(Continued from May 14, 2020)
The first step was to identify the solitary elders and collect their information. Community workers made on-site visits to or phone calls with the solitary elders to understand their preparedness and responses, guardianship, personal needs and physical conditions. Such information was registered, filed, and regularly updated.
The second step was to expand workforce. In early days of the epidemic prevention and control, many communities faced shortage of manpower because of the heavy workload. Under this circumstance, public servants were designated as representatives to look after the disadvantaged households and help solve their problems. Among them, guaranteeing the solitary elders’ daily necessity supplies is an important part. Residents and staffs of property companies and social organizations also served as volunteers to provide care services.
The last step was to help purchase and deliver living materials. Community workers, public servants and volunteers needed to keep in touch with the solitary elders or their children and help purchase rice, oil, meat, vegetables and other necessities as needed at supermarkets nearby. These goods were then delivered to each household.
Materials could also be mobilized through online and offline solicitations when nearby supermarkets were closed or when some specific needs could not be met.
During the epidemic prevention and control period, offspring’s role in taking care of solitary elders is weakened to some extent. China’s grid-based management in communities has shown great advantage in quickly identifying solitary elders and clarifying local officials’ responsibilities. Community workers were the executors and fighters in the frontline; public servants timely shared the laborious tasks in this process; many volunteers provided care services out of China’s tradition of helping each other and respecting the elderly. Through such joint efforts, solitary elders’ daily necessity supplies were guaranteed.
Q26: Why is testing so important for fighting COVID-19?
A: Efficient and timely virus testing is a crucial prerequisite for early identification, reporting, isolation, diagnosis and treatment. Testing casts direct impact on the effectiveness of epidemic prevention and control. WHO has called on all countries to ramp up testing programs. Dr. Tedros, Director-General of WHO, made it clear at the media briefing in Geneva on March 16, “We have a simple message for all countries: test, test, test. Test every suspected case.”
First, testing helps identify sources of infection and facilitates overall and targeted planning of epidemic prevention and control. Testing being one of the main means, identifying sources of infection is the precondition and basis of infectious disease prevention and control. China tested potential infectors to identify confirmed cases. On this basis, China adopted a series of measures including conducting targeted epidemiological investigation, tracing close contacts, as well as quarantining and testing close contacts. These have effectively prevented further spread of the epidemic.
Second, testing helps with timely diagnosis and facilitates early treatment to raise the cure rate and reduce the fatality rate. Virus test is an important diagnostic criterion for COVID-19. Timely virus tests shorten diagnosis time and guarantee early diagnosis and treatment, thus being a key measure to raise the cure rate and reduce the fatality rate. According to the statistics of the National Health Commission, the proportion of severe cases in Wuhan dropped from 38% in the early stage to 18% on February 17 through early diagnosis and treatment and continuous observation of mild patients after admission.
Third, testing helps categorize patients and facilitates timely diagnosis and treatment of other diseases. The initial symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to those of many other diseases such as influenza, which can easily lead to misjudgments. Through testing and screening, patients with other diseases can be excluded and receive timely and targeted treatment.
Practice has shown that rapid and low-cost testing through various ways greatly helped the epidemic prevention and control in China.
(To be continued on May 19, 2020)