China Covid pandemic protests: Dr Nick Coatsworth warns most perilous moment is now as virus spreads

Why the most perilous moment of the Covid pandemic is NOW, explains top doctor, as the virus spirals out of control in China

  • Dr Nick Coatsworth has warned Covid is spiralling out of control across China 
  • Ex deputy chief medical officer says it could be most perilous moment globally
  • Thousands of Chinese have taken to the streets against nation’s Covid policies
  • China is pursuing a draconian zero-Covid policy with harsh lockdowns and rules 

A top Australian doctor has warned that the world is facing the most perilous moment of the Covid pandemic as the virus runs out of control in China.  

Former federal deputy chief medical officer Dr Nick Coatsworth said the Chinese government’s inability to get elderly residents vaccinated meant the ‘genie was out of the bottle’ and warned we would now see ‘significant’ Covid spread and even death. 

China has been pursuing a controversial zero-Covid policy by trying to eliminate the virus through harsh restrictions and quarantine measures. 

However, its reliance on its own vaccines, rather than superior foreign ones, has led to a huge spread of Covid and growing discontent, with thousands of people taking to the streets in China this week to protest against President Xi Jinping‘s policies. 

In recent days, Chinese police have clashed with thousands protesting the country's draconian Covid lockdowns

 In recent days, Chinese police have clashed with thousands protesting the country’s draconian Covid lockdowns

China has been pursuing a controversial zero-Covid policy by trying to eliminate the virus through harsh restrictions and quarantine measures

China has been pursuing a controversial zero-Covid policy by trying to eliminate the virus through harsh restrictions and quarantine measures

Appearing on the Today Show on Wednesday, Dr Coatsworth said the chaos in China was a bad sign for the rest of the world.

‘I’d almost say that this is the most serious moment for the globe in the pandemic,’ he said.   

‘Obviously China has had a particularly stringent Covid Zero policy but unfortunately that hasn’t been accompanied by an ability to convince elderly Chinese to get vaccinated.

‘So we have a situation now where in a country of 1.4 billion people, only 40 per cent of over 80s have received a third dose of Covid-19 vaccine.’

Dr Coatsworth said China would no longer be able to ‘hold back’ Covid as it spreads through the nation.

‘With the Omicron variant being so infectious it will spread now and I think the genie is certainly out of the bottle,’ he said.

‘The Chinese government won’t be able to hold back Covid now and it will spread through that population and we will see significant health impact and deaths.

‘Whatever one thinks of the Chinese government, I think the solidarity of the world needs to be behind the Chinese people here who are going to suffer in a way that perhaps we haven’t seen from the COVID-19 pandemic thus far.’

He also suggested that the situation showed China’s zero-Covid strategy was unsustainable. 

‘If you’re going to adopt such a stringent strategy of Covid zero for so long and the most authoritarian government in the world will eventually find that their population rebels against it,’ he said.

‘I mean we talk about pandemic fatigue in Australia, this is on a completely different scale, obviously in China, but if you’re going to adopt that policy, you better make sure that you’re convincing your population to get vaccinated?

‘Whatever the reason, they have not been able to convince elderly Chinese to get vaccinated and of course they are going to bear the brunt of this wave sweeping across China at the moment.’ 

Hundreds could be heard asking for President Xi Jinping to resign in remarkable scenes from the communist country

Hundreds could be heard asking for President Xi Jinping to resign in remarkable scenes from the communist country

In the city of Shanghai, videos posted on social media by foreign journalists show thousands of people taking to the streets to remember the victims and to protest against Covid restrictions.

In the city of Shanghai, videos posted on social media by foreign journalists show thousands of people taking to the streets to remember the victims and to protest against Covid restrictions.

The Communication University of China in Nanjing was trending on Weibo on Saturday night, with one hashtag receiving over 180 million views. Students at the university gathered chanting slogans such as "long live the people" and turning on the lights on their phone as a tribute to victims of the fire in Urumqi.

The Communication University of China in Nanjing was trending on Weibo on Saturday night, with one hashtag receiving over 180 million views. Students at the university gathered chanting slogans such as ‘long live the people’ and turning on the lights on their phone as a tribute to victims of the fire in Urumqi.

In recent days, Chinese police have clashed with thousands protesting the country’s draconian Covid lockdowns – as unprecedented civil unrest gripped the nation.

Demonstrations erupted in at least seven cities – including Shanghai, Nanjing and Guangzhou – with violence breaking out between local cops and furious protesters.

The largest demonstration appeared in Shanghai – home to 26million residents – with many boldly demanding President Xi Jinping resign.

And Dr Coatsworth warned: ‘I think the virus eventually dictates what you have to do as a policy maker.

‘Even if you’re the most powerful policy maker in the world, the virus will overcome the power of Xi Jinping and he will obviously have to have to adapt policies.

‘But this might be the most significant impact that we’ve seen in the pandemic where you actually have protests across multiple Chinese cities against a world leader who has held absolute authority up until the past week or so.

‘It’s interesting to see how it plays out considering where the rest of the world is with this one.’

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