Not ‘lying flat’: China to persist with tough COVID policies

 China will persist with its COVID-19 policies to guard against new coronavirus strains and the risks they bring, the official newspaper of the Communist Party warned in a commentary for the third straight day, crushing hopes of any near-term easing.

“Lying flat is not advisable, and to win (the COVID battle) while lying flat is not possible,” People’s Daily wrote on Wednesday, referring to a phrase in China that denotes doing nothing.

China has been grappling with a COVID resurgence after the National Day “Golden Week” holiday this month and the emergence of new Omicron subvariants, including the highly transmissible BF.7, days before a key Party congress where Xi Jinping is expected to extend his leadership.

Some big cities, including Shanghai, have tightened preventive measures such as requiring residents to be tested for the virus more frequently. One city in southwest China has even offered cash rewards to residents who report on individuals attempting to conceal their travel histories.

China’s health authority reported on Wednesday 1,760 new local cases for Oct. 11, down from 2,089 a day earlier. Megacities like Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Xian all found new cases, though numbers were just in the double digits.

Despite China’s small caseload compared with the rest of the world, and the toll its COVID lockdowns and restrictions have exacted on the economy and population, China has urged its people to accept the measures, quashing any speculation that it would relax its policies.

“Only by insisting on dynamically clearing (cases as they arise) could huge losses arising from losing control of the epidemic be avoided by the full extent,” People’s Daily wrote.

“Once epidemic prevention and control is relaxed, a large number of people will be infected within a short period of time, a large number of severe cases and deaths will occur, resulting in a run on medical resources.”