Chinese authorities report no change to ‘zero-COVID’ policy

BEIJING (AP) — Chinese health authorities gave no indication on Saturday of an easing of COVID-19 restrictions, after several days of speculation that the government was considering changing a “zero-COVID” approach that has hampered growth. economic

BEIJING (AP) — Chinese health authorities gave no indication on Saturday of an easing of COVID-19 restrictions, after several days of speculation that the government was considering changing a “zero-COVID” approach that has hampered growth. economic and disrupted daily life.

Officials told a news conference they would ‘steadfastly’ stick to the policy, which aims to stop cases entering the country and snuff out outbreaks as they arise. are discovered.

The announcement is not a surprise and does not rule out the possibility that talks will take place behind closed doors. But there has been no official confirmation of the talks, and most analysts believe any change will be gradual, with a major easing unlikely before next year.

The speculation stock markets have recovered in China this week, with investors as well as the public clinging to any hint of possible change. The death of a 3 year old boy in a quarantined residential complex has fueled growing dissatisfaction with anti-virus controls, which are increasingly out of step with the rest of the world.

Anyone entering China must self-quarantine at a designated hotel for seven to ten days. Residents of the country line up several times a week to take a virus test in outdoor booths, to meet the requirement of a negative result in the last 72 hours to enter office buildings, shopping malls , restaurants, parks and other public places.

Tuo Jia, an official with the National Health Commission, acknowledged some cities’ complaints about the zealous enforcement of the zero COVID policy and said local authorities should strike a balance between epidemic prevention and economic development. .

“We must carry out resolute, decisive, scientific and precise prevention and control, and resolutely clean up and stop all forms of simplification, a one-size-fits-all approach and excessive local measures,” she said.

Scattered outbreaks across the country continue to cause travel restrictions and closures. China on Saturday reported identifying about 3,500 new cases the previous day, including about 3,000 who tested positive despite not showing symptoms of COVID-19.

In southeastern Guangzhou city, Haizhu District suspended bus and subway service for three days and urged residents to stay at home as it conducts mass testing of its 1 .8 million inhabitants. One person per household is allowed to go out each day to buy basic necessities.

Restrictions are also in place in parts of the Inner Mongolia region in the north and the Xinjiang region in the west, where 43 new high-risk areas were designated in the regional capital Urumqi on Saturday.

Wang Guiqiang, director of the infectious disease department of Peking University First Hospital, said at the press conference that the vaccination rate for people over 80 should be increased. China does not have a vaccination mandate.

A health official said 90% of the population is fully immunized, including 86% of people over 60, but did not provide a figure for people over 80.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who made a beijing day tour on Friday told reporters that China had agreed to approve the German-developed Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for foreigners and that he hoped its use would be extended to the Chinese public.

It was unclear when the approval would come. So far, China has only approved domestic vaccines, which use older technology that has generally been shown to be less effective at preventing the spread of disease than Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.

The Associated Press





Carol N. Valencia