Recently, we have noticed many people mentioned that some local health commissions are asking persons who go to hospitals for medical check-ups, who are currently hospitalized, and also their accompanying family members to take nucleic acid tests (NAT). Some other local health commissions ask for not only nucleic acid tests, but also an antibody test and a CT chest scan. What comment does the National Health Commission have on this? Thank you.
Thank you for your question, which is a very good one. As my colleagues just mentioned, nucleic acid tests can help us to find infected persons as early as possible and accurately identify the source of infection. It makes it easier for us to undertake the "four early" measures and to cut off the transmission. Regarding COVID-19, the virus is very sneaky and there are asymptomatic cases. Some patients going to hospitals for other health conditions also could be virus carriers. Therefore, as we have required local governments to keep working on regular prevention and control of COVID-19, we also asked them to pay great attention to expanding test range to screen potential patients and lower the risk of the disease spreading.
In regard to expanding the test range, the Joint Prevention and Control Mechanism of the State Council introduced the guidelines on prevention and control of COVID-19. The guidelines stress that local governments should consider local conditions based on science. For the eight groups of people, including patients in fever clinics, newly-hospitalized patients and their accompanying nursing people and staff members of medical institutions, they should be all tested. For others, tests are available on a voluntary basis. The purpose of these measures is to identify the source of infection as soon as possible, try to the best possible extent to lower the transmission risk and make the greatest effort to protect susceptible people in hospitals. It is very helpful for us to find infected people and provide treatment for them in a timely manner, which means the recovery rate will be improved accordingly. So, the measure is also very meaningful. At the same time, we also asked local medical institutions to test patients and their accompanying caretakers, provide them more convenient services and make the process a bit easier.