Press conference on Guidelines on Regular Prevention and Control of COVID-19 for Key Locations, Organizations and Population Groups at Low-risk Regions in Summer

The Joint Prevention and Control Mechanism of the State Council held a press conference on June 19, 2020 in Beijing to introduce Guidelines on Regular Prevention and Control of COVID-19 for Key Locations, Organizations and Population Groups at Low-risk Regions in Summer. June 22, 2020

China News Service:

My question is for Mr. Song. Frontline customs officers still face the risk of being infected with the coronavirus during the quarantine inspection, epidemiological investigation and sample collection. What protective measures has the customs administration taken to prevent occupational exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace? Thank you.

Song Yueqian:

Thank you for your concern for the customs officers. Frontline workers are the mainstay of epidemic prevention and control at ports of entry. The GACC attaches great importance to their safety and is providing all-round support. Efforts have been made to ensure the safety and health of officers working on the front line as well as those in the laboratories. 

First, guidance on workplace safety for different positions has been formulated. The GACC organized experts to assess the exposure risks of customs staff during law enforcement at different frontline workplaces, and has set safety protection standards according to risk level. The Guidelines for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in the Workplace have been updated in a third edition, providing guidance for the appropriate use of PPE during quarantine inspection, epidemiological investigation, sample collection, laboratory testing and cargo inspection.

Second, more training in occupational safety and health have been provided. Customs stations throughout the country continue to carry out targeted training according to different work settings of frontline customs staff, which include on-site lectures, online teaching, and on-site practice. In addition, we organize tests after the training, ensuring that the staff are full conversant with the requirements, being able to master the knowledge, skills and methods concerning the prevention and control of COVID-19, occupational safety, and measures to manage occupational exposure. For important ports of entry, we have dispatched expert teams to both frontline inspection and on-site port laboratories to provide targeted technical support of personal protection.

Third, safety inspection has been strengthened. Customs across the country have arranged supervisors to look for safety hazards. Safety inspections have been conducted on a regular basis, in order to check whether the PPE being worn meet the required standards and are used properly, whether the quantity meets the actual needs at the various ports, whether the officers are adopting correct protective measures according to the requirements of the GACC, whether the working conditions for sampling meet requirements, and whether the personnel involved in epidemic prevention and control are carrying out the required nucleic acid tests. Multiple supervision groups have been dispatched to conduct safety inspection on 11 of the directly subordinated customs including Hohhot, Manzhouli, and Chengdu customs to prevent and defuse safety risks.

Fourth, providing care and psychological counseling are emphasized. Frontline customs officers nationwide work in shifts to avoid fatigue and prevent safety accidents. We have developed new PPE including protective clothing suitable for summer use and have provided cooling vests to ensure they can work safely in high temperatures and humidity. We have established working groups of psychological intervention, assistance and counseling to provide psychological counseling for frontline officers.

By taking the above measures, no incident of occupational exposure of frontline customs officers has occurred in the national customs system. Thank you!

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