Latest COVID-19 flare-up spills over to more than half of Chinese provincial-level regions

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PAK 5 NEWS

BEIJING, Nov 3 (APP):The new COVID-19 flare-ups China is facing, which have spread to more than half of its provinces and municipalities, are more “complicated” than the Nanjing airport coronavirus cluster spread, health analysts said.

This is because there are multiple sources, many of which remain unknown, and it involves a wide scope of infection set against the onset of winter which makes it easier for the virus to propagate, the experts said, urging that people remain cautious, according to Global Times.

Faced with continued outbreaks of COVID-19, health experts believe China cannot abandon its zero-tolerance approach for now, despite attacks in the Western media which the experts see as an attempt to drag China into the same quagmire they are experiencing.

China will carefully evaluate the conditions for changing its epidemic prevention policies, including evaluating the situation in other countries that have opened their borders, which could serve as a reference for China.

At least 18 Chinese provinces and municipalities, with Southwest China’s Chongqing Municipality and Chengdu in Sichuan the latest, reported confirmed COVID-19 cases as of Tuesday.

The capital Beijing reported four new cases on Monday, taking the total case number to 35. After 26 new COVID-19 cases were detected in one day, the China-Russia border city of Heihe, Northeast China’s Heilongjiang Province upgraded one residential community to a high-risk area.

Since the sudden COVID-19 outbreak in mid-October, China has reported approximately 500 cases.

Compared with the Nanjing airport outbreak, which also spilled over to more than half of the provincial-level regions in China, the latest outbreak is more “complicated,” Wang Guangfa, a respiratory expert at Peking University First Hospital, told the Global Times.

The Nanjing outbreak was triggered by coronavirus within the airport which spilled over, Wang said, but this time, there are multiple sources, many of which remain unclear even after half a month.

Experts are still looking into what caused the outbreak in Ejina Banner, a county in North China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, which they believe was caused by imported cases. The origin of the Heihe outbreak also remains unknown, and it is not related to the recent flare-ups in Inner Mongolia and Gansu Province.

Wang added that the scope of coronavirus spillover is wide and it is easier for coronavirus to propagate with the onset of winter. He also warned of the increasing danger of the mutated Delta variant.

The Delta variant is responsible for the flare-ups in Beijing, Heihe, Gansu and Inner Mongolia.

In response to such complicated and widespread outbreaks, local governments have adopted strict measures to curb the spread. It is particularly important ahead of the ‘2022 Beijing’ Winter Olympic Games, which will pose an additional challenge for the nation’s overall anti-epidemic efforts, as the arrival of the foreign delegations will coincide with the winter season.

Shijiazhuang, a city roughly 260 kilometers from Beijing, entered a state of emergency on Tuesday, ordering people in the medium-risk Hezhuang village into a strict home quarantine.

Heihe closed off 51 residential communities with confirmed COVID-19 cases, with closed-circle management, where life necessities are delivered and psychological consultations are provided.

Those measures again invited foreign media criticism, including from The New York Times and Wall Street Journal, which suggested in their reports that China’s “Zero COVID” policy is taking economically and psychologically tolls on its people.

 In a recent interview, China’s top epidemiologist Zhong Nanshan said the
zero-transmission policy is necessary.

He said China’s “zero -transmission policy” is a relatively low-cost approach compared with the “treatment after infection” practice in some countries.

Zeng Guang, former chief epidemiologist of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, warned that China should not let the foreign media’s sniping shake the country’s confidence. “We are at a highland [of fighting the coronavirus] that they cannot attain.

Those who mock us are from countries where they have reported more than 10,000 cases daily, yet we report less than 100.”

China has maintained its proactive measures since the Wuhan outbreak, which helped shape a political and social consensus that such measures best serve the public in terms of safety and public health, the anonymous official said.

Beijing municipal government apologized on Tuesday after some Beijing residents complained they were unable to purchase tickets back to the capital, even though their health codes are green.

The government said they are deeply sorry for the inconvenience it brought to those people and suggested they report their situation to authorities, who will solve their problems within two days.

Since the new outbreaks started, Beijing has imposed travel restrictions on certain groups, preventing people from places where there are COVID-19 cases whose health code is not green, from entering Beijing.

Asked when would be best time to lift restrictions overall, the anonymous health official said the time is not right. Regular anti-epidemic measures help to maintain normal social and economic functioning, but China has not reached the conditions to allow lifting those measures nor opening the borders, he said.

“We have to continue fully evaluating the conditions for changing the epidemic prevention policies, including considering the virus mutations. The situation in other countries that have opened their borders could serve as a reference for China,” he added.

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