Since the beginning of 2020, China has been suffering from the invisible battle against COVID-19 (coronavirus disease, hereinafter referred to as “novel coronavirus”). Instead of gathering with relatives and friends to celebrate the festive Chinese New Year, the 1.4 billion Chinese stay at home and avoid gatherings so as to prevent spread of the novel coronavirus until the epidemic situation is all-clear. The epicenter of the outbreak, is located in Wuhan City, central China’s Hubei Province, a hub for people and vehicles traveling across China. Located more than one thousand kilometers away from Wuhan, Guangzhou City is a metropolis with more than 150 million permanent residents and has become a major destination of numerous migrants and foreigners. Guangzhou city has taken multifaceted actions to prevent and control the epidemic caused by COVID-19.
Guangzhou-based experienced medical team jointly fight against the novel coronavirus.
Within the city’s administrative area, Guangzhou, having experience in beating the SARS virus arising in 2003, under the principle of centralised treatment, announced list of its nine designated hospitals with 2,000 beds for treating local patients. In addition, each of the eleven districts in the city has allocated at least one medical observation point with 200 beds to provide supportive care. Those infected with the novel coronavirus, either confirmed or suspected, could receive appropriate care to treat and relieve symptoms.
Guangzhou, particularly Guangzhou Center for Disease Control and Prevention, has also joined the nation-wide efforts and led its counterparts in the country to issue the Protection Guidelines for Friends from Wuhan and the Public Health Protection Guidelines for Guangzhou Citizens. At Chinese New Year’s Eve, a total of 128 medical staffs from nine top Guangzhou-based hospitals, joined the frontline physicians in Wuhan to treat the exploding number of infected people. They are the first medical team in the country to take the initiative to head for Wuhan in the rescue against the highly contagious virus. Some of these heroic medical staffs had ever joined the battle against SARS back in 2003.
Guangzhou authority plays an active role in careful deployment and down-to-earth implementation of prevention and control measures.
Guangdong authority activated first-level public health emergency response to the epidemic. Guangzhou authority has adopted several effective working mechanisms with four highlights of the prevention and control measures.
1. Three monitor networks were established to timely identify the infected people, suspected cases and those who have close contact with the infected.
To ensure timely targeted quarantine and control, Guangzhou established three monitor networks, namely, quarantine inspection on intercity transportation, quarantine inspection on urban transport, and temperature check in public spaces. For intercity transportation, people traveling through highway passenger stations, Baiyun International Airport, railway stations, and ports should check their body temperature at the checkpoints. For urban transport, each passenger taking the metro or the bus should get their body temperature checked and must wear a mask.
2. Communities are put into full play in identifying the infected and protecting the residents.
In Yuexiu District, each community has formed a working group to extensively identify the infected people. The working group is composed of a community health worker, a community police, and a staff from the residents’ committee. Every day, the working group monitor the body temperature of those who have returned from outside Guangzhou and under the 14-day quarantine.
In terms of items transported by delivery services, items should be placed at the designated area for residents to collect, minimizing the risk of spreading the virus through personal contact by curbing the population flow. Guangzhou announced on February 7 that residents and vehicles of residents who do not reside in the residential block/village (including but not limited to couriers, food deliverers and their vehicles) are restricted from entering into the residential block/village.
3. Informatization and big data model enhances the transparency and efficiency of epidemic prevention and control.
Guangzhou authority, through official media, updated the epidemic situation caused by the novel coronavirus on a daily basis
At the end of January, the “Sui Kang” Mini Program, an embedded application in WeChat, China’s most popular social media, went online. The programme requires people to take the initiative to declare and register their status on traveling from and/or to Guangzhou within 14 days and their health status. The Mini Program also serves as a platform for the authority to allocate the limited resources of facemasks.
Moreover, Guangzhou also conducted frequent advocacy on individual prevention and protection by various means: releasing notifications on epidemic prevention and control, sending individuals several blast messages on epidemic prevention and health protection per day through WeChat and telecommunication service providers. In addition, “A Letter to All Expats in Guangzhou” was issued in Chinese and English languages on January 28, which advocated the expats in Guangzhou to follow verified official information, enhance self-protection, minimise outdoor activities and join in the city’s mass prevention and control efforts.
4. Disinfection in a comprehensive way is conducive to beating the existing novel coronavirus.
Immediately after each of the confirmed cases was reported, Guangzhou’s local disease control authorities carried out strict terminal disinfection in the communities involved. They also supervised the communities and property management teams to conduct preventive disinfection.
In addition to routine sanitation in public spaces, garbage sorting and transportation, sanitation facilities cleaning, allocating sanitary tissues in public toilets, equipping sanitation workers with masks and gloves, Guangzhou authority also ensures that the special medical wastes in this epidemic are collected, transported and harmlessly incinerated in a timely and safe manner.
Medical companies provide huge support in diagnosis, treatment and prevention of the novel coronavirus.
Since early January 2020, Guangzhou-based biomedical companies, together with local medical institutes, have successfully developed a rapid detection kit and later regenerated it by shortening the detection time.
High-tech application largely increases the productivity. Pulisi Technology, a Guangzhou-based national high-tech enterprise, developed the country’s first fully automatic mask production machine using artificial intelligence technology. This machine, put into use since February 10, could produce 150 thousand pieces per day, compared to the normal productivity of 10-20 thousand pieces per day.
Cross-boundary innovation is also seen in the epidemic prevention and control in the city. Guangzhou Automobile Group (GAC Group), a Guangzhou-based state-owned automobile enterprise and a Fortune Global 500 company, makes good use of its advantages in manufacturing strength and technical talents to help meet the need for protective materials. It took only two weeks for this automobile manufacturer to investigate, assemble and debug their first mask production equipment. GAC Group alleviates the short supply by producing both the masks and the mask production machines. The company’s five production lines has a daily production capacity of 250 thousand pieces. It will also successively produce a total of 30 mask production equipment, some of which will be allocated by the municipal government to other enterprises for mass production.
Not long after Dr. Zhong Nanshan’s team identified the clinical effectiveness of a medication to treat the infected patients, Guangzhou Pharmaceutical Holdings Limited, a Guangzhou-based state-owned enterprise, manufactured 500 thousand pieces of the pills within one day, as soon as it received approval from Guangdong Provincial Drug Administration.
Curbing the spread of novel coronavirus, Guangzhou’s practices come from prior experience, cautious and innovative approaches. With abundant experience in fighting the SARS virus, Guangzhou-based medical system boasts pioneering courage, professional acuity and expertise in the battle. Under people-oriented principle, Guangzhou authority takes both defensive and offensive measures in beating the novel coronavirus based on the scientific judgments by medical professionals, leaving no one behind in screening, receiving and treating each case. Guangzhou-based medical companies also manifest their social responsibilities and production strengths in the fight.
Guangzhou’s medical professionals, the authority and medical companies, constitute a scientific, pragmatic and confident triangle in fighting against COVID-19, safeguarding the health of its people. The city’s resolutions and actions to contain the novel coronavirus showcases its outstanding urban competitiveness in dealing with emergent public health event.
The epidemic situation in China is not yet clear. Challenges still exist. Yet hope is the last thing we are to kill. We believe China will win the battle and Guangzhou’s good practices will play their role.
By: Victoria Liang
(Sources: Xinhua News Agency, CCTV News, CGTN, China Daily, Guangzhou Daily, Tencent News, 21st Century Business Herald, Guangzhou Government, Huangpu District Government.)