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

Pakistani correspondent:

The WHO evaluates China's measures as effective, but does not rule out the possibility of rebound. There is still big risk in fighting this virus. Now more and more people are going back to work and restarting production. How can China prevent the epidemic from rebounding and control the risk? Thank you.

Ma Xiaowei:

Currently, this is a very important task we are facing in containing the epidemic. We have analyzed and made special deployment in this regard. I will give the floor to Mr. Yu Xuejun, vice minister of the National Health Commission.

Yu Xuejun:

Thank you for your question. This issue is indeed very important. As Mr. Ma just said, it is also the focus of our current work. Taking the opportunity of answering your question, I would like to give you an interpretation.

Despite the fact that the WHO has given a positive comment on China's epidemic prevention and control, we, as well as the WHO, are very level-headed. We have realized that we still face a severe and complicated situation, and there is a risk of the disease regaining its strength. The public may notice that many provinces have already lowered their emergency response levels. According to local conditions, relevant provinces can and should adjust the emergency response level in a timely manner, following the laws and regulations such as the Law on the Prevention and Treatment of Infectious Diseases and the Regulations on Preparedness for and Response to Emergent Public Health Hazards. We need to take more specific and targeted measures in different regions to prevent and control the epidemic and resume operation and ensure that business and schools reopen in an orderly manner.

The fact that more regions have begun to lower their emergency response level means the gradual lifting of relevant restrictions. The resumption of work and reopening of schools means that a large number of people will be moving across various regions, which might bring a series of challenges in regard to the containment of the epidemic. The challenges are reflected at least in the following aspects: First, after the removal of traffic restrictions, the risk of transmission during transportation will increase. Second, the resumption of work and reopening of schools will increase the risk of cluster transmission. Third, in major labor-importing provinces such as Guangdong, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, the risk of imported cases will also increase. These risks will bring a certain level of uncertainty to the work of prevention and control of the epidemic. The tasks we are facing in the future will be more arduous and demanding.

First of all, I would like to say that, as Mr. Ma just introduced, we have taken many measures to avoid and mitigate these possible transmission risks in a timely manner. We require all provinces to formulate plans, enhance drills and remain prepared and vigilant. For cases that emerge during the process of people returning to work and school, emergency measures must be taken in a scientific, targeted and timely manner. The most important thing is that relevant departments and medical and health institutions should implement the "four early" measures of early identification, reporting, isolation, and treatment to monitor and report both confirmed and suspected cases. At the same time, it is necessary to strengthen the epidemiological investigation and follow-up monitoring of close contacts to ensure 100% screening, quarantine, and treatment.

Moreover, in order to ensure epidemic prevention and control after resumption of work, production and school classes, we also need to adjust relevant measures in a timely manner. The adjustments will take place in the following three aspects: First, they will be more flexible. Second, the unified requirements formerly adopted nationwide will be differentiated in terms of the circumstances prevailing in different regions. Third, prevention and control measures will be more targeted. In addition to preventing and defusing potential risks in a timely manner, we have made an overall deployment of work in the following aspects: First, we adopt differentiated management measures for employees. To be more specific, we enhance health monitoring among employees, and adopt targeted measures. At the same time, we guide them to take their own strict precautions. By doing so, we will be able to respond promptly and effectively once there is a problem. Second, we strengthen prevention and control measures on transportation. We have proposed a series of necessary measures, such as launching special trains, ensuring passengers are seated at a safe distance from each other, as well as providing ventilation, disinfection and body temperature checks, in a bid to reduce risks of transmission during journeys. In labor-intensive regions, the return of laborers needs to be organized well so as to avoid a gathering of the population, and ensure the smooth resumption of work, production and school classes. Third, we will ensure the implementation of the accountability mechanism. We have made clear the responsibilities that communities, enterprises and schools must assume in the epidemic prevention and control, and we have also issued specific instructions for shopping malls, hotels, nursing homes, social welfare institutions and rural areas in general, so as to ensure all the administrative regions, departments, enterprises, as well as families and individuals will fulfill their responsibilities, and carry out prevention and control measures effectively. Fourth, we strengthen technological guidance and launch more education activities to raise public awareness. In order to ensure the epidemic prevention and control becomes even more scientific and targeted, we have issued 15 highly operable plans covering measures that can be adopted by communities, enterprises and schools, so as to provide more much-needed protective knowledge to the general public, and guide the joint prevention and control work.

Going forward, in order to prevent a resurgence of the epidemic during the resumption of work, production and school classes, the National Health Commission will designate supervision and guidance teams to guide the provincial (autonomous regional and municipal) localities in formulating action plans, and providing medical treatment and daily necessities. If there is a resurgence of the epidemic caused by malpractices, the relevant people will be held accountable. Thank you.

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