How China Succeeded In Stamping Out Its Latest COVID Outbreak
Just over a month after the most broad-based COVID outbreak since the original outbreak in Wuhan, China is claiming to have virtually eliminated the virus for the umpteenth time, claiming that its draconian lockdowns, mass testing and vaccinations and travel restrictions have helped lower the number of new local cases to 0 as of Monday.
But as Bloomberg pointed out, “it was more difficult this time”, given the more virulent nature of the delta variant. Beijing’s “success” shows that the China model may be what it takes to get COVID under control, raising questions about whether other countries are willing to take such draconian steps. Australia is even starting to rethink its dedication to the “COVID Zero” ideology.
While Beijing is likely suppressing case numbers (and we strongly doubt that local transmission has been completely eliminated), Bloomberg decided to review all the actions taken by Beijing over the past month that allowed them to reach this point. And the first strategy on BBG’s list? Mass testing, which Beijing rolled out at “unprecedented” levels.
Quarantines also played a larger role. At one point, Beijing was sealed off from other places with even a single case. It also cut off trains and flights from hotspots around the country, even though the city ultimately recorded fewer than 10 cases during the latest flareup.
Curbs introduced in other regions include: barring entry for people from high-risk areas and asking them to cut short vacations. Most had to remain isolated at home, which was strictly enforced, before returning to work and school. More than 200 neighborhoods were labeled high- or medium-risk, disrupting millions of lives, and thousands of businesses.
The blazing spread of the delta variant across the country became the biggest test of China’s COVID control model. Ultimately, it penetrated nearly 50 cities across 17 provinces and reintroduced the virus to Wuhan, which has been COVID free for more than a year.
The latest outbreak is also unique in that investment banks scrambled to assess its potential impact on China’s domestic economy. Banks like Goldman Sachs (which slashed its China GDP outlook during the outbreak) shared data from foot traffic trackers and other sources of instant economic data. While the investment banks prophesied that consumption would take a major hit, Bloomberg showed the outbreak also weighed on industrial production.
Finally, still, China eliminated the virus in about a month, roughly the same time it took to quell previous outbreaks including one at the start of 2021. By comparison, cities in Australia have undergone repeated lockdowns, keeping more than half of the country’s 26MM people confined to their homes and eliciting a popular backlash – with far less success. In fact, case numbers across China have seemed to increase as the lockdowns became harsher and more widespread.
While China imposed more restrictive lockdowns and testing, there’s another important differentiating factor that Bloomberg is ignoring here: Beijing has much more control over the numbers and the press than the Australian government does.
Is the American press really suggesting that we should believe the COVID numbers coming out of China?
Tue, 08/24/2021 – 17:45
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