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Doc Hines - Covid News & Views - 13 Apr 2022

Updated: Nov 9, 2023

Today I have driven nearly 300 miles to get to an important meeting and then rushed home to do the Wednesday report. I find that Governments statistics will be published again tomorrow, but then with the Easter break and Bank holiday there will be no reports published again until the Tuesday after Easter. As there will be little to report I probably will make this the last report until after Easter unless there is a major development.

The numbers being tested and being found positive continue to fall but do not any longer reflect what is happening. However, the rapidly rising number of deaths. 1,951 in the last 7 days makes it very clear there is still a potentially lethal pandemic l with us. This is 100 plus more covid deaths every day compared with the last week

The number admitted to hospital in the week ending 8th April was 15,732. This is the first time in April that the weekly death rate is below 16,000 and hopefully suggests things are plateauing out with admissions. The total number in hospital on 12th April has fallen back to below 20, 000. Today’s figure was 19,770. The lowest figure since the end of March. This is more evidence that new cases may have peaked. The number on a ventilator at 385 is slightly higher than it has been recently but only by a small amount.

At 92.1% the number of people having their fist dose of vaccine has risen by a further 100,000 or 0.1%/ The other figures are unchanged.

I discussed the problems in China last time and found this important article in the New York Times . parts of this I will share with you as it was written:

“Long before the “zero COVID” policy, China had a “zero sparrow” policy.

In the spring of 1958, the Chinese Government mobilized the entire nation to exterminate sparrows, which Mao declared pests that destroyed crops. All over China, people banged on pots and pans, lit firecrackers and waved flags to prevent the birds from landing so they would fall and die from exhaustion. By one estimation, nearly 2 billion sparrows were killed nationwide within months.

The near extinction of sparrows led to insect infestations, which ruined crops and contributed to the Great Famine that starved tens of millions of Chinese to death in the next three years.

The fear in China now is that the “zero COVID” policy has become another Mao-style political campaign that is based on the will of one person, the country’s top leader, Xi Jinping — and that it could end up hurting everyone.

Just as Mao and his lieutenants ignored the opposition to their anti-sparrow policy from scientists and technocrats, Beijing has ignored experts’ advice that China abandon its costly strategy and learn to coexist with the virus, especially a milder, if more infectious, variant.

Instead, Beijing insists on following the same playbook from 2020 that relies on mass testing, quarantine and lockdowns. The approach has put hundreds of millions of people’s lives on pause, sent tens of thousands to makeshift quarantine camps and deprived many non-COVID patients of medical treatments.”

“They’re not countering the pandemic. They’re creating disasters,” Ye Qing, a law scholar who is known by his pen name Xiao Han, wrote in an online article that was swiftly deleted. Xi is keen to stick to the strategy because he is seeking a third term at an important Communist Party congress later this year. He wants to use China’s success in containing the virus to prove that its top-down governance model is superior to that of liberal democracies.

“This disease has been politicized,” Zhu Weiping, an official in Shanghai’s disease control apparatus, told a person who complained about the city’s response to the ongoing outbreak.

In a recorded phone conversation, the official said she had advised the government to let people with no or mild symptoms quarantine at home, and to focus on vaccination drives. But no one listened, she said.

“You’re driven crazy by this?” she asked the caller. “Professional institutions like us are going crazy, too.”

The recording was shared widely before it was censored.

As the omicron variant spreads, about 373 million people in 45 Chinese cities are under either full or partial lockdowns as of Monday, according to estimates by economists at the investment bank Nomura. These cities account for 26% of China’s population and 40% of its economic output, they wrote; they warned that the risk of recession was rising as local governments competed to ratchet up virus-containment measures,

A volunteer uses a megaphone to talk to residents at an apartment building in Shanghai, China, Tuesday, April 12, 2022. Shanghai has released more than 6,000 more people from medical observation amid a COVID-19 outbreak, the government said Wednesday, but moves to further ease the lockdown on China’s largest city appeared to have stalled

Beijing is now urging local governments to strike a balance between pandemic control and economic production. But everyone in the bureaucratic system knows where the priority lies.

In the city of Jixi in China’s northernmost province of Heilongjiang, 18 officials, including township leaders, law enforcement chiefs as well as directors of a hospital and a funeral home, were disciplined or reprimanded recently for neglecting their duties and responsibilities in pandemic control. Some cadres “weren’t stressed out enough,” said the announcement.

In Shanghai, China’s largest and most affluent city, at least eight midlevel officials were removed or suspended from their positions after the city’s poorly executed lockdowns caused chaos, tragedies and severe food shortages.

After the city locked down its 25 million residents and grounded most delivery services in early April, many people encountered problems sourcing food, regardless of their socioeconomic status. Some set multiple alarms for the different restocking times of grocery delivery apps that start as early as 6 a.m.

In the past few days, a hot topic in WeChat groups has been whether sprouted potatoes were safe to eat, a few Shanghai residents told me. Neighbours resorted to a barter system to exchange, say, a cabbage for a bottle of soy sauce. Coca-Cola is hard currency.

After nearly two weeks under lockdown, Dai Xin, a restaurant owner, is running out of food to provide for her household of four. Now she slices ginger paper thin, pickles vegetables so they won’t spoil and eats two meals a day instead of three.

Even the moneyed class is facing food supply shortages. The head of a big retailer told me last week that she got many requests from Shanghai-based chief executives. But there was little she could do under lockdown rules, the executive said, who spoke on the condition of anonymity given the political sensitivities.

Wang Lixiong, the author of the apocalyptic novel “China Tidal Wave,” which ended with a great famine in the aftermath of a nuclear winter, believes that a man-made crisis like the one in Shanghai is inevitable under China’s authoritarian system. In recent years, he said in an interview, the risk increased after Beijing clamped down on nearly every aspect of civil society.”

Whilst we may not be happy at the exact balance between controlling Covid and the economic issues in England Few of us would tolerate life today in China. It seems if you fail to comply with a Government proclamation . Men in white protective clothing will come and drag you into the streets for a public beating.

I wonder how the party gate issue would be handled in China ?

Easter is supposed to be a time of love, hope and new beginnings, For millions in Eastern Europe life as they knew it has fallen apart. Please find time in your schedules to think about those in Ukraine and if appropriate for you to pray for them

Here at home, lots of common sense and Plan K will see you safely through the holiday. Have a very blessed Easter everyone and stay safe.

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