Top News: 1t yuan bonds for virus con­trol

Pub­lic health emer­gency re­port­ing stream­lined

Global Times - Weekend - - FRONT PAGE - By Zhao Yusha and Zhang Hui

The gov­ern­ment work re­port de­liv­ered by Pre­mier Li Ke­qiang at the third session of the 13th Na­tional Peo­ple’s Congress (NPC) on Fri­day clearly charted the fu­ture ef­forts in the pub­lic health sec­tor, es­pe­cially those found in­ad­e­quate from China’s COVID-19 re­sponse at the early stage, which showed the cen­tral gov­ern­ment’s de­ter­mi­na­tion to never al­low a resur­gence of the epi­demic or any other in­fec­tious disease, Chi­nese med­i­cal ex­perts said on Fri­day.

China has made ma­jor strate­gic achieve­ments in COVID-19 re­sponse, but sev­eral loop­holes have been ex­posed in the pub­lic health emer­gency man­age­ment. China vows to re­form the disease preven­tion and con­trol sys­tem, im­prove in­fec­tious disease di­rect re­port­ing and warn­ing sys­tem, and timely and trans­par­ently re­lease epi­demi­cre­lated in­for­ma­tion, Li said.

China will is­sue one tril­lion yuan ($141 bil­lion) of gov­ern­ment bonds to bat­tle the coro­n­avirus, which will be used to in­crease in­vest­ment in vac­cine re­search and fast test­ing de­vel­op­ment, ex­pand med­i­cal fa­cil­i­ties for epi­demic preven­tion and treat­ment, in­crease mo­bile lab­o­ra­to­ries, in­ten­sify sup­port for emer­gency sup­plies, and strengthen com­mu­nitylevel health and epi­demic preven­tion ef­forts, Li said.

China will al­lo­cate 605 bil­lion yuan in the next six months for spe­cial trans­fer pay­ments used mainly to en­sure the ba­sic liveli­hood of the peo­ple, build the pub­lic health and emer­gency sup­plies sup­port sys­tem and cope with un­cer­tainty, ac­cord­ing to a draft bud­get to be sub­mit­ted to the third session of the 13th NPC.

The coro­n­avirus sov­er­eign debt and spe­cial trans­fer pay­ment, which was first men­tioned in this year’s bud­get, shows the cen­tral gov­ern­ment at­taches in­creas­ing im­por­tance to the pub­lic health sec­tor, med­i­cal ex­perts said.

The bud­get for the pub­lic health was listed to­gether with ed­u­ca­tion, so­cial in­sur­ance, agri­cul­ture and en­vi­ron­ment in 2019’s draft. In 2018, it only men­tioned sub­sidy funds for pub­lic health ser­vices and med­i­cal res­cue for ar­eas of ex­treme poverty.

Wang Guangfa, a res­pi­ra­tory ex­pert at Pek­ing Uni­ver­sity First Hos­pi­tal in Bei­jing, said that China could get 90 out of 100 points for COVID-19 re­sponse this year, and the miss­ing 10 points were due to the weak­ness in the mech­a­nism men­tioned in the work re­port. Wang said that when im­prov­ing the in­fec­tious disease di­rect re­port­ing sys­tem, we have to en­sure that the re­port­ing chan­nel is unim­peded, and gov­ern­ments at all lev­els should leave the sci­en­tific as­sess­ment of epi­demic to pro­fes­sion­als.

The big­gest loop­hole in China’s disease preven­tion and warn­ing mech­a­nism is that some lo­cal gov­ern­ments ne­glected the re­port­ing and warn­ing pro­to­col for virus out­breaks, fear­ing that the out­break may af­fect their per­for­mance, Zeng Guang, chief epi­demi­ol­o­gist at the Chi­nese Cen­ter for Disease Con­trol and Preven­tion, told the Global Times on Fri­day.

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