China urges protection of rural communities from COVID-19
China urges the protection of rural communities from COVID-19 as New Year and Spring Festival holidays near, the National Health Commission said in an official notice on Friday.
China has for three years encouraged migrant workers in big cities to stay put during the Spring Festival, traditionally a travel rush period when millions go back home for family reunions.
This policy has significantly reduced the number of travelers as more than 20 percent of migrant workers chose to "stay in place" for the last three Chinese New Year holidays, according to Xinhua news agency.
With the relaxation of COVID-19 controls, this upcoming festival is expected to be a big challenge for the country's pandemic prevention, especially for rural areas with relatively limited medical resources, the notice says.
In response, China is taking a series of measures to guarantee returnees' medical care. Online and offline medical services will be provided and essential drugs and test kits will be easily accessible, according to the notice.
For vulnerable groups, authorities will accelerate setting up green channels for medical services and mobile vaccination stations will be arranged to increase the vaccination rate for the elderly, the notice emphasizes.
Meanwhile, travelers are required to wear masks and reduce contact with their vulnerable relatives, and promptly inform the local medical institutions if they have symptoms of COVID-19.
Additionally, medical staff will take scientific shifts to avoid long working hours as far as possible to protect their physical and mental health.