China: Zero-COVID still the policy . . .
China has underscored its commitment to a zero-COVID approach by locking down Lanzhou, a city of four million, due to a slight uptick in COVID infections. The country reported 29 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, six of which were in Lanzhou. The Beijing Winter Olympics are only 100 days away, and Chinese officials are racing to contain a COVID-19 outbreak that has spread to 11 provinces. And with only Chinese residents permitted to attend the Games, Beijing is continuing to uphold its stringent travel entry rules, which consist of a mandatory quarantine and negative COVID-19 testing before arrival. However, observers suggest China might now adopt a new COVID approach that departs from Beijing’s current zero-tolerance policy. While the country has previously aimed to open up its borders after vaccinating 85 per cent of its population, 75.6 per cent has been fully vaccinated as of October 23.
New Zealand: Changing tack . . .
On October 4, New Zealand abandoned its pandemic elimination strategy after an outbreak of the Delta variant that began in mid-August. The country reluctantly transitioned to a three-phased reopening plan, and travel to the country remains restricted. The outbreak has spread beyond its epicentre in Auckland and recently reached the nation's South Island. As of Wednesday, there are 1,304 active COVID cases in the country. Although New Zealand's COVID-19 minister announced COVID rules will be updated by Christmas, the government remains firm that it won't reopen borders to foreign travel until 90 per cent of the eligible population is fully vaccinated.
Singapore: Living with COVID and opening to travellers . . .
Singapore was one of the first countries in Asia to adopt a zero-COVID strategy. Starting on October 12, fully vaccinated international travellers from certain designated countries, including Canada, are welcome to enter Singapore. However, even with 84 per cent of the eligible population fully vaccinated as of Wednesday, the country is seeing a fresh surge of COVID cases. With 5,324 new COVID cases confirmed today, the country has only 60 ICU beds left to treat severe COVID patients. The experiences of both Singapore and New Zealand suggest that once COVID-19 breaks out, continuing a zero-COVID policy is difficult in the extreme.
- The Globe and Mail: Rings on the Horizon: 100 days to go until the Beijing Winter Olympics
- New Zealand Herald: Covid 19 Delta outbreak: PM Jacinda Ardern reveals NZ's new traffic light system, 90 per cent vaccination target
- Today: Explainer: As Singapore learns to treat Covid-19 as endemic, how do we deal with our fear of the virus?