《TAIPEI TIMES》 Care facilities get tips for staying strong
Central Epidemic Command Center specialist advisory panel convener Chang Shan-chwen speaks to reporters in Taipei yesterday. Photo courtesy of the CECC
ADEQUATE CAPACITY: CECC specialist advisory panel convener Chang Shan-chwen said the panel recommends that all healthcare facilities ‘reduce their operational load’
By Lee I-chia / Staff reporter
The Central Epidemic Command Center （CECC） yesterday announced four strategies that would enable healthcare facilities to better maintain adequate capacity for treating COVID-19.
CECC specialist advisory panel convener Chang Shan-chwen （張上淳） said that while COVID-19 case numbers are growing fast, the panel suggests that all healthcare facilities “reduce their operational load.”
For example, Internet-based consultations or telemedicine can be used for follow-ups with patients with a stable chronic disease and for prescriptions, while non-urgent or unnecessary surgeries, examinations and other medical services should be postponed, he said.
The panel suggests “enhancing the COVID-19 reporting and testing mechanism,” not only by setting up testing stations outside hospitals, but also by testing all people who are about to be admitted, to ensure that they have not contracted the virus, Chang said.
Healthcare facilities should monitor patients’ condition even if they tested negative, as they might have been in a pre-symptomatic stage when tested, the center said, adding that they should be tested for COVID-19 immediately if they have a fever, experience respiratory symptoms, lose their sense of taste or smell, or have diarrhea during their hospitalization.
Healthcare facilities must “enhance the health monitoring of employees, including daily body temperature measurement, and immediately test employees who have developed suspicious symptoms, Chang said.
The panel also suggests that healthcare personnel in areas of high risk for contracting the virus, such as emergency rooms, intensive care units or designated COVID-19 wards, get tested for COVID-19 regularly — every five to seven days — either with a nasopharyngeal swab or saliva-based testing, he said.
Medical services for foreign nationals, with the exception of emergency or special cases, should be suspended, he added.
“As the COVID-19 situation is relatively severe now, individuals, businesses and government agencies should all carry out adequate disease prevention measures,” said Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung （陳時中）, who heads the center.
Companies could refer to the business continuity guidelines released by the CECC in March last year, Chen added.
As some are concerned about what measures to implement, Deputy Minister of Health and Welfare Shih Chung-liang （石崇良） said that the center is emphasizing some of the guidelines:
All businesses should increase cleaning and disinfecting for employees and the workplace, including monitoring the health of their employees and allowing more flexible sick leave.
If a company has employees who must travel between an area with a level 3 alert — Taipei and New Taipei City — and a level 2 alert — all other cities and counties — it should reconsider, allowing the employees to work from home or separate offices instead, Shi said.
Social distancing should be implemented at the workplace or employees should wear masks at all times, he said, adding that a staff cafeteria should comply with the rules for restaurants, including keeping tables at least 1.5m apart or using table dividers.
Companies should hold meetings online instead of in-person, ask employees not to attend events with large gatherings of people, and allow employees to take family care leave with greater flexibility if their child’s class has been suspended due to the COVID-19 situation, Shi added.
Firms must thoroughly implement measures and make it easier for employees to take sick leave, because a sick employee who is afraid to take leave puts the workplace in serious risk of further infections, Chen added.