Mes­sage in new Bei­jing out­break

Resur­gence shows sec­ond wave stays near

Calgary Herald - - NEWS - ADAM TAY­LOR Anal­y­sis

In much of Bei­jing, life had re­turned to some­thing like nor­mal weeks ago. Res­tau­rants wel­comed din­ers, peo­ple went back to work, schools re­opened. The pan­demic seemed like some­thing that was hap­pen­ing to the rest of the world.

Then Bei­jing an­nounced Thurs­day its first do­mes­ti­cally trans­mit­ted coro­n­avirus case in 55 days.

Au­thor­i­ties soon dis­cov­ered dozens more cases, mostly linked to a sprawl­ing mar­ket in Bei­jing’s south­east. On Satur­day, it reim­posed strict “wartime” mea­sures to pre­vent a sec­ond wave of in­fec­tions. Res­i­dents de­scribed some­thing akin to déjà vu.

“Two months of things loos­en­ing up, and life feel­ing like it’s go­ing to be nor­mal, and all of a sud­den we’re back to where we were in Fe­bru­ary,” Nel­son Quan, re­stricted to a com­pound in Yuquan dis­trict, told Al Jazeera.

The num­ber of cases re­mains small for a city of 22 mil­lion. But au­thor­i­ties are tak­ing few chances: 1,200 flights in and out of Bei­jing’s two air­ports were can­celled Wed­nes­day. Schools closed just a month af­ter re­open­ing.

In the weeks be­fore this out­break, Chi­nese of­fi­cials had spo­ken proudly of their suc­cess in con­tain­ing the coro­n­avirus, sug­gest­ing China could be a model for oth­ers to fol­low. But the new cases show that model may be much more frag­ile than it first ap­peared.

The new cases in Bei­jing raise wor­ry­ing ques­tions — not only about how the virus could have got­ten to Xin­fadi mar­ket, which is the ob­vi­ous con­cern, but also about whether live­stock or even fish carry the virus. Chi­nese of­fi­cials said the virus could have been cir­cu­lat­ing near the mar­ket since April.

One thing is painfully clear: This pan­demic is far from over.

Bei­jing is bat­tling a sec­ond wave, but other na­tions are not yet over their first. And as China takes its wartime ap­proach to fight­ing the coro­n­avirus, some na­tions are re­treat­ing. Amid fa­tigue, un­cer­tainty and eco­nomic pain, they have fallen back, choos­ing to sur­ren­der rather than sacri­fice.

In the United States, Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence wrote in the Wall Street Jour­nal’s opin­ion sec­tion this week that the me­dia got it wrong: The U.S. was not fac­ing a sec­ond wave of in­fec­tions, it was “win­ning the fight against the in­vis­i­ble en­emy.”

Nu­mer­ous ex­perts, in­clud­ing An­thony Fauci, Amer­ica’s top in­fec­tious-dis­ease of­fi­cial, con­tra­dict that as­sess­ment. “I don’t like to talk about a sec­ond wave right now, be­cause we haven’t got­ten out of our first wave,” Fauci told the Daily Beast.

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