This is a setback for China. The country’s health authorities identified nearly 3,400 cases of coronavirus on Sunday, March 13, the worst number in two years, and decided to detain the 17 million inhabitants of Shenzhen city.
Due to this increase in cases in the country, the authorities have closed schools in Shanghai and confined several cities in the northeast, while nearly nineteen provinces are in a hurry to limit local outbreaks due to the Delta and Omicron variants. . The large city of Jilin in the northeast has been partially cordoned off, with hundreds of neighborhoods set under bell glasses, an official said. Yanji, a city of 700,000 people on the North Korean border, was completely closed.
China, where the virus was first discovered in late 2019, has pursued a zero-tolerance policy against the outbreak. It responds to epidemic outbreaks with local inclusions, mass screening and control of its population through tracking applications. The country’s borders remain largely closed.
Mayors removed from office
But this unprecedented number of daily cases, caused by the Omicron variant, undermines this approach. “The emergency response mechanism in some areas is not robust enough, the understanding of the characteristics of the Omicron variant is insufficient (…) and the verdict was inaccurate “admitted at a government press briefing Zhang Yan, health official in Jilin province.
“It also reflects the rapid increase (…) of the virus in the different regions and the lack of (…) medical resources »causing delays in hospitalization and treatment of patients, he added.
Jilin residents, who have reported more than 500 cases of the Omicron variant, had completed their six rounds of mandatory drug tests by Sunday, according to local authorities. On Saturday, hundreds of neighborhoods in the city were cordoned off. Changchun, a neighboring city and industrial base with 9 million inhabitants, was put under a bell on Friday.
The mayor of Jilin and the health official of Changchun were removed from their posts on Saturday, state media reported, a sign of the political injunction imposed on local authorities to combat epidemic outbreaks.
China has so far managed to keep coronavirus cases very low thanks to localized shutdowns, mass tests and its closed borders. But the fatigue of this strict approach is increasingly heard in the country. Several officials are now calling for more targeted action, and economists warn that the extensive restrictions are hurting the country’s economy.
Health policy has generally been looser since the rise in cases, which began in February, than in December, when the city of Xi’an and its 13 million people were in full lockdown for two weeks.
In China’s largest city, Shanghai, authorities chose social distancing by temporarily closing schools, businesses, restaurants and shopping malls rather than mass quarantines. Long queues were also seen outside hospitals across the city, where people rushed to get a negative Covid test.
Faced with rising cases, the National Health Authority announced on Friday that it would introduce the use of rapid antigen testing, which could indicate a form of easing of the Communist Party’s health policy.
Last week, a Chinese scientist said the country should try to live with the virus, as other countries have done. But the government has not ruled out the possibility of resorting to strict restraints. The smaller towns of Siping and Dunhua, both located in Jilin province, were thus confined on Thursday and Friday, according to official reports.
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