Modellers Predict 1.5 Million Deaths in China if Lockdown is Lifted – But that is Less Than Half the U.K. Covid Death Rate

It appears that China has its own version of lockdown doom-modeller Neil Ferguson and his team. A paper in Nature from a team of Chinese and U.S. researchers has used a model to predict over 1.5 million deaths in China from Omicron should the country cease to impose its brutal controls. The following is from the South China Morning Post.

China could see more than 1.5 million deaths from a wave of Omicron infections without COVID-19 controls and the use of antiviral therapies, a new study has forecast.

A model by Chinese and U.S. researchers suggested that, given China’s vaccine efficacy and coverage, an unchecked outbreak that began with 20 cases of Omicron in March could “generate a tsunami of COVID-19 cases” between May and July.

Such an outbreak is projected to cause 112 million symptomatic cases, or 80 cases per 1,000 people, with 2.7 million of them requiring treatment in intensive care…

The researchers used a mathematical model to simulate a hypothetical Omicron wave in China based on data from the Shanghai outbreak.

“Should the Omicron outbreak continue unabated, despite a primary vaccination coverage of more than 90% and homologous booster vaccination [boosting with the same vaccine] coverage of more than 40% as of March 2022, we project that the Chinese healthcare system will be overwhelmed with a considerable shortage of ICUs,” they wrote.

They estimated that the peak demand of 1 million intensive care beds would be almost 16 times the existing total of 64,000 beds, with a shortage lasting 44 days.

China Digs In and Tightens Shanghai Lockdown in Unrelenting Pursuit of Zero Covid

Shanghai officials over the next few days will further restrict access to food and hospitals in the city, the most severe phase of its extended lockdown yet. BBC News has the story.

Commercial food deliveries are not allowed and access to hospitals for all but emergencies must first be approved. Neighbours of COVID-19 cases and others living close by are also being forced into government quarantine facilities. Shanghai is now in its seventh week of city-wide restrictions.

Confirmed cases have fallen significantly from their peak, but authorities have not yet been able to hit the target of what they call “societal zero”, where no cases are reported outside of quarantine facilities.

Despite the tougher measures, Shanghai officials insist that people living in half the city’s districts are now free to leave their homes and walk around.

State media has shown propaganda videos of departing medical workers visiting city landmarks together and taking photographs.

Official notices from local committees of the ruling Communist Party, seen by the BBC, detail several restrictions imposed under what officials call “silent periods” for the next three days. These include only permitting Government food deliveries, not allowing residents to “step out” of their front doors and requiring approval from the committee for anyone other than emergency cases to access hospitals…

The tightened measures come just days after China’s president Xi Jinping re-iterated his commitment to the controversial ‘Zero-Covid’ strategy. In a paper published in the health journal the Lancet earlier this week, senior Chinese health officials said the lockdown would “buy time to vaccinate more people”.

Their comments come after the head of the World Health Organisation called China’s Zero-Covid strategy unsustainable.

“When we talk about Zero-Covid, we don’t think that it’s sustainable, considering the behaviour of the virus now and what we anticipate in the future,” Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Tuesday at a news conference.

The clip was widely shared on Chinese social media before being blocked by censors. More than two years after COVID-19 first emerged here officials figures show around 90% of the population nationwide has been vaccinated. But only 38% of the more vulnerable – those over 60 – in Shanghai have the full protection [sic] of three vaccinations.

Buy time to vaccinate? How much time do they need, if 16 months isn’t enough?

This lockdown thing is really starting to get out of hand…

Worth reading in full.

Futility of Lockdowns Exposed as Covid Infections in Shanghai Continue to Rise

In further proof of the futility of restrictions in suppressing an infectious respiratory virus, reported Covid infections in Shanghai continue to rise amidst one of the world’s strictest lockdowns. Jared T. Nelson reports on Twitter from the city.

Day 35 of our Shanghai Covid lockdown. Unbelievably, the newly identified Covid cases in Shanghai increased yesterday.

Adding to that trend, friends in several areas reported new cases in apartment buildings and communities that have been under strict lockdown for weeks.

Markets Tumble as Beijing Lockdown Threatens

Markets have been spooked by the prospect of the severe Shanghai lockdown – now in its fourth week – being extended to Beijing as one district in the Chinese capital is sealed off following a few dozen positive Covid tests, prompting panic buying. Reuters has more.

Asian markets suffered their worst session in over a month overnight as worries that Beijing could soon be back in lockdown sent Chinese shares back to 2020 lows, and as the effects of Wall Street’s 2.5% slump on Friday lingered…

MSCI’s broadest index of world shares slid 0.7% to a six-week low. Oil fell over 4% in commodity markets and the worries about Beijing saw the Chinese yuan skid to a one-year low.

State television in China reported that residents were ordered not to leave Beijing’s Chaoyang district on Monday after a few dozen Covid cases were detected over the weekend.

The China-sensitive Australian dollar fell as much as 1.2% while the U.S. dollar climbed unhindered to a two-year high, hitting $1.0707 against the euro and 1.2750 versus Britain’s pound.

Much focus on is on how fast and far the Federal Reserve will raise U.S. interest rates this year and whether it will, along with all the other global worries, tip the world economy into recession.

The Ukraine crisis, with its extensive sanctions on Russia and boycotts of Russian energy, have added to the woes, alongside the colossal borrowing of the past two years to fund Covid lockdowns, leading to one of the worst starts to the year on record for the world stock markets.

Chinese Officials Cage Up Shanghai Residents Suspected of Having Coronavirus

Shanghai authorities have put fences up outside residential buildings as China doubles down n its ‘zero-COVID’ policy, sparking fresh public outcry over a lockdown that has forced much of the city’s 25 million people indoors. Meanwhile, the authorities have ordered Beijing residents to test three times a week, sparking panic buying of food. MailOnline has more.

The largest district in Beijing… will require everyone living or working in the area to take three Covid tests this week, and put more than a dozen buildings under lockdown, after the Chinese capital reported 22 new cases on Saturday. The district, Chaoyang, is home to 3.45 million people.

The announcement set off panic buying Sunday evening, with vegetables, eggs, soy sauce and other items wiped off grocery shelves.

In Shanghai, images of workers in white hazmat suits sealing entrances of housing blocks and closing off entire streets with green fencing – roughly roughly two metres tall – went viral on social media, prompting questions and complaints from residents.

Volunteers and government workers erected metal barriers in multiple districts to block off small streets and entrances to apartment complexes.

In the city’s financial district, Pudong, the barriers – thin metal sheets or mesh fences – were put up in several neighborhoods under a local government directive, according to Caixin, a Chinese business media outlet.

Buildings where cases have been found sealed up their main entrances, with a small opening for pandemic prevention workers to pass through.

“This is so disrespectful of the rights of the people inside, using metal barriers to enclose them like domestic animals,” said one user on social media platform Weibo.

One video showed residents shouting from balconies at workers trying to set up fencing. The workers relented and took it away. Other videos showed people trying to pull fences down.

“Isn’t this a fire hazard?” asked another Weibo user.

Worth reading in full.

Stop Press: Cindy Yu in the Spectator reports that Shanghai’s social media censors are losing control.

On Being Shanghaied

There follows a guest post by Dr. David Livermore, Professor of Medical Microbiology in the Norwich Medical School at UEA, who says the extreme Chinese response to Covid in Shanghai gives a new meaning to an old word.

shăng-hī′, shăng′hī″

transitive verb

  1. To kidnap (a man) for compulsory service aboard a ship, especially after drugging him.
  2. To induce or compel (someone) to do something, especially by fraud or force.

The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition.

Forgive me if this verb is now unacceptable. I fear it is unwoke, but I mean no harm. My usage is apposite. It’s the poor bloody Shanghainese who are being Shanghaied.

Following rising case numbers, China is applying its ‘Dynamic Zero Covid’ strategy to its principal commercial centre, a metropolis of 25 million souls, where the old and new cities face one another across the curving Huangpu River. The old side – full of ghosts from the International Settlement – has the Bund at its heart, a few blocks of stone-built European trading houses long ago converted to Government offices. On its corner with Nanking Road stands the art deco Cathay (Peace) Hotel where I used to drink gin slings while listening to old Chinese men playing jazz, anaesthetising myself before returning to freezing quarters at the Academy of Sciences, where I was lodged. The new side – Pudong – comprises gridded neon-jewelled streets of skyscrapers, offices and restaurants. It sprang up, quite suddenly, around 25 years ago, and buzzes with China’s new wealth, though it’s thin on soul or ghosts. On recent visits, hosts have insisted on entertaining me there, though I’d rather drift back to the Bund.     

Shanghai Plunged Into Lockdown

China’s biggest city has been plunged into lockdown amid the highest level of cases since the early weeks of the pandemic. The Telegraph has more.

Shanghai will lock down its eastern half – known as Pudong and including the main international airport and financial district – for five days of testing beginning on Monday, the government said. It will be followed by a similar lockdown of its western side, known as Puxi and featuring the historic Bund riverfront, from April 1st.

The metropolis of 25 million has in recent days become the leading hotspot in a nationwide outbreak that began to gain pace in early March.

Although recent case numbers remain insignificant in a global context, they are China’s highest since the first weeks of the pandemic, which first emerged in the city of Wuhan in late 2019.

China’s National Health Commission on Sunday reported more than 4,500 new domestically transmitted cases – down by more than 1,000 from the previous day, but still far higher than the double-digit daily tallies usually seen over the past two years.

Millions of residents in affected areas across the country have been subjected to city-wide lockdowns.

Shanghai, however, had thus far avoided a full lockdown, with officials saying it was imperative to keep the eastern Chinese port and financial hub running – for the good of both the national and global economies.

But with case counts climbing, the city government said in a public notice that the two-part lockdown was being implemented “to curb the spread of the epidemic, ensure the safety and health of the people” and root out cases of infection “as soon as possible”.

The announcement said buses, taxis and the city’s extensive subway system would also be shut down during the lockdown.

Worth reading in full.

Disney Closes Shanghai Resorts as China Struggles to Contain Covid Outbreak

Disney has closed Shanghai Disneyland, Disneytown and Wishing Star Park as China records its biggest COVID-19 outbreak in two years. MailOnline has more.

Disney said: “Due to the current pandemic situation, Shanghai Disney Resort, including Shanghai Disneyland, Disneytown and Wishing Star Park will be temporarily closed from Monday, March 21, 2022.

“We will continue to monitor the pandemic situation and consult local authorities, and will notify guests as soon as we have a confirmed date to resume operations.”

China is fighting its biggest wave of locally transmitted COVID-19 cases since the outbreak was first reported in Wuhan in early 2020.

The case numbers, despite showing a slight increase from the previous day’s 1,737, are still relatively low compared with other major countries, including the U.S. where 6,623 cases were reported on Sunday.

But authorities in China are enforcing a ‘zero tolerance’ strategy that has resulted in access to some major cities being suspended, while Changchun and Jilin in the northeast began another round of citywide virus testing following a surge in infections.

Jilin tightened anti-disease curbs, ordering its two million residents to stay home, after 1,542 of the 2,027 Chinese mainland infections on Sunday were reported in Jilin province, where Changchun and Jilin are located.

Meanwhile, the southern business center of Shenzhen allowed shops and offices to reopen after a weeklong closure.

Shanghai, which has a population of 24 million people, has avoided a citywide shutdown but appealed to the public to stay home and has launched a city-wide testing programme which has seen dozens of residential compounds sealed off for the last 48 hours.

Yet another nail in the coffin of the zero-Covid policy.

Worth reading in full.