Medical staff work at the intensive care unit (ICU) of the southern branch of Renji Hospital in Shanghai, East China, April 24, 2022. (PHOTO / XINHUA)
Health authorities stressed on Thursday that hospitals must not refuse patients and should ensure patients in need get timely care during the upcoming May Day holiday since China's COVID-19 epidemic situation remains serious and threatens to disrupt other medical services.
"Hospital emergency departments should be open around the clock, and patients should not be rejected for any reason," Guo Yanhong, a health official at the Bureau of Medical Administration of the National Health Commission, said at a news conference of the Joint Prevention and Control Mechanism of the State Council on Thursday.
Hospitals should also provide regular and continuous treatment for patients in need of dialysis or chemotherapy treatment. They can also prescribe as many as 12 weeks' worth of medications at a time to patients with chronic illnesses, said Guo Yanhong, a health official at the Bureau of Medical Administration of the National Health Commission
She required buffering zones to be set up at medical institutions to deliver timely treatment for patients who are in severe condition but cannot immediately present valid nucleic acid test results.
Hospitals should also provide regular and continuous treatment for patients in need of dialysis or chemotherapy treatment. They can also prescribe as many as 12 weeks' worth of medications at a time to patients with chronic illnesses, Guo said.
"Medical facilities should not halt operations or close off recklessly and should only do so under essential circumstances," she said.
"If a hospital has to lock down for virus control, it should activate contingency mechanisms to guarantee continuity of services at emergency departments, as well as dialysis, surgery and delivery rooms," she added.
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The mainland reported 1,494 new locally transmitted COVID infections and about 9,800 asymptomatic infections on Wednesday. Both figures were down from the previous day.
The cumulative number of infections in the mainland this month exceeded 553,000, affecting all provincial-level regions except for the Tibet autonomous region, according to Wu Liangyou, deputy director of the commission's Bureau of Disease Prevention and Control.
He said the city of Shanghai and Jilin province－the worst-hit areas－are both seeing a downward trend in their daily new cases.
However, with the approach of the May Day holiday from Saturday to May 4, "the overall epidemic situation remains complicated and challenging", Wu said.
Zhou Min, an official with the Ministry of Transport, said on Thursday about 100 million trips are expected to be made during the May Day holiday, down by about 62 percent from last year.
The average number of daily passenger trips will be about 20 million, peaking on Saturday at 22.5 million, he added.
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Rail trips are also expected to be sluggish. Zhu Wenzhong from the China State Railway Group, the national railway operator, said the company will suspend or reduce train services to epidemic-affected areas and adjust routes to bypass high-risk regions.
Ticket refunds will be applied in accordance with virus control policies, he added.
About 2 million trips will be made by air during the holiday, or an average daily of 400,000, down by 77 percent over the same period of last year, said the Civil Aviation Administration of China.
Luo Wangshu contributed to this story.