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BEIJING, Nov. 16 (Xinhua) -- The Chinese capital Beijing will upgrade 17 fever clinics before the end of November, in an effort to strengthen the city's capacity to prevent and control COVID-19 in the coming winter and spring, local authorities said.

Most of the 17 fever clinics have completed renovations to allow them to perform rapid nucleic acid testing and reduce cross-infection risks, said Pan Suyan, director of the Beijing Hospitals Authority.

The upgraded clinics will have independent CT scan rooms, isolated wards and nucleic acid test labs that allow patients to be screened and receive results within hours. They are divided into safe zones, contaminated zones and semi-contaminated zones, another design to prevent in-hospital infections, according to Beijing Anzhen Hospital, which has recently opened its upgraded fever clinic.

In addition, "smart elements" such as automatic medicine distribution and remote consultation between doctors will be introduced in the clinics to assist with diagnosis, said Pan.

The official said the new clinics will serve as "outposts" to strengthen the first line of defense against the epidemic, as the city faces the combined risks of COVID-19 and other respiratory infectious diseases in the upcoming winter and spring seasons.