SCIO briefing on the work of civil affairs departments on COVID-19 control and livelihood security

The State Council Information Office held a press conference Monday morning in Beijing to introduce the work of civil affairs departments to prevent and control the COVID-19 epidemic and to secure people's basic livelihood. March 10, 2020


What difficulties have nursing homes faced when dealing with the prevention and control of the epidemic? What measures has the Ministry of Civil Affairs taken to help solve these difficulties? How will you effectively help the nursing homes to follow government guidelines on further improving the epidemic containment work at civil affairs service institutions? Thank you. 

Yu Jianliang: 

I will answer your questions. Nursing homes are enclosed and relatively independent facilities where people live in a communal setting, usually with two or more people sharing the same room. There is also frequent contact between the elderly and the nursing staff. As some of them are disabled or suffer from dementia, so care services are required 24 hours per day. It is difficult to avoid body contact in providing such service. And nursing staff serve many elderly people during their shift.

The old people at nursing homes are usually older and weak, with many of them having underlying chronic diseases. This factor makes some of them more susceptible to infections, and once they are infected, they face higher risks of cross infection and complications. Therefore, the task of avoiding outbreaks at nursing homes is pivotal, requiring special protection and efforts. These factors posed particular difficulties in fighting against the epidemic in the earlier stages at these facilities. 

Regarding these problems, the Ministry of Civil Affairs has taken a series of measures. First, we started closed-door management as soon as we could. Since as early as Jan. 23, we have issued notices requiring nursing homes across the country to implement strict closed-door management. Second, we promptly released a guide for epidemic prevention and control for nursing homes. It sets out specific operational standards for organizational leadership, access management, internal control, protection of the elderly, psychological comfort, and epidemic disposal and disinfection. Depending on the development of the epidemic, we have made timely revisions and updates to the guide -- the first and second editions of which have been released successively. Meanwhile, we released stricter requirements in accordance with the epidemic development situation in Wuhan city and published a guide for epidemic prevention and control, especially for high-risk areas and nursing institutions with the epidemic, on Feb. 25 to provide stricter and more accurate work guidance. Third, we made the overall supervision of nursing institutions in the country. We used the information system to monitor epidemic prevention and control. The Ministry of Civil Affairs has dispatched a working team led by Vice Minister Gao Xiaobing to Wuhan city to provide on-the-spot work guidance to civil service organizations, including nursing institutions. The ministry has held a video conference to offer guidance on epidemic prevention and control work in civil service institutions for the elderly and children. The meeting was attended by the principals of each nursing home via online video, making specific guidance and work requests for nursing homes in epidemic prevention and control. Hence, as far as these measures are concerned, those who strictly follow the guide created by the Ministry of Civil Affairs have achieved zero infection, while those with infections must have loopholes in the implementation.

Just now, the journalist mentioned the notice released by the State Council on further improving epidemic prevention and control work for civil affairs institutions. The notice is of great importance and came in time. Most of all, it included the epidemic prevention and control work into local joint prevention and control mechanism and offered measures to enhance the leading role of nursing homes in epidemic prevention and control. As required in the notice, all local governments must implement it. Besides, it has been fully strengthened to troubleshoot, quarantine, treat patients, make personnel deployment, and especially manage material supply. The notice has played a significant role in epidemic prevention and control of nursing homes in the country. 

Next, we will make efforts in the following aspects as required in the notice. First, we will take precise prevention and control depending on regions and levels and resume services in an orderly manner. As I mentioned, the newly recruited staff and target people will be admitted to nursing institutions based on the outbreak situation in different regions. Second, we will try our best to screen and care for the elderly living outside the institution with special difficulties. We cannot just take care of those inside nursing institutions. We also need to offer services to the left-behind elderly people isolated at home due to the epidemic. That's my answer. Thank you.

Hu Kaihong:

The press conference is hereby concluded. Thanks to the four speakers, and thank you all.

Translated and edited by Zhang Lulu, Zhu Bochen, Wang Qian, Wang Zhiyong, Guo Xiaohong, Fan Junmei, Cui Can, Zhou Jing, Zheng Chengqiong, Wang Yiming, Zhang Rui, He Shan, Xiang Bin, Wang Wei, Li Xiao, Li Huiru, Liu Sitong, Zhang Junmian, Wu Jin, Huang Shan, Duan Yaying, Zhang Liying, Jay Birbeck, Laura Zheng, David Ball. In case of any dispute over a discrepancy, the Chinese version is deemed to prevail.

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