Saturday, March 25, 2023

Shanghai confirms ‘zero-Covid’; WHO says not sustainable

BEIJING ( Associated Press) – Shanghai on Wednesday reaffirmed China’s strict “zero-Covid” approach to epidemic control, a day after the head of the World Health Organization said it was not sustainable and urged China to change strategy.

While China’s largest city has seen progress in controlling the COVID-19 outbreak, any relaxation in prevention and control measures could allow it to start again, according to the Centers for Disease Control of Shanghai. Wu Huanyu, deputy director of the company, told reporters.

“At the same time, now is the most difficult and critical moment for our city to achieve zero-COVID,” Wu told a daily briefing.

“Should we relax our vigil, the pandemic may start again, so it is necessary to implement the prevention and control work consistently without relaxing,” he said.

Wu gave no indication that he was aware of comments by WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who said he was discussing with Chinese experts the need to transition to a new approach in light of new knowledge about the virus. were.

“When we talk about ‘zero-COVID’, we don’t think it’s sustainable, given the behavior of the virus and what we expect in the future,” Tedros said at a news briefing on Tuesday. We do.”

“And especially when we now have a good knowledge, understanding of the virus and when we have good tools to use, transitioning to another strategy will be very important,” he said.

Tedros was joined by WHO emergencies chief Mike Ryan, who said all pandemic control actions “must show respect for the individual and human rights.”

Countries need to balance “control measures, impact on society, impact on economy. It’s not always easy calibration,” Ryan said.

China’s ruling Communist Party has strictly controlled all discussions about its controversial approach, which aims to stamp out outbreaks entirely, and said it would tolerate no criticism. Not entirely state-controlled media reported on Tedros and Ryan’s comments and references to them on the Chinese Internet appear to have been removed by censors.

The ruthless and often chaotic implementation of zero-COVID has caused much outrage in Shanghai, where some residents have been in lockdown for more than a month. As of Wednesday, more than 2 million people in the city remained confined to their residential complexes, while restrictions were slightly eased for most of the other 23 million.

However, the easing now appears to have halted, even as the number of new cases falls in the city that is home to China’s busiest port, main stock market and home to thousands of Chinese and foreign firms.

Teams in white protective suits have started entering homes of infected people to spray disinfectant, raising concerns about property damage. Residents have in some cases been ordered to leave their keys with a community volunteer when they are taken into quarantine so that disinfectant workers can come in, a new requirement that has no clear legal basis.

In some areas, people have been ordered to stay home again. After going out for limited purchases in recent weeks. On Tuesday, service was suspended on the last two metro lines that were still running.

Complaints centered on the lack of food and other daily necessities and the forced removal of thousands of people to quarantine centres. Standard procedure in China’s zero-Covid approach, after testing positive or coming into contact with an infected person.

Along with the human cost, adherence to “Zero-Covid” As many other countries ease restrictions and try to live with the virus, the growing economic toll is sought,

However, the party, led by leader Xi Jinping, shows no signs of backing down amid efforts to ensure stability and consolidate its authority before a major party congress this fall.

Chinese experts like Wu have been wary of the party line, saying the strategy has been effective in limiting the official death toll. A little more than 5,000 during the entire pandemic, according to the government’s National Health Commission, and that any exposure led to a huge new surge.

Ryan put the death toll in China at more than 15,000 and the Johns Hopkins University of Medicine Coronavirus Resource Center put the figure at 14,538.

The daily number of new cases reported in Shanghai on Wednesday had fallen from a peak of 26,000 in mid-April to less than 1,500. Seven more COVID-19-related deaths were reported, raising the toll from the outbreak to 560.

While China maintains that more than 88% of its population is fully vaccinated, the rate is much lower among vulnerable elderly. Questions have also been raised about the efficacy of Chinese-made vaccines in comparison to Europe and the United States.

In the capital Beijing, residents have been ordered to undergo mass testing to prevent such a large outbreak as in Shanghai. The city, which reported 37 new cases on Wednesday, shuttered individual buildings and residential complexes, closed nearly 60 metro stations and banned food in restaurants, allowing only takeout and delivery.


Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Desk
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