World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Tuesday said that China's "zero-COVID" strategy isn't sustainable given the virus' ever-evolving nature. Speaking at a media briefing, the WHO chief said, "When we talk about the zero-COVID strategy, we don't think that it's sustainable, considering the behaviour of the virus now and what we anticipate in the future."
China's draconian measures have trapped most of Shanghai's 25 million people at home for weeks as China combats the country's worst outbreak since the pandemic began. The Shanghai lockdown has caused outrage and protest. In the garb of tackling the COVID-19 pandemic, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is using the Shanghai lockdown to implement the most draconian of its surveillance and authoritarian systems, the kinds of which were only seen in far-off provinces like Xinjiang till now. Tedros said WHO officials have spoken to Chinese experts about the policy.
The extreme measures have saved lives, but they've also led to food shortages, a lack of workers, and movement restrictions. "We have discussed this issue with Chinese experts and we indicated that the approach will not be sustainable ... I think a shift would be very important," said the WHO chief.
He further stated that transiting to another strategy will be very important. "I think a shift will be very important. ... Now we know a lot about the virus and we have better tools, so these are the additional opportunities that we have to make a shift," said Tedros. Meanwhile, Chinese President Xi Jinping during a meeting with top leaders said the country will stick to its strategy, and officials vowed to "resolutely fight" against any questioning of its virus control policies. "We have won the battle to defend Wuhan, and can certainly win the battle to defend Shanghai," read the official readout.
In March, China instituted a lockdown in Shanghai, its largest city and financial capital, to tamp down a rise in cases. Shanghai authorities two weeks later eased the lockdown amid a food crisis that saw residents scrambling for access to food and medicine. Shanghai officials again tightened pandemic restrictions on Tuesday.
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