As many Beijingers already have noticed, for the last few months all visitors to a local clinic get their temperature checked at the door. This new policy is due to the H1N1 flu pandemic, and is a requirement by the Ministry of Health. A couple weeks ago new guidelines from the Ministry of Health were issued; all patients who show up at a non-fever clinic with a fever must be transferred to an approved fever clinic for evaluation. So, which clinics are approved fever clinics? There is a list of 16 approved clinics, and none of the major expat clinics are on this list. The approved clinics include: Sino-Japanese Hospital; Ditan Hospital; Wangjing Hospital; Beida Hospital; Anzhen Hospital; Chaoyang Hospital; Chaoyang #2 Hospital; and others.
So what happens when you show up at one of the major expat clinics with a fever over 37.5 celsius? The protocol is to put you into a private room while the staff would call the public health department. Usually an ambulance would then arrive and transport you to one of those 16 fever clinics. At the local clinic, a doctor will quickly evaluate you (they usually speak good English) and if they suspect H1N1 flu, they would likely do the rapid test for influenza A, which should take less than an hour. If that was positive, and they still suspected H1N1, you may be admitted to the hospital for more evaluation and possible treatment or quarantine for H1N1 flu.
Yes, all that can be fairly stressful, but so far the process has been fairly easy. Most patients experience a very quick visit at the fever clinics, even under one hour, and they go home. But yes, people are also being quarantined in the hospitals if they have H1N1 flu. But again, that experience has generally been comfortable for expats, as the designated hospitals are clean, the service has been good, and English is spoken. And best of all, even if you do have H1N1 flu, the symptoms are proving to be no more serious than the usual winter flu (for most patients).
So that’s the policy, until further notice from the Ministry of Health. For more information, I’ve uploaded a Powerpoint presentation on H1N1 basics.
Follow me on: