Public's concerns should be addressed timely when implementing optimized COVID measures
Published: Nov 15, 2022 11:43 PM


After the 20 measures to optimize COVID response were released by the Joint Prevention and Control Mechanism of the State Council -- referred to as "20 measures" -- the prevention and control approaches were optimized and adjusted in a timely manner in many places, including the cancellation of mass nucleic acid testing in principle, which was carried out based on different administrative districts, and the lifting of unreasonable restrictions on the flow of personnel. 

These measures will help to correct the previous one-size-fits-all approach, refrain from making local governments take excessive policy steps, so as to further enhance the ability to quickly and precisely cope with the epidemic, while reducing the inconvenience caused to the public by COVID-19.

At the same time, people have noticed that the number of normalized testing points in some places has suddenly decreased lately, which has caused some inconveniences, such as the difficulty to find places to do nucleic acid test, queueing for long periods, and that the opening hours of some testing points cannot meet people's needs. These have caused confusion and concerns. Some places even witnessed rush purchases of certain medicines and medical equipment. Against the backdrop, some people made the conjecture: are we about to "lie flat"? 

We believe the problem was caused by the lack of timely introduction of policies and insufficient transition process while the measures are optimized. To a large extent, it occurred because the 20 measures were not fully, accurately and comprehensively understood and explained clearly to the people. 

The 20 measures were issued against a clear background. In response to the new changes in the epidemic prevention and control, the new characteristics of the virus mutation, and based on the summary of the prevention and control experience in various places in the past three years, it is both scientific and necessary to optimize and adjust the policy according to the changing time and situation. The introduction of the 20 measures by no means signals relaxation of China's epidemic prevention and control, nor does it mean to "lie flat." In the process of implementation, all local authorities need to resolutely unify their thoughts and actions with the decision-making and deployment of the CPC Central Committee, do the work carefully, produce good results, protect people's lives and health to the greatest extent, and minimize the impact of the epidemic on the economy, and on social development.

The 20 measures do not mean to lie flat. Not only that, they demand a more scientific and precise response in each epidemic prevention and control work. Among the 20 measures, there are both relaxation and stricter approaches. Relaxation includes restricting the expansions of mass testing, adjustment in categorization of COVID risk areas, abolishment of circuit-breaker of international flight routes and the time of quarantine. Stricter content includes strengthening the building of medical resources, speeding up acceleration of COVID vaccination, speeding up the COVID treatment-related drug reserves, strengthening the protection of key institutions and key populations. When local authorities promote the measures, they should both well implement the relaxed and stricter rules, promoting their works in an orderly manner without deviation. 

China is a huge society, and the prevention and control of the epidemic relies on the efforts of all people. Sometimes it is impossible to satisfy everyone. In the process of optimizing and adjusting epidemic prevention measures, local authorities need to publicize and interpret the policies to the public, actively interact with the residents through press conferences and other forms, actively respond to social expectations, resolve possible misunderstandings, and eliminate worries in a timely manner. 

It is necessary to strengthen the coordination and overall planning of policies, take into account the demands of the majority of groups as much as possible, make full considerations, and not cause new inconvenience to the public due to policy adjustments.

It needs to be emphasized that "People First, Life First" has always been the fundamental starting point and emphasis of China's epidemic prevention and control work. The practice in the past three years has fully proved that it is just because we adhere to scientific precision, dynamic zero-COVID, and optimize and improve prevention and control measures according to specific conditions that we have protected people's lives and health to the greatest extent. 

As the virus is still mutating, the global epidemic still continues, and new domestic flareups are emerging, it is more urgent for us to implement the 20 measures to optimize COVID-19 response. Social consensus should be further built to avoid large-scale epidemics, and efficiently coordinate epidemic prevention and control and economic and social development.