Friday, August 6, 2021

MIllions in China locked down again

Millions are again under lockdown in China because of the delta variant | Quartz - Jane Li:

August 4, 2021 - "Since March last year, China’s new Covid-19 infections have remained low after the government controlled the pandemic by sealing the country’s borders and imposed strict lockdowns. But in recent months, the country began to see small-scale outbreaks driven by the delta variant. In May, the southern city of Guangzhou saw China’s first Covid-19 outbreak caused by that variant.... 

"While most recent outbreaks were quickly confined to the region where they started, that has not been the case with the new outbreak that originated last month in Nanjing in eastern China. Though the numbers of new infections are low, state-run media have called the outbreak China’s most serious since the early days of the pandemic because of the number of provinces affected. China reported 328 local cases in July, nearly equal to the number of cases reported in the previous five months, and cases have been confirmed in at least two dozen cities.

"The new wave has prompted local authorities to fall back on last year’s tools for containing the pandemic. Some cities have urged or required millions of residents to stay at home, banned private cars from roads, and restricted intercity travel. Others have assigned workers to monitor residential buildings, and even offered cash bonuses to report people who have traveled to high-risk areas of the country....

"While authorities in China have fallen back on lockdowns, or partial lockdowns, they aren’t exactly calling them that. Yangzhou, a city of 4.5 million residents located near Nanjing, announced Tuesday (Aug. 3) that it had adopted 'closed-off management' at all residential compounds, with the term referring to partial lockdown measures.... Zhuzhou in Hunan province asked its around 4 million citizens to 'rest for three days' at home starting Aug. 2 and not leave the city unless they can provide negative Covid-19 testing results. Zhangjiajie meanwhile last week ordered all of its 1.5 million residents not to leave their residential compounds unless absolutely necessary, and asked government workers to work from home. Yesterday, it banned everyone currently in the city from leaving. Some local health and tourism officials have lost their jobs or faced other penalties over the flare-up....

"The efforts suggest that China intends to continue with its policy of zero tolerance for new local cases. But how much longer can it keep doing so?"
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Delta variant challenges China’s costly lockdown strategy | AP News - Joe McDonald & Huizhong Wu:

August 5, 2021 - ""Xi Jinping’s government is fighting the most serious outbreak since last year’s peak in Wuhan. The ruling Communist Party is reviving tactics that shut down China: Access to a city of 1.5 million people has been cut off, flights canceled and mass testing ordered in some areas. That 'zero tolerance' strategy of quarantining every case and trying to block new infections from abroad helped to contain last year’s outbreak and has kept China largely virus-free. But its impact on work and life for millions of people is prompting warnings that China needs to learn to control the virus without repeatedly shutting down the economy and society.

"Zhang Wenhong, a Shanghai doctor who became prominent during the Wuhan outbreak, suggested in a social media post that China’s strategy could change.... 'The world needs to learn how to coexist with this virus,' wrote Zhang, who has 3 million followers on the widely used Sina Weibo platform....

"Last year, China shut down much of the world’s second-biggest economy and cut off almost all access to cities with a total of 60 million people — tactics imitated on a smaller scale by governments from Asia to the Americas. That caused China’s most painful economic contraction in five decades, but Beijing was able to allow business and domestic travel to resume in March 2020....

"China needs to shift to creating barriers to infection within communities by stepping up vaccinations and quickly treating infected people while allowing business and travel to go ahead, said Xi Chen, a health economist at the Yale School of Public Health.... 'I don’t think "zero tolerance" can be sustained,' said Chen. 'Even if you can lock down all the regions in China, people might still die, and more might die due to hunger or loss of jobs.'

"But Beijing has shown no sign of abandoning its tactics. Disease controls must 'be even faster, more firm, stricter, more expansive and ready,' He Qinghua, an official of the National Health Commission’s Disease Control Bureau, said at a news conference Saturday."
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