Zero Covid holds ****er for China's Xi

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Zero Covid holds ****er for China's Xi

Halfway to the capital, officials wearing protective clothing stopped the train, boarded and announced on megaphones that everyone must get off because one of the passengers had been linked to a Covid cluster.To get more news about china coronavirus update, you can visit shine news official website.

Chinese people mostly went along with such demands early in the pandemic because they believed the government knew what it was doing. Now, the authorities can't rely on such compliance.

Travellers shouted back: "No! Why should we get off? How did you let this person on the train?"

But they were soon bussed off to an isolation centre hundreds of kilometres away.

Such measures are part of China's uncompromising "zero Covid" strategy. President Xi Jinping has repeatedly warned that no other path is acceptable.After the initial outbreak in Wuhan, the country has been kept inside a giant Covid protection bubble, shielding the population from the high death rates experienced elsewhere, but it has come at a cost - and growing political risk.

In China, what the Communist Party fears above all else is major social unrest - and Mr Xi does not want to see this ahead of his move into a historic third term at a Party congress later this year.While the rest of the world is trying to live with Covid, China is the only major economy still prioritising the fight against the virus above almost everything else.

So-called zero Covid measures involve mass testing, tracking and strict isolation. Just a handful of cases can spark a city-wide lockdown.

Beijing has had only a few infections recently but its more than 21 million residents are required to queue for PCR tests every three days to access public buildings and even corner shops.

When a Covid case is confirmed, a whole suburb can be swiftly cordoned off. It's been especially hard for businesses - shops, bars and restaurants can be seen pulling down shutters for good.

Everyone in China is living under a cloud of uncertainty. It's difficult to make plans, and it makes one wonder how much longer people will put up with this.If the Party is not worried about all this, it should be. It's not hard to imagine riots in Shanghai if residents were to be confined to their homes again.

Yet, China has shown no signs of shifting its Covid approach. The world is looking on and asking why.It's not clear why China dropped the ball on vaccination rates, which are still seen as too low for the country to safely reopen. Officials fear that a widespread outbreak could overwhelm hospitals and cause many deaths.

"Some vulnerable groups haven't been fully vaccinated with two doses or booster shots, so we can't just give in," Professor Liang Wannian from China's National Health Commission said in March.

There's been a belated move to ramp up vaccine rates - 89% of people have had two shots, but only 56% of those eligible have received a booster, according to official data.It's been especially worrying among the elderly. In Hong Kong, a huge proportion of those who've died have been older and unvaccinated.

During the Shanghai outbreak in April, city officials said that only 38% of those over 60 had received three shots, and only 15% of those over 80 had got the first two jabs.

Across the country, only 19.7% of those over 80 have had a booster.

Why the reluctance? For many in China, the government's success in controlling Covid before the Omicron variant seems to have reduced the urgency for vaccination.

Officials had been portraying Covid as an overseas problem, blaming passengers from abroad for bringing the virus into China and this belief took hold.

People have also told the BBC that some doctors have warned those with underlying conditions of the dangers associated with vaccination - rather than of the dangers of not being vaccinated, especially for the elderly or patients in high-risk groups.