China confirms its first case of Omicron subvariant BA.2.12.1

Beijing, May 17 (EFE).- China confirmed the first case of the highly transmissible Omicron subvariant BA.2.12.1 at a time when the country is witnessing a wave of outbreaks with record number of cases not seen since the start of the pandemic in 2020, state-owned Global Times newspaper reported Tuesday.

According to a weekly report issued by Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the person infected with this subvariant – up to 27 percent more contagious than Omicron BA.2 – is a 27-year-old man who took a flight from Nairobi in Kenya to the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou on Apr.23.

After testing positive for Covid four days later, the infected person was taken to a local hospital for treatment, according to the CDC.

Unlike most of the world, which has already decided to live with the virus, China has been pursuing a strict zero-tolerance policy against Covid for two years on the grounds of protecting the elderly, who are largely unvaccinated, and to avoid a hypothetical healthcare system collapse.

However, the harsh measures against the outbreaks – especially in the eastern city of Shanghai, confined for almost two months – has led to an unprecedented critical reaction among the people on social media.

World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said last week that the restrictions put in place were not sustainable and recommended a change of strategy.

The Chinese government termed his remarks as irresponsible, and claimed the measures taken have managed to save millions of lives.

According to the latest official count by the health authorities published Tuesday, China reported one new death due to Covid and 175 new cases, 162 of them by local transmission. EFE


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