China Covid protests: Health officials defend zero Covid policy but vow to get some measures right


China’s top health officials have vowed to rectify Covid-19 control measures to reduce its impact on people’s lives, while shifting blame for public frustration away from politics itself, in their first press conference since. Protests erupted Against the government’s strict no Covid policy over the weekend.

Lockdowns to suppress the spread of the virus should be lifted “as soon as possible” in the aftermath of the outbreak, health officials told a news conference of the National Health Commission in Beijing on Tuesday, as they defended the country’s overall policy direction – which aims to stem the spread of the virus through controls. heavy.

Cheng Yuquan, director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said that “some problems” recently reported by the public are not due to the measures, but their implementation by local officials taking a one-size-fits-all approach. He said some controls were implemented “excessively” while ignoring people’s demands.

Protests against the country’s coronavirus policy, which includes a combination of lockdowns, forced quarantines and tight border controls, erupted across China over the weekend, with The exit of citizens to the streets of the city and the university campus To call for an end to restrictive measures.

While protests in several parts of China appear to have dispersed largely peacefully over the weekend, some have drawn a stronger response from the authorities – and security has been tight across cities with police deployed to key protest sites in the aftermath of the demonstrations.

Officials at Tuesday’s press conference did not address the protests directly, but commission spokesman Mi Feng said governments should “respond to and resolve the reasonable demands of the masses” in a timely manner.

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When asked if the government was reconsidering its Covid policies, Mi said the authorities are “studying and adjusting our measures to contain the epidemic to protect people’s interests to the greatest extent and limit the impact on people as much as possible.”

Earlier this month, China announced 20 measures aimed at streamlining Covid-19 controls and curbing “excessive political steps” by local authorities – who are under pressure from Beijing to control the number of cases in their regions.

The protests – and pledges to hone policy implementation – come as the country faces its largest increase in cases.

China identified 38,421 locally transmitted cases on Monday, according to the National Health Commission, ending six consecutive days of record infections.

Low vaccination rates among the elderly Authorities have long cited it as a reason why China should impose severe restrictions on the virus. On Tuesday, officials also announced an “action plan” to increase vaccination rates among those at high risk Collection.

Raising that rate is seen as necessary for the country’s eventual reopening and easing of strict measures.

As of November 28, about 90% of China’s total population had received two doses of the Covid-19 vaccine, but only about 66% of people over 80 had completed two doses, officials said Tuesday.

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