After many months virtually COVID-free, the highly contagious delta variant has now spread from Nanjing to more than a dozen Chinese cities, prompting local lockdowns, travel bans, and long lines for testing. As of Thursday, the number of new cases has begun to drop, according to Reuters:
A total of 85 new confirmed COVID-19 cases were detected for Aug. 4, down from 96 a day earlier, data from the National Health Commission (NHC) showed on Thursday. Of the new cases, 62 were locally transmitted, versus 71 a day earlier.
China’s vice premier Sun Chunlan said on Wednesday the development of the various clusters remained uncertain, and authorities’ bid to curb the spread of the virus should overcome “a laxity of mind”, the official Xinhua news agency reported.
Some local governments have been called out by Beijing for lowering their guard, leading to the spread of the Delta variant from multiple sources.
Still, NHC official He Qinghua said the virus situation was largely controllable. [Source]
This latest outbreak has been traced to a flight from Moscow to Nanjing on July 10, where seven passengers were infected. Nine ground staff who had cleaned the plane tested positive on July 20. Air China Flight 910 has been suspended ten times over the past year for carrying infected passengers.
Multiple rounds of mass-testing across Chinese cities have frustrated some residents for their heavy-handedness, while others wish more had been done sooner. Either way, mass testing may prove too costly and ineffective as an indefinite prevention measure, as Sui-Lee Wee and Elsie Chen write in the New York Times:
In Nanjing, where the recent Delta cases first appeared, millions of residents have had to participate in four rounds of testing.
“It’s just torturing the masses,” said Jiang Ruoling, a resident in Nanjing, who has been tested four times in the last three weeks. Ms. Jiang, who works in real estate, said she understood the need for testing, but was still critical of officials for failing to control the latest outbreak. “The leaders are actually wasting resources and everyone’s time,” she said.
[…] Han Xiaoyi, a 23-year-old resident in Nanjing, said she was furious at the way the government had initially handled the Delta outbreak in her city. Officials have allowed people to continue going to work in crowded subways and buses, she said. [Source]
@MAX最牛逼, a health care worker at a local hospital in Nanjing, posted a desperate message to Weibo, writing that “every day here is just about survival.” The now-censored post is archived at CDT Chinese:
From just one case in Hanfu Xinyuan, we’ve gone from the occasional inpatient to being totally overwhelmed in just 20 days. The airport is closed, Lukou is closed, and a lot of the surrounding neighborhoods are under lockdown. My health code turned yellow and I was put in quarantine because I passed through Tongshan. I missed the second round of PCR testing.
[…] As for money, everyone thinks we have a stable income because the higher-ups have allocated funds to us. Well, let me tell you. We haven’t gotten a bonus this month… just our salary of 3000 yuan. According to the accounting department, we can forget about a bonus this month. Ha-ha, I’ve got a car loan and a mortgage! The payments alone are over 10,000 a month. Without that bonus, and with only 10,000 in my savings, I couldn’t support myself for more than a few weeks. I lie awake at night, terrified because I know that when I wake up I’ll be facing payments of thousands for my mortgage, credit card debt, Alipay bill… I’ve already decided to sell the car and the house. But with the pandemic, there isn’t even anywhere to sell them. I feel like I’ve failed at life. I borrowed money to buy my house, and at this point I can’t pay it back, never mind the mortgage. My friends think it’s so great to work in healthcare, but in reality, it’s awful.
And as for my life now, I’ve got an early shift tomorrow, so I’m ditching quarantine tasks [cleaning, disinfecting, etc.] at home and sleeping in the hospital’s boiler room so that I’m not late for work tomorrow. My commute is two hours round-trip. I don’t even know why I bought that house. Oh yeah, so I could get married. I’m in my thirties now, moved to Nanjing a decade ago, and finally bought a place on the outskirts of Jiangning in 2019. But I can’t think about marriage right now, not when I can barely go on living. [Chinese]
While speculation and obfuscation circle around the origins of COVID-19, blogger Qiu Kaimu opines on the relative silence about Russia’s role in the current outbreak:
Home-grown conspiracy theorists have been uncannily slow and tender in their response to the arrival of infection via Russia. The situation is ripe with the stuff of a good conspiracy, yet they have either ignored it or quickly changed the subject. It seems that science knows no borders, but conspiracies do. Different countries enjoy different treatment. If someone curses you, it’s insulting; if a lover curses you, it’s flirtatious. If someone else beats you, you scream in pain; if your lover beats you, it’s because they love you. It’s a tough lot for the conspiracy theorist: they’re brutal if you’re good, cowardly if you’re bad. And when they’re pinned in a corner, they take the bad guy as their lover.
[…] But apparently none of this bothers Sima Nan, who has surpassed even Hu Xijin and Jin Canrong in his evaluation of this foreign invasion. With the courage of an average guy getting his head squeezed, he has single-handedly introduced [this] conspiracy:
“The incident at Lukou Airport was yet another precision attack, and it succeeded in penetrating East China’s last bastion against the pandemic since the outbreak of the virus in China; the enemy schemed for nearly an entire year, learning from its many prior assaults before finally breaking through the line of defense ….”
[…] At first I thought “the enemy” was Russia, but only when I read to the end did I see that Sima Nan actually believes that “the ringleader of these viral attacks is hiding somewhere in the country, or perhaps in several places.” Then who coordinated these viral attacks onflight CA910? Was it Hu “frisbee-catcher” Xijinsky, or Feng Jun? The mind boggles. Perhaps “calming internal strife” includes rooting out people who hid the source of the virus and planted agents. [Chinese]
(On July 23, the Jiangsu Province Party Committee suspended Feng Jun from his positions as Party Secretary and Chairman of the Board of the Eastern Airport Group LLC.)