China is implementing a more targeted COVID-19 containment strategy in places where virus outbreaks have flared up in recent weeks. On November 11, the central authorities rolled out 20 measures to optimize the country's pandemic response by maximizing the protection of public health and minimizing the impact on economic and social life. Local authorities are required to cease the arbitrary closing of schools, unauthorized suspension of business and unapproved bans on travel.
As case numbers in some parts of the country remain high, coordination is the key. The government must strike a balance between controlling the pandemic on the one hand and maintaining economic activity and ensuring those under quarantine have easy access to daily necessities and medical services on the other hand, in order to make containment measures less wearing on society.
China, as a developing country with a population of 1.4 billion, has a huge number of people in vulnerable groups. Its health system is less developed than that in developed countries and its medical resources are unevenly distributed. The Omicron variants are known to spread fast and seasonal factors complicate matters, so it's likely that infections will continue to spread. Only with a swift response can China minimize adverse impacts on development and people's wellbeing brought by COVID-19.
Based on scientific research of previous practices and the latest cases, the recently unveiled optimizations are in line with China's current needs. Local governments are enforcing these measures and rectifying practices that are inconsistent with them. Two inappropriate approaches must be opposed: One is the block-it-off approach, which resorts to arbitrary COVID-19 restrictions; and the other is the let-it-go approach, which takes a lax attitude toward the virus.
Without strict measures, the consequences could be disastrous for a country with such a huge population, including 267 million aged 60 or over. As the country fine-tunes the containment measures along with the changing situation, and the pandemic control workers become more adept at implementing them, inappropriate restrictions will be curbed.
(Print Edition Title: A Measured Response)