Medical workers run intravenous drips for patients at the fever clinic of China-Japan Friendship hospital in Beijing on Tuesday. [Photo by Wang Jing/China Daily]

As COVID-19 cases continue to increase in the capital, Beijing is making more efforts to improve its hospital capacity to ensure the treatment of critically ill patients, especially among its senior citizens.

The Beijing Health Commission said in a document on Tuesday that in order to cope with the coming peak in critically ill patients, it requires hospitals to stockpile medicines and medical equipment, increase the capacity of intensive care units and expand the number of intensive care specialists through training.

Community hospitals should distribute pulse oximeters to the elderly and other high-risk groups, and they must also provide oxygen therapy to residents in need, said the document.

Health commissions in all districts should conduct surveys of elderly residents with underlying diseases and perform grade-based health management, in order to avoid any treatment delays.

The Beijing Health Commission has encouraged State bodies, public institutions and State-owned enterprises to play a leading role in blood donation.

All patients in a critical condition should be hospitalized and their treatment should not be delayed due to the lack of negative nucleic acid tests or antigen detection results, said the commission"s announcement.

On Tuesday night, Beijing's top anti-epidemic work group led by Yin Li, the capital's Party secretary, held a meeting which stated that the city's major task is to prevent severe infections, protect vulnerable groups and reduce the number of serious cases and deaths.

Guo Shubin, deputy head of Beijing Chao-Yang Hospital of Capital Medical University, said on Tuesday that the number of patients has increased in recent days, and many patients with underlying diseases or elderly patients have become critically ill.

He said that 1,763 people with fever had visited the hospital's emergency department on Tuesday, which was "several times more than the usual number".

The hospital has expanded its overall capacity to receive patients, made maximum efforts to receive and treat critical patients, worked to relieve the pressure on emergency and fever clinics, and sped up the turnover of severe cases, he added.

Guo said that if a patient over 70 has a blood oxygen level of 93 percent or lower, difficulty breathing and blood pressure higher or lower than 30 percent of standard blood pressure, they need to go to hospital for treatment.

Meanwhile, at the Dongfeng Community Hospital in Chaoyang district, the situation was described by an on-duty doctor as "normal" on Tuesday, with around 40 to 50 patients and their companions waiting in different lines for registration, payment and medical treatment.

Zhang Qiufeng, 63, said she came for drugs for hypertension. "My husband has a heart condition, and we both have recovered from COVID-19," she said.

Guo Changling, 68, who was also waiting in line, said he came to the hospital to get some medicine in order to be prepared.

"My wife and I are both in good health. Neither of us has been infected. However, many of my friends with whom we usually exercise have been infected. So, I recently stopped doing exercises," he said.

Guo said he highly appreciated the services provided by the community hospital, and said that it was several years since he had needed to visit any larger-scale hospital.

Wang Songsong and Yang Zekun contributed to this story.

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