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Contributions and Challenges of Public Health Social Work Practice during the Initial 2020 COVID-19 Outbreak in China
Social workers contributed significantly to the promotion of public and community health during the initial outbreak of COVID-19 in China. Based on a quasi-scoping review of articles on social work practice during that outbreak, this reflective article elucidates how social workers contributed in three chronological stages. In the early stage (late January and February 2020), social workers provided community services offered as part of the governmental structure (moderate information and resource provision); in the middle stage (March 2020), social workers provided services to vulnerable groups alongside supporting the quarantine strategy; and in the late stage (April 2020 onwards), their services were focused on recuperation and recovery after the national lockdown was lifted. In the meanwhile, several issues for public and community health social work as a profession in terms of how it was able to support anti-COVID-19 practices became clear, including a lack of independence and stability, the need for better flexibility and greater ability to act pragmatically and lack of professional agreement. This article aims to enlighten the development of a (re)emerging field—public health and community health social work in China in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.