Will China coexist with COVID-19 after the surge in cases this spring?

Shanghai is entering the third week of its tight lockdown which started on 28 March. The city reported 914 new confirmed COVID cases on Monday, with the number of new asymptomatic cases standing at 25,173.

Guangzhou in Southern China also shut down the city to most arrivals today, 11 April, in order to battle the COVID-19 surge. It launched citywide testing of its 15 million residents, introducing new restrictions and building makeshift hospitals.

Some voices are saying “China should coexist with COVID-19 due to high vaccination coverage” or “Omicron is just like a flu” as the statistics show that a total of 197 severe cases, mostly driven by Omicron and its sub-variant in China were reported from January to March this year, according to Wu Zunyou, Chief Epidemiologist of the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.

With the 26 million residents under lockdown in Shanghai complaining of food shortages and uncertainty on when the lockdown curbs may end, the voices are getting more advocators, and calls into question whether China should insist on a dynamic zero-COVID policy.

According to Chinese authorities, the dynamic zero-COVID strategy is still the best approach for China to contain the virus. Zhong Nanshan, the country’s top respiratory diseases expert, said that the key issue in the prevention and control of Omicron is to minimise the spread and fatality rate. Although Omicron has a lower fatality rate, it’s still highly infectious. If there is a large-scale outbreak, the strain can lead to many deaths.

“Fully opening up doesn’t fit China’s situation. The country should stick to the dynamic zero-COVID strategy and ease restrictions gradually in the future.” Zhong said.

The coronavirus is constantly mutating. With China’s dynamic zero-COVID policy, it is expected that the lockdowns in some cities could last longer than we thought. 


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