Shanghai reaffirms China’s ‘zero-covid’ approach; The WHO says it is not sustainable
Shanghai on Wednesday reaffirmed China’s strict “zero-covid” approach to epidemic control, with the head of the World Health Organization saying it was unsustainable and a day after he called on China to change its strategy.
China’s largest city, Kovid-19, has made progress in controlling the outbreak, and any relaxation in prevention and control measures could allow it to recover, Wu Huanyu, deputy director of the Shanghai Disease Control Center, told reporters.
“At the same time, now is the most difficult and critical moment for our city to achieve zero-covid,” Wu said in a daily briefing.
“We need to relax our warning, the epidemic could come back, so the prevention and control work needs to be carried out endlessly,” he said.
WHO did not comment on the remarks made by Tedros Adhanam Ghebreissas, the director general of the WHO, who said he was discussing with Chinese experts the need to adapt to a new approach to the virus.
“When we talk about ‘Zero-Covid’, we don’t think it’s sustainable considering the behavior of the virus and what we expect in the future,” Tedros said at a news briefing on Tuesday.
“And especially when we now have a good knowledge, understanding of viruses and when we have good tools to use, it will be very important to convert to another strategy,” he said.
Tedros was joined by Mike Ryan, the WHO’s emergency chief, who said all epidemic control measures “should show due respect for individuals and human rights.”
Countries need to strike a balance between “regulation, impact on society, impact on the economy. It’s not always an easy calibration,” Ryan said.
China’s ruling Communist Party has tightly controlled all discussions about its controversial approach, which aims to completely stamp out the outbreak, and says it will not tolerate any criticism. The entire state-controlled media did not report on Tedros and Ryan’s comments, and their references to the Chinese Internet appear to have been removed by censorship.
The ruthless and often chaotic implementation of Zero-COVID has caused considerable discontent in Shanghai, where some residents have been under lockdown for more than a month. As of Wednesday, more than 2 million people in the city were confined to their residential compounds, with restrictions relaxed somewhat for most of the other 23 million.
However, the relaxation seems to be stuck now, with even new cases falling on the city, which is home to China’s busiest port, major stock market and home to thousands of Chinese and foreign companies.
Teams in white protective suits have begun entering infected people’s homes to spray disinfectants, raising concerns about property damage. Residents have been instructed in some cases to leave their keys with community volunteers when they are taken into isolation so that disinfection workers can enter, a new requirement that has no apparent legal basis.
People in some areas have been instructed to stay home again in recent weeks after leaving for limited shopping. On Tuesday, service was suspended on the last two subway lines that were still open.
The allegations centered on the lack of food and other daily necessities and the forced evacuation of thousands of people to the quarantine center after a positive test in China’s standard zero-covid system or after being in contact with an infected person.
In addition to human costs, adherence to “zero-covid” as many other countries relax such restrictions and try to survive the virus is causing increasing economic losses.
However, the party, led by leader Xi Jinping, showed no signs of slowing down in its efforts to ensure stability, and a major party this fall increased its authority ahead of Congress.
According to the government’s National Health Commission, Chinese experts like Wu have been careful to keep a finger on the pulse of the party line, saying the strategy has been effective in limiting the official death toll to a mere 5,000 during the entire epidemic, according to the government’s National Health Commission. Sparking a big new wave.
Ryan put the death toll in China at just over 15,000 and gave a figure of 14,538 from the Johns Hopkins University of Medicine Coronavirus Resource Center.
The daily number of new cases published in Shanghai on Wednesday dropped from a high of 26,000 in mid-April to less than 1,500. Seven more COVID-19-related deaths have been reported, bringing the number of outbreaks to 560.
Although China says more than 88% of its population has been fully vaccinated, the rate is significantly lower among vulnerable adults. There are also questions about the effectiveness of vaccines produced in China compared to Europe and the United States.
In the capital, Beijing, residents have been instructed to go through mass tests to prevent a major outbreak like Shanghai. The city reported 37 new cases on Wednesday, locking up individual buildings and residential compounds, closing about 60 subway stations and banning dining in restaurants, allowing only takeouts and deliveries.
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