How China is keeping to its strict ‘zero COVID’ strategy

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The tragic incident of a pregnant Chinese woman who had a miscarriage after a strict blockade delayed access to her treatment rekindled discussions about the limitations of China’s zero-tolerance approach to COVID-19.

The country where the coronavirus was first detected in 2019 is one of the last places to go to “COVID Zero” even though Beijing is preparing to host the Winter Olympics next month. is.

How does China maintain a “zero COVID”?

In China, there is a formula called “Dynamic Zero” to control the outbreak. It is a strict blockade and an immediate mass inspection.

Unlike softer blockades elsewhere, Chinese people could be banned from leaving the building or forced to stay in a hotel room if considered a high-risk contact. There is sex.

The historic city of Xian, home to the famous Terracotta Warriors, was closed in December, and after about 150 incidents were detected, 13 million residents were driven indoors.

Zhengzhou City of similar size tested all residents after just 11 incidents.

International flights are only part of the pre-pandemic level, and arrivals have been rigorously quarantined for several weeks.

Mandatory tracking and tracking apps usually mean that close contacts are quickly detected and quarantined.

Does it work?

China’s official tally (a little over 100,000) since the pandemic began is only part of the one million records the United States recorded on the first day of this month.

The official death toll is less than 5,000.

It is widely believed that cases from the first chaotic outbreak in Wuhan in early 2020 have been underreported, but life since then has generally returned to normal.

Liang Wanyan, a National Health Commission official, told reporters last month that “there is not yet the ability to stop the occurrence of a single area case, but if a local case is found, it will occur quickly. I have the ability and confidence to make it disappear. “

Who pays for it?

“Zero COVID” is charged.

Especially the border area near Myanmar has endured almost constant blockages and has seen the outflow of businesses.

The closed community is food, supplies, medical care..

Meanwhile, migrant workers have been stuck in their families for months due to awkward travel rules and restrictions.

Forcible executions sometimes caused anger, such as when a medical worker beat Corgi to death after the owner was sent to quarantine.

Analysts say China’s repeated closures of factories and businesses have contributed to the country’s slowdown, even though China is the only major economy to expand in 2020.

Will China resume?

“China has certainly shown that it is possible to continue its zero COVID strategy almost indefinitely,” Hong Kong University epidemiologist Ben Cowling told AFP.

The country was virtually separated from the world in March 2020, effectively banning foreigners from entering the country.

since then, Travel restrictions It’s a little easier.

However, international tourism does not exist and the government states that it will not renew expired Chinese passports unless the owner has a good reason to travel.

The country will not reopen until at least the Winter Olympics and Paralympics in Beijing. The government will be wary of the capital and tighten regulations prior to the Olympics.

Those who question the “zero COVID” are facing a nationalist backlash.

China’s prominent medical expert Zhang Wenhong wrote in July that countries ultimately need to “learn to coexist with viruses”, encouraging attacks from online vandalism.

What if China is opened?

Researchers at Peking University have warned that if China relaxes the same levels of regulation as in Europe and the United States, it could suffer a “outbreak” that overwhelms the medical system.

However, Ivan Hung, an infectious disease expert at the University of Hong Kong, said second-generation vaccines targeting Delta and Omicron variants, and nearly 100% vaccination rates, could prevent disasters. ..

In this scenario, “COVID is likely to turn out to be similar to the flu,” Hung said.

However, it can be dangerous to infiltrate the virus as President Xi Jinping aims for a third term in October after establishing himself as a leader in keeping China safe at all times.

“Chinese society is so accustomed to low-level infections that the transition may not be easy,” Thomas Hale of Oxford University told AFP.


Covid-hit Xi’an strengthens measures as China looks at 21-month case records


© 2022 AFP

Quote: How China maintains its rigorous “Zero COVID” strategy (January 7, 2022) is https://medicalxpress.com/news/2022-01-china-strict-covid-strategy. Obtained from html on January 7, 2022.

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