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Various measures taken to protect interests of medical staff against epidemic



Chinese authorities have issued a slew of measures to improve the working conditions and care for medical personnel at the frontline against the novel coronavirus pneumonia, a senior health official said at a press conference Friday.

The National Health Commission (NHC), Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security and Ministry of Finance, have released a circular Tuesday, calling for a safer working environment, stronger publicity and financial subsidies for frontline medical staff, according to Zeng Yixin, deputy head of NHC.

China had allocated 25.94 billion yuan (3.71 billion U.S. dollars) by Thursday to improve working conditions of medical staff fighting the novel coronavirus, said Ou Wenhan, assistant finance minister, adding that the money was used to purchase medical equipment and protective materials and upgrade facilities in medical institutions.

In total, 80.55 billion yuan had been channeled by Thursday to curb the epidemic, with actual expenditures of 41 billion yuan, Ou said.

Each frontline medical and epidemic prevention worker would receive a subsidy of 200 or 300 yuan per day according to different risk levels, which would be fully covered by the central finance, Ou said.

He also highlighted that the subsidies and bonuses that the frontline medical workers obtain should be exempt from individual income tax.

Administrations also carried out supportive measures, including tax incentives to manufacturers, to ensure medical supplies amid the novel coronavirus outbreak, Ou noted, adding that social donations for the fight against the virus also enjoy favorable tax policies.

Medical material makers can go full steam ahead in production without worrying about the surplus, which will be purchased and kept in reserve by the government, Ou said.

The finance ministry would continue to boost financial support to further improve the working environment and maintain physical and mental health, he added.

Stressing the efforts to protect the lawful rights and interests of the medical personnel, Ou said medical staff infected with novel coronavirus pneumonia will receive compensation for occupational injuries.

A total of 1,716 Chinese medical workers had been infected with the novel coronavirus by Tuesday, accounting for 3.8 percent of the overall confirmed cases in China, and six of them had died from the virus, according to the NHC.

Authorities have also rolled out measures to reward medical workers for their sacrifices and contributions.

Medical workers and teams that make outstanding contributions in medical assistance, vaccine research and development and other aspects, will be granted honors and awards, said Zhang Yiquan, Vice Minister of Human Resources and Social Security.

China has also opened 11 dedicated hotlines and seven online platforms offering 24-hour mental counseling services to the medical workers against the epidemic, said Zeng.


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