City passes public health emergencies law

Chen Huizhi
Shanghai People's Congress draws on best practices from anti-COVID-19 measures to provide a systematic approach for the city to prepare for any future public health crises.
Chen Huizhi

A public health emergency management law was passed by Shanghai People’s Congress, the city’s legislature, on Tuesday.

Drawing on best practices from measures taken to curb COVID-19, the law allows the city to prepare for and act in the case of similar public health crises.

Under the new regulation, the city will make rules for the preparation of sufficient medicines, tests, vaccines, medical appliances, first-aid equipment and protective materials for any future public health emergency.

The government is required to sign contracts with companies to ensure the manufacturing capacity of materials for such emergencies.

Health authorities at city and district levels are required to plan beds reserved for public health emergencies and prepare to turn a certain number of medical institutions into designated hospitals for treating patients. Every city district shall have at least one such medical institution.

The regulation requires the government to enhance the training and supply of professionals competent to deal with public health emergencies. It also requires the preparation of a list of experts in public health, clinical care, emergency management, health education, psychological support and law for major public health crises.

According to the regulation, Shanghai will build a platform to monitor signs of epidemics, to include medical institutions, drugstores, schools, nurseries, homes for the elderly, agricultural markets, companies that deal with imported frozen food, and traffic junctions.

Individuals and entities in Shanghai are obliged to report anything of public health interest to the government, the health authorities or disease control centers, or by calling the 12345 government hotline.

During emergencies, city and district governments are authorized to close down places considered dangerous to public health, restrict traffic by setting up health checkpoints, restrict or suspend cinemas, sports facilities, museums and exhibition centers or activities involving large gatherings, suspend business activities and school education, or to take other action against epidemics.

The regulation allows parties in charge of the management of public places where epidemic rules are in force to refuse to serve individuals who decline to abide by the rules.

The regulation prohibits prejudice against patients of infectious diseases who are undergoing treatment or have been cured, those suspected of having infectious diseases, those who carry pathogens, or their families. People who come from or have travelled past areas affected by epidemics or those at high risk shouldn’t suffer prejudice either.

Individuals and entities are also prohibited from leaking privacy information of citizens in public health emergency management.

During public health emergencies, the regulation requires that all volunteer organizations and individuals shall be subject to the coordination of the city or district government.

The regulation requires businesses offering catering services to provide extra tableware for customers to eat from shared food separately, a practice already promoted around the city.

Ding Wei, director of the committee on legislative work of the standing committee of the Shanghai People's Congress, said the law is just a beginning to raise awareness of being getting prepared for public health crises.

“It takes time for all members of the society to forge new hygiene habits and to understand their responsibilities for the welfare of all,” he said.

The regulation will take effect from November 1.

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