The use of herbal medicines in treating COVID-19 patients is part of a broader effort by central authorities to push for a mix of traditional medicine and modern therapies in tackling epidemics such as the severe acute respiratory syndrome outbreak in 2003 and bird flu in 2009. Zhang Hongchu, an eminent traditional Chinese medicine therapist, said last year was a turning point for traditional medicine's role in epidemic control. "Due to limited recognition, TCM practitioners used to experience different degrees of exclusion from epidemic control task forces," he said. "But in the COVID-19 outbreak, traditional medics have been required for every designated hospital. That has laid a good foundation for involvement." TCM's success in containing outbreaks has prompted Zhang to advocate early involvement of traditional therapies in epidemic control.