The country has some of the strictest entry requirements in the world, requiring most incoming travelers to spend at least 14 days in a government quarantine facility, followed by seven days of home isolation. On Tuesday, the National Health Commission said incoming visitors only needed to spend seven days in a quarantine facility and three days at home.
No start date has been provided for the new move, nor is it seen as a sign of the imminent end of China’s strict “zero-Covid” policy, which has seen communities and cities closed for only a handful of coronavirus cases.
On Tuesday, Chinese President Xi Jinping reaffirmed the country’s “zero-Covid” policy during his visit to Wuhan, saying he would rather “temporarily sacrifice some economic growth” than “harm people’s health”. , reported the official Xinhua news agency.
Today, the world’s most populous nation remains an exception for its continued zero-tolerance approach, which has seen cities across China – including Beijing and Shanghai – recently placed on full or partial lockdown. The strategy has destroyed economic activities and harmed the labor market. In May, the unemployment rate for 16-24 year olds reached a record 18.4%.
Having backed into a corner with their earlier rhetoric, China’s leaders feel unable to change course – even in light of more transmissible coronavirus variants like Omicron – without losing face. When the head of the World Health Organization (WHO), Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, called the strategy “unsustainable” in May, his comments were scrubbed from the internet by Chinese censors.
The Beijing Daily deleted the quote, calling it an “editing error”, and the reference to it was removed from the internet as Chinese censors sought to quell a huge backlash online. CNN reviewed the entire speech and although the published quote from the Beijing Daily was misleading, Beijing party leader Cai Qi discussed at length the possibility of keeping zero-Covid policies in place in the capital. over the next five years.
Pandemic controls that would remain in place include routine PCR testing, strict entry rules, regular health checks in residential neighborhoods and public places, and rigorous monitoring and testing for people entering and leaving. from Beijing, Cai told state media.
Questions arise over how long Beijing can keep politics on the road as citizens lose patience. As Shanghai ended its brutal two-month lockdown in early June, many communities are reintroducing lockdown measures. A viral video – which has since been deleted from Chinese social media – captured a recent protest at a Shanghai resort.
It shows residents huddled along the fence, demanding to be released and pleading with authorities to stop sending Covid-negative residents to quarantine facilities just because they live in a building near a positive case of Covid. One of them – who says over the loudspeaker: “We are illegally imprisoned” – is quickly taken away by the authorities. Another raises the middle finger to Covid enforcers in hazmat suits.
Despite palpable public anger, NHC spokesman Mi Feng said on Tuesday that the new quarantine requirements were not intended to relax Covid controls, but rather to promote “more scientific and targeted” measures. .
YOU ASKED. WE ANSWERED.
Q: How effective are the updated Covid-19 boosters against the Omicron variant?
Pfizer President and CEO Albert Bourla said in a press release that they believe they have “two very potent Omicron-modified candidates that elicit a significantly higher immune response against Omicron than we have seen at this day”.
The study looked at two different dose levels – 30 micrograms and 60 micrograms – in more than 1,000 adults aged 56 and older. The current dosage for this age group is 30 micrograms for primary and booster injections. A fourth boost, across both dose levels, showed a significantly higher immune response.
READINGS OF THE WEEK
FDA advisers vote to include Omicron-specific component for recall as BA.4 and BA.5 become leading cause of infections in US
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Independent Advisory Committee on Vaccines and Related Biologicals voted on Tuesday to support the recommendation to include an Omicron-specific component for a Covid-19 booster vaccine.
In the past week alone, BA.4 and BA.5 accounted for around 52.3% of Covid-19 cases in the United States – up 37.4% from the previous week. These subvariants are genetically different from other versions of the virus. Several studies have shown that BA.4 and BA.5 are able to evade much of the immune protection from vaccines and previous infections, which likely helps them spread quickly.
The severity of the virus varies by country. In South Africa, its BA.4/BA.5 wave led to an increase in Covid-19 cases but did not increase the risk of hospitalization. In Europe, cases and hospitalizations are increasing as BA.4 and BA.5 become the dominant strain. It remains to be seen what the impact will be in the United States.
Long Covid can affect children, including infants
The study, published in The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health, found children who had previously tested positive were more likely to have at least one symptom for two or more months compared to children who had never tested positive. . Symptoms of long Covid include headaches, mood swings, stomach issues and fatigue. The most common symptoms varied by age.
“Although the chances of children experiencing long Covid are low, especially compared to the control group, it should be recognized and treated seriously,” Selina Kikkenborg Berg, study co-author and professor of cardiology at Rigshospitalet in Copenhagen, Denmark, said, adding that their findings aligned with previous studies looking at long Covid.
Covid still keeps hospitals backed up
Most nursing homes are limiting the number of new patients due to understaffing, which is prolonging the average hospital stay compared to before the pandemic.
In Washington, about 10% of patients currently hospitalized no longer need hospital care, said Cassie Sauer, chief executive of the Washington State Hospital Association. Most are waiting for a place in a nursing home or mental health facility.
Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows hundreds of thousands of workers have left the nursing home industry since the pandemic began. More than 60% of nursing homes are limiting new admissions due to a lack of staff, according to a survey by the American Health Care Association in May, with most saying the situation has worsened since January.
Mark Parkinson, president and CEO of the American Health Care Association, said the pandemic has “made it even harder to do a really tough job.”
People with poor vision or blindness can now register for free at-home Covid-19 test kits in the United States.
White House Covid-19 response coordinator Dr Ashish Jha said “a persistently raised issue was that people who are blind or partially sighted are often unable to use rapid self-tests themselves”.
On Thursday, the Biden administration rolled out tests designed to be more accessible to the visually impaired, and they can be ordered for free from Covidtests.gov – which ships the tests through the US Postal Service.