China holds firm on zero-Covid policy despite growing frustration

By Jesús Centeno

Beijing, May 10 (EFE).- China’s unwavering commitment to its “zero Covid-19” ambitions remains firm despite growing frustration against the strict measure, especially in the financial hub of Shanghai, where a prolonged lockdown has sparked disgruntled citizens to voice their anger on social media.

The 26 million residents of China’s most populous city have been kept largely housebound for at least a month, although in some districts the lockdown has been in place for over two months.

In recent days, a growing number of Shanghainese have shared videos online detailing the challenges they face under lockdown, which range from disrupted medical services, a lack of basic provisions to the miserable conditions at state-run quarantine centers.

Shanghai authorities doubled down on their zero Covid tactics soon after Chinese president Xi Jinping said in an address on May 6 that the country had to hold firm on the policy.

Officials in the financial hub once again sealed off residential buildings while residents who test positive for Covid-19 are sent to isolate in state-run centers.

Videos posted to Chinese social media appeared to show police officers forcing the close contacts of positive cases to move to these installations despite not having tested for the virus, which Tong Zhiwei from the East China Normal University described in an online post as “illegal.”

In a lengthy post on Weibo, China’s answer to Twitter, which is blocked in the country, Tong on Sunday urged authorities to follow scientific methods and act according to the law.

His post was removed the same day it was published, but a downloaded version has nonetheless been widely circulated.

China’s strict zero-Covid approach is well into its second year while much of the rest of the world has lifted most pandemic restrictions.

Beijing justifies its policy as a way to protect its older population, many of whom have not had a full course of a vaccine, and to prevent its health system from collapsing.

In her most recent press conference, China’s vice premier Sun Chunlan urged local authorities to enforce coronavirus measures with greater speed to prevent Covid-19 from spreading, including by setting test centers no farther than 15 minutes walk from all residents, local media reported.

China’s current surge of cases is being driven by the virulent Omicron variant of the coronavirus. EFE


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