Greater efforts required to strike right balance

Relatives of patients scan QR codes to have their health status registered before entering the emergency department of Beijing Chao-Yang Hospital in Beijing, May 2, 2022. (PHOTO / XINHUA)

The central decision-makers have made it clear that "lying flat" and "co-existence" with COVID-19 are not an option for the country, and the efficient "dynamic clearing" policy should be followed on a "uniform, nationwide chessboard". The nation is doing just that.

By 9:00 am on Wednesday, there were 187 "key areas of concern" and 81 "key areas of control" across the country. Almost the whole of Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou as well as the most economically active parts of Zhejiang and Jiangsu provinces are on the list.

Several localities, including Shanghai and Beijing, have made nucleic acid tests an everyday routine for access to public places, along with various forms and degrees of mobility control in their bid to control the latest wave of the novel coronavirus.

Notably, after reporting only nine confirmed and asymptomatic COVID-19 infections on Tuesday, Zhengzhou, the capital of central Henan province, and the 10th most populous city in China, was placed under a de facto lockdown on Wednesday, with exit and entry strictly "need-based" and subject to approval.

The public has largely displayed unconditional cooperation in the implementation of the corresponding control measures. Although supporting policies need to be in place to ensure that daily necessities are available and people have access to non-COVID medical services, if needed.

It is good to see local authorities seem to have learned the lessons from Shanghai about the critical importance of logistical support. The city had to rush to catch up after initially being caught somewhat on the hop.

Inadequately prepared residents facing the absence of basic supplies and services, are extremely vulnerable under lockdowns. Tragedies can be avoided if proper thought is given to their essential guarantees.

The fundamental aim of the dynamic clearing approach is to save lives, but as the "dynamic" in its descriptor indicates, it is not a one-size-fits-all-circumstances approach. All local governments should actively explore ways to balance the prevention and control work and normal business operations.

For Zhengzhou, a city of more than 10 million people, freezing mobility in much of the downtown area and putting the rest of the city proper under rigid control is no doubt a costly move. It is to be hoped that its bid to control the virus with a short, sharp lockdown proves effective, as lockdowns obviously take a toll on economic activities. The shorter they are the better.

According to the Zhengzhou authorities, the aim is to make the pandemic situation "generally controllable" in a week's time. We wish them good luck.

To make sure the highly contagious and difficult to detect Omicron variant of the virus does not ruin the initial success in the country's anti-pandemic campaign, and the national economy doesn't suffer further damage from a widespread suspension of economic activities, the "early detection, early intervention" principle at the heart of the dynamic clearing approach needs to evolve in light of best practices to ensure the approach becomes increasingly effective and agile.