We know the epidemic has affected people's daily lives and disadvantaged groups in particular are facing more difficulties. What has the ministry done in providing the basic life support to the latter? Thank you.
Mr. Liu will answer this question.
Thanks for the care you are showing for disadvantaged groups. As you mentioned just now, everyone has been affected by the epidemic and the disadvantaged groups are facing even more difficulties. We learn that the living costs of the people in difficulties have increased since the epidemic outbreak and protective items have been in short supply. Also, some extremely poor people living at home need special care. On Jan. 29, the Ministry of Civil Affairs issued a notice to make arrangements for poor people to receive special basic life support. A series of measures have been introduced, such as simplifying the relief process, relaxing restrictions on applications for temporary assistance based on hukou (permanent residence) when people in dire need are staying in other locations, and implementing the policy of caring for the people who live at home in extreme poverty. Local governments have been doing a good job in this aspect and have achieved some significant results.
Recently, with the further development of the epidemic, the situation has changed for people in difficulties in terms of their number and the level of hardship. For example, those migrant workers and flexible-hours employees, who can't go out to work right now, have seen their income reduced, making life more troubled. Also, tight traffic controls have led to the stranding of many members of the floating population. People who can't take care of themselves are left alone when their domestic helpers are isolated. The Central Leading Group for COVID-19 Prevention and Control has issued documents to make arrangements to solve these problems. Five measures have been undertaken:
First, we must ensure subsidies are paid in full and on time. By the end of 2019, there were 43.17 million urban and rural recipients of subsistence allowances and 4.69 million in extreme poverty nationwide. Interim relief was carried out to help a total of 9.18 million people last year. We'll make sure the relief funds are paid out on time to these people. Other subsidies, like subsistence allowances for orphans and two subsidies for the disabled also need to be paid in a timely way. For some regions severely affected by the epidemic, the living allowance will be increased. For example, Hubei province has increased the relief fund since Feb. 20 with urban low-income people receiving 500 yuan a month and their rural counterparts 300 yuan a month. Measures have also been taken in other provinces.
Second, we must ensure that all those entitled to social security are covered. Some people living in difficulty, such as those who live above the poverty line, are unable to either go to work or to get flexible jobs during the epidemic. As a result, they may see their income fall below the minimum living standard and thus qualify to receive a subsistence allowance. If that happens, we must ensure that they are all covered by subsistence allowance welfare in a timely manner. Meanwhile, we should suspend the work of removing people from the list of those eligible for subsistence allowances in regions severely affected by the epidemic. During this period, our priority is ensuring the stability of the subsistence allowance recipients. We should help strengthen their ability to withstand financial risks, and postpone conducting dynamic management towards them until the outbreak is over.
Third, we must step up efforts to carry out temporary assistance to those in need. Recipients of subsistence allowances, as well as people in extreme poverty, low-income households and registered poor households, who are confirmed to be infected with COVID-19, must be given temporary assistance in a timely manner in accordance with the regulations. On some occasions, more assistance will be provided when deemed necessary. Also, temporary assistance should be given to poor families whose breadwinners are quarantined for treatment. Apart from the support to be provided to the individuals and families previously mentioned, we should also strengthen temporary assistance to families with members that have died because of COVID-19.
Fourth, we should provide social assistance to non-natives who are stranded because of the epidemic. We will take two main approaches. First, is to assist with physical goods. We will provide temporary accommodation, food and warm clothing to those in need. Second, is to offer cash assistance to those facing temporary financial difficulties who can neither find job due to the outbreak nor get any family support. As we all know, relevant channels have already been opened in Wuhan for people in need to access cash assistance of 300 yuan daily.
Fifth, we should provide basic care services to those in need. Currently, the central authorities have demanded institutions and personnel in charge of quarantine or treatment to collect information on the elderly, people with disabilities and minors who are left at home without care while their guardians are quarantined or receiving treatment for COVID-19. Such information should be reported immediately to the relevant communities or local civil authorities, and special personnel should be assigned to look after them in a timely manner. In the meantime, the central authorities have demanded the civil authorities and community workers keep regular contact, pay more visits and offer timely assistance to elderly people with no family, abandoned orphans, left-behind children and elderly, as well as other disadvantaged people including the severely ill or disabled who are in isolation at home because of the epidemic. Thank you.