Guangdong province in southern China will complete construction of special multivalent wards for infectious diseases in 77 public hospitals in 57 counties at the end of this year, a senior health official said.
They will add at least 5,623 inpatient beds, playing an important role in further improving the province's ability to prevent and treat infectious diseases, said Zhu Hong, director general of the Guangdong Provincial Health Commission.
While they can be used as general wards, the multivalent wards are designed to be immediately convertible into special isolation wards whenever the province experiences an outbreak of infectious disease, such as COVID-19, Zhu said.
While answering questions from Guangdong Provincial People's Congress deputies, Zhu added that the province, which has a population of more than 118 million, is promoting public bidding for the construction of a major new public health medical center for infectious diseases by the end of September.
It will be built on Haixinsha Island, which is located in Machong township, Dongguan city, one of the major production bases in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area.
"Feasibility studies have been completed," Zhu said. "In the coming months, construction of the center will be accelerated and cooperation with high-level hospitals and medical colleges will be strengthened to build a high-level medical center for infectious diseases to help fill the gap in training facilities for public health emergencies and disaster rescue in the Greater Bay Area."
The new center will play an important role in strengthening capacity building, especially in terms of improving initial diagnosis, detection, prevention and control, as well as response capacity to major infectious diseases.
Health authorities said the construction of the multivalent wards at local hospitals and the new medical center will help the province better handle public health emergencies in the years to come.
Guangdong, one of China's economic powerhouses, is the country's most populous province and has the largest number of migrant workers.
According to official statistics released by the commission, the province reported 657,684 infectious disease cases, including 1,240 deaths, in the previous year, while incidence rates were about 571 in 100,000, and mortality rates were 1.1 in 100,000.
The top five infectious diseases reported were hepatitis B, tuberculosis, syphilis, gonorrhea and hepatitis C, accounting for 95 percent of the total number of cases in the province.
While the region's top three biggest killers were AIDS, hepatitis B and tuberculosis, which represented nearly 99 percent of deaths caused by infectious diseases last year, the province did not present reports on cases of plague, cholera, SARS, polio and human cases of bird flu during the time.