China insists its zero-Covid strategy is correct. Challenging it can be dangerous

Professor Zhang Wenhong attends a live video streaming webcast about prevention of the virus on April 02, 2020 in Shanghai, China.

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Hong Kong (CNN)As the highly infectious Delta variant took hold in China last month, Zhang Wenhong, a well-respected infectious disease expert in Shanghai, told a concerned Chinese public to prepare to live with the coronavirus for the long haul — but his candor came at a price.

For more than a year, China had largely kept the virus at bay by tightly sealing its borders and swiftly taming local flare-ups with zero tolerance for infections. But despite stringent measures, a dozen cases of the Delta variant were detected among cleaning staff at one of the country's busiest airports. The variant soon spread to more than half of China's 31 provinces, resulting in excess of 1,000 infections in less than three weeks.
The rapid spread of Delta c