Chinese experts rule out relaxing restrictions: ‘Omicron is not a flu’

Beijing, Apr 11 (EFE).- “The outbreaks of the omicron variant should not be managed as a flu outbreak,” according to Liang Wannian, head of China’s Covid-19 strategy taskforce, the China Daily state newspaper reported Monday.

According to Liang, the fatality rate of the omicron variant is “higher than that of the flu” and “is multiplied by a hundred in the case of those over 80.”

“The virus constantly mutates. We don’t know if its mutations will be more harmful, which would be a big health risk,” Liang said in an interview Sunday.

According to the expert, the Chinese policy of “Zero Covid-19” – to which authorities added the adjective “dynamic” under the premise of controlling transmission “quickly” so that outbreaks have the lowest possible cost – “remains the best option” for the country.

Omicron has returned China to the starting point in its particular “battle” against Covid-19, with strong restrictions on mobility, closed borders to the outside world and confinement of entire cities such as the Shanghai metropolis.

According to Liang, this strict policy “achieves the best results at the lowest cost.”

Contagious disease expert Zhang Wenhong called for greater protection of vulnerable groups, especially the unvaccinated elderly, and also said omicron is not simply a strong flu.

According to Zhang, the city of Shanghai, where more than 1,400 symptomatic cases and more than 25,000 asymptomatic cases were registered Sunday, must enter into “containing the pandemic and cutting off infections” so that “normal life and production” can resume.

During the confinement of the city there have been problems in access to medical care in hospitals, some of which are partially closed, which has caused the death of some people, such as a nurse who died of an asthma attack after not being treated in a medical center on Mar. 23.

Zhang warned of the need to “improve preparation for future outbreaks, including increasing the vaccination rate among the elderly, expanding the supply of medicines, and accelerating the construction of quarantine facilities.”

Epidemiologist Zhong Nanshan, one of the most renowned Chinese experts, said Friday that “a complete opening does not fit the situation in China.”

According to Zhong, “some countries have decided to live with the virus given the low fatality of omicron and its relatively milder symptoms,” but he warned of “numerous deaths” if “prevention measures against the virus were withdrawn in China.”

“We must adhere to the zero Covid-19 strategy and gradually relax policies in the future,” the expert said.

According to official figures, since the start of the pandemic, 165,577 people have been infected in the country and 4,638 have died, the last two in March, the first deaths recorded in more than a year. EFE


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