China’s leaders recommit to ‘unswerving’ zero-Covid policy

Updated on Nov 10, 2022 08:54 PM IST

China is fighting its biggest wave of locally transmitted cases in six months, with nearly 9,000 infections reported on Thursday

This file photo taken in October shows an employee working on an assembly line producing speakers at a factory in Fuyang city, in China's eastern Anhui province. Factory gate prices in China were down for the first time in nearly two years last month, official data showed on Wednesday, as falling global commodity prices made their mark on an economy ailing under strict Covid controls. (AFP)
This file photo taken in October shows an employee working on an assembly line producing speakers at a factory in Fuyang city, in China's eastern Anhui province. Factory gate prices in China were down for the first time in nearly two years last month, official data showed on Wednesday, as falling global commodity prices made their mark on an economy ailing under strict Covid controls. (AFP)

China’s top leadership, led by President Xi Jinping, on Thursday reinforced the need to maintain the ‘zero-Covid’ policy while instructing officials to minimise economic damage.

In a meeting of the new Politburo Standing Committee chaired by Xi, who is the Communist Party of China’s general-secretary, the members called for “more decisive” measures to curb the spread of the virus so that normal life and production can be resumed as soon as possible.

“We must concentrate our efforts on fighting the epidemic in key areas, take more resolute and decisive measures to combat the epidemic, curb the spread of the epidemic as soon as possible, and restore normal production and living order as soon as possible,” the official news agency, Xinhua, said in a report on the meeting.

It was the new committee’s first publicised meeting on Covid-19 after seven new members took over the leadership of the country at the CPC’s 20th national congress in October.

“We must not relax the necessary epidemic prevention initiatives,” the leadership decided, the Xinhua report said, indicating that there will be no let-up in the controversial “zero-Covid” policy, which, with its lockdowns and mass testing, has managed to keep infection rates low, simultaneously but hurt the economy and disrupted the lives of people across the country.

The decision of the committee comes against the backdrop of at least 9,005 new Covid-19 cases reported for Wednesday, of which 1,185 symptomatic and 7,820 asymptomatic cases, the national health commission said in its daily bulletin on Thursday.

The cases rose when compared with the 8,335 new cases that were a day earlier (with 1,346 symptomatic and 6,989 asymptomatic infections).

Chinese health officials have said the outbreak situation is likely to get worse during the coming winter and country’s leadership reaffirmed that apprehension.

“Affected by the mutation of the virus and climatic factors in winter and spring, the scope and scale of the spread of the epidemic are likely to further expand, and the prevention and control situation is still grim,” the Politburo committee said at the Thursday meeting, adding, “It is necessary to maintain strategic determination and scientifically and accurately do a good job in epidemic prevention and control.”

China’s southern metropolis Guangzhou has been hit the hardest, with its current outbreak being described as the “most complicated and severe” Covid-19 epidemic in three years. In November, the capital of economic powerhouse Guangdong cases top 12,000.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Sutirtho Patranobis has been in Beijing since 2012, as Hindustan Times’ China correspondent. He was previously posted in Colombo, Sri Lanka, where he covered the final phase of the civil war and its aftermath. Patranobis covered several beats including health and national politics in Delhi before being posted abroad.

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