Xinhua Headlines: Beijing’s nursing homes maintain zero COVID-19 infections

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— Beijing has so far reported no COVID-19 infections in its nearly 700 care homes for the elderly, thanks to the close attention the city has paid to the safety of the susceptible group.

— The Chinese capital has deployed a string of precise measures, including a closed-off management, to protect its nearly 50,000 elderly people living in communal residential settings.

by Xinhua writers Qiang Lijing, Lu Yifan, Tai Sicong, and Xie Hao

BEIJING, July 10 (Xinhua) — Beijing has so far reported no COVID-19 infections in its nearly 700 care homes for the elderly, thanks to the close attention the city has paid to the safety of the susceptible group.

The Chinese capital has deployed a string of precise measures to protect its nearly 50,000 elderly people living in communal residential settings.

CLOSED-OFF MANAGEMENT

The nursing facilities in Beijing began to adopt a closed-off management on Jan. 27, according to Li Hongbing, deputy director of Beijing Municipal Civil Affairs Bureau.

Since early February, 28-year-old Ren Jing, a nurse at Beijing’s No.1 Social Welfare Institution in Chaoyang District, has been rushed off her feet. Each day, she takes care of the elderly, providing them with healthy meals and chatting with them.

Ren has worked at the home for nine years. After learning that the institution would set up an observation area for residents returning after the Spring Festival holiday, Ren volunteered to head the nursing team in the observation area.

Elderly people take a walk accompanied by staff members at the Sijiqing nursing home in Haidian District of Beijing, capital of China, May 10, 2020. (Xinhua/Li Xin)

The home stipulated that each staff member should work in the isolated observation area for 14 consecutive days, before leaving for a rest, in order to prevent cross infection.

“I can’t remember exactly how many 14-day periods I spent there. Even when having a rest, I still kept an eye on the health conditions of the elderly in the observation area,” she recalled.

After the nursing home banned people from visiting, the staff helped the elderly contact their family members through phone calls or video-chats.

The timely application of closed-off management in all nursing homes in Beijing has proved its worth with zero infections, according to Li Hongbing.

A medical worker conducts health examination for an elder at the Sijiqing nursing home in Haidian District of Beijing, capital of China, May 10, 2020. (Xinhua/Li Xin)

TIGHTER CONTROL AFTER EPIDEMIC REBOUNDS

On June 15, following a resurgence of domestically-transmitted cases in Beijing, the city resumed the second-level epidemic prevention and control standards in nursing homes.

“Under the new regulations, family members of the elderly can only enter nursing homes at specified times, in restricted numbers, via specific routes, and from specified areas,” said Li.

“An appointment system and two nucleic acid tests are required to enter nursing homes, while elderly people discharged from hospital and new employees will be quarantined for 14 days after their nucleic acid tests show no abnormality.”

A staff member conducts disinfection at the Sijiqing nursing home in Haidian District of Beijing, capital of China, May 10, 2020. (Xinhua/Li Xin)

According to the municipal health commission, from June 11 to July 9, the city reported 335 confirmed domestically transmitted cases, mostly related to the Xinfadi wholesale market in Fengtai District. Under tightened rules, nursing home staff members who had been to Xinfadi or had close contact with anyone who had visited the market in the previous 14 days, were required to undergo comprehensive screening and nucleic acid testing to prevent further infections.

“If staff members go out to make purchases, they should register when both leaving and coming back, wear personal protection equipment, and undergo disinfection after returning,” said Ni Zhaohui, head of Jiaxiang Nursing Home in Fengtai District. “Moreover, they are not allowed to walk around in the nursing homes, especially the living areas of the elderly.”

Fengtai, which is home to 39 nursing homes and 11 community nursing stations, has reinstated the closed-off management of nursing homes. It has also increased the frequency of telephone enquiries to the elderly to ensure that the over 5,800 residents and staff members in the nursing homes in the district are protected from infection, according to the civil affairs bureau of the district.

Daxing District, which neighbors Xinfadi, has 40 nursing homes and 90 community nursing stations, accommodating nearly 4,800 elderly people and staff. In order to ensure their safety, medics worked all night and completed nucleic acid sampling of both residents and staff within 24 hours, according to the district’s civil affairs bureau.

Elderly people practice calligraphy accompanied by a staff member at the Sijiqing nursing home in Haidian District of Beijing, capital of China, May 10, 2020. (Xinhua/Li Xin)

In addition to the precise and strict management over these nursing homes, the staff members there have provided meticulous care to the elders during the special period.

Zhang Xiaoyu, a staff member at Chunxuanmao Qingta nursing home in Fengtai District, said the facility has arranged a diverse array of activities, such as online calligraphy classes and livestreaming tours, to enrich their lives.

Gao Fuying, a resident in the nursing home, appreciated the summer views of the Palace Museum during some livestreaming sessions arranged by staff members.

“When the epidemic is over, I want to visit the Palace Museum in person,” said Gao, who is in her 80s.

(Li Dexin, Wu Wenxu contributed to the story; Video reporters: Li Dexin, Tai Sicong, Xie Hao; Video editor: Hui Peipei)

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