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Medical work plan released for flu season

By Wang Xiaoyu | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2020-09-30 06:54
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A child cries during an injection at a health center in Huzhou, Zhejiang province on April 24, 2020. WANG ZHENG/FOR CHINA DAILY

China will expand its coverage of affordable and convenient flu vaccinations and strengthen its contagious disease monitoring system as it enters the flu season, health officials said on Tuesday.

The State Council Joint Prevention and Control Mechanism released a work plan on Tuesday that guides efforts to control this year's flu season, requiring local authorities to lower vaccine prices for key groups-which include medical workers, children, the elderly and those with chronic diseases-increase the number of flu vaccination sites and lengthen their operating hours.

"We underscored in particular that vaccinating medical workers will be prioritized so as to reduce the risk of them transmitting the influenza virus to patients and ensure the smooth provision of services at hospitals," Wu Liangyou, deputy director of the National Health Commission's Disease Prevention and Control Bureau, said at a news conference on Tuesday.

Drawing from lessons learned in the fight against COVID-19, Wu added that multiple channels, including direct online reporting and reports from hospitals and media, will be used to help officials detect new flu outbreaks in a more accurate and timely manner.

"Both influenza and the novel coronavirus are dangerous respiratory illnesses that require similar containment strategies. The plan has thus called for implementing coordinated efforts to control them simultaneously," he said.

The work plan emphasized that demand for flu shots will be carefully evaluated and purchases, supply, transport and distribution will be closely monitored. Local medical institutions should also stock sufficient medicines and related materials in advance.

During the flu season, large indoor gatherings will be reduced or halted, it said, adding that health monitoring in key venues, including schools and nursing homes, will be stepped up.

Meanwhile, Wu said, it is vital to keep practicing basic hygiene by observing social distancing, wearing masks and washing hands regularly.

China has effectively controlled the spread of the novel coronavirus, registering no new confirmed or suspected domestic cases for 44 consecutive days as of Monday.

However, a steady number of imported cases are reported daily, and the risk of seeing new clusters of infections remains, according to the commission.

To further step up its preparedness with regard to infectious diseases circulating during the fall and winter, the commission has trained 2.9 million healthcare workers in nucleic acid testing for the novel coronavirus, epidemiologic investigations and the analysis of new outbreaks. On-site inspections of local disease control work have also been conducted in 17 provinces, Wu said.

Officials added that a series of steps have been taken in response to the greater risk of the spread of the novel coronavirus as domestic tourism is expected to see a major rebound during the upcoming eight-day National Day holiday.

Li Jian, deputy director of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism's market management department, said on Tuesday that tourist sites and theaters must limit the number of daily visitors to under 75 percent of their maximum capacity and promote visits based on prior reservations.

Li Huaqiang, deputy director of the Ministry of Transport's Transportation Services Department, said that the ministry has urged the implementation of regular disease control measures, such as disinfection, ventilation and taking the temperature of passengers during the National Day holiday.

"For elderly people and children who are unable to present health codes on mobile phones by themselves, we have also asked transport workers to provide assistance and help them provide the related information," he added.

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