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Zhejiang province introduces tiered diagnosis and treatment for COVID-19 patients

By Ma Zhenhuan| China Daily| Updated: December 7, 2022 L M S

A plan for the tiered diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19 patients has been put into place in Zhejiang, according to a top expert from the province on Monday.

According to the plan, people infected with COVID-19 will be diagnosed and treated in designated hospitals, while critically ill patients will be sent to designated intensive care units, said Sheng Jifang, director of the Department of Infectious Diseases at the First Affiliated Hospital of the College of Medicine at Zhejiang University based in the provincial capital Hangzhou.

"Currently, about 90 percent of the patients infected with the Omicron variant of the virus are asymptomatic," Sheng explained. "The main manifestations in the early stage of infection include fatigue, sore throat, dry throat, dry cough and expectoration. Diarrhea, smell or taste problems are found in a few cases."

Patients who have been diagnosed as asymptomatic are suggested to isolate themselves at home and keep monitoring their health by themselves. Patients with fever are suggested to take analgesic and antipyretic medicine. Patients with upper respiratory tract symptoms such as sore throat, cough and sputum can take traditional Chinese medicine capsules or granules such as Jinhua Qinggan, Lianhua Qingwen, Shufeng Jiedu to relieve symptoms, or painkillers like Celecoxib, she said.

Patients with severe fever and cough should go to the hospital, and community hospitals can serve as their first choice, Sheng added.

In the past two days, cities across Zhejiang announced the easing of COVID-19 controls, including scrapping mass nucleic acid testing and not requiring negative test results for public transportation and public venues, to get people's lives back to normal as the Omicron variant is believed to be much milder than previous COVID-19 strains.

"International and domestic monitoring data confirmed that the pathogenicity and virulence of the Omicron strains are significantly weaker than the original strain and the Delta variant," said Chang Zhaorui, a researcher with the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, at a news conference in Beijing on Nov 29.

However, Chang said people with preexisting illnesses, the elderly and those who are unvaccinated are still vulnerable and likely to develop severe symptoms. Therefore, vaccination work should be strengthened at key venues, such as nursing homes, learning facilities and recreational centers, as well as in gatherings and tour groups with a large number of seniors.

Chang also emphasized the positive role that traditional Chinese medicine has played in fighting the novel coronavirus.

As Zhejiang continues to optimize COVID control measures, TCM medicines like Lianhua Qingwen capsules and granules have sold out quickly, and authorities in the province have vowed to clamp down on any price gouging.

A notice issued on Monday evening by the market regulator in Hangzhou announced all-out efforts to fight price gouging on medical supplies related to the novel coronavirus and any violation will result in a hefty fine or even criminal charges.

It stipulated that those who violate the regulations shall see their illegal income confiscated, and a fine up to 5 million yuan ($715,000) can be imposed.

On Monday, Zhejiang province recorded 343 local cases of COVID-19 infections, of which 263 were asymptomatic.

Fang Xiaoying contributed to this story.