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Shenzhen seeks to protect 'whistle-blowers' in public health emergency

2020-July-20       Source: Global Times Net

The Shenzhen city government aims to provide legal protection for "whistle-blowers" in the public health emergency events, in the wake of the death of Wuhan doctor Li Wenliang, which triggered public reflection on the public health emergency warning and reporting system in China.

The Shenzhen city government aims to provide legal protection for "whistle-blowers" in the public health emergency events, in the wake of the death of Wuhan doctor Li Wenliang, which triggered public reflection on the public health emergency warning and reporting system in China.

A staff member disinfects the ground at Huaqiangbei commercial area in Shenzhen, south China's Guangdong Province, Feb. 24, 2020. Huaqiangbei, a renowned commercial area in Shenzhen for electronics markets, has set up some 100 tents outdoor for commercial tenants to help them resume businesses with epidemic prevention and control measures. (Xinhua/Mao Siqian)

Although Dr. Li, an ophthalmologist from the Central Hospital of Wuhan who sounded an early alarm over the novel coronavirus, was not in the real sense the "whistle-blower" for the COVID-19 epidemic, his case has brought the public health emergency warning and reporting system in China under the spotlight.

In a bid to plug loopholes in the public health emergency reporting system and better deal with future public health risks, Shenzhen in South China's Guangdong Province said it is mulling the adoption of a regulation to protect "whistle-blowers" who report potential public health emergency hazards.

The regulation said it encourages citizens, legal entities and organizations to report information on hidden dangers in public health emergencies through public health hotlines, and report any late reporting, false reporting, concealment or omissions in reporting public health emergencies.

"Whistle-blowers" shall be protected by the relevant departments with regard to their personal information and personal safety. They will not be investigated for legal responsibility if they do not make a malicious report, the regulation said.

The Shenzhen government released the regulation and is soliciting public opinions until July 31.

The regulation said that medical institutions, pathogenic microorganisms laboratories, schools, places including ports, airports, railway stations, bus terminal, pharmacy will be included into the public health emergencies monitoring system. Those places will form a professional monitoring and early warning network for public health emergencies.

Health and market supervision departments in Shenzhen will have to adopt the necessary emergency control measures accordingly. If it constitutes a public health emergency incident, they should report it to the Shenzhen government and their higher administrative departments in the fastest means of communication, and submit a written report within two hours.

After receiving a public health emergency report, the Shenzhen government shall make a decision within 24 hours on whether to initiate an emergency response. The municipal government shall submit a written report to the Guangdong provincial government after the emergency response is initiated.

Photo: Li Wenliang

Doctor Li was summoned by local police after he released information about the presence of an unknown virus that was equivalent to SARS in his WeChat Moments in the early stage of the COVID_19 outbreak in Wuhan and was reprimanded by police for what police called "spreading false information."

Wuhan police later withdrew the reprimand order against Li and apologized to his family, and two police officers involved in handling Li's case were punished for dereliction of duty.

Doctor Li died following a battle with the coronavirus on February 7. He was awarded the May 4th Medal to mark his sacrifice in the fight against COVID-19.

Zhang Jixian,a Wuhan respiratory doctor, is hailed as the first doctor to alert the medical system of the novel coronavirus. Zhang reported the cases of pneumonia of unknown cause to the Hubei Provincial Hospital of Integrated Chinese and Western Medicine where she works. Later, the hospital reported the possible infectious disease to the local centers for disease control and prevention in Wuhan's Jianghan district.

Zhang was recommended as a 2020 national model worker from Hubei Province.

Editor: Ariel

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