Thursday, September 28

China claims zero tolerance after omicron wave

The 13 million inhabitants from Xian will pass the next 14 days at home, with one member per family going out to buy every two days the essentials, and numerous PCRs on the horizon. Few in that northwestern city that the Terracotta warriors put on the map have been surprised. The confinement in China is imperative when 143 cases are added in two weeks, figures as ridiculous in contrast to the global ones as lacerating for a country hell-bent on expelling the virus.

China does not count waves but sporadic and localized outbreaks that are diligently quenched. It remains true to its zero tolerance policy ever since news of a rare pneumonia arrived in Wuhan. Australia, New Zealand and Singapore replicated the recipe and succumbed. Only China today opposes live together with the virus, reaffirmed in her convictions in the face of a world that opened its doors when she glimpsed the end of tunnel to close them before him onslaught of the omicron variant.

Discounting those specific outbreaks, the presumed cradle of the coronavirus has lived without it for two years. Only the masks and the control of the health code on the telephone at the entrance of public establishments recall the pandemic. The model includes strict controls and hotel quarantines for two or three weeks for arrivals from abroad and mass tests and lockdowns when a single case emerges. The risk of contagion is infinitesimal in China and it only reveals the spatio-temporal coincidence with a positive. A senior executive lamented to this newspaper for having completed three weeks of home confinement after having had a coffee in a Pekingese hotel in which a infected person had stayed two days ago.

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The common good

They are annoyances that are assumed with the certainty that serve the common good and that the formula works. A glance at the world is enough for the Chinese, with that endless dynamic of openings and closings that costs lives and ruins the economy, to vindicate their system.

The omicron explosion has ended a debate that the Government never allowed to reach flight. In summer, when the pandemic in the world subsided, many invited China to join the ola aperturista and they disdained its measurements like fuss facing the gallery. Even reputed Chinese epidemiologists like Zhang Wenhong They asked the country to learn to live with the virus and will retire zero tolerance as costly and unrealistic. The hypothesis was far-fetched at the start of the pandemic but sounded more reasonable with the massive vaccination campaigns. The government responded to the requests by building a macrohotel in Guangzhou, the main gateway to the country.

China has plenty of reasons for restlessness. It is a vast and unequal country, with hospital networks of the highest standards in the cities, but still lacking in rural areas. The current mortality rates are manageable in Europe but transferred to a country with 1,400 million inhabitants would suppose indigestible figures. A study by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in China anticipated tragedy if the country copied the strategies of the United States, the United Kingdom, Israel or Spain. “The estimates reveal the possibility of a colossal outbreak that would almost certainly cause an unacceptable burden on the medical system ”, he stated. He added that China should not assume the opening “relying on the hypothesis of herd immunity induced by the vaccination campaigns defended by several European countries.” The study dates from mid-November and the subsequent omicron tsunami is unlikely to have reassured authorities.

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Six cases of omicron

Only six cases of the new variant have been registered in China, spread over three cities, but they have been enough to underline the difficulty of shielding against it. One of them corresponds to a traveler who passed the tests prior to flying to China and those practiced during his two weeks of quarantine at the hotel. He only tested positive in the test to which he was subjected in his first week of quarantine at home and in a few hours, its 13,000 closest neighbors had to be analyzed.

The high propagation capacity of the new variants and the risk of an unacceptable outbreak ensure the validity of the model. Zhong Nanshan, the chief epidemiologist, has clarified that China will only relax its response when the pandemic has subsided in the world and the death rate of the coronavirus equals that of the common flu. None of the goals seem imminent. Until then, China will continue to sin excessively, a formula that has not been bad for it.

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