Medical workers help a 101-year-old COVID-19 patient surnamed Li as she leaves the Guangdong Second Provincial General Hospital in Guangzhou, south China's Guangdong Province, Nov. 26, 2022. (Guangdong Second Provincial General Hospital/Handout via Xinhua)
BEIJING, Jan. 5 (Xinhua) -- China is doing its best to prevent severe illness and treat COVID-19 patients in critical condition.
Health authorities have coordinated medical resources, rolled out targeted response measures for vulnerable groups, and refined the protocol pertaining to patient triage in a bid to protect the health of the people to the greatest extent possible.
PREPAREDNESS OF MEDICAL RESOURCES
Hospitals have been better equipping doctors and nurses with targeted and the latest expertise in treating patients, particularly those with severe COVID-induced conditions.
Medical institutions have managed to expand the capacity of facilities for treating patients in severe conditions, such as increasing the supply of hospital beds and ventilators.
By the end of 2022, there were about 181,000 critical care beds available across the country, meaning that the number of intensive care beds per 100,000 inhabitants, a major gauge for hospitals' capacity in saving patients in critical conditions, reached 12.8, statistics from the National Health Commission showed.
In China, the unique strength of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has been leveraged in COVID-19 treatment. Health authorities called for TCM intervention at earlier stages in treating infections and emphasized the integration of TCM and Western medicine in treating severe cases.
For those with severe symptoms, integrated treatment of Chinese and Western medicine can effectively prevent the disease from becoming more critical or slow the progression, thus reducing the fatality rate, said Huang Luqi, deputy head of the National Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine, at a press conference Tuesday.
TARGETED RESPONSE FOR KEY GROUPS
On Wednesday, a 90-year-old woman, after the first week of COVID-19 infection, was receiving treatment at a community healthcare center in Jiuting town of Shanghai's Songjiang District for lingering fever and cough.
The woman, who has high blood pressure and diabetes, was sent to the center under the advice of her family doctor in a telephone follow-up. In Jiuting, COVID-19 patients aged above 65 are interviewed by local health workers on a daily basis to prevent progression to severe conditions.
Seniors, along with people with serious underlying health conditions, pregnant women, new mums and children, are at high risk for severe COVID-19 infection. The key population groups have been given greater attention.
The State Council inter-agency task force for COVID-19 response on Tuesday released a circular to beef up efforts to prevent and reduce severe infections. Healthcare supplies containing medicine and antigen test kits will be distributed to the vulnerable groups, according to the document. In the southwestern province of Guizhou, people above 65 have received free medical kits and traditional Chinese medicine for COVID-19 treatment.
The circular also requires fast-track referrals for highly vulnerable infection cases to upper-tier hospitals.
BETTER TRIAGE TO SCREEN FOR SEVERE CASES
China has mobilized medical institutions of all levels to improve patient triage and ensure the treatment of severe cases.
"We've launched an all-out campaign to identify potential risks at the most grassroots level," said Sun Wanxin, deputy president of a county hospital in Harbin, capital of northeast China's Heilongjiang Province.
Local officials and rural doctors have placed highly vulnerable groups of people, such as those at an advanced age or with underlying conditions, under grid-based management, monitoring their health every day via WeChat, telephone, and other means.
They will contact the hospital at once if any indication of severe symptoms is observed among these people, and severe cases will be transferred to higher-tier hospitals, said Sun.
More clinics have been opened at grassroots medical and health institutions, which sort out patients according to the severity of their conditions and give priority to severe cases.