Chinese expert cautions against treating Omicron variant like flu

Beijing, Mar 21 (EFE).- An expert at China’s National Health Commission warned against treating Covid-19 linked to the highly transmissible Omicron variant of the coronavirus like a seasonal flu, state media Global Times reported Monday.

In an interview with state broadcaster CCTV, Liang Wannian, head of the Covid-19 response expert panel under the commission, said that while the proportion of patients with severe symptoms is decreasing, the fast transmission rate of the omicron variant can lead to a high number of infections in a short period of time, which would mean that the number of deaths and severe cases in absolute terms would also be high.

In the expert’s opinion, China’s “good” efforts in preventing and controlling the virus and the “misunderstanding” that the pandemic is over has caused some local governments and people to “relax their efforts in the fight against Covid-19.”

Liang said that “it is not the right time” to abandon the country’s existing strategy to tackle the virus as doing so would render the achievements of the past two years “useless.”

China continues to implement the “dynamic zero-case” policy against Covid-19, which includes the almost total closure of borders, the isolation of all those infected and their close contacts, and restrictions on movement and large-scale PCR tests wherever a case is detected.

This strategy, according to Liang, “proved to be effective” in “protecting the lives of people” and has ”helped to strike a balance between epidemic prevention and economic development.”

“The pandemic is far from being over,” said the expert, citing the example of the recent outbreaks in most of China’s provinces.

The recent outbreak in the northeastern region of Jilin is the largest since the first outbreak of the virus in Wuhan in early 2020.

On Sunday, China detected 1,947 new Covid-19 infections and 2,384 asymptomatic cases – not included in the official count -, according to data provided by the National Health Commission on Monday.

A total of 132,226 people have been infected in the country since the start of the pandemic, out of which 106,200 have recovered and 4,638 have died, according to the commission. EFE


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