People’s health is the priority in the fight against COVID-19

Medical professionals vaccinate an elderly person at his home in Huiwen Town, Wenchang, Hainan Province, in December. PU XIAOXU/XINHUA

Unlike the ordeal at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic three years ago, Wuhan resident Huang Jianmei was not in a state of panic after being infected again, this time with the Omicron variant.

Huang had a cough, but the symptoms were mild. She took some medicine and recovered, without going to the hospital. You have completed a full course of vaccination against COVID-19, including a booster dose.

“Through nearly three years of nationwide pandemic control efforts, diagnosis and treatment have been optimized. The virus is not as destructive as before,” says Huang, 50.

Huang lost her husband to the COVID-19 outbreak in early 2020, but she, her son and daughter, who were all infected, survived.

Huang was in critical condition and was first transferred from a quarantine site to a designated COVID-19 hospital. She was then transferred to Huoshenshan Hospital, which was temporarily built to treat COVID-19 cases. After about two months of treatment, she was discharged after recovery.

As one of the first critically ill patients who successfully recovered after treatment, Huang participated in a national stem cell research and treatment clinical project after his recovery.

“Without the help of my country and medical staff, I would not have had a second chance in life. Therefore, I would like to play an active role in helping other patients,” she says.

To contain the pandemic in Wuhan in early 2020, more than 40,000 doctors from across the country rushed to the central Chinese city as part of the largest mobilization of medical resources since the founding of New China in 1949. Thanks to resolute efforts of the personal physician, more than 3,000 COVID-19 patients aged 80 and older have been treated.

Since securing strategic results in the battle to defend Hubei province and its capital Wuhan, China has effectively tackled more than 100 cluster infections over the past three years, battling different variants of the virus, including Delta and Omicron strains. , and advocating the principle of putting people’s lives and health above all else.

In 2022 alone, a number of centenarians have fully recovered from COVID-19 infections after medical treatment.

In northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, He Cui, a 101-year-old woman, recovered from COVID-19 after 10 days of medical treatment. Her daughter Li Ti called the recovery of the elderly woman, who suffers from pre-existing conditions such as hypertension, “miraculous”.

China has managed to maintain its severe COVID-19 cases and death rates among the lowest in the world.

The average life expectancy of Chinese people has continued to rise during the pandemic, rising from 77.93 years in 2020 to 78.2 years in 2021.

Recently, an increasing number of elderly people have been sighted at a vaccination site in Beijing’s Haidian District. An 87-year-old woman who had already received a booster shot of the COVID-19 vaccine says she accompanied her 91-year-old husband to get the third shot.

In China, more than 90% of the population has been fully vaccinated. Nearly 87% of people over the age of 60 have been fully vaccinated, but only 66.4% of people over the age of 80 have completed a full course of vaccinations.

With a population of 267 million over the age of 60, China is accelerating vaccination in this group. In late November, the country released a work plan to improve vaccination rates among the elderly.

Beijing Ditan Hospital treated more than 100 COVID-19 patients over the age of 80 at its peak.

“The vaccination rate among those elderly patients is generally low, so the incidence of serious illness after infection is relatively high, especially for those with underlying diseases,” said Chen Xiaoyou, deputy director of the hospital.

In Beijing’s Shijingshan District, door-to-door services are being offered to help the elderly get their vaccinations.

Xu Xiaotao, a community worker in Shijingshan District, says a mobile inoculation team, made up of about five or six community workers and doctors, is usually responsible for vaccinating the elderly in more than 30 households over the course of an afternoon.

Other measures, such as “green channels” for the elderly, have also been implemented in several localities to increase the vaccination rate.

With the optimization of pandemic control measures, the focus of China’s pandemic response strategy has shifted from infection control to case treatment with the aim of preventing severe cases.

China is also accelerating efforts to expand the capacity of fever clinics at medical institutions. At the end of October, there were 19,400 fever clinics or outpatient clinics at community and municipality-level health centers across the country. About 90 percent of municipality-level health centers are expected to have fever clinics by March 2023, says a National Health Commission official.

China has been preparing medical facilities to treat severe cases as the country is seeing an increase in the number of such patients. Third-degree hospitals should take in COVID-19 patients with serious conditions, as well as those with multiple underlying conditions, says Jiao Yahui, an official with the National Health Commission.

Tertiary hospitals rank at the top of China’s three-tier hospital classification system. They have the largest number of hospital beds and provide comprehensive medical services.

Elderly patients with underlying conditions and children should be transferred directly to tertiary hospitals as soon as their conditions change, Jiao added.

Jiao also points out that medical care should be strengthened for key groups, and special attention should be paid to key areas with dense elderly populations, such as nursing homes and nursing homes. Local health authorities, civil affairs departments and hospitals have been urged to assist nursing homes and nursing homes and provide health care for the elderly.

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