"Shift focus from prevention & control of infection to medical treatment," says Vice Premier
"The goal is to protect health & prevent serious illnesses, to ensure that the adjustment of prevention & control measures is stable and orderly," Sun Chunlan says.
In the clearest sign of China’s shifting COVID strategy by a senior official so far, Vice Premier Sun Chunlan said on Tuesday that the focus “should shift from prevention and control of infection to medical treatment.”
Xinhua published a readout of Sun’s inspection of the COVID situation in Beijing near midnight Tuesday. The readout acknowledges, “At present, the number of newly infected people in Beijing is growing rapidly.”
The comforting news from the official press agency is “the vast majority of them are asymptomatic and mild cases. Currently, there are 50 critically ill patients in hospital, most of whom have underlying diseases.”
Sun cited the 二十条 “20 optimization measures” and 新十条 “10 new measures” as the current guidelines and said it’s necessary to 转变观念 “change the view”. There was no reference to the “dynamic zero-COVID” strategy that dominated China for over two years.
Sun said that “the Communist Party of China Central Committee and the State Council attach great importance to the prevention and control of the epidemic in Beijing” and “the top priority now is to support Beijing in ensuring good medical treatment for the people.”
According to Sun, “at present, there are 303 fever clinics in Beijing. It is necessary to optimize the procedures, expand the medical resources, and speed up the setting up of fever clinics in fangcang hospitals (centralized quarantine facilities). All the fever clinics must expand space and medical staff to relieve the pressure on large hospitals by patients and reduce their waiting time.”
Sun asked for strengthening the hierarchical diagnosis and treatment system and enable community medical centers and online hospitals to play their roles.
Another major change is the task of grassroots community organizations, which should shift “from quarantining people who could spread COVID to assisting in medical treatment services, and doing a good job in health surveys, medicine delivery to the door, and psychological counseling.”
Sun asked for strengthening the protection of vulnerable groups such as senior citizens and patients with underlying diseases. She said that hospitals must admit patients regardless of whether they have COVID or non-COVID diseases.
Residents in Beijing - and multiple places across China - have been reporting difficulties in purchasing antigen tests for COVID and over-the-counter medications for COVID symptoms.
Sun said “At present, the production and supply of medicine and test reagents are being stepped up. In general, they can meet the demand. Relevant government departments have set up task forces to conduct daily coordinations (on production and supply). Beijing municipal government should detail and ensure their delivery, enable online and offline markets to play their roles, ensure distribution efficiency, and improve accessibility. "
Lastly, Sun said Beijing’s municipal Party committee and municipal government are making great efforts to speed up the solution to the problem of accessing medical treatment and medication, “We have the advantage of the 举国体制 system for mobilizing resources nationwide and will surely ride out the peak of the epidemic smoothly.”
Also on Tuesday, the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Cultural and Tourism announced the resumption of tourism services in and out of Beijing, effective immediately.
Also on Tuesday, China axed a national travel-tracking app
For more coverage on China’s recent, dramatic shift of COVID strategy with full translations of the new measures, read Pekingnology, also hosted by the Center for China and Globalization (CCG).
新十条 “10 new measures” on Dec. 7
二十条 “20 optimization measures” on Nov. 11