Notices inform practices for community assistance ahead of Chinese New Year

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On the 30th of January, the Ministry of Civil Affairs and the National Health Commission jointly issued the Notice on Further Improving the Level of Precision and Refinement of Prevention and Control of the Covid-19 Pandemic in Urban and Rural Communities. Three points are stressed in the Notice: collaboration, coordination and protecting vulnerable groups.

The Notice requires the local civil affairs departments and health departments to be led and guided by the local epidemic prevention and control groups and work together to construct and strengthen a coordination mechanism for pandemic prevention and control work at the community level.

Coordination is needed in the following areas: community activities, resources distribution and protection of and care for community and social workers. In detail, the Notice stresses at the community level, the local prevention and control work mechanism must be activated and continuously improved. Measures for pandemic prevention and control must be implemented diligently, especially for people at higher risk from coronavirus and areas where a rise of cases can be detected. Community-based campaigns shall be arranged to persuade people to avoid mass gathering. When regular community activities, such as elections, take place, masks and social distancing must be required. Community services all need to be proceeded with adjustments in accordance to new pandemic prevention and control rules.

At the community level, information technology shall be used to help suppress the epidemic. Training and emergency drills shall be organised for urban and rural community workers, social workers, and staff in local medical and healthcare institutions. Medical facilities and resources shall be prepared in advance to make sure sufficient face masks, thermometres, disinfectants and other personal protective equipment are distributed to community and social workers. Meanwhile, vaccination for abovementioned groups must be well-coordinated.

According to another document, the Notice of the Central Leading Group for Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic on Comprehensive Implementation of Measure of Caring for Urban and Rural Frontline Community Workers, community and social workers in medium- and high-risk areas will be offered with subsidies. Outstanding performance will be promoted and rewarded.

The Notice also emphasises special attention must be paid to the elderly people living alone, orphans, de facto unsupported children, left-behind children in rural areas, children and adults facing difficulty, people with disabilities, pregnant women, and tenants of rental properties. It is critical to confirm and improve community service emergency response plans and make sure deliveries of household necessities, chronic disease medicines, care services for people with disabilities and pregnant women, and deployment of emergency vehicles are running smoothly.

For regions of low risks, community and social workers shall make visits to city migrant workers who cannot return home for the Chinese New Year, orphans, left-behind senior citizens and children and households in poverty, ensuring their material needs are met and offering counseling sessions if needed. For medium- and high-risk regions, if detected that self-isolating households and medical workers have any financial difficulties, their needs shall be provided in a timely manner.

Community common spaces, such as conference rooms, libraries, cultural and sports activity halls and day care centres, may need to limit entry or completely close depending on the local situation. Temperature checks, social distancing, cleaning and disinfecting of environmental surfaces must be routine practice, according to The Notice.