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‘Zero-Covid’ Strategy

Zero-Covid’ Strategy- Relevance for UPSC Exam

  • GS Paper 2: International Relations- Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests.

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‘Zero-Covid’ Strategy in News

  • A tweet from a high ranking Chinese official claimed that China’s straining and unpopular zero-Covid Strategy (curbs)- mass testing, targeted lockdowns, and travel restrictions- might extend for another five years.
  • It had triggered a wave of anger and confusion online among residents of Beijing, with a hashtag linked to the five-year notice getting 1 million hits before being removed.

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‘Zero-Covid’ Strategy

  • About: ‘Zero-Covid’ Strategy aims to drive down the number of Covid-19 cases by imposing strict lockdowns, closing borders and imposing travel bans.
  • Mitigation Approach: It was adopted by the Western Countries that involved trying to flatten the curve while strengthening healthcare capacity to deal with possible flare ups.
  • Elimination Approach: This strategy eventually evolved into a Covid-elimination or zero-Covid plan. As part of the plan, governments tried to stamp out outbreaks down to the last case, at any cost.
    • Australia, New Zealand, China, Hong Kong and several other Asia Pacific countries applied the approach, involving highly restrictive measures, for different lengths of time, with varying degrees of severity in their Covid curbs.

2nd Global COVID Virtual Summit 2022

‘शून्य-कोविड’ रणनीति

Rejection of ‘Zero-Covid’ Strategy

  • By Health Personnel: By the middle of 2021, healthcare authorities started questioning the zero-Covid approach to fight the disease.
  • Vaccine Invention: When vaccines started being rolled out worldwide, some countries also simultaneously started a gradual shift towards fewer lockdowns and more freedoms for citizens.
  • Steps taken by Various Countries:
    • As the UK lifted restrictions putting its faith in the vaccination drive, France started issuing health passes to the vaccinated to enter public spaces.
    • Around the same time, Australia, after battling the record Delta wave surge, too started talking about “living with the virus” with focus shifting from number of cases to total hospitalisations.
    • However, New Zealand and China were among the countries that stuck to the elimination response.
    • New Zealand ultimately transitioned away from a hard elimination approach in October 2021, but China has refused to pivot.

 

Criticism of Chinese ‘Zero-Covid’ Strategy

  • Hardship for Common People: While the virus has evolved, China’s response to tackling it has been rooted in zero-tolerance for Covid cases.
    • Beijing’s harsh countermeasures to tackle Covid have imposed immense hardships on the lifestyle and livelihoods of citizens, making the curbs unpopular.
  • Against WHO Recommendations: China has refused to budge on most elements of its policy, despite the WHO saying that its Covid response was “unsustainable”.
    • It continues to be the last big economic power still wedded to the zero-Covid policy.
    • Only recently, Shanghai faced a months-long lockdown amid the Omicron spread, while Beijing closed schools and offices for weeks over a separate surge.

COVID19 Pandemic: Omicron variant EXPLAINED

COVID19 Pandemic: Omicron variant EXPLAINED

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