China sticking to zero-Covid policy

BEIJING, 6 Nov 2022:

China will stick to its zero-Covid policy “without wavering”, health officials said yesterday.

Since the outset of the pandemic in early 2020, the Asian giant has maintained strict protocols to eradicate the virus – with measures that have likely saved thousands of lives but have had a severely damaging effect on its economy.

China is the only major industrial power that is still pursuing an aggressive approach to stamping out Covid-19 through mass testing, community lockdowns and quarantine rules wherever cases are detected.

At a press conference yesterday, National Health Commission spokesperson Mi Feng said authorities would keep their “dynamic zero” policy to tackle the “spread of imported infections and domestic outbreaks,” after rumours had spread over the weekend that Beijing was preparing to relax some of the rules.

“The disease control situation is as dire and complex as ever,” Feng said.

Health experts told the press conference that China would continue to promote booster vaccines and work to increase the vaccination rate among the elderly, an area that has undermined the government’s draconian approach to the virus.

Since the spring, major Chinese cities began routine PCR testing of all residents – who must submit negative results for the past 24, 48 or 72 hours via an app on their cell phones to gain access to public places.

The country recorded 657 new cases in the last 24 hours, the NHC said yesterday, 596 of which were locally transmitted.

The remaining 61 cases were detected in people returning from abroad at different entry points in the country.

The health authorities also reported that another 3,180 asymptomatic cases were detected, 3,063 of them from local transmission.

China does not count asymptomatic infections as confirmed cases.