Beijing (CNN) China’s Covid strategy was ahead of the curve at the start of the pandemic. But in year three, it is far behind.
Some of the residents have taken to contrasting the country’s approach – unfavorably – to North Korea, with many claiming that by comparison, the hermit nation has shared more “scientific” information about Covid to the public.
China stands isolated from the world in pursuing a zero-tolerance approach that critics say is rooted more in political ideology than science. And when that ideology is so closely intertwined with the leadership of Chinese leader Xi Jinping, it will not change in the first place.
Citizens are increasingly tired, defiant and mocked by the approach, while experts question how a country proud of cutting-edge technology and scientific innovation can find itself on a course so radically different from the rest of the world.
In China, science-based approaches to the virus are not only sidelined, but deliberately curtailed. The head of the World Health Organization’s comments was removed from the internet after calling China’s Covid strategy “unsustainable.”
In another particularly telling incident, Chinese authorities even censored a North Korean public health video titled “Understanding Omicron.”
The two-and-a-half-minute video released by Pyongyang, who himself is fighting a wave of Covid, is hardly revolutionary; it does little more than explain that most Omicron patients will have mild symptoms and that only the most severe cases will need hospital treatment.
It is common knowledge in most of the world that infection with Omicron usually causes less serious illness than infection with previous variants. However, shifting the focus away from the potential severity of the disease is contrary to China’s narrative, and the video was therefore quickly removed from the Chinese Internet.
Likewise, the news was censored that North Korea is ready to lift its blocking restrictions and move forward with things.
China, on the other hand, continues to shut down entire communities and cities over a handful of Covid cases. All positive cases and close contacts are sent to the government quarantine, while nearby neighborhoods are often locked down for several weeks.
Despite the best efforts of China’s sensors, the news leaked out and many Chinese Internet users even said that the hermit nation was more “scientific” than China.
There is, of course, widespread skepticism about North Korea’s claims that it has Covid under control. The World Health Organization said earlier this month that it believed the pandemic there was actually getting worse, contrary to Pyongyang’s claims, as the country is struggling with a shortage of vaccines and health care.
But the fact that even the secretive, autocratic government of North Korea at least shares internationally accepted information about Covid has many social media users in China to believe. One put it bluntly: “Suddenly I realized that we are the most pathetic.”
Meanwhile, Dandong, a Chinese city bordering North Korea, was under lockout for nearly two months, with authorities first announcing easing of measures earlier this week.
Videos online show Chinese health workers placing what appear to be rows of machines to monitor the air along the Yalu River that separates the two countries. Apparently, China has also ordered nearby residents to close their windows – they fear the wind could blow the virus in from North Korea.
Backed into a corner
Early in the pandemic, such a public interrogation of China’s approach could have seemed inconceivable. This may interest you : Jenny Welbourn on YouTube Vlogging, a sustainable lifestyle and online burnout. At the time, China’s deadlocks, mass testing and harsh quarantines contained the virus.
In fact, its approach was so effective that China has since repeatedly boasted of its superiority over the West, arguing that zero-Covid should be a model for the world. As China’s propaganda machine relentlessly reminds everyone, the country has reported just over 5,000 deaths compared to one million in the United States.
But China’s early successes may be part of the problem. After backing into a corner with its past rhetoric, China’s leaders feel unable to change pace – even in light of more transferable variants such as the Omicron – without an acute loss of face.
So Xi has kept his promise to “steadfastly adhere” to zero-Covid, and all officials under him are under pressure to stand in line – regardless of what the scientists or anyone else thinks. The goal is to keep Covid cases out of state quarantine facilities at zero, regardless of financial or social costs.
“Any vote in favor of deviating from the zero-Covid road will be punished … No one from the top is really listening to expert opinions anymore, and that’s frankly humiliating,” a provincial health commission official recently told The Lancet medical journal.
Last weekend, censors interrupted the debate on social media about whether strict measures such as the months-long shutdown in Shanghai were justified.
The debate was driven by a scientific study looking at the severity of Covid-19 among patients in the city’s recent outbreak. Of a cohort of more than 33,000 (mostly vaccinated) Covid-19 patients who were relatively healthy and did not show severe symptoms at the time of hospitalization, the study found that only 22, or 0.065%, continued to develop severe disease.
The 22 were all over 60 years old with underlying health conditions or a weaker immune system, and most were not fully vaccinated, according to the study, published online in a Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) publication.
The frequency raised questions about whether Covid-19 measures were in relation to the health risk for the population in general, but on Monday morning it seemed that some comments on social media had been removed. Days later, the newspaper itself was no longer available on the main page of the China CDC website, with the original link showing an error. China’s health authorities did not respond to a request for comment from CNN on the matter.
“With this frequency of serious illness, why do we take nucleic acid test after nucleic acid test every day, what is it in the end for?” a Weibo user said about the findings, and seems to be referring to Shanghai’s rigid Covid-19 test requirements that have continued after city-wide closure measures were eased.
Meanwhile, China is spending conspicuous amounts of money to keep its ideology alive.
For example, China is estimated to have built hundreds of thousands of semi-permanent Covid test booths, with residents of all major cities having to take a Covid test at least once every 72 hours to enter a public place. According to CNN’s calculations, just one day of mass testing in Beijing costs at least $ 10 million.
Zero-Covid is “not cost-effective, and we all know that,” another health professional told The Lancet.
It is not just humans who are being mercilessly tested: viral videos of stray cats, dogs, postal packages, seafood, sewage and newborn infants are also being tested. Read also : This pet food is being pulled from Walmart and target shelves despite the scarcity – do not eat this.
It is a practice that continues even though international health authorities question the science behind it.
“The risk of transmission from surfaces is theoretical at best, not even measurable at this time,” said Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota.
“And it really fits into the picture of what we call hygiene theater, where doing this kind of testing leads one to believe that you are doing more to protect individuals … when you really are not,” he said.
“It’s useless, pointless and distracting.”
China, for its part, continues to claim that zero-covid is the only way to save people’s lives, given that only 61% of the elderly population has been fully vaccinated with a booster and that health resources are lacking in rural areas.
But even with these realities in mind, many experts say resources would have been better spent on increasing vaccination rates instead of building costly test sites and quarantine facilities.
They also question why China has still not approved any foreign mRNA vaccines – proven to be more effective against Omicron than the inactivated vaccines produced and used in China. (China’s homemade mRNA vaccines remain in the clinical trial phase).
The answer, many suspect, is also about politics rather than science.
Zero-Covid has “become a measure of the (Communist Party’s) profits and legitimacy, like economic growth statistics – proof that it can deliver real results to the Chinese people and therefore has the right to govern,” the Atlantic Council said in a recent report. .
A critical moment
If zero-Covid really is a matter of “hygiene theater”, then the big question is how long Beijing can keep the show on the road. This may interest you : 12 Best Transgender Books – Books with Transgender and Nonbinary Characters.
“We are in a critical moment,” said Yanzhong Huang, a senior fellow in global health at the Council on Foreign Relations. “Chinese leaders must decide whether to continue this very costly strategy of declining returns.”
For the time being, they appear to be prepared to stay the course, especially ahead of the Communist Party’s congress this autumn, when Xi is expected to move on to an almost unique third term.
But the inhabitants are losing patience.
While Shanghai ended its brutal two-month shutdown in early June, many communities are reintroducing confinement measures, and the mind is palpable.
A viral video – which has since been removed from Chinese social media – captured a recent protest at a Shanghai facility.
It shows residents crowded along the fence, demanding to be released and asking the authorities to stop sending Covid-negative residents to quarantine facilities, simply because they live in a building near a Covid-positive case.
One of them – who says through a loudspeaker: “We are being illegally imprisoned” – is immediately taken away by the authorities.
As he is pushed into the police car, he puts his hands in a prayer and says “thank you” to the outraged crowd, some of whom begin to sing: “freedom, democracy, equality and the rule of law” – officially part of the country’s “core socialist values” .
One of the residents sticks out the middle fingers of the Covid law enforcers in hazmat suits.
It is a show of rude defiance that resonates with many, who are desperate for a change in China’s zero-Covid policy.
What are the organs most affected by COVID‐19?
The lungs are the organs most affected by COVID-19
How does covid-19 infect the body? A virus infects your body by entering healthy cells. There, the intruder makes copies of himself and multiplies throughout your body. The new coronavirus locks its spiky surface proteins into receptors on healthy cells, especially those in your lungs.
What does COVID-19 do to the lungs?
COVID-19 can cause lung complications such as pneumonia and, in the most severe cases, acute respiratory distress syndrome or ARDS. Sepsis, another possible complication of COVID-19, can also cause permanent damage to the lungs and other organs.
What are the most common organs affected by COVID-19?
The lungs are the most important organs affected by COVID-19; however, the virus can also affect other organs, such as the kidneys, brain and liver. The lungs are the most important organs affected by covid-19.
Can the COVID-19 virus affect your kidneys?
Does COVID-19 affect the kidneys? It may. In addition to attacking the lungs, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 – officially called SARS-CoV-2 – can also cause serious and permanent damage to other organs, including the heart and kidneys.
What is asymptomatic transmission?
An asymptomatic laboratory-confirmed case is a person infected with COVID-19 who does not develop symptoms. Asymptomatic transmission refers to the transmission of the virus from a person who does not develop symptoms. There are few reports of laboratory-confirmed cases that are truly asymptomatic, and to date no asymptomatic transmission has been documented. This does not exclude the possibility that it may occur. Asymptomatic cases have been reported as part of contact tracing work in some countries.
What is the difference between people who have asymptomatic or presymptomatic COVID-19? Both terms refer to people who have no symptoms. The difference is that “asymptomatic” refers to people who are infected but never develop any symptoms, while “pre-symptomatic” refers to infected people who have not yet developed symptoms but who continue to develop symptoms later.
Is it possible to test positive for COVID-19 after symptoms appear?
“The high percentage of positive antigen test results within 5-9 days of symptom onset reinforces the importance of correct and consistent mask use during this period,” the CDC said.
Are you still contagious 10 days after the first day of COVID-19 symptoms?
So there is the potential for people to be contagious beyond their seven-day isolation if they are still symptomatic. After ten days, most people are not contagious. Several studies have shown that there is very little, if any, transmission after day ten, regardless of variant.
Can asymptomatic people transmit COVID-19?
Yes, infected people can transmit the virus both when they have symptoms and when they have no symptoms. This is why it is important that all people who are infected are identified by testing, isolated and, depending on the severity of the disease, receive medical treatment.
Can I get COVID-19 while swimming?
The COVID-19 virus is not transmitted through water while swimming. However, the virus spreads between people when someone has close contact with an infected person. WHAT YOU CAN DO: Avoid crowds and keep at least 1 meter away from others, even when swimming or swimming. Wear a mask when you are not in the water and you can not stay away. Clean your hands often, cover with a cough or sneeze with a napkin or bent elbow, and stay home if you are unwell.
Can soap and water remove COVID-19? Many types of bacteria and viruses, including the new coronavirus (COVID-19), can live on your hands and enter your body when you touch your eyes, nose or mouth, or the food you eat. Washing your hands regularly with soap and water is one of the most effective ways to remove these bacteria and avoid getting sick.
Can the coronavirus disease live on my skin?
A: Bacteria can live on different parts of your body, but the biggest concern here is your hands. Your hands are the ones most likely to come in contact with bacterial surfaces and then touch your face, which is a potential route of transmission for the virus. So even if no one suggests that someone take a break from the showers, you do not have to scrub your whole body several times a day as you should do with your hands.
Should I wear a mask while at the pool or at the beach during the COVID-19 pandemic?
The CDC says you should never wear a cloth mask while in the water. A cloth mask becomes heavy when it is wet, and this makes breathing difficult. Wear a mask when you are on the pool deck, accessing toilets and other public buildings, or interacting with others when you are not in the water.