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Chinese govt prioritizes protection of disadvantaged groups amid COVID-19 outbreak

Updated: Mar 09,2020 13:56    Xinhua

BEIJING — China's Ministry of Civil Affairs said on March 9 it has placed the epidemic prevention and control in civil affairs service institutions in the most prominent position since the COVID-19 outbreak, making every effort to ensure the safety of disadvantaged groups including the elderly, orphans and the disabled.

"The vast majority of the elderly, orphans and disabled people served by the civil affairs agencies are disadvantaged groups in the society. They are facing more difficulties than ordinary people in epidemic prevention and control," said Vice Minister of Civil Affairs Zhan Chengfu at a press conference on March 9.

There are 45,239 elderly care institutions, child welfare institutions, mental health welfare institutions and relief and management institutions for vagrants and beggars under the administration of civil affairs agencies in China, which accommodate a total of more than 2.15 million people. The agencies also oversee 1,881 funeral parlors with cremation function nationwide, figures from the ministry show.

The main battlefield of epidemic prevention and control in the above-mentioned institutions has been in Wuhan City, the epicenter of the outbreak, he said. "All these institutions have implemented closed-off management, with all those in care undergone nucleic acid tests, all suspected cases isolated and all confirmed patients hospitalized."

The ministry has issued a series of guidelines to guide these institutions nationwide in epidemic prevention and control, Zhan said.

For services involving registration of social organizations and marriages as well as welfare lottery sales, related agencies have adopted measures including adequate ventilation and disinfection, online appointment and providing services in different time periods to curb the spread of the virus, he added.

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