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Sino-Dental postponed as Beijing clings to zero-COVID strategy

It is currently not business as usual in China, owing to Beijing’s continued pursuit of a strict zero-COVID policy. (Image: Graeme Kennedy/Shutterstock)

BEIJING, China: The 27th Sino-Dental China International Dental Exhibition and Scientific Conference has been postponed owing to concerns related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The major dental event was to take place in Beijing from 9 to 12 June, but no new dates have been given yet.

The organisers made the announcement on the event’s website, saying that the resurgence of COVID-19 cases in China and other countries had led to the postponement. They stated: “In particular, we are aware that our dental industry and community [have] again been affected by the latest [outbreak].”

The statement read: “The health and safety of our exhibitors, visitors and partners [are] always our priority. In the light of the current circumstance, the Sino-Dental organising committee has decided to announce the postponement of Sino-Dental 2022 […] The specific date of the later event will be announced by the organising committee in due course.” Seeking to reassure the dental community, the organisers said that they were confident of presenting an international dental event of a higher standard when circumstances permitted convening in Beijing again.

The organisers pointed out that exhibitors’ rights would be protected by the force majeure clause in the contracts signed with the exhibitors.

China strives for zero-COVID status

Millions of people are currently in lockdown across China as the country’s government continues to pursue a strict zero-COVID policy, which requires all individuals who test positive for SARS-CoV-2 and their close contacts to enter government-managed isolation facilities. The Financial Times reported in May that the resulting health measures have hampered Chinese production lines and its ports, leading to warnings from Western multinationals that Beijing’s efforts to contain the virus were muddying their financial outlooks and resulting in higher costs and worsening supply chain bottlenecks.

World Health Organization Director General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has called China’s strategy unsustainable, leading to a sharp rebuke from the government-affiliated English-language daily the Global Times, which wrote that Ghebreyesus’s comments were irresponsible and “failed to grasp a full and accurate evaluation of China’s fight against COVID-19”.

According to a study by Chinese researchers, published in Nature Medicine on 10 May, abandoning the policy could result in more than 112.0 million symptomatic cases of COVID-19 and more than 1.5 million deaths.

Fellow Asia Pacific nations who pursued a policy of elimination—including Australia, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan and New Zealand—recorded lower deaths per capita, a faster resurgence of gross domestic profit and a lesser restriction of their populations’ civil liberties compared with countries who opted early for SARS-CoV-2 mitigation, according to an April 2021 commentary published in The Lancet. Factors such as widespread inoculation against the virus and the emergence of the highly contagious omicron variant, however, have since resulted in those countries abandoning elimination strategies and moving towards mitigation and management of the virus.

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