China, rooted in ‘zero Covid-19’ policy one month before Winter Olympics

By Jesus Centeno

Beijing, Jan 6 (EFE).- China tirelessly maintains its zero tolerance policy against Covid-19, with restrictions on mobility and confinements to stop active outbreaks in the country one month before the start of the Winter Olympic Games in Beijing.

The situation remains dramatic in the central city of Xi’an, where its 13 million residents have been confined and unable to leave their homes since Dec. 23.

The city’s airport has canceled all domestic and international flights until further notice while the authorities demand “drastic measures” to stop an outbreak that, despite everything, has only left 1,856 infections since the beginning of last month.

Sixty three new infections were recorded Thursday in Xi’an compared to Wednesday’s 35, although 95 were reported Tuesday and 90 on Monday.

According to the latest report issued by the Chinese health authorities, there are 3,282 active cases across the country, 30 of them serious.

So far 4,636 people have died from covid in China, a figure that has remained unchanged since Jan. 26 of last year.

The objective of the confinement of Xi’an – the most extensive in China after that in Wuhan in January 2020, at the beginning of the pandemic – is, according to local officials, to reset the rate of new cases so that it can be back to normal.

Authorities continue to carry out massive rounds of tests to trace infections associated with the delta variant of the coronavirus – the omicron strand has only been found in cases from abroad – and they said they are already controlling community transmissions.

However, the chaotic management of the confinement has provoked criticism from some residents through social media, either due to the lack of supplies or due to confusion. This was after the mobile phone application that certifies people have tested negative in nucleic acid tests or not having been in close contact with positive cases stopped working.

The case of an eight-month pregnant woman who lost her baby after being denied admission to hospital for not presenting an updated test, or that of a person beaten for violating confinement to buy food, has also caused a stir.

State newspaper Global Times said Thursday that there were “moments of chaos” and “difficulties” in guaranteeing food supplies for the population, but that responsibilities have already been “purged” with the dismissal of officials who are now accused of acting negligently.

“It is inevitable that a confinement of these characteristics creates problems, but local authorities are taking into account the complaints to improve the situation,” the newspaper said.

Those who criticize the viability or necessity of the draconian measures “are wrong,” according to the newspaper, which added that many residents participate as volunteers to organize tests or distribute food.

Other residents said they have had to push for delivery men to deliver food or that they have not been treated in hospitals or sent ambulances. EFE


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