The number of deaths from covid continues to grow in Shanghai, still confined and without an opening date, while controversy increases over the constant distribution of batches of traditional Chinese medicine among residents, some of whom question its usefulness.
The city, of 25 million inhabitants, registered this Wednesday 2,634 new cases of covid and more than 15,000 asymptomatic -not classified as positive by the Chinese authorities unless they show symptoms-, in addition to eight deaths, raising the total death toll in this regrowth of omicron at 25.
Despite the fact that the number of new cases fell below 20,000 -including symptomatic and asymptomatic- for the first time in 15 days, the number of deaths exceeded that of Monday and Tuesday, when seven were registered each day.
“ZERO COVID IN SOCIETY”
Chinese Vice Premier Sun Chunlan, sent by the central government to Shanghai, on Wednesday emphasized the goal of soon achieving “zero covid in society”, which refers to the absence of new positive cases outside quarantine centers, hospitals and neighborhoods classified as “high risk”.
Outside of these places, 441 new cases were registered, according to official data.
Sun, who assured that the city’s fight “is at a critical moment,” declared that “any relaxation in anti-pandemic tasks is unacceptable.”
Likewise, Sun insisted on the need to “transfer all those infected to quarantine centers”, one of the pillars of China’s zero covid strategy along with border closures, massive PCR tests and limitations on mobility there. where a case is detected and, at the same time, one of the most controversial requirements among the population of Shanghai due to the poor conditions of some isolation centers.
In social networks, where some signs of discontent have been censored in recent days, the exhaustion of the patience of the residents is palpable, subjected to a strict confinement that officially began on March 28 in a part of the city, and that at times they have had to deal with food shortages and lack of medical care.
THERE IS NO LACK OF TRADITIONAL CHINESE MEDICINE
Despite the aforementioned food supply problems, Shanghai residents have received copious amounts of a traditional Chinese medicine commonly used to treat cold symptoms called Lianhua Qingwen, of which authorities have distributed at least 8 million boxes, according to the Hong Kong newspaper South China Morning Post.
This massive distribution of the medicine, a compound of medicinal herbs based on a thousand-year-old recipe and developed during the SARS outbreak in 2003, has been criticized by some voices in the Chinese medical community.
“Its effectiveness has never been strictly tested and its distribution could harm the interests of residents suffering from food and medicine shortages,” Rao Yi, president of Peking Medical University, said in a recent statement.
Chinese social networks have criticized that priority was given to sending Lianhua Qingwen at a time when there were more pressing needs: “A medicine without effect against covid-19 should not have been sent to healthy people or added pressure logistical capacity for it,” three experts said in a statement.
Other personalities such as the prestigious epidemiologist Zhong Nanshan have supported its consumption based on a study, in which 284 covid-19 patients participated, which showed a faster recovery in those who had taken Lianhua Qingwen, which did not prove to be able to prevent an infection. serious.
Wang Sicong, the well-known son of the founder of the Wanda group, Wang Jianlin, one of the richest men in China, criticized this week on his Weibo account (the Chinese equivalent of Twitter, blocked in the country) the distribution of medicine: He republished a message that questioned its effectiveness and called for an investigation by the pharmaceutical group that manufactures it.
Soon after, Wang’s account, which has more than 40 million followers, was silenced by Weibo for “breaking laws and regulations.”
However, numerous users of Chinese social networks assure that the compound works against symptoms such as fever: “The last time I had a fever, it went away only after taking Lianhua Qingwen,” says a user.
Chinese health authorities, many of whose embassies abroad have already distributed Lianhua Qingwen among their citizens in 2020, have argued that traditional Chinese medicine has shown effectiveness in reducing the number of serious cases and deaths from covid-19, and have including treatments such as acupuncture in national protocols for prevention and control.