City helps shield the nation from outbreaks
China Daily

A medical worker collects a swab sample for nucleic acid test in Ruili City of Southwest China's Yunnan province, July 8, 2021. (Photo: Xinhua)

Donations totaling more than 2.5 billion yuan ($392 million) and materials worth 37.3 million yuan had been received in Dehong Dai and Jingpo autonomous prefecture, Yunnan province, by the middle of last month as local efforts to combat COVID-19 nationwide were boosted.

Ruili lies at the forefront of the prefecture's battle against the virus. As the county-level city is bordered by Myanmar on three sides, there is a heightened risk of infections being imported.

As of Nov 11, more than 1,200 locally transmitted or imported infections had been treated in Ruili, officials said.

Given the complicated and challenging virus situation in the city, Yang Yang, director of the Yunnan Health Commission, said Ruili is the first county in Yunnan to be equipped with a negative-pressure isolation ward. It is also the first in the province to establish a hospital specializing in infectious diseases, and to have a fangcang shelter hospital.

"Improved infrastructure has laid a solid foundation for Ruili to cope with new infections and shield the rest of the country from the virus," Yang said.

Officials said more than 8,900 medical workers from other parts of Yunnan have been sent to help Ruili. As of the middle of last month, over 1,000 of them were still in the city.

Yang Dongxue, an official at the provincial health commission, said medical aid workers cover a wide range of positions in Ruili, including treating patients at designated hospitals, conducting nucleic acid tests and managing patients isolated at centralized facilities.

"To date, Ruili has registered no COVID-19 deaths, and no hospital-acquired infections have occurred," he said.

Wang Yang, a doctor from Yingjiang county, Dehong, has been dispatched to Ruili for more than a month.

"The workload is heavy, but nothing compares with the patients' smiles and their heartfelt thanks," he said. "I have also gained valuable front-line experience in treating COVID-19 patients through discussions with other experts."

Ruili's first Delta infection-a highly transmissible variant and the dominant strain worldwide-was detected in early July.

Liu Bang, head of the Ruili Disease Control and Prevention Center, or CDC, said provincial health authorities, sensing the urgent need to step up local genome sequencing, sent two sets of equipment and qualified laboratory workers to the city.

"Two local medical workers who have been receiving training will soon be able to carry out sequencing tests on their own," he said.

Yang, the provincial health official, said the first batch of COVID-19 vaccines arriving in Yunnan were prioritized for use in 25 border counties in Ruili.

Wan Yongfang, deputy director of the Ruili CDC, said the city began mass immunization campaigns in late December last year.

As of Nov 18, nearly 296,000 people in Ruili had been fully vaccinated and booster shots had been administered to about 57,500 residents. More than 15,400 people age 3 to 11 had also received the first vaccine dose.