China takes more targeted measures to contain COVID-19 while keeping economy running
A deliveryman sends supplies to residents of a community in Shanghai, China, April 21, 2022. /CFP

A deliveryman sends supplies to residents of a community in Shanghai, China, April 21, 2022. /CFP

China is taking more targeted and differentiated measures to contain the latest COVID-19 resurgence while mitigating its impact on the economy and people's lives. 

The country's financial Shanghai, which has become the epicenter of the recent Omicron outbreak, reported 51 new COVID-19 deaths on Sunday, a record during the current wave and up from 39 the day before, the local government said on Monday.

The city also recorded 2,472 new locally transmitted COVID-19 cases, up from 1,401 the previous day. Asymptomatic cases stood at 16,983, down from 19,657 a day earlier.

At a daily news conference on Monday, Qi Keping, vice head of Shanghai's northeastern commercial district of Yangpu, said authorities were looking to break down large areas into smaller ones for more targeted enforcement of rules.

"Every compound, every gate, every door must be strictly managed," Qi said, adding the new approach would "better achieve differentiated prevention."

China's capital city of Beijing also reported 21 new COVID-19 infections, including 16 confirmed cases and five asymptomatic cases, on Sunday, bringing the total number of infections to 41 since April 22.

Preliminary epidemiological investigations indicate that the virus has been circulating in Beijing for a week, said Pang Xinghuo, deputy head of the Beijing Municipal Center for Disease Prevention and Control, at a press briefing on Sunday.

Most of the cases were detected in the populous eastern district of Chaoyang, home to around 3.5 million people. As a result, authorities ordered people living or working in the area to take three COVID-19 tests this week starting Monday.

Measures to ease the impact on the economy

China's central bank official urged on Sunday that the country should minimize the economic impact of COVID-19 and boost annual growth by over 5 percent.

At an economic forum, Wang Yiming, a member of the Monetary Policy Committee of the People's Bank of China, said that the effective management of macroeconomic policies was vital for the country to achieve the national growth target of around 5.5 percent for 2022.

As China's gross domestic product (GDP) rose by 4.8 percent in the first quarter of 2022 from the same period last year, the country should "actively and effectively" expand domestic demand, stabilize the country's industrial supply chains and manage market expectations, Wang said as China's economic hub of Shanghai battles the COVID-19 outbreak.

Moreover, China's Ministry of Transport on Sunday also called on local governments to keep the highways in normal services, forbidding them to shut roads, service areas and toll booths without authorization.

If expressway service areas are suspended due to the COVID-19, it should be reported to the provincial-level joint prevention and control management before implementation, the Ministry said in a statement.

If toll stations need to be closed due to the presence of infected cases or close contacts, the prevention and control management at or above the county level shall report to the higher level of management for approval before implementation, it added.

The Ministry said that the public should be informed of the closure of service areas and toll stations on expressways in advance.

In addition, China will make all-out efforts to ensure that spring farming proceeds in good time while implementing COVID-19 epidemic control measures, said the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs (MARA).

The MARA will guide farmers to optimize the planting structure by stabilizing the growth of the staple grains and corn, as well as expanding soybean and oil production, according to a circular issued by the Ministry.

Differentiated epidemic prevention and control measures should be taken based on rural conditions, the circular stressed, noting that farming activities should be carried out in time.

China aims to ensure that the grain output for 2022 stays above 650 billion kilograms, according to this year's government work report. 

Make anti-COVID-19 measures more human-centered

Shanghai has recently been facing massive challenges when containing the virus, as many people face difficulties accessing daily supplies and medical care.

Some experts stressed the importance of fulfilling the regular demands of the public during the fight against COVID-19.

"We need to analyze the reason why the problems occurred and adjust to a more human-centered approach [to fight COVID-19]," Liang Wannian, head of the COVID-19 response expert panel under the National Health Commission, told China Media Group.

He said the local authorities need to work on keeping the measures "warm" when implementing the anti-COVID-19 measures.

"We need to pay some attention to the details when helping local communities to contain the spread of the virus," said Liang. "We need to show our care."

In a recent group interview, Liang said China's current COVID-19 policies can avoid a wide spread of the virus.

"It is clear that once we loosen up the prevention measures, the widespread of the virus could cause a massive number of severe cases, even death among the elderly," he said. 

He said "it'll be a disaster for the country" if the prevention measures are removed, as the medical system could get overwhelmed. Instead, he called to improve the vaccination rate for the elderly population and take preventive measures based on advanced studies on the virus.

(With input from agencies)

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