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Govt policy moves from past week

Zhang Yunbi
Updated: Jan 12,2021 07:05    China Daily

Law revision advance

Preparations for an update of a key law on tackling infectious diseases were high on the agenda at an executive meeting of the State Council, China's Cabinet, on Jan 8, as the country works to perfect its institutions and better respond to unknown viruses and illnesses that may spread rapidly.

The Law of the People's Republic of China on the Prevention and Treatment of Infectious Diseases was enacted in 1989.

Premier Li Keqiang presided over the meeting, which urged the advancement of the revision in accordance with the legislative schedule and also recommended work to bolster the revision of relevant laws and regulations.

The members pointed out that the task of strengthening the prevention and management of infectious diseases is important to the lives, safety, and health of the general populace, and is of vital interest to national security and social stability.

The people and their lives are always the top priority, and the relevant laws should be revised in a timely manner in line with the practices of fighting the COVID-19 epidemic, the meeting said.

The goal, therefore, is to provide a stronger legal guarantee for the prevention and treatment of infectious diseases.

After amending and perfecting the law, and listening to the opinions of the various parties concerned, the update will be submitted to the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress for review, according to the meeting.

The prevention and control of infectious diseases should focus on perfecting the operating mechanism, early detection, reporting, isolation, and treatment.

Improvements should be made to the systems for early warning, reporting, and the release of information, the meeting said.

It is necessary to improve regulations on identifying the category of infectious disease and management measures for urgent situations, improve the epidemic treatment system, strengthen the construction of the network of medical and treatment services for infectious diseases, and strengthen punishments for illegal acts, the meeting said.

Hotlines streamlined

Local government hotlines that provide help for residents should be further optimized by the merger of many different numbers into a single hotline, according to a circular released by the General Office of the State Council.

The guideline, released on Jan 6, targets growing complaints about the difficulty of remembering numbers for specific hotlines, as well as the problem of the wide dispersal of administrative resources because of the large number of hotlines.

In recent years, some areas have taken the lead in merging such hotlines, consolidating them to provide a range of services on one number, which the circular said has "greatly facilitated local enterprises and solved local residents' problems".

With the exception of emergency hotlines such as 119, all local government service hotlines, including those established by State Council departments and operated at the local level, should be merged with the local 12345 government service hotline by the end of the year, the guideline said.

Rarely called numbers will be disconnected, while busy and well-known numbers will be retained and managed by the 12345 system, it said.

People will be able to use the 12345 hotline to seek advice and assistance, report complaints, and make suggestions regarding topics such as economics, market supervision, and public services.

The circular urged local authorities to establish a hotline management system, an information-sharing mechanism to improve connectivity between the 12345 platform and other departments, and supervision, evaluation, and accountability system.

A 24-hour manual service channel should be provided through the 12345 hotline, and training of staff members should be strengthened to improve services, the circular said.