Top News: 1t yuan bonds for virus control
Public health emergency reporting streamlined
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.