped from 50-60 to 25-30 hours for doctors, and from 40 hours to 20 hours for nurses. Therefore, we can say that rotation of medical teams guarantees our medical workers can always maintain strong combat capability and be energetically devoted to the battle against the epidemic. Our medical teams have played important roles in fighting the virus. Thank you.

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