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COVID-19 response further optimized with 10 new measures

Updated: Dec 8, 2022 Xinhua Print
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BEIJING -- China released a circular on further optimizing the COVID-19 response on Wednesday, announcing 10 prevention and control measures.

The measures were introduced based on the latest epidemic situation and mutation of the virus to contain the epidemic in a more science-based and targeted manner, according to the circular issued by the State Council joint prevention and control mechanism against COVID-19.

Relevant departments in localities are required to rectify oversimplified or one-size-fits-all approaches and excessive policy steps, oppose and curb pointless formalities and bureaucratism, and faithfully implement prevention and control measures to maximize the protection of people's lives and health and minimize the impact of the epidemic on economic and social development.

The circular prohibits arbitrary expansion of high-risk areas and calls for delineating COVID-19 risk areas in a science-based and targeted manner. It adds that such areas should be designated by buildings, units, floors and households, instead of residential compounds, communities and subdistricts (towns and townships).

As part of efforts to optimize nucleic acid testing, people will not be subjected to mass testing according to administrative regions, and the scope and frequency of testing will be further reduced, the circular notes.

Apart from nursing homes, medical institutions, primary and secondary schools, kindergartens and other special places, people will no longer be required to provide negative nucleic acid test results and undergo health code checks to access public venues or travel to other regions.

The infected should be treated scientifically in accordance with the nature of the infection and severity of the disease, the circular says.

If their home conditions allow, asymptomatic carriers and those with mild symptoms can undergo home quarantine, while close contacts should undergo five days of home quarantine.

Quarantine measures imposed on high-risk areas must be lifted if no new infections are reported for five consecutive days.

People's basic needs to purchase medication should be ensured. Pharmacies should operate normally, and willful closures are prohibited, the circular notes.

Vaccination efforts should be ramped up among the elderly, with a focus on improving the vaccination rate among people aged between 60 and 79. The vaccination rate among people aged 80 and older should also be accelerated. Vaccination services will be optimized by setting up special channels and temporary vaccination sites, and deploying mobile vaccination vehicles, according to the circular.

Primary-level medical institutions and family doctors should deliver targeted services to key groups based on the health status of elderly people, according to the circular.

The normal functioning of society and basic medical services must continue, the circular states, adding that non-high-risk areas shall not impose travel restrictions or suspend businesses.

Special attention and psychological counseling services should be given to those in quarantine, patients, and frontline workers, the circular says.

Schools reporting no COVID-19 cases should function normally, and those affected by the epidemic should precisely designate risk areas and ensure normal functioning in unaffected areas, it adds.

The new adjustment is an active optimization of epidemic prevention and control, according to Liang Wannian, head of the COVID-19 response expert panel under the National Health Commission.

Liang said that China has been closely monitoring the changes in the virus and the disease, continuously optimizing the prevention and control strategy and measures based on the situation and looking for the best plan.

The optimized measures will make more efficient use of prevention and control resources, and better coordinate epidemic prevention and control with economic and social development, Liang added.

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