Special: Battle against the new coronavirus
An elderly woman receives a vaccine against COVID-19 in a community in Haidian district in Beijing on March 14, 2021. (Photo/Xinhua)
China will take more resolute and faster measures to screen and isolate COVID-19 risk groups and implement regular nucleic acid testing to strengthen its defense against the Omicron variant, said Ma Xiaowei, minister of health. National Health Commission.
The country will accelerate research on Omicron-specific vaccines and advance the administration of boosters in the elderly, it said in a signed article published Monday in the Qiushi Journal, the flagship magazine of the Communist Party Central Committee. Chinese.
The article was published following a meeting of senior Party leaders on May 5 which reiterated China’s commitment to its aggressive zero COVID strategy as the country battles a severe wave of epidemics that has hardest hit the province of Jilin and Shanghai.
Ma said China’s adherence to strict virus control is determined by the nature and purpose of the Party. “The Party has always put the interests of the people first, and the safety and health of our people are given priority when formulating disease control policies and evaluating the results,” he said. declared.
“It also explains the fundamental reason for our decision to adopt a different approach to the fight against the virus compared to that of some Western countries,” Ma added.
The World Health Organization estimates that by the end of last year around 15 million people had died from the virus or its impact on overwhelmed health systems. Data released recently by the United States and the European Union also showed a decrease in average life expectancy after the virus emerged.
However, in China, a developing country with a large population, COVID-19 infection and death rates have been kept to the lowest level in the world, and average life expectancy has increased steadily over the past few years. past two years, according to Ma.
“The Omicron variant is neither a ‘natural vaccine’ nor a ‘bigger flu’,” he said. “We must fully understand the heavy toll that will come from abandoning our disease control measures or coexisting with the virus.
He stressed that manpower and resources should be focused on preventing new cases. “Otherwise, treatment capacity will be under severe pressure, threatening the health of people with underlying diseases, the elderly and other vulnerable groups,” he said.
As Jilin is in the final stages of its fight against the virus and the outbreak in Shanghai is stabilizing and trending downward, Ma said China has withstood the toughest test since the initial outbreak centered in Wuhan. , in Hubei province.
Faced with the persistent threat of the fast-spreading Omicron variant, China will be more resolute in deploying targeted control measures and isolating high-risk groups, as well as accelerating mass screening and epidemiological investigations, said My.
Greater caution must be taken to prevent large businesses, construction sites, food markets, schools and nurseries from becoming virus hotspots, he added.
“Currently, disease control efforts need to be strengthened in Shanghai to eliminate infections and win the battle there,” he said, adding that local outbreaks in Beijing and other key regions are also expected. be treated quickly to cut off community transmission.
In provincial capitals and cities with populations over 10 million, nucleic acid testing should be available within a 15-minute walk to facilitate weekly screening and frequent testing among key groups.
“Local authorities should also prepare enough designated hospitals, permanent makeshift hospitals and centralized quarantine facilities,” he said. “Intensive care beds and first aid personnel should also be increased.”
Ma said clinical research and approval procedures for vaccines targeting Omicron will be accelerated and recall campaigns will be smoothly advanced, with a focus on the elderly.
To ensure normal medical services, Ma said hospitals that have to halt operations due to virus concerns should first seek permission from local health authorities and should not be closed for more than two days.