Beijing took advantage of its success to bring a virus that first appeared in the central city of Wuhan in late 2019, but was all but extinguished by strict closures, closed borders, and massive testing and tracing campaigns.
But the Delta variant has violated China’s defenses, with record local infections in dozens of cities – albeit still in small numbers – prompting authorities to reintroduce travel restrictions, mass testing and hyperlocal blocks.
Zhang Wenhong – a prominent doctor described by state media as “China’s Fauci,” according to top US infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci – has since said countries need to find a way “to learn how to to live with. “
“How China chooses in the future (…) will help establish communication with the world and return to normal life, while protecting citizens from fear of viruses,” Zhang wrote on Weibo, similar to Twitter, July 29.
The suggestion of a softer approach to Chain’s zero-case approach to virus control has enraged nationalists stalking Chinese social media.
Zhang has found himself accused of “bowing to foreign ideas” as an apparent witch hunt targets his college degrees.
Articles on Weibo accused Zhang of plagiarizing his doctoral thesis published two decades ago.
Shanghai Fudan University said on Sunday that it was “aware of the online reviews and had launched an investigation into the degree it awarded to Zhang in 2000”.
Zhang did not respond to AFP’s inquiries about the investigation.
Academics and scientists have rallied around Zhang, in a country where all non-state sanctioned information related to the pandemic is highly sensitive and has led to arrests and smear campaigns on social media.
“Who will dare to speak up and act according to their professional judgment in the future? Yan Feng, of Fudan’s Chinese Literature Department, said on Weibo.
As a sign of the risks, a teacher in eastern China’s Jianxi province has been detained by police for 15 days after commenting on a press article last week saying the country may “coexist with the coronavirus,” according to one. local government opinion.
China has reported 94,430 cases since the virus first emerged in Wuhan, and the death toll of 4,636 has remained unchanged for nearly a year.
But a recent outbreak at a Nanjing airport has spread to 18 provinces, infecting 1,300 people in two months – although only 13 national transmissions were reported on Monday.