China has blocked about 17 million inhabitants. This is due to the fact that the number of virus cases has doubled to nearly 3,400 nationwide, raising concerns about the resilience of the “Zero Corona” approach, which faced the worst outbreaks in two years.
A high-tech hub in the south of Shenzhen, home to about 13 million people, tells all residents to stay home because they are struggling to eradicate the relapse of Omicron associated with a neighboring virus-infected Hong Kong city. I did.
According to the city government’s notice, the blockade and suspension of public transportation will continue until March 20, and three mass trials will begin.
Due to the surge in nationwide incidents, authorities closed schools in Shanghai, China’s largest city, and closed the northeastern city. This is because nearly 18 states fight clusters of Omicron and Delta variants.
Jilin City, the center of the outbreak in the northeast, was partially closed on Saturday, and about 700,000 urban residents, Yanji, bordering North Korea, were trapped in their homes on Sunday.
China, where the virus was first detected in late 2019, maintains a strict “Zero Corona” policy, enforced by rapid blockade, travel bans and mass testing in the event of a cluster emergence.
However, the latest relapses caused by the proliferation of highly contagious Omicron variants and asymptomatic cases are testing the effectiveness of that approach.
Zhang Yan, an employee of the Jilin Health Commission, admitted that there was a lack of response from the local government.
“The emergency response mechanism in some areas is not robust enough,” he said at a press conference on Sunday.
“Insufficient understanding of the characteristics of the Omicron variant made the judgment inaccurate.”
Residents of Jilin City have completed six mass tests, and since Saturday the city has reported more than 2,200 Omicron variants.
The neighboring city of Changchun (an industrial base of 9 million people) was closed on Friday, but since March 1, at least three other small cities have been closed.
The mayor of Jilin Province and the head of the Changchun Health Commission were dismissed from their jobs on Saturday, state media reported.
But while authorities are increasingly calling for more flexible and targeted measures to contain the virus, economists have warned that strict crackdowns are damaging the economy.
Residents of Shenzhen are worried about new outbreaks and worried about the swift and rigorous steps to crush the cluster.
“It’s the worst since 2020,” a Shenzhen resident named Zhang told Agence France-Presse. She told her. “
Futian District of Shenzhen, which was closed on Sunday, has a thriving commercial district with a population of 300,000, crossing the border with Hong Kong, where the number of incidents has skyrocketed in recent weeks, and Beijing officials. I am surprised.
Hong Kong is currently one of the world’s highest mortality rates from the virus, and Omicron variants have survived the elderly with widespread vaccine hesitation.
In Shanghai, authorities have temporarily closed individual schools, businesses, restaurants, and malls because of fear of close contact, rather than using mass quarantine.
Authorities advised residents not to leave the city except when necessary, and tourist attractions began demanding that visitors be provided with a negative COVID test.
“I have a friend I was dating a few days ago, but recently I was suddenly quarantined,” Serena Lee, who lives in Shanghai, told AFP.
The government’s approach “protects citizens,” she said, adding that “it’s a good thing in the long run.”
A long line was seen outside the hospital on Sunday as people were in a hurry to get tested.
“There is no other way. We definitely have to do what the government has arranged,” said a data analysis worker named Zhang.
As the number of cases increased, the National Health Commission of the State announced on Friday that it would make rapid antigen testing available to citizens online or from the clinic for “self-testing.”
Nucleic acid testing remains the primary testing method, but the move suggests that China may expect that official efforts will not be able to contain the virus.
Last week, top Chinese scientists said countries should aim for coexistence with COVID, like other countries where Omicron has spread like wildfires.