Nursing homes in China increase COVID-19 prevention measures
Updated 15:28, 27-Feb-2020
Xing Ruinan

Nursing homes across China are stepping up prevention measures after at least 30 people tested positive for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in a facility in Wuhan City, the heart of the epidemic, last Friday. 

Authorities have requested social welfare institutes with suspected and confirmed cases to conduct medical examination of the residents. The Chinese Ministry of Civil Affairs has also instructed senior care centers across the country to increase prevention efforts.

Eighty-nine-year-old Gu Yuxian stays at a nursing home in east China's Jiangsu Province. "They are very attentive and thoughtful. They deliver breakfast, lunch and dinner to my room. Sometimes they even feed me. They're very patient," she said.

Gu can't see her family at the moment due to the COVID-19 epidemic, but she has told her daughter she's fine and asked her to follow the city's infection control measures. "This is a national health emergency. We should be all for the measures. Don't go out. You shouldn't come here either. I'm all good."

An elderly couple wearing protective face masks at a nursing home on Valentine's Day in Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. /AP

An elderly couple wearing protective face masks at a nursing home on Valentine's Day in Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. /AP

When we asked if she missed her daughter, she couldn't hide her emotions. "Of course I miss them. They miss me too. We talked on the phone. I saw her through video chat. She talked to me. I feel really happy about it," she said.

Local authorities have tightened quarantine measures and adopted close management of senior care facilities. Confirmed cases and those showing virus symptoms are immediately transferred to hospitals for treatment. 

Gu's daughter said she understands. "Abiding by the regulations, that's what we should do. It's for the safety of the seniors, and it's for the health of every one of us."

In a nearby city across the Yangtze River, communities and companies are donating fresh vegetables to support seniors in nearly 20 nursing homes. Apart from daily groceries, local authorities provide medical resources such as masks and disinfectants to the facilities. The local director of Changzhou's Bureau of Medical Support said: "Every day, they check up on the elderly, take their temperatures and disinfect the area."

Many of the seniors in the nursing homes are in their 80s and 90s, and most of them have chronic illnesses such as diabetes and high blood pressure. They need all the care they can get. To avoid the spread of the virus to this high-risk group, family members are not allowed to visit. But they can drop off gifts for their loved ones, so they don't feel lonely during the epidemic.