SCIO briefing on progress of Central Guidance Team in organizing and guiding epidemic control and medical rescue

The State Council Information Office held a press conference on March 31 in Wuhan, inviting members of the Central Guidance Team to brief the media about the progress of its work in epidemic control and medical rescue. April 2, 2020


I have two questions. First, in addition to COVID-19 patients, are hospitals in Wuhan city and Hubei province at large now able to accept other patients? Have the medical institutions there resumed their normal work? Could you give some data in details? What's the percentage of hospitals that have resumed normal medical care and when will they come into normal operation completely? Second, in light of NHC's experience and views, what's the possibility that a patient will be re-infected with the novel coronavirus after being discharged from hospital with a normal temperature? Can a cured patient acquire immunity to the virus? Thank you.

Ma Xiaowei: 

Ms. Jiao Yahui, a commissioner on supervision at NHC's Bureau of Medical Administration, will take the first question, and Mr. Luo Huiming, a CDC chief physician, will take the second question.

Jiao Yahui:

Thanks for your questions. I will answer your first question. Since the outbreak of epidemic, while guiding the medical treatment of COVID-19 patients in Wuhan and Hubei province, we have paid attention to the normal medical needs of other patients. At the peak of the epidemic, we directed some hospitals in Wuhan city and Hubei province to be exclusively used for patients in need of continuing medical care, such as maternal pregnancy care and hemodialysis for patients with chronic renal failure.

With the improving epidemic situation in China, more designated hospitals have completed their medical care tasks and have gradually restored their normal order of medical care. We have instructed practices of online diagnosis and treatment, long-term prescriptions for chronic diseases and drug distribution in Wuhan city and Hubei province to meet the needs of patients with common and frequently-occurring diseases. According to the reports of Wuhan city and Hubei province, as of March 30, a total of 62 hospitals in Wuhan have resumed normal medical care, accounting for 40 percent of hospitals of secondary grade and above. Among these hospitals, a total of 60 hospitals have restored outpatient services and 53 hospitals have reopened emergency services, receiving 25,000 visits per day. A total of 26,500 beds were available in the 62 hospitals, accounting for 47 percent of total beds and 32 percent of beds available in Wuhan's secondary and higher hospitals. In breakdown, ten of these hospitals have reopened over 80 percent of their beds, six of which have reopened all their beds. They are mainly comprehensive hospitals at the district level and maternal and childcare hospitals. There are 14,300 inpatients currently in the 62 hospitals, accounting for 54 percent of the total beds available.

According to statistics, 120 patients are currently receiving dialysis treatment in Tongji Hospital in Wuhan every day. This figure exceeded that of the same period last year. In addition, over 20 surgeries have been performed on a daily basis in Wuhan Union Hospital and Zhongnan Hospital of Wuhan University; and more than 70 births have taken place in Hubei's Maternity and Child Health Care Hospital every day. Outside of Wuhan, 75 cities and counties in Hubei province deemed low-risk have resumed normal medical services. Next, we will provide guidance to Hubei province as well as Wuhan city to free up further beds in hospitals, offer outpatient services, and expand the supply of medical services. Thank you.

Luo Huiming:

Thank you for your concern about the discharged patients. Just now, you mentioned that patients would be discharged from hospital once their body temperature returned to normal. In fact, clinicians make their decisions based on the NHC's diagnosis and treatment plan for COVID-19. Patients will only be discharged when they meet the standards in four categories concerning body temperature, symptoms, CT imaging and two consecutive negative nucleic acid tests. In addition, discharged patients are required to undergo a 14-day period of quarantine for medical observation and health checks.

For those infected with the novel coronavirus, specific antibodies will be gradually developed in their bodies to neutralize and clear the virus, allowing these patients to recover. After they are discharged from hospital, they will have also developed immunity from the virus. As such, normally speaking, they will not be re-infected.

Here are two examples. First, some discharged patients have tested positive for the viral nucleic acid. There are differences in individual cases, although, we have not found any cases in which discharged patients who have recovered then infected others or spread the virus to others again. Second, clinically speaking, there is the plasma therapy using plasma from recovered COVID-19 patients. As these patients recover, their plasma contains antibodies and develops immunity. Therefore, their plasma can be used to save other COVID-19 patients. Here, I would like to call for recovered patients to donate their plasma as long as they meet the clinical standards in order to help others recover. Thank you.

Shou Xiaoli:

Thank you to our five speakers. Today's press conference is hereby concluded. Thank you all. Goodbye. 

Translated and edited by Zhang Liying, Wang Yanfang, Yan Xiaoqing, Zhou Jing, Liu Qiang, Li Huiru, Wu Jin, Zhang Rui, Duan Yaying, Fan Junmei, He Shan, Wang Wei, Wang Qian, Zhu Bochen, Zhang Lulu, Yuan Fang, Wang Yiming, Yang Xi, Lin Liyao, 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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