Why does China keep up the zero-Covid approach?

Source:CCTV.com 19-01-22 10:45 Updated BJT
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By Zhou Fujing

China's dynamic zero-Covid approach has been considered "inhumane" and therefore questioned by some western media outlets. As the Omicron coronavirus variant is catching more countries, the approach is undergoing hot discussions again. 

In last December, local United States media outlet CNN reported like this:

It said, "China remains one of the last countries attempting to maintain zero-Covid, as the rest of the world learns to live with the virus."

On the first day of 2022, The Guardian questioned like this: 

It wrote: "The rest of the world is learning, slowly and with some difficulty, to live with Covid-19, but in China, authorities are doubling down on their "zero-Covid" policy: trying to stamp out the disease whenever it appears, and at any cost."

What does the zero-Covid approach mean?

The "zero-COVID" approach which sounded dreadful in some western reports, is not equivalent of "zero infection" and can not be simply interpreted as "China aiming at achieving zero infections."

According to Liang Wannian, head of the expert team on COVID-19 response and disposal at the National Health Commission (NHC), the approach means "when a new local outbreak occurs, measures will be taken to promptly stem the spread of the virus and clear new infections.”

With it, China has rapidly controlled over 40 sporadic coronavirus rebounds since April 2020. But it does require a cost. China's top epidemiologist Zhong Nanshan explains, "The cost is quite high. But, it's a relatively low-cost approach. If you ignore the virus and just let go of the situation, the cost will be even higher."

Even U.S. media outlet Bloomberg magazine admitted that the strategy has been effective by publishing the article“Next China: When Covid Zero Works":

It states: "So it turns out Covid Zero has its advantages. As the new omicron variant prompted countries to reimpose travel restrictions, it was China, with its strict quarantine requirements, that looked most prepared."

Thomas Hale, associate professor in public policy at Oxford University's Blavatnik School of Governance, commented, "China's 'dynamic clearance' strategy has thus far proven effective at limiting the domestic spread of the disease, albeit with significant cost, effort, and trade-offs." 

It would be a disastrous consequence if without the approach. "China would have witnessed around 47.8 million cases and about 950,000 fatalities if it were to have the global infection rate," said Wu Zunyou, chief epidemiologist at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in last November. China's anti-epidemic experience shows that having 1.4 billion people holding the line of defense is the greatest contribution to international anti-pandemic efforts. 

The views don't necessarily represent those of CCTV.com.

Editor: zhangrui
19-01-22 10:45 BJT
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