Saturday, September 25, 2021

China grapples with a surge of COVID-19 cases amid its “zero-tolerance approach”

China is grappling with a sudden surge of the COVID-19 cases in as many as 15 cities in five provinces, including capital Beijing, all linked to Nanjing, the capital of Jiangsu province. As per official media, it is the most extensive domestic spread after the virus outbreak in Wuhan in December 2019. Nanjing city has suspended all flights after a number of airport staff tested positive, an official media report said. Though the number of new cases is still in the few hundreds, concerns rose over the vast spread of the delta variant in different provinces. Nanjing has been virtually sealed with inter-provincial transport links suspended. The most worrisome for officials is the sudden emergence of the cases in capital Beijing after over 175 days of the last case. It reported two locally transmitted cases on Thursday, who returned from Zhangjiajie, a popular tourist site in Hunan province and the shooting location of the James Cameron’s Hollywood blockbuster ‘Avatar’. Authorities have sealed communities and launched nucleic acid testing for residents in the northern Changping district of Beijing as health authorities scramble to contain a spreading Delta variant outbreak linked to the eastern city of Nanjing.
Since the novel coronavirus emerged in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019, China has taken a zero-tolerance approach to infections, quickly testing large populations, massive contact tracing and locking down communities where needed to break the infection chain. The unexpected spread starting from Nanjing and in other provinces earlier, has forced the experts to weigh the utility of this harsh approach as compared to finding ways to live with it.
India’s Ambassador to China Vikram Misri as many other top envoys at an international conference on Friday noted that the first step on the way to a post-pandemic world was to learn to live with the world as it is now. Ambassador Misri underlined that this pandemic was not necessarily the last one to confront humanity. What was necessary therefore was to find a more sustainable path to address current realities – a path that was not dependent on repetitive and massive lockdowns, crushing travel restrictions and an intense undercurrent of suspicion about everything.
China is yet to open its skies for air travel from India and several other countries, and most of the Beijing-bound international flights are diverted to other cities where passengers had to undergo 21 days quarantine before entering the national capital. However, a few days ago, a high-ranking official from an African country who checked into a luxury hotel in Beijing tested positive along with his delegation sending shivers to the officials who sealed the hotel with hundreds of guests and staff having to undergo 21-day quarantine. Contact tracing is on.
The coronavirus outbreak in Nanjing originated from a flight from Russia, said Ding Jie, deputy director of the municipal centre for disease control and prevention on Friday. All strains were found to be the highly infectious Delta variant. Four people tested positive for coronavirus in nucleic acid testing on Friday in the city of Xiamen, the state-run news agency reported. Many cities across China have ramped up screening for close contacts and identify residents who have been to Nanjing or other cities where confirmed cases have been found and tightened prevention work. According to China’s National Health Commission, the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the Chinese mainland was 92,875 as on Thursday. This includes 932 active patients, 25 of whom are in severe condition. The virus has so far claimed 4,636 lives since last year in the country. China has so far vaccinated about 40 per cent of its population, according to official media.

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