Nation gearing up fever clinics, ICUs, drug production as restrictions adjusted
All medical institutions should admit patients who tested positive for COVID-19 as the management of the virus will be downgraded from Class A to Class B starting Jan 8, a senior health official said on Tuesday.
Jiao Yahui, head of the National Health Commission's medical administration bureau, said the result of nucleic acid tests will no longer be used by medical institutions as a criterion to admit patients, and they should conduct triage based on the medical needs of patients.
Those seriously ill should receive medical treatment at comprehensive or specialized hospitals whether they are positive or negative, she said in an interview with Xinhua News Agency.
Those with asymptomatic and mild cases are advised to recuperate at home, while patients in critical condition should be admitted to designated hospitals, she said.
Jiao said at a news conference on Tuesday that more than 16,000 fever clinics have been opened by big hospitals around the country, and grassroots medical institutions have opened more than 41,000 fever clinics as of Sunday.
The cities of Beijing and Shanghai, and the provinces of Anhui, Jiangsu and Shandong have also installed temporary fever clinics at makeshift hospitals and gymnasiums, she added.
The commission has asked medical institutions to offer 24-hour online medical services to patients to reduce the flow of people at hospitals, Jiao said.
The number of intensive care beds stands at 181,000 as of Sunday, and the country as a whole has sufficient ICU beds at the moment, she said.
Meanwhile, for provincial regions that are in the peak stage of critical infections, ICU resources are at their limit and should be expanded.
The country will no longer conduct mass nucleic acid testing, she said. For special places such as medical institutions, nursing homes and major enterprises, nucleic acid tests can be used for health monitoring, and other people can choose to conduct the test or antigen test if they wish.
The State Council joint prevention and control mechanism against COVID-19 has asked local authorities to keep the number of nucleic acid test centers at current levels for the time being to meet needs and reduce pool sampling tests to make sure people get results in time, she said.
Guo Yanhong, director of the commission's health emergency response department, said drugs are indispensable to treating COVID-19 patients, so efforts should be made to ensure there is a sufficient supply of medications and that the public can access them conveniently and in a timely manner.
County and higher level medical institutions should prepare three months' supply of COVID-related drugs in the region and grassroots medical institutions should keep sufficient stock of COVID drugs to meet the needs of 15 to 20 percent of the population in the area, she said.
Authorities are pushing companies to expand the production of drugs as there have been shortages due to the increase in COVID patients, she said.