Community workers use a speaker to publicize the information about prevention and control of the novel coronavirus at a street near the Yellow Crane Pavilion in Wuhan, central China's Hubei Province, Feb. 7, 2020. (Xinhua/Xiao Yijiu)
With red sleeves, loudspeakers and digital thermometers, the legions of community workers and volunteers are combing Wuhan's communities to ensure no confirmed or suspected patients of the novel coronavirus is left unattended.
by Xinhua writers Yao Yuan, Yue Wenwan, Wu Zhi and Wang Zuokui
WUHAN, Feb. 7 (Xinhua) -- Wuhan, the epicenter of the novel coronavirus outbreak, is combing communities to ensure every confirmed or suspected patient is located and attended to as a senior official vowed to nail any official deserter "to history's pillar of shame."
A conference on epidemic control on Thursday ordered the megacity with a population of over 10 million to make all-out efforts to locate patients confirmed or suspected to be infected with the virus, close contacts of confirmed cases, as well as patients with fever.
Once identified, these people must be treated or placed in quarantine in a timely manner, the conference said, adding that "no family or individual shall be neglected."
City officials said checkpoints are being set up outside every community and apartment building to measure residents' body temperatures, while community workers and volunteers are paying house-to-house visits to conduct checks.
Fever patients found in the process will be escorted to community clinics, which will decide whether they should be quarantined at home or be sent to other isolation areas. Police will step in if a patient refuses to obey quarantine rules and all persuasion fails, officials said.
The citywide mobilization echoed the call of Chinese Vice Premier Sun Chunlan, who on Thursday stressed that the various prevention and control measures must be strictly implemented like in wartime.
A community worker checks body temperature for a resident at a street near the Yellow Crane Pavilion in Wuhan, central China's Hubei Province, Feb. 7, 2020. (Xinhua/Xiao Yijiu)
While inspecting Jianghan District in Wuhan, Sun demanded officials at all levels prioritize the epidemic fight "as the most important and pressing task" and forego bureaucratism and practices of formalities for formalities' sake.
Any deserter in the fight will be forever nailed to history's pillar of shame, she said.
Over 20,000 residents are observing at-home quarantine in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei Province, which has been sealed off since late January to contain the spread of the 2019-nCov, according to the city government.
The city has since grabbed the nation's headlines with the heroism of its medical workers and the great sacrifice and resignation of local residents during the unprecedented lockdown.
The latest community mobilization, joined by legions of community workers and volunteers, is expected to lighten the burden of Wuhan's hospitals, which are struggling to cope with the influx of patients and a lack of medical resources.
By Thursday, the province of Hubei had 22,112 confirmed cases of the virus, including 11,618 in Wuhan. The country has sent 10,596 medical workers into Hubei to assist the epidemic control, while local authorities said another 2,250 medical practitioners are still needed.
Community workers and volunteers prepare to paste notifications about epidemic prevention and control at a street near the Yellow Crane Pavilion in Wuhan, central China's Hubei Province, Feb. 7, 2020. (Xinhua/Xiao Yijiu)
Community workers in Wuhan told Xinhua that in response to some residents' fears of close contact during home visits, they are also using telephones and instant messaging apps like WeChat to contact local families.
"Our neighborhood committee held an emergency meeting on Thursday evening and demanded that we do a 'blanket search' to know about the condition of each and every family," said Zhu Xuan, a community worker in the Chang'er Community in Jianghan District.
Tasked with more than 100 households, Zhu posted a questionnaire in a WeChat group, and residents continue to update their daily body temperatures. Meanwhile, she has been making phone calls since Friday morning to contact elderly residents who do not use the mobile app.
"Residents have all responded to our work with great understanding and cooperation," Zhu said.
A community worker calls senior citizens about their body temperature in Jiang'an District of Wuhan, central China's Hubei Province, Feb. 7, 2020. (Xinhua/Li He)
On Friday afternoon, community worker Gao Bo was seen speaking to a residential building in Caidian District through a loudspeaker, asking two families to write their conditions and contact numbers on paper and drop it out of their windows.
"Residents fear close contact, so we ask them to drop the notes and then keep in touch via phone," Gao said.
Liu Jie, who lives in Wuhan's Dongxihu District, said he initially frowned upon inspectors' visits, as each such visit will cost the six-member family six disposable masks, which have been in tight supply in many Chinese cities since the virus outbreak.
"Then they assured us that we could report via WeChat or telephone and that made us feel relieved," he said.
A community worker checks the situation of novel coronavirus within a community via apps on a mobile phone in Jiang'an District of Wuhan, central China's Hubei Province, Feb. 7, 2020. (Xinhua/Li He)
Liu has not left his community since Jan. 22, faithfully obeying the official instruction to stay at home to reduce infection risks. The community's property management company has offered to purchase vegetables and other daily necessities for the residents and deliver them to their doorsteps.
"The furthest place I've been in the past weeks is the dust bin at the doorstep," Liu said. "We understand that it is imperative for the city to quarantine all confirmed and suspected patients. And we know it's important to fulfill our own duties, like daily reports of fever."
(Jia Qilong contributed to the story.) ■