Shanghai continued its hardline anti-COVID-19 policies Tuesday by shutting down the city’s subway system — as the World Health Organization said the country’s “Zero COVID” policy is unsustainable.
Chinese officials also started sending teams of people in white protective suits into the homes of residents placed in quarantine — leading to unrest around the megalopolis as citizens chafe at the intrusion on their privacy.
The decision to double down on the anti-virus crackdown came even as Shanghai’s COVID-19 numbers fell to 3,000 cases with only 74 new ones.
On Tuesday, the WHO issued rare criticism of China’s tough COVID program.
“When we talk about the zero-Covid strategy, we don’t think that it’s sustainable, considering the behavior of the virus now and what we anticipate in the future,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a press conference.
“We have discussed about this issue with Chinese experts and we indicated that the approach will not be sustainable … Transiting into another strategy will be very important.”
WHO emergencies director Michael Ryan called for China to show “due respect to individual and human rights” when battling the virus.
“We need to balance the control measures against the impact they have on society, the impact they have on the economy, and that’s not always an easy calibration,” he said.
Thousands of people have been forced out of their homes and into quarantine centers after testing positive for the virus or for being in close contact with someone who has tested positive.
Shanghai briefly loosened restrictions in April before tightening them again.
Teams of people in white protective suits have begun entering the homes of people who have been taken to quarantine zones to start disinfecting their belongings, which has prompted worry that belongings may be damaged or ruined.
“Carrying out household disinfection is an important part of the overall epidemic prevention and control,” said Shanghai official Jin Chen during his daily virus briefing.
In other parts of the country, several residents have been forced to have a “quiet period” during which residents were barred from having nonessential items delivered and were forced to stay in their homes.
An article written by one resident said the “excessive pandemic prevention measures” such as the cleaning crews need to end. The article has since been deleted from the web by the government.
Beijing officials have called the situation in Shanghai a “stalemate” and said the city needs to continue its strict measures.
With Post wires