What China’s spike in cases says about its Covid strategy and should India be worried?

China recently implemented a lockdown in two phases in the financial capital of Shanghai to gain full control of the rapid spread of Covid-19 cases highest since the Wuhan strain in 2020. The first phase started on March 28 when the eastern part of the metropolis was shut down for five days. The other half will go through a lockdown for 5 days after the first phase ends. Only essential services remain in operations. The 25 million residents of the city have been asked to undergo a diagnostic test during the lockdown.

What are Covid-19 numbers in Shanghai?

On March 30, the local authorities reported nearly 6,000 new infections in a day. The numbers are significantly higher than that witnessed in a day just a week ago. The city reported 2,678 cases on Sunday and on Tuesday it was 4,477.

With this drastic rise, the cases in China are much less compared to that witnessed by the Unites States, Europe that has been reporting tens of thousands of cases every day for three months now

Why is China so worried even when numbers are low in comparison to other nations?

The sudden spike undermines China’s zero Covid strategies that like other nations do not want to keep numbers manageable but eliminate the virus completely from the population even if it means imposing lockdowns again.

China also fears that the situation can get as bad as Hong Kong last year which witnessed an explosion of cases in the last couple of months, reporting tens of thousands of cases, and hundreds of deaths, every day.

But China even by keeping the lid on Covid-cases for two years through compulsory quarantine of foreigners, hospitalizing even the asymptomatic patients is facing the worst outbreak out of the blue.

Has China’s Covid strategy failed now?

China’s aggressive Covid containment strategy has not been without success. Even after being the country that started the pandemic and with such a huge population, the country reported a very less number of Covid-cases as compared to the Us, Europe, India, South Korea, etc.

The total number of cases discovered in China since the beginning of the pandemic is only about 1.5 lakh, according to Our World in Data. This number is less than what several countries, at different times, have reported in a single day. And now even with a significant surge in cases, the death rate has not changed much. Last week, the country reported two deaths in over a year. The total reported death toll in China is 4,638.

Why is there skepticism over China’s strategy now

It has been established that the virus will continue to evolve forming more contagious variants and even with the best efforts eliminating the virus completely is not feasible.

Vaccinations too have not been effective in preventing the infection even though they significantly reduced the severity of the disease. This has led the authorities to lowly relax the restrictions even when it could lead to short-term pains and fears of Hong Kong-like situation in China since some of the reasons being attributed to the recent mayhem in Hong Kong are present in China as well.

Does the situation in China pose risk to India as well?

The pandemic has been on a steady decline in India since the third wave. The risk of a fresh surge in India seems very low in the absence of the emergence of any fresh variant of the virus. A large population of the country has been already exposed to the infection and some have been infected multiple times. The Omicron variant itself is estimated to have infected 30-40 per cent of the population.

But Vaccination has not been very effective in preventing infections resulting in a surge during the Omicron wave, but the severity of cases was not much compared to the number of cases recorded daily. The graph had a steady and sharp fall. In this kind of scenario, a new wave of infections seems unlikely in the immediate future. But danger still larks will nee dangerous variants.

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