Nanjing Covid Outbreak Raises Political Challenges For Beijing

THE COVID-19 OUTBREAK in Nanjing is the most serious since Wuhan and poses a challenge to the official narrative of overcoming the pandemic. Driven by the highly contagious Delta variant, it has spread to 13 cities across five provinces and Beijing.

Travel is again being restricted. Nanjing Lukou International Airport, an important air travel hub, will be closed for at least two weeks. Transiting passengers have taken the disease as far west as Sichuan and north as Liaoning.

The outbreak is being blamed on two cleaners of an inbound flight from Russia on July 10. State media say the cleaners did not follow hygiene protocols. Airport management has been rebuked for its lack of supervision and unprofessional management by Party disciplinary officials.

Other local outbreaks have been contained by the swift imposition of mass trace and testing, quarantines and extensive lockdowns. The same approach is being taken in Nanjing, where the city’s more than 9 million residents are all being tested.

Keeping a propaganda lid on this outbreak is made more difficult because of its extent. Both the response to the outbreak and the management of perceptions towards it are at risk of being outrun by the Delta variant.

Nonetheless, reported official figures show low levels of locally transmitted cases. State media portrays the Delta variant as a global phenomenon that China is battling to keep from entering the country.

A further threat to authorities is that the variant’s apparent ability to infect even those who have been vaccinated may throw doubt on the efficacy of Chinese vaccines and undermine its ‘vaccine diplomacy’ in third countries.

Some yet to be peer-reviewed research suggests a third booster shot of Sinovac six months after the initial vaccination may boost immunity.

Were it to be decided to do that nationally, could it be done in time to lift the ban on international travel ahead of the Beijing Winter Olympics in February next year? That is increasingly looming as a tricky political as well as public health deadline for authorities.

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One response to “Nanjing Covid Outbreak Raises Political Challenges For Beijing

  1. Pingback: Covid-19 Spike Continues To Demand Careful Management | China Bystander

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