The End of Zero-Covid Policy In China
After three years of harsh and suffocating lockdowns, Chinese people can now have a breath of fresh air. The centralized quarantine imposed across the entire country is no longer in effect. Along with that, Chinese travelers from overseas countries can now enter with just a negative PCR test is done 48 hours before entry.
The Abrupt U-Turn
The Chinese government, media, and health experts were enthusiastic about the proactive lockdowns and how the stringent measures prevented the number of deaths from getting out of control. However, the tone started changing from December onwards with health experts turning 180 degrees from what they claimed earlier.
Back in October 2022, Liang Wannian, the man who is at the forefront of architecting the stringent lockdowns claimed that China could not “lie flat” like Western countries and should continue imposing dynamic zero-covid policies. Fast forward to December 2022, the same expert claimed that the country was “in a good position” as 90% of its population has been vaccinated.
Outsiders as well as people within China are baffled by this sudden change of tone. Although the people in the country welcome the downgraded Covid-response strategy, the U-turn has damaged the image of the government.
What’s Going To Change?
As the nation of 1.4 billion reopens its borders, things will start coming back to normal. This restoration of normalcy can look like a huge change in a country that normalized lockdown.
Starting from Sunday 8th January 2023, Chinese borders will reopen for international travelers wishing to return home ahead of the Lunar new year. However, this change in policy started in December last year when the Covid-19 management policies were downgraded to class B This means –
- The infection will no longer be equal to Cholera or plague. As per the Class B classification, Chinese authorities will start equating Covid-19 infection with infections like SARS, AIDS, or TB.
- International travelers won’t need to register themselves to get a health ID and plan ahead. Apart from a negative PCR test report 48 hours before arrival, travelers don’t need to fulfill any other criteria. No isolation is necessary.
Apart from that, Chinese authorities will do away with designing high-risk areas. Restrictions on the movement of people and vehicles have been lifted as per the recent downgrade. The government claims that the decision of downgrading the Covid-19 management policies has been taken after due consideration and discussions with the scientific and medical community. According to Chinese authorities, this will reduce unnecessary usage of medical amenities thereby keeping them available for people in actual need.
The Pictures Tell Otherwise
Although the Chinese government is claiming its win against the virus, images and videos coming from out of the country despite the stringent censorship tell a different story.
Satellite imagery shared by a researcher, Damien Symon reveals that Chinese crematoriums are packed with dead bodies with vehicles lined up outside them. Along with that the recent news of celebrities dying of Covid has sent shivers down the spine of Chinese citizens and people from other countries as well. The deaths of celebrities like the Opera singer – Chu Lanlan or the scriptwriter – Ni Zhen have sparked questions regarding the actual figure of Covid-related deaths.
A Cautious World Looks Anxiously
While China has reopened its borders, the rest of the world remains concerned with the alleged under-reporting of Covid deaths by China, and the recent surge in cases. Countries like India, the UK, the US, France, Italy, etc continue to ask for negative Covid test reports from travelers arriving from China. Belgium has gone one step further. It will be testing wastewater in airplanes coming from China to look for newer strains of the virus.