(Bloomberg) -- The Covid Zero policy is the most “economic and effective” for China and the country is capable of achieving the goal of stamping out infection, President Xi Jinping said on a visit to Wuhan, the city where the virus first emerged in late 2019.
The remarks, reported by state media Xinhua, made clear that the world’s No. 2 economy does not plan to back away from an approach of lockdowns and mass testing that has isolated it from a world living with the virus.
Efforts to stamp out the pathogen as it’s become increasingly infectious has extracted a tremendous social and economic cost, but China has defied critics that said elimination wasn’t possible as its biggest cities of Beijing and Shanghai squashed outbreaks with months of strict curbs.
Xi’s comments are likely to dash hope that China is cautiously embarking on an exit plan, after its travel curbs were unexpectedly eased on Tuesday.
“China’s population base is large, and if ‘herd immunity’ and ‘lying flat’ policies were taken, the consequences will be unimaginable,” he said, according to Xinhua. “We would rather temporarily affect a little economic development, than to risk harming people’s life safety and physical health, especially the elderly and children.”
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