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A resident undergoes a Covid-19 test in Hangzhou. Photo: AFP

China can win Covid-19 battle – but don’t rush things, top Chinese disease experts warn

  • Zhang Wenhong and Zhong Nanshan both see a gradual easing of pandemic, but highlight need for sustained drugs and vaccines push
  • China remains the only country still insisting on a ‘dynamic zero case’ policy against Covid-19
The worst of the Covid-19 pandemic will be over gradually and China is well placed to handle it, two of the country’s top respiratory experts said.

However, both also warned against a rushed approach to achieving post-pandemic normality.

China would rather take a longer time before it can allow life to return to normal in order to keep the mortality rate low, Zhang Wenhong at Shanghai’s Fudan University said on social media, even as he expressed confidence in the ultimate defeat of the coronavirus.
Zhang Wenhong. Photo: Weibo WEIBO

“The worst days are gradually ending. China knows well how to tackle this virus and it should not rush [into things],” Zhang posted on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like microblogging platform.

“If we want to get over this pandemic with an extremely low death rate, [we must accept that] it will take a longer time.”

Leading epidemiologist Zhong Nanshan, who helped to shape China’s Covid-19 battle, also said that the country was heading steadily towards “normal life”.

“We will transition and get over the pandemic period in appropriate time, and return to normal life in a step-by-step manner,” Zhong said in a Lunar New Year message on his official WeChat account.

As most of the world transitions to a “living with Covid” policy, and with at least two European countries scrapping pandemic restrictions altogether, China remains the only nation steadfastly committed to a “dynamic zero case” approach”.

Zhong Nanshan. Photo: Handout

The government has pumped massive resources and manpower into efforts to contain multiple sporadic outbreaks in different parts of the country, even though 87 per cent of its population are fully vaccinated.

But vaccination alone is not enough, Zhang said in his message on Tuesday. That is because the mortality rate among the elderly population remained high even after three vaccine doses, which meant targeted drugs would be needed before life in China could return to normal.

Special attention should be given to high-risk groups, involving both vaccination and therapeutics, he warned.


“In the future, China can certainly achieve low mortality and avoid having its health care system overwhelmed through therapeutics and pandemic control measures,” he wrote, adding that existing measures were helping the country press on towards the resumption of normal life.

Chinese researchers say their ‘godsend’ antibody may neutralise Omicron

Vaccination was still the most important safeguard against severe illness and death, Zhang said, noting that the mortality rate among the unvaccinated remained high.


Zhang, head of the Centre of Infectious Diseases at Fudan University’s Huashan Hospital, said all patients admitted in the recent outbreak were in stable condition.

“This would have been unimaginable during the past two Chinese new years,” he said.


China ushers in Year of the Tiger with lights, parades and traditional Lunar New Year celebrations

China ushers in Year of the Tiger with lights, parades and traditional Lunar New Year celebrations

After weeks of extreme Covid-19 measures, locally transmitted infections have fallen in China. Of 36 new cases reported on Tuesday, Hangzhou topped the list with 15.

Meanwhile, the tech hub of Shenzhen in southern Guangdong province is reporting a new outbreak after detecting a local Omicron case on Monday with a different strain from that behind recent outbreaks in other parts of the country.

Guangdong on Tuesday detected six confirmed cases, two of those in Shenzhen, which also accounted for one among the four asymptomatic cases in the province. All were identified in screening among close contacts and high-risk groups relating to the earlier confirmed case.

The posts from Zhang and Zhong came days after a senior adviser to Beijing on the coronavirus pandemic, Zeng Guang, warned of “ catastrophic consequences” for China if it “blindly” followed a World Health Organization recommendation to ease international travel restrictions.

China’s immunisation coverage was insufficient and the public psychologically unprepared for a lifting of the international travel ban, Zeng had warned.

WHO: 90 million Covid-19 cases since Omicron was detected

WHO chief Tedros Ghebreyesus has also warned against any “premature” declaration of pandemic victory, as he called on countries to rely on more tools to contain and defeat the “dangerous” and still-evolving Covid-19 virus – in addition to vaccination.

“We’re concerned that a narrative has taken hold in some countries that because of vaccines, and because of Omicron’s high transmissibility and lower severity, preventing transmission is no longer possible, and no longer necessary,” Ghebreyesus said on Tuesday.

“More transmission means more deaths. We are not calling for any country to return to so-called lockdown. But we are calling on all countries to protect their people using every tool in the toolkit, not vaccines alone.”