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Dynamic zero-COVID: a MUST approach for China

(From Chinese Consulate General in Durban)

2022-07-15 17:44

OnJuly 14, 2022, Independent Online (IOL) of South Africa carried an article by Consul General Fei Mingxing entitled "Dynamic zero-COVID: a MUST approach for China".

The full text is as follows:

Coming back from my annual leave from China recently, I have been frequently asked about China’s approach of containing COVID-19. Based on my personal experience and observation, the dynamic zero-COVID policy is a MUST for China.

M: Matter of Life and death

M means masks obviously, yet it means more matter of life and death.

The Communist Party of China (CPC) has always been putting people's well-being in paramount position throughout its history. Chinese Communists are willing to sacrifice everything, including their lives, for the interests of the people.

"Safety and health are the prerequisite for human development and progress.” Xi Jinping, general secretary of CPC Central Committee stressed.

Facing the ravaging pandemic, the CPC gave top priority to protecting people's life and health.Its members have acted as the vanguard. More than 39 million of them fought the virus at the front line, and more than 13 millionvolunteered their services. Nearly 400 members have defended others' lives and safety at the cost of their own.

China's zero-COVID strategy protects people’s lives.Both the infection rate and mortality rate in China are the lowest in the world.China could face 1.55 million COVID-19 deaths if it abandoned the current dynamic zero-COVID policy, according to a new study published in Nature Medicine recently.

U: United against the virus

Pandemic has no boundary and discriminates no one. It takes each one of us in a society and in the international community to battle the virus.

The 1.4 billion Chinese people, irrespective of their gender, age and occupation, have plunged themselves into the battle against the epidemic.

Resilient and united, they represent a formidable force.

I saw Beijing taking strict control and prevention measures and conducting several rounds of mass nucleic acid testing in targeted areas to curb the COVID-19 outbreak in May.

People presented a negative result within 48 hours of taking a nucleic acid testto enter public places. Restaurants suspended dine-in services and instead offered food delivery for customers in controlled areas where cases were found. Individuals either served as residential community working staff, medical staff, volunteers or participants of mass nucleic acid testing. Nucleic acid tests were easy accessible to citizens within walking distance.

Early 2020, China rallied 346 national medical teams, consisting of 42,600 medical workers and more than 900 public health professionals to the immediate aid of Hubei and the city of Wuhan.

When Shanghai battled COVID-19 this year, its neighboring province Zhejiang alone received 12,111 people who were close contacts and secondary close contacts of Shanghai cases. Vegetables and other daily necessities were pooled from all over China to Shanghai.

Since the onset of the fifth wave of the epidemic, the central government had sent five batches of mainland experts to Hong Kong to work with the regional government.

President Xi Jingping called on building a global community of health for all.China has provided hundreds of billions of anti pandemic supplies to 153 countries and 15 international organizatio, supplied 2.2 billion doses of vaccines to more than 120 countries and international organizations, sent 37 medical expert teams to 34 countries, and shared experiences in pandemic prevention and control with more than 180 countries and international organizations.

S: Science-based

The best weapon for virus is science. China's dynamic zero-COVID approach is science-based and rooted in China's realities.

It targets domestic flare-ups through timely actions before the virus becomes uncontainable and causes greater damage to people's lives by focusing on the source of infection, the route of transmission and the vulnerable groups in epidemic prevention and control efforts.

Strong measures are taken to control sources of infection.The Chinese government defined a set of requirements: early detection, reporting, quarantine and treatment with a focus on the four categories of vulnerable people (confirmed cases, suspected cases, febrile patients who might be carriers, and close contacts).

Scientific and technological breakthroughs, such as the development of rapid test reagents, vaccines and anti-virus drugs, have provided China with adequate tools for its prevention and control efforts against COVID-19.

Both Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and Western medicine areapplied. TCM has played its part in the entire process of COVID-19 response, from early intervention to case-specific treatment. Chinese herbal formulas and drugs were administered to more than 90 percent of confirmed cases.

To control inbound infections from overseas, China has strictly enforced its border health and quarantine rules to ensure a full, closed cycle of management of all arrivals, from their entry at the border to the doorstep of where they would stay.

The updated national-level protocol is the latest example of how China's anti-COVID efforts are based on science. According to its ninth edition of protocol released in June, close contacts and inbound travelers will be under medical observation in isolation at designated sites for seven days followed by three days of in-home health monitoring, significantly reducing the quarantine time.Sub-close contacts will undergo seven days of medical observation under home quarantine, instead of seven days of medical observation in isolation at designated sites.

T: Targeted

The essence of China’s dynamic zero-COVID approach features swift and targeted response measures to prevent community spreading. Once an outbreak is detected, a range of measures are available to nip it in the bud.

Applying big data technology, an "epidemic map" is created to display the specific names and locations of the communities where cases have been reported and the number of infections that has been ascertained.

Mass nucleic acid testing are conducted in areas related to the cases. Response measures are timely modified and optimized to make them more effective. The COVID-19 prevention and control protocol has been updated 9 times based on assessments of the evolving epidemic dynamics. Fifteen technical manuals on epidemic prevention and control have been published for key population groups, locations and organizations.

In conducting nucleic acid tests, the first line of defense in epidemic containment, China can now finish mass tests in large cities with more than 10 million people within 24 hours. The country has also improved its targeted quarantine policies and can implement differentiated measures based on each region's risk level to best suit local conditions.

A "Great Wall of Immunity" has been built. Nearly 90 percent of the country's total population had been vaccinated.To stop the spread of the virus at the border, China has adopted differentiated measures from port to port, which include setting up buffer zones and conducting non-contact cargo delivery.

To cut transmission chains fast, every provincial-level region is required to have two or three makeshift hospitals that can be erected and put into service in two days.

From diagnosis and treatment protocols to nucleic acid tests, China's response is constantly adjusted to new situations.To complete the task, coordinated efforts on multiple economic fronts from farmland to factories are needed.

"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," China's leading epidemiologist Liang Wannian said.

According to the National Bureau of Statistics of China, China’s purchasing manager index (PMI) for manufacturing for May 2022 rose to 50.90 percent, the fourth straight month above the expection line. It speaks a lot on China’s dynamic-zero COVID approach.

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