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Fever checks, hazmat suits: China hospitals take no chances after virus lockdown

27 March 2020   |   12:06 pm
Multiple fever checks and medical staff in hazmat suits -- China's Hubei province might be easing restrictions after a two-month lockdown, but its hospitals are taking no chances with the virus.

Staff members spray disinfectant at a subway station in Wuhan, in China’s central Hubei province, as the subway prepares to reopen to the public after closing due to the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak. – China reported more than 50 imported cases of the coronavirus on March 27, hours after announcing a ban on foreigners entering the country. (Photo by STR / AFP) / China OUT

Multiple fever checks and medical staff in hazmat suits — China’s Hubei province might be easing restrictions after a two-month lockdown, but its hospitals are taking no chances with the virus.

Huanggang, one of the wost affected cities in Hubei where the coronavirus emerged late last year, has not reported a new infection since March 4.

Hospitals are reopening their doors to patients suffering conditions other than the deadly disease — but getting treatment is not straightforward.

Dozens of people queueing in the pouring rain outside the Huanggang Central Hospital on Friday underwent several fever checks with temperature guns and mercury thermometers.

Medical workers in protective suits, goggles, face shields, gloves and masks recorded their details and took back thermometers — before quickly disinfecting their hands.

People deemed to be standing too close together were told to separate.

“If their temperature reaches 37.3 they will be sent to the designated hospital,” a medical worker told AFP.

Those with a fever have to undergo additional nucleic acid tests and CT scans.

Life returning to normal
Huanggang, home to 7.5 million people, was placed in lockdown in January along with the rest of the province, as China’s virus outbreak escalated and the government scrambled to close businesses, schools, shops and restrict the movement of people.

Nearly 3,000 people were infected and 125 died in the city, which is now considered a low-risk area.

Travel restrictions in Hubei were loosened on Wednesday and healthy people are allowed to leave the province where more than 50 million have been housebound for months.

Huanggang officials are keen to take no chances, though, even as life slowly returns to the streets and shopping malls.

Diners are still forbidden to eat inside restaurants and banners hang in the streets warning of the threat of the virus.

But elsewhere in the city, rules were not being enforced as strictly.

Crowds jostled each other at the city’s train station, with many people wearing their face masks under their chins and standing close together.

At a small grocery store, the owner surnamed Liu told AFP she was worried she may have to close her business after reopening this week.

“There have been no customers,” she said, next to boxes of goods normally sold over the Lunar New Year.

“The rent isn’t cheap. Usually, if business isn’t good, we depend on the New Year to get by.”

At the Central Hospital, a woman surnamed Su waited in line for her temperature to be checked alongside children and elderly people.

The 19-year-old, who hoped to see a doctor for an endocrine disorder, had left her home only once during the lockdown.

“I went downstairs to pick up a medicine delivery,” she said.

“Now that the lockdown is over, it feels like life is slowly returning to normal.”