EYESHENZHEN  /   Opinion

Not yet time to declare a victory

Writer: Wu Guangqiang  |  Editor: Jane Chen  |  From: Shenzhen Daily  |  Updated: 2022-04-11

We have been fighting against the COVID-19 pandemic for over two years but the battle is far from over, as the highly contagious virus has infected nearly 500 million people and killed over 6 million worldwide.

The sly novel coronavirus is the most intractable disease man has ever encountered. Despite the stringent prevention and control measures such as wearing masks, vaccination and quarantines, the virus is still rampant.

Most countries and regions in the world have submitted to the disease, resorting to the so-called policy of living with the virus. On Feb. 21, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced he would lift all restrictive measures in his country, making the U.K. the first major Western country to do so.

A few days later, Sweden declared "the end of the pandemic," followed by Denmark. Many more countries have followed suit, easing or even completely lifting prevention and control measures, as if the virus had vanished.

Of course, the pandemic will not end in the foreseeable future. In many places including South Korea, Vietnam and China's Hong Kong, infection and death cases have surged since the beginning of February. Hong Kong has experienced the worst outbreak since the start of COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. As of now, their death toll has surpassed 8,000.

As an industrial and technological hub neighboring Hong Kong, Shenzhen has borne the brunt of Hong Kong's rapidly worsening situation. The virus spilled over into Shenzhen, triggering off the biggest outbreak in Shenzhen since 2020. 

Last month, the rising risk of a citywide epidemic compelled the municipal authorities to enforce a weeklong lockdown for all the residential estates in the city and closure of all businesses except the ones engaged in provision of supplies for citizens' daily lives. Many a business and individual suffered economic losses, and some had trouble making ends meet. 

An increasing number of people called for the adoption of the policy of living with the virus, citing that the Omicron variant got so mild that it was no worse than a common cold.

Some claimed that after massive infections and unavoidable deaths, herd immunity would be achieved and the economic and social life would return to normal.

Suppose the infection rates and death rates on the Chinese mainland were similar to those of Hong Kong: If we let the virus spread, the total infections would surpass 140 million and the death toll 8.46 million.

The situation could be worse, given China's large aging population and relatively undeveloped medical system, particularly in rural areas. Moreover, it's impossible for the economy and social life to function well with an uncontrolled pandemic. On the other hand, we must improve the efficiency and accuracy in containing the pandemic and minimize the impact on economy and social life.

As we have temporarily put the COVID under control in Shenzhen, there is no room for relaxation and content. The anti-virus fight will go on, hopefully with more efficiency at lower costs.

(The author is an English tutor and freelance writer.)