Advance reservations call to avoid queues

Li Qian
Significant surge in demand for nucleic acid tests as migrant workers seek the approval that is necessary for them to return to their hometowns for the Spring Festival.
Li Qian

Health authorities called for advance reservations for COVID-19 nucleic acid tests to avoid long queues in hospitals.

As chunyun, the Spring Festival travel rush, draws near, the city’s migrant workers are seeking tests to allow them to travel to their hometowns under the nation’s tougher virus prevention and control measures.

There has been a significant surge in demand and long queues have appeared at some sites, Wu Jinglei, director of the Shanghai Health Commission, said at a press conference on Monday.

One reason behind the queues, Wu said, is that some people hadn’t made reservations in advance.

“We’ve asked hospitals to provide various reservation channels, including phone, Internet and WeChat accounts, and further promote reservations in advance,” he said.

“Also, we’ve asked them to extend service hours, send more medical staff and add more testing sites to reduce waiting hours.”

Wang Tong, of the Shanghai Health Enhancement Commission, said people taking the train or flying must wear a mask throughout their journeys.

“Keep hands clean. Never touch eyes, mouth and ears when hands are dirty,” he said. “It’s better to not take food during the trip. If it’s necessary, don’t eat or drink when nearby passengers are eating or drinking.”

For those staying in Shanghai during the Spring Festival, Wang suggested they cancel gatherings and dining parties. Whenever they go, the first thing they must do when they return home is wash their hands, he said.

He said it was still necessary to wear a mask and maintain social distance, and it was better to open windows frequently when at home.

At present, medical services which present high infection risks, such as dental, dialysis, chemotherapy and emergency treatment, are still open to the public, Wu said.

But he emphasized the need to make appointments in advance, or consult Internet hospitals which can provide online professional medical services. So far, Shanghai has around 50 Internet hospitals.

“We’ve asked hospitals to further optimize the appointment system, allowing patients to make online appointments to see doctors in a specific period,” Wu said. “Also, in hospitals, people don’t need to line up in queues to make payments. They can turn to self-service payments.”

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