China Focus: Free online medical services help curb coronavirus outbreak

Source: Xinhua| 2020-02-02 09:40:58|Editor: huaxia

HEFEI, Feb. 2 (Xinhua) -- Chinese hospitals and companies have launched free online medical consultation services in an effort to avoid cross-infections and ease pressure on hospitals amid the novel coronavirus outbreak.

Five hospitals in east China's Anhui Province started offering Internet-based diagnosis and treatment of patients with fever on their official WeChat accounts on Jan. 24.

Patients can access free consultation services via video, voice or text on their cellphone and doctors can check patients' inspection reports and offer guidance and advice online.

Wang Ran, a respiratory practitioner with the First Affiliated Hospital of Anhui Medical University, said she has treated more than 600 patients online days after the platform's launch.

"Online medical services can efficiently reduce the risk of cross-infection caused by crowds flocking to hospitals," she said.

In the cases she encountered, only 1 percent were suspected of being infected with the novel coronavirus.

"I would advise them to go to the hospital to be confirmed while the others with symptoms of common colds can take medicine at home," said Wang.

Apart from Anhui, many provinces have launched such platforms to relive the pressure on hospitals and contain the spread of the virus.

Dozens of hospitals in east China's Shandong Province have opened online fever clinic services, along with several hospitals in east China's Zhejiang Province.

China's online platforms including Alibaba and have also taken steps to offer online services.

Alibaba launched free consultation services on its online shopping platform Taobao and mobile payment app Alipay, where hundreds of professional doctors from all over the country are providing medical services.

Its service homepage received nearly 400,000 visits within 24 hours after launching, with 97 percent of them from central China's Hubei Province, where the epidemic is most severe, according to data from service provider AliHealth.

Apart from free consultations for patients targeting the novel coronavirus, e-commerce giant also provides psychological counseling for users, especially stressed medical workers on its app.

Currently, more than 2,000 doctors are offering 24-hour services on the platform for people all around the country.

Another company WeDoctor, which provides online access to licensed doctors, said doctors received more than 100,000 consultations on the platform on Jan. 26.

All patients from across China can access free medical consultation services on the platform amid the novel coronavirus outbreak, according to the company.