A brand new Chinese language examine in regards to the comparatively low dangers related to the Omicron variant of the coronavirus has reignited dialogue about whether or not the nation’s aggressive response to Covid-19 instances is critical.
The Chinese language Middle for Illness Management and Prevention on Saturday revealed a examine that discovered that 22 of greater than 33,000 sufferers hospitalized after testing constructive for Omicron developed extreme sickness. All the sufferers who developed a extra severe sickness have been over 60 years outdated and had underlying medical circumstances, in keeping with the examine, which was carried out from March 22 to Could 3 at 4 Shanghai hospitals.
In China, anybody who checks constructive for the coronavirus is distributed to a hospital or isolation facility.
Beneath the nation’s “zero Covid” coverage — which shut down Shanghai for nearly two months — a single constructive take a look at end result can set off a lockdown of a whole house advanced, confining a whole lot and even hundreds of residents to their houses for weeks with little or no discover. When somebody checks constructive for the coronavirus, residents inside a sure proximity could be ordered to take checks for 3 straight days to be cleared as a low well being danger.
The lockdowns and fixed testing have introduced the Chinese language financial system to a standstill whereas fueling resentment amongst components of the inhabitants that say the measures are extreme.
Final week, a protest erupted in Kunshan, a metropolis bordering Shanghai, over guidelines stopping commuters from heading to the monetary heart for work. It got here after an indication final month in Beijing, the capital, the place a gaggle of Peking College college students protested after they have been ordered to isolate themselves whereas academics and their households weren’t certain to comparable restrictions.
One of many examine’s 19 authors was Zhang Wenhong, an infectious-disease specialist and considered one of China’s main voices on Covid-19 who has argued towards extreme lockdowns. The examine “offers proof for refining Covid-19 public well being methods” to keep away from overwhelming medical assets, the authors wrote, with out making particular suggestions.
The findings have been according to different research which have concluded that Omicron is total much less extreme than the Delta variant, although it may be lethal for some individuals. Nonetheless, it generated heated debate on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like social media platform. Within the three days because the examine’s launch, the hashtag in regards to the report acquired greater than 98 million views and 10,000 discussions on the platform.
Some individuals questioned the necessity for lockdowns to include the virus after seeing the info. One individual famous that there have been no extreme sicknesses for low-risk individuals and that the portion of people that developed extreme illness was lower than one-tenth of 1 p.c.
“Nonetheless, now we have paid such an enormous value (materially and mentally),” this individual wrote, including that the zero-Covid coverage appeared “ignorant.”
Defenders of China’s hard-line stance noticed the examine as a political challenge. One Weibo put up accused Dr. Zhang of publishing the paper to justify Shanghai’s preliminary method to containing the virus with extra focused restrictions. That technique was deserted in favor of a full lockdown in April and Could.
Claire Fu contributed analysis.