COVID Finally Spins Out Of Control In China As New Variant Takes Hold
China appears to be losing the battle to contain COVID-19, but it’s not yet ready to admit defeat.
Facing the worst national outbreak since the first wave of the pandemic, authorities have introduced lockdown restrictions in cities across the country, with production lines falling idle in the tech hub of Shenzhen and offices shuttered in the financial capital Shanghai.
Under President Xi Jinping, the Chinese government has stuck to a strict zero-COVID policy since the virus emerged in Wuhan in late 2019, locking down entire cities whenever cases emerge and using mass testing and strict quarantining to bring local outbreaks under control.
But Chinese virologists say the arrival of the Omicron variant and its new “stealth” subvariant—both of which appear to evade China’s Sinovac vaccine—could leave that policy in tatters.
For those in the Americas or Europe, the case numbers reported from China still seem pretty small: authorities confirmed 1,337 new locally transmitted cases in mainland China on Monday. By contrast, the U.K. is currently seeing more than 200,000 cases a day, according to the main COVID tracker.