China’s top health officials said the country would hold on to its Covid Zero approach, even as the second-largest economy is struggling with lockdowns, quarantine, and testing rules.

The country’s top health advisers stated that this is necessary to fight back against the virus and secure long-term economic development.

For example, Wu Zunyou, chief epidemiologist at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said at a briefing in Beijing on Tuesday, April 19, that China should prepare for a long fight against COVID.

A day earlier, in an article published in state media, Ma Xiaowei, head of the National Health Commission, said that China would persist with its zero-tolerance policy. He explained that if China loosens its controls, COVID will have a chance to threaten numerous people with underlying conditions, the elderly and kids. And it would harshly disrupt the stable development of the economy and society.

Besides, earlier this month, top adviser Zhong Nanshan published an editorial in National Science Review Journal. He disallowed some developed countries’ “living with virus” decisions, arguing that Omicron’s death risk is still higher than influenza’s. He said opening up would also cause social unrest and create more infectious variants.

China is one of the few countries worldwide that still stick to the Zero-Covid policy, besides North Korea and Tonga.

However, there are rising concerns about the measures’ mounting social and economic costs, especially as the rest of the world adjusts to living with the virus.

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