Since March, China has been battling its biggest Govt wave, with Shanghai now the biggest hotspot. All 25 million residents are locked up, and national health workers and the Chinese military have been dispatched to boost the city’s response.
On Tuesday, the country registered more than 20,000 new cases – beyond the Wuhan peak in 2020, the beginning of the epidemic.
While this figure is still much lower than many other countries, it is a dramatic spike for China, which has pursued a rigorous zero-Govt strategy aimed at sealing border controls, mass checks, isolation and all eruptions and diffusion chains. Strict locks.
The sustainability of that policy is now in question as new, more contagious govt variants continue to spread throughout the population.
Here’s what you need to know about the latest eruption.
Which parts of China are being attacked?
In early March, cases began to escalate in several provinces across the country, including Shandong in the east, Guangdong in the south and Jilin in the northeast.
By the end of this month, the National Health Commission (NHC) had reported that the virus had spread to 29 of China’s 31 provinces. 90% of all cases detected in March came from two major hotspots, Jillin and Shanghai.
Many cities with more than 37 million inhabitants were locked up in March. Many of those locks were loosened in early April – leaving Shanghai outside, and authorities are struggling to bring its cases under control.
So far, only two Govt deaths have been officially reported during this wave, both of which came from Jilin in March.
What is a locked life like?
As the situation worsened, Shanghai operations expanded and lasted.
In late March, the Shanghai government denied any plans to lock down the city – saying the reports were “untrue” and disturbed “social order.” On March 27, the government announced the launch of a stumbling block, initially targeting one half of the city and the other half.
By March 31, the government had dropped its stumbled approach, effectively imposing a city-wide lockout that barred all 25 million residents from leaving their neighborhoods except to be tested.
A mandatory city-wide trial found an increase in cases, officials said – prompting them to extend the lockdown until further notice when “further investigation, review of results, conversion of positive cases and analysis of the overall Govt situation”.
State media and the People’s Liberation Army said more than 30,000 doctors and 2,000 military personnel had been sent to the city to implement the measures and meet the demands of the entire population.
But the restrictions saw a general rise in public frustration and criticism of the government, describing the challenges residents face in accessing basic necessities such as food or medicine.
“We were not killed by Govt, but by Govt control measures,” he said in a popular comment on the highly censored Chinese social media site Weibo.
On Monday, an isolated center in Shanghai launched the Parent-Child Isolation Area. On Wednesday, Shanghai health officials announced a revision in the policy, allowing parents with a negative test to apply for a permit with “special needs” to co-positive children. They did not specify which conditions would qualify as “special requirements”.
Parents who test positive can also go to isolated facilities with their cov-positive children.
What variation is spread?
BA.1 – the original Omicron – and Omicron have been driving this uprising, with identified events showing both other descendants including BA.1.1 and BA.2.
Since its rise, the number of international cases – which had been declining since the first week of January – has been rising again.
Studies show that BA.2 is highly contagious – researchers are still investigating the severity of this variation. Some epidemiologists have suggested that its baseline population may be 12, meaning that each infected person infects an average of 12 people.
It will parallel the measles spread in the air. The basic breeding number for BA.1 is estimated to be about 8.
Will China Govt stick to zero?
As the eruption continues, experts and international observers have speculated that this wave, the most widespread variation, and China’s mass vaccination campaign could bring a zero-govt end.
As of Friday, the NHC said that about 78% of the country’s 1.4 billion people were fully vaccinated.
Prior to the eruption, scientists and leaders noted that the strategy was being reconsidered, a leading epidemiologist wrote in early March in Weibo that Zero-Govit “will not change forever”.
But that now looks like a distant future, with Chinese authorities considering an alternative – the virus could spread across the country and drown the health system – the worst option.
Wu Zunyou, chief epidemiologist at the China Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said on Friday that China would “continue to focus on dynamic zero-cow policy”, according to the state-run Tabloid Global Times. It can cause many problems such as easing of restrictions found in other countries and opening of borders. Medical resources and increasing deaths, “he added.
On Monday, Deputy Prime Minister Sun Sunlan said the city needed “a more robust approach, more powerful actions and more efficient coordination” to achieve a zero-sum city in Shanghai.