Han Liang (right), a clinic worker, delivers medicine to residents who are under quarantine in Xi'an, capital city of Northwest China's Shaanxi province on Jan 9, 2022. (PHOTO / XINHUA)
Several hours after Tianjin reported two locally transmitted cases of the highly infectious Omicron variant of the novel coronavirus on Saturday, the city confirmed another 18 cases among their hundreds of close contacts, among whom 15 are aged 8 to 13, who might have further exposed many more students and teachers to the virus.
That means the transmission chains in the port city in North China with a population of 14 million could be longer than those in Xi'an, capital of Shaanxi province, where about 2,000 locally transmitted cases infected with the Delta variant have been reported over the past month.
That was reinforced by the epidemic prevention and control department of Tianjin announcing that the Omicron variant had entered its third phase of transmission before it was spotted.
In that sense, the immediate lockdown of relevant neighborhoods in Tianjin and the citywide nucleic acid testing that started simultaneously on Saturday night are indispensable to trace and cut the transmission chains. The lockdown of Xi'an has brought the number of new cases reported each day in the city down from more than 100 during the peak period to 30 on Saturday.
The Tianjin authorities should heed the lessons of Xi'an's lockdown and be prepared not only to upgrade the epidemic prevention and control measures promptly but also ensure that they are implemented in a thoughtful way to minimize the disruption they will cause to people's lives, particularly those that are not infected with the virus but who need emergency medical treatment for other reasons during the quarantine period.
As well as Tianjin and Xi'an, the epidemic situation in Central China's Henan province, where 56 cases were reported in six different cities on Saturday and where the origin and transmission chains of the infections remains unknown, requires attention.
After fighting with the virus for about two years with a zero-tolerance approach, China has got the most out of its institutional strengths in both the responsiveness and resoluteness of its strict epidemic prevention and control measures. And thanks to that, the country has boosted a quick recovery of its economy and maintained the necessary social stability to deepen its reform in various fields to seek high-quality development.
With many developed countries adopting a laissez-faire approach to deal with the pandemic－hoping to get herd immunity－some question whether China's zero-tolerance policy is reasonable and sustainable.
The answer is unequivocally yes, as the country's experience over the past two years shows that fighting the virus in a resolute and scientific way is the right way to protect people's health and lives. The last death caused by the virus in the country, which is home to 1.4 billion people, was in January last year.
With 1.9 million people infected with the virus around the world each day over the past week, it seems that more and more Western countries are giving up trying to control the virus and have succumbed to the notion of the survival of the fittest to justify their lack of fortitude and failures of governance.
China holds firm to the belief that each life counts, and it will do all it can to ensure none of its people are left to fend for themselves and no one is left behind in the fight against the virus.