* To contain the epidemic in Wuhan in early 2020, more than 40,000 medics from across the country rushed to the central Chinese city as part of the largest mobilization of medical resources since the founding of New China. Thanks to the resolute efforts of the medical personnel, over 3,000 COVID-19 patients aged 80 and above were cured.
* China has managed to keep its severe COVID-19 cases and death rates among the lowest in the world.
* In China, over 90 percent of the population has been fully vaccinated. Almost 87 percent of people over the age of 60 have been fully vaccinated.
BEIJING, Dec. 24 (Xinhua) -- Unlike the ordeal at the onset of the COVID-19 epidemic three years ago, Wuhan resident Huang Jianmei was not in a state of panic after getting infected with the Omicron variant this time.
Huang caught a cough, but the symptom was mild. She took some medicine and recovered, without going to the hospital. She has completed a full course of vaccination against COVID-19 including a booster shot.
"Owing to nearly three years of epidemic control efforts nationwide, the diagnosis and treatment have been optimized. The virus is not as destructive as before," said Huang, 50.
PRIORITIZING LIFE, HEALTH
Huang lost her husband to the COVID-19 outbreak in early 2020, but she, her son, and her daughter, who were all infected, survived.
Huang was in a critical state and was first transferred from a quarantine site to a designated COVID-19 hospital. She was then moved to Huoshenshan Hospital, which was temporarily built for treating COVID-19 cases. After about two months of treatment, she was discharged upon recovery.
Medical workers help the first batch of patients infected with the novel coronavirus move into their isolation wards at Huoshenshan Hospital in Wuhan, central China's Hubei Province, Feb. 4, 2020. (Xinhua/Xiao Yijiu)
As one of the first critical patients who successfully recovered after treatment, Huang has participated in a national clinical treatment and research project on stem cells since her recovery.
"Without the help of my country and medical staff, I would not have had a second life. Therefore, I would like to play an active role in helping other patients," she said.
To contain the epidemic in Wuhan in early 2020, more than 40,000 medics from across the country rushed to the central Chinese city as part of the largest mobilization of medical resources since the founding of New China. Thanks to the resolute efforts of the medical personnel, over 3,000 COVID-19 patients aged 80 and above were cured.
Since securing the strategic outcomes in the battle to defend Hubei Province and its capital city of Wuhan, China has effectively tackled more than 100 cluster infections over the past three years, fighting different variants of the virus including the Delta and Omicron strains, and upholding the principle of putting people's lives and health above everything else.
In 2022 alone, a number of centenarians fully recovered from COVID-19 infections after medical treatment.
On Nov. 21, a 101-year-old Guangzhou resident surnamed Li tested positive for COVID-19. The centenarian developed a high fever, cough, shortness of breath, and other symptoms. Due to her advanced age and underlying conditions, she was rushed to the ICU at the Guangdong Second Provincial General Hospital.
With careful treatment, Li recovered gradually and left the ward after only five days in the hospital. "Thank you so much. I didn't expect to be discharged so soon," she told doctors when leaving the hospital.
Medical workers help a 101-year-old COVID-19 patient surnamed Li as she leaves the Guangdong Second Provincial General Hospital in Guangzhou, south China's Guangdong Province, Nov. 26, 2022. (Guangdong Second Provincial General Hospital/Handout via Xinhua)
In northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, 101-year-old woman He Cui recovered from COVID-19 after 10 days of medical treatment. Her daughter Li Ti, described the recovery of the elderly woman, who has underlying conditions such as hypertension, as "miraculous".
China has managed to keep its severe COVID-19 cases and death rates among the lowest in the world.
The average life expectancy of the Chinese people has continued to rise amid the pandemic, from 77.93 years in 2020 to 78.2 years in 2021.
RAMPING UP VACCINATION, TREATMENT
At a vaccination site in Beijing's Haidian District, an increasing number of elderly people have been spotted recently. An 87-year-old woman who had already received a COVID-19 vaccine booster shot said she accompanied her 91-year-old husband to get the third shot.
In China, over 90 percent of the population has been fully vaccinated. Almost 87 percent of people over the age of 60 have been fully vaccinated, but only 66.4 percent of people over 80 have completed a full course of vaccination.
With a population of 267 million aged above 60, China is accelerating vaccination among this group. In late November, the country released a work plan to improve the vaccination rate among the elderly.
An elderly resident has his blood pressure checked before receiving his shot of COVID-19 vaccine at home in Dongcheng District of Beijing, capital of China, May 10, 2022. (Xinhua/Chen Zhonghao)
Beijing Ditan Hospital treated more than 100 COVID-19 patients over the age of 80 at its peak.
"The vaccination rate among those elderly patients is generally low, therefore, the incidence of severe illness after infection is relatively high, especially for those who have underlying diseases," explained Chen Xiaoyou, deputy director of the hospital.
In Beijing's Shijingshan District, door-to-door services are offered to help the elderly get vaccinations.
Xu Xiaotao, a community worker in Shijingshan District, said a mobile inoculation team, comprising about five to six community workers and medics, is usually responsible for vaccinating senior citizens in over 30 households in the course of an afternoon.
Other measures such as the "green channels" for the elderly, are also adopted in different places to boost the vaccination rate.
With the optimization of epidemic control measures, the focus of China's epidemic response strategy was shifted from infection control to case treatment with the objective of preventing severe cases.
China is also accelerating efforts to expand the capacity of fever clinics at medical institutions. By the end of October, there were 19,400 fever clinics or consulting rooms at community healthcare centers and the township level across the country. It is expected that by March 2023, about 90 percent of township-level health centers will be equipped with fever clinics, said an official with the National Health Commission.
This photo taken on Dec. 24, 2022 shows a makeshift fever clinic of Beijing Chaoyang Hospital in Chaoyang Gymnasium in Beijing, capital of China. (Xinhua/Chen Zhonghao)
China has prepared medical facilities for treating severe cases as the country is witnessing a rise in the number of such patients. Third-grade hospitals should take in COVID-19 patients with severe conditions as well as those with multiple underlying conditions, said Jiao Yahui, an official with the National Health Commission.
Senior patients with underlying conditions and children should be directly transferred to third-grade hospitals as soon as their conditions change, Jiao added.
Third-grade hospitals rank at the top of China's three-tier hospital grading system. They have the most hospital beds and provide comprehensive medical services.
Jiao also emphasized that medical treatment should be strengthened for key groups, and special attention should be paid to key areas with a dense elderly population, such as nursing homes and welfare homes. Local health departments, civil affairs departments and hospitals have been urged to give assistance to nursing homes and welfare homes, and provide health guidance for the elderly.
(Video reporters: Fang Yadong, Lu Haiyue, Wang Feng and Yang Yunqi; video editors: Zhao Yuchao, Luo Hui, Li Qin and Liu Xiaorui) ■