Community support brings strength to combat COVID-19

While the frigid winter has swept many regions of China, people have found comfort and strength by staying united during these trying times as they combat COVID-19.

While the frigid winter has swept many regions of China, people have found comfort and strength by staying united during these trying times as they combat COVID-19.

Bound together

After reading a message for help in the WeChat group of her residential community in Beijing's Chaoyang District, Ma Yihua promptly offered assistance to the 84-year-old woman who lives alone by delivering urgently needed medicines and supplies to her door.

The message was from Li Xiufen, the Party chief of the community. Li said both the elderly woman and her daughter had tested positive for COVID-19. The daughter was unable to provide care since she was isolated at her own home.

"I thought the quickest way to help the elderly would be to rely on the people in the same community," Li said.

Like many others, Ma herself also benefited from this system of mutual aid. She received the antigen kits shared by her neighbor the other day after sending out a message in the group chat.

"Now that I have recovered from the infection, I must pass on the love," Ma said.

From offering thermometers and antigen kits to medicines for babies, people assisting one another through the messaging platform has become quite common during this epidemic outbreak.

Doctors around

Medical workers at the primary level are sticking to their posts, and medical facilities are being repurposed to handle an anticipated surge in patients and ensure timely medical attention.

Xi Lei is a pediatrician in Beijing's Tongzhou District. Though he is still recovering from an Omicron infection, Xi chose to return to work at the earliest time possible. "It is the peak time for pediatric departments, but several colleagues have fallen ill. I need to be here," Xi said.

Serving outpatients, rescuing patients in the emergency room, working shifts in the newborn ward, etc., constituted a normal workday for Xi and his colleagues during the last week. "I'm a father of two, and I know how anxious parents would be when their children are sick," Xi said.

In Shanghai, 2,594 fever clinics at the community level opened on Monday.

"Doctors here will give preliminary treatment and prescribe medicine. Patients with multiple underlying health conditions or with deteriorating conditions will be transferred to a bigger hospital by a special team," said Gao Jing, deputy head of the Pujiang community health service center in Shanghai.

Gao added that the fever clinic has enough medicines in reserve for a week, and that if the reserve runs out, a contingency plan will be activated to ensure medicines are brought in for fever patients.

Making vaccination accessible

"Hi. I'd like to get a vaccine shot but I have difficulties going out, so I'm calling for help," said an elderly woman surnamed Xu, as she called a community service center in Shanghai.

Immediately after receiving the call, staff member Gao Jiabao arranged a group to visit Xu's home.

From supporting the development of COVID-19 vaccines to providing the second booster shot for people most in need, encouraging vaccination has been a crucial measure in different stages of China's fight against the epidemic.

As China further optimized its COVID-19 response, many places around the country have seen a stark increase in demand for inoculation, in some places increasing by 10 times, with the demand mostly soaring among the elderly and children.

Neighborhood communities have taken various measures to expand access to vaccination. In Guangzhou's Yuexiu District, inoculation spots have been set up near subway entrances and medical professionals are present to answer questions from people with underlying diseases or address other concerns.

The eastern city of Jinan extended working hours at inoculation sites and opened green channels for older people, while some communities in the city of Suzhou have arranged cars for picking up the elderly to get vaccinated.

Over the past nearly three years, with communities playing an important role as the first line of defense, China has taken the initiative to optimize its COVID-19 response to make it more scientific and more targeted.

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