A staff member disinfects the construction site of a temporary hospital at the National Exhibition and Convention Center (Shanghai) in east China's Shanghai, April 8, 2022. (Xinhua/Jin Liwang)
BEIJING, April 11 (Xinhua) -- China has reported over 270,000 new locally transmitted COVID-19 cases and asymptomatic infections since March, with its economic hub Shanghai battling the worst resurgence where more than 20,000 infections are now added daily.
In the face of such a grave situation since the start of the pandemic, China adhered to its dynamic zero-COVID policy to contain the virus, enhance people's well-being and promote long-term growth.
DYNAMIC ZERO-COVID REMAINS BEST CHOICE
Since the resurgence of COVID-19 cases, attributable to the highly transmissible Omicron variant, many countries are intending to relax or have already loosened anti-epidemic restrictions, calling the virus a "big flu."
However, facts have shown that COVID-19 has caused more deaths among elderly people than flu globally.
The case fatality rate for the elderly caused by COVID-19 is dozens of times higher than normal flu, and even nearly 100 times higher for people aged over 80, said leading epidemiologist Liang Wannian in an interview.
More than 50 million of China's 267 million population aged 60 and above have yet to be fully vaccinated against the virus.
Once infected, the elderly -- the group that is especially vulnerable to COVID-19 -- will see higher severe case and death rates than other groups, according to Zheng Zhongwei with the vaccine research and development working group under the State Council's inter-agency task force.
If China gives up on epidemic prevention and relies entirely on treatment of symptoms, the medical system would run the risk of being overwhelmed, said Ma Xiaowei, director of the National Health Commission (NHC).
"The dynamic zero-COVID policy has proven to be the most effective strategy after rounds of hard battles with highly contagious variants," said Ma, adding that China's approach to epidemic containment is not based on a single specific measure, but relies on science-based decision-making and highly efficient coordination.
COSTS AND GAINS IN LARGER CONTEXT
On the economic front, implementing a dynamic zero-COVID policy to cope with local infection clusters has created favorable conditions for China's development and facilitated its quick economic recovery from the pandemic.
In 2020, China was among the first countries to bring the pandemic under control and resume positive economic growth. In 2021, it registered a GDP growth of 8.1 percent, leading major economies in terms of economic growth.
Shanghai has been the worst-hit city in the current COVID-19 resurgence in China. Businesses and people's lives in the metropolis with a population of 25 million have been affected by temporary closed-off management measures.
But, in the larger scheme of things, preventing the epidemic from spreading to other regions means work and production in the rest of the country can continue normally with a stable economic and social environment.
"If we are not firm about the dynamic zero-COVID policy, China may miss the best time to stem the resurgence of cases, which may lead to higher costs and unbearable consequences," said Liang, also head of the COVID-19 response expert panel under the NHC.
China has always placed the health and the lives of people on the top in its fight against the virus, and it is the primary standard in accessing the epidemic control efforts.
China has spared no effort to increase its capacity for treating novel coronavirus infections. On Saturday, a huge temporary treatment center, converted from the National Exhibition and Convention Center (Shanghai), was put into use with about 50,000 beds.
HOW PEOPLE'S LIVELIHOODS ENSURED
China seeks to obtain the greatest results possible in epidemic containment at the lowest possible expense and with the least possible impact on economic and social development.
Some Shanghai residents now face difficulties in purchasing daily essentials and seeking medical services, among other challenges. To address these issues, additional efforts are afoot in a bid to safeguard people's livelihoods.
"We are doing everything possible to maintain the stability of the transport, stocks of goods and supply chains," said Liu Min, deputy director of the municipal commission of commerce, adding that supermarkets and e-commerce giants have joined forces to assist Shanghai in ensuring daily delivery of supplies.
On the primary battleground against the virus, specific care has also been offered to elderly residents including opening a green channel for them to access medicine, while measures are also in place to meet people's need for medical treatment. ■