Europe 1 with AFP 10:36 a.m., May 6, 2022

China's zero Covid policy is proving costly for the country's economy, experts warn on Friday, a day after President Xi called for it to pursue this path.

According to official figures, the rigid policy of zero Covid has allowed China to limit its death toll to just over 5,000 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

China's zero Covid policy, which involves massive and repeated confinements and screenings of the population, is proving costly for the country's economy, experts warn on Friday, the day after a call from President Xi to continue this path.

According to official figures, the rigid zero Covid policy has allowed China to limit its death toll to just over 5,000 since the start of the pandemic.

Screening every 48 hours

As soon as a case of Covid-19 appears, the authorities impose strict containment measures.

For more than a month, the 25 million inhabitants of Shanghai have been under cover after an epidemic outbreak, while the shadow of confinement hangs over the capital Beijing.

Each new outbreak of Covid leads to free and systematic screening of residents in China, as well as confinements to varying degrees which penalize the economy.

While some cities tend to generalize the tests every 48 hours, this measure extended to the whole country could cost China up to 2.3 points of growth this year, warns the bank Nomura, skeptical.

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From an economic point of view, this risks penalizing "significantly" logistics and population movements for "limited" benefit and "high" costs, which will undermine growth, warns Nomura.

This observation comes as the rating agency Fitch has revised down its growth forecast for China this year, to 4.3% (against 4.8 previously).

A sharp decline in growth

China has set itself a growth target of "around 5.5%" this year, after 8.1% in 2021. A number of economists doubt that the Asian giant will achieve its goal, arguing the worsening of the health situation, the war in Ukraine and a crisis in real estate, a once buoyant sector.

While voices have been pleading in recent months for an easing of restrictions, President Xi Jinping called on Thursday to continue the zero Covid policy and "resolutely fight" anything that "questions" this strategy, according to the new China agency.

The communist power celebrates its health policy as proof of the superiority of its political system, compared to the epidemic outbreak in the rest of the world which has claimed several million victims.

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