First crown deaths in over a year: Cities are sending millions of people into solitary confinement

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Of: Christiane Kuehl


Blockade in front of a closed road in Shanghai: the city is still fighting against total lockdown © HECTOR RETAMAL / AFP

China reports first crown deaths since early 2021. Despite rising costs, China is sticking to zero-Covid policy despite Omicron. One reason: the vaccination rate among the elderly is low.

Update from March 20, 2022, 18:20: China is sending out millions more people in the current omicron wave. The city of Changchun, which has been cordoned off since March 11, tightened the lockdown on its nine million inhabitants for three days on Sunday. So far he has been allowed to leave the house every two days to go shopping.

For now, only medical and other personnel needed to fight the pandemic should be allowed to go outdoors. Changchun is the most affected capital of Jilin Province. Even in the province’s second largest city, also called Jilin, some 4.5 million people are unable to leave their homes for three days since Monday evening, local authorities announced on Sunday.

The number of cases is still high by Chinese standards. On Saturday and Sunday, authorities reported around 4,000 new infections across the country. Two thirds of this was in the Jilin hotspot. China is also continuing to work frantically to expand hospital capacities to avoid overloading the healthcare system. In Jilin province alone, eight makeshift hospitals and two quarantine centers have been set up. China is an emerging country and therefore does not have state-of-the-art hospitals everywhere.

China: first deaths in more than a year

Update from March 19, 2022, 9:30 am: China * reported two deaths per crown for the first time in over a year. Both Covid-19 patients died in the northeastern province of Jilin, the National Health Commission said Saturday. Jilin is the province most affected by the current surge. Authorities have now set up eight makeshift hospitals and two quarantine centers there. Because normally in the province there are only about 23,000 beds for about 24 million inhabitants.

This shows the enormous effort that many regions must make to strictly fight the crown. Apparently, this is draining municipalities’ finances more and more. During the first outbreak in early 2020, the central government had allocated funds to help local governments fight the pandemic. But from 2021, local authorities have to bear these costs themselves.

The People’s Republic reported the latest corona death on January 26, 2021. A total of 4,638 people have died from or from the corona virus in China since the start of the pandemic. The number of new infections nationwide was 4051 on Saturday, slightly lower than on Friday with 4365.

Shenzhen: easing of the lockdown for the crown

First report of March 18, 2022: Shenzhen / Munich – South China’s economic metropolis of Shenzhen * has loosened its tight crown lockdown. In the city of 17 million, completely closed since Sunday, factories and other businesses in four districts and a special economic zone can return to work, authorities said. IPhone maker Foxconn had already resumed production on Thursday * after creating a sort of “bubble” for employees.

But the current Omicron wave is far from over. On Friday, health authorities reported 4,365 new infections nationwide. The numbers are now rising again after a mid-week decline. Meanwhile, the top Chinese government continues to insist on zero tolerance for the virus. On Thursday, the head of state Xi Jinping * stressed the need to put people’s lives first and to “adhere to the dynamic zero-COVID strategy with scientific and targeted measures”. Xi also called for “minimizing” the impact of the pandemic on the country’s economy.

Several cities are still in isolation, and authorities across the country are using mass testing and various restrictions to combat local sources of infection. This now also extends to some rural regions.

A Chinese health worker tests a farmer for coronavirus while working in the fields.
PCR testing in the field: controlling the rural pandemic in China © Sun Zhenghao / Imago / Xinhua

One reason for the government’s continued nervousness is likely the low vaccination rate among older people in China. Only about 51 percent of those over 80 had received two vaccinations, health officials said in Beijing on Friday. Each fifth is empowered. This is the first time that China has broken down vaccination coverage by age group. In Hong Kong, many older people have already become seriously ill and have died in the current severe corona outbreak due to the low vaccination rate *. A total of 87.9 percent of China’s 1.4 billion people have been vaccinated twice, authorities said. This is a relatively high percentage. But no one knows exactly how well Chinese vaccines protect against the omicron variant.

China: First adjustments in the fight against the pandemic

But there are early signs of a behind-the-scenes debate. Individual Chinese scientists and experts in recent weeks have repeatedly expressed doubts about the zero-Covid policy due to the economic and social consequences of the ever new lockdowns and mass tests.

There are also the first cautious adjustments in the fight against the pandemic. Health authorities announced Friday that they would adjust the threshold for the so-called ct value for a result classified as positive by international standards in PCR tests. This ct value (cycle threshold value) indicates the viral load of an infected person and also shows the risk posed by this person. In China previously a ct value of 40 was used. But now it should be 35 according to international standards. During the Olympic Games, different PCR test ratings caused displeasure * among several delegations of athletes. People who have tested positive with only mild symptoms or no symptoms should only move to quarantine centers instead of special clinics. Other beds must be kept free for the seriously ill.

Shenzhen: easing also due to concerns about the economic consequences

Apparently, the economic consequences of lockdowns are also being taken into greater consideration. Shenzhen is a major industrial and technological hub with a large container port. Many companies have had to temporarily stop production; As a result, stock market prices plummeted in neighboring Hong Kong. The easing that has now been announced is intended to “reconcile epidemic prevention and control” with “economic and social development,” as announced by Corona’s city crisis team. The coronavirus situation in Shenzhen is still “serious” but “controllable”. (ck / AFP) * is an offer of IPPEN.MEDIA.

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