Beijing marathon returns but China sticks to ‘zero-COVID’

BEIJING (AP) — Thousands of runners took to the streets of the Chinese capital on Sunday for the return of the Beijing Marathon after a two-year hiatus from COVID-19, even as another death blamed on the strict controls of the pandemic in China generated more public anger

BEIJING (AP) — Thousands of runners took to the streets of the Chinese capital on Sunday for the return of the Beijing Marathon after a two-year hiatus from COVID-19, even as another death blamed on the strict controls of the pandemic in China has generated more public anger.

The authorities are trying to restore a sense of normality while stick to a “zero-COVID” strategy which locks down neighborhoods if virus cases are detected and quarantines anyone arriving from abroad in hotels for seven to 10 days.

A simmering public frustration, which has grown as the rest of the world opens up, has been fueled by a series of tragic incidents – in several cases because people were denied timely care for medical emergencies unrelated to COVID-19.

An official investigation released Sunday in Hohhot, the capital of China’s Inner Mongolia region, accused property management and community staff of failing to act quickly enough to prevent the death of a 55-year-old woman in an apartment building. sealed after learning she had suicidal tendencies. .

The woman fell from her 12th-floor apartment on Friday evening, according to the report published by the Inner Mongolia Daily newspaper on its social media account.

Public outrage over her death and her adult daughter’s frantic attempts to get help sooner, then exit the barricaded building immediately after, sparked the inquest. The building had been locked down after two cases of COVID-19 were discovered about 10 days ago.

The woman’s death followed that of a 3 year old boy earlier last week following a gas leak at his locked residential compound in the city of Lanzhou in northwest China.

On the other hand, the atmosphere was good at the Beijing marathon. Participation was limited to townspeople, with the exception of a few invited runners. Chinese state media said 30,000 people attended. They had to be vaccinated, not leave Beijing for seven days before the event and present proof of a negative virus test within the previous 24 hours.

Marathons are also scheduled for later this month in Shanghai and Chengdu, a major city in southwest China.

The number of new cases recorded nationwide rose to 4,200 on Saturday. About 1,400 were in southern China’s Guangdong province, where a closed district in the city of Guangzhou was testing the 1.8 million population this weekend. Another 700 were in Inner Mongolia.

The zero COVID strategy has kept the death toll low compared to other major countries – 5,226 according to the official tally – and most people can move around their cities relatively freely with little chance of contracting COVID- 19.

But closures of residential compounds and even larger areas can happen at any time, with little or no warning. All Shanghai Disney visitors had to stay in the park to get tested when it was suddenly closed under anti-virus regulations last week.

There is also the inconvenience of having to undergo a throat swab test every few days to be allowed to enter office buildings, shopping malls and other public places. And people who leave Beijing may not be allowed to return for a week if an outbreak occurs where they have been.

National health officials have repeatedly stressed that local authorities must take targeted pandemic measures that minimize economic disruption and avoid a one-size-fits-all approach. But local officials also risk being punished if an outbreak unleashes on their watch.

“Since the beginning of the epidemic, although we have done everything possible to protect people’s lives, health and safety, such unfortunate incidents have still occurred,” the inquest into the death of the woman concluded. woman who fell from her apartment in Inner Mongolia. . “We will learn a profound lesson from this incident.”

Ken Moritsugu, Associated Press





Carol N. Valencia