• Thu. Jul 7th, 2022

China’s health minister rules out relaxation of Covid rules: Report

BySkintu

Apr 18, 2022

China’s health minister Ma Xiaowei, in an article published on Monday, ruled out easing China’s current policies on containing Covid outbreaks, and pledged even tougher measures to prevent major clusters of the disease from breaking out, according to a report by the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post (SCMP).

In an article published on the front page of the Study Times, an important journal of the Communist Party of China (CPC), Ma urged the country to stick to the dynamic zero policy and take a clear-cut stand against “erroneous” thoughts of “coexisting with the virus”, SCMP reported.

Ma said there will be no relaxation of rules ahead of the twice-in-a-decade CPC Congress, a reshuffle of the top leadership where President Xi Jinping is expected to secure a unprecedented third term. It is expected to be held in the second half of 2022.

This means China is likely to keep its international borders closed, allowing only a handful of cross-border flights, and tackle Covid-19 clusters with snap lockdowns and mass testing until, at least the end of the Congress., , , , ,

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Ma said the country should coordinate its moves like a chess game to keep optimising prevention and control measures to achieve “zero society Covid”, a new term for confining all infections to ”those in quarantine or a controlled population”, the report said.

“The bottom line is to prevent a large-scale rebound in cases and consolidate the hard-won results of pandemic control to welcome the opening of the five-yearly congress, expected in the second half of the year”, Ma said in the commentary, as per the SCMP report.

It was wrong to think of Covid-19 as “just like flu” or “we should live with Covid”, he said.

“The big test continues. There must not be the slightest relaxation. Healthcare systems around the country must remain in an emergency state,” he wrote, according to SCMP.

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“Any relaxation or reduction in requirements, any formalism or bureaucracy, any loopholes the size of a needle will result in an ignition point of the epidemic, which means paying dozens or even hundreds of times the price.”

Ma’s statement comes as China experiences its worst Covid outbreak since 2020 in Shanghai, where Beijing’s Covid containment policies have come into question for failing to check the spread of infections and triggering shortages of food and daily supplies.

Experts have questioned if China’s hardline dynamic zero policy is sustainable in tackling more transmissible, but milder variants, like Omicron.

Opinion pieces and analysis in Chinese state media have acknowledged that large Covid-19 outbreaks would severely strain the country’s health care system, and especially be risky for the approximately 264 million vulnerable elderly.

“The Omicron mutant strain is highly contagious and can produce a large number of infected people in a short period of time, triggering a rapid increase in the demand for resources for epidemic prevention and control,” Ma said.

“The lack of isolation facilities is the most prominent problem. It is impossible to talk about an effective response to the Omicron epidemic without solving the problem of isolation, or the health care system providing continuous and stable daily medical services for the public without isolating the asymptomatic mildly-ill patients in makeshift hospitals,” Ma wrote, according to SCMP.

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