China’s continuing Covid-19 challenge - GulfToday

China’s continuing Covid-19 challenge

Paramedics prepapre to start PCR testing at a makeshift hospital in Huainan, Anhui province, China.

Paramedics prepapre to start PCR testing at a makeshift hospital in Huainan, Anhui province, China.

China is facing a fresh spike in Covid-19 cases. There were 28,127 fresh cases on Tuesday morning, of which 25,902 were without symptoms. It is reckoned that in the last three weeks, there have been 253,000 cases. Following the government’s strict “zero Covid” policy, many of the parks have been closed in Beijing and people who came into Shanghai cannot go to public places like the malls until after five days of their arrival.

The government fears that it needs to control the pandemic and now allow it overwhelm the public health system. China’s new Covid-19 numbers are much less than the count in many other countries, but China is not willing to take risks.

Though there are no drastic shutdowns of whole cities, and the restrictions are somewhat flexible, China is facing a decrease in economic activity, which is impacting its domestic growth numbers, its exports. China’s economic slowdown has an impact on global economy because China is a key market for many of the south-east Asian nations and a fall in its domestic consumption will affect the regional economic growth rate.

 China’s exports are slowing down because of the looming inflation, raised interest rates and fall in consumption. At the same time, the overcautious Chinese government attitude towards Covid-19 has slowed down economic activity though it has not come to a halt.

Many countries in the world have relaxed Covid-19 restrictions though the virus cases have not completely disappeared.

Many Chinese, especially in Beijing, point to the football World Cup and the massive spectators crowding the stadia in Doha, where people were not even wearing masks.

But the Chinese government is not willing to take any risks.

China has been hard at work even in December, 2019 when the Covid-19 broke out, and it was declared a global health emergency at the end of January 2020.

Official records revealed that those who died in the early phase of the epidemic did not cross 4,000 compared to the hundreds of thousands who had died in Europe, and then in the United States, followed by India.

China was also quick in getting out an anti-Covid-19 vaccine in late 2020, along with Russia, Britain, the US and India.

The Covid-19 had been brought under control through vaccination in most countries, but China had been struggling to tame the numbers through much of this year.

Most international critics have pointed out that China’s ‘zero Covid-19’ policy was unrealistic and that it was causing unnecessary hardship to the people and to China’s economy at large.

There is a clear understanding that the slowing down of Chinese economy will slow down global economic growth rate.

As second largest economy after the US, with a GDP of around $17 trillion, China’s economic woes cannot but have their impact on the world economy as well, even as a slowdown in the European Union (EU) economy would impact the exports of many emerging market economies.

But Chinese authorities, it seems, will risk slowdown in the national economy, rather than the outbreak of a nationwide pandemic over which they have no control.

The policy is sure to bewilder China-watchers across the world because governments and political leaders would risk the lives of people rather than fall in economic growth.

But Chinese leaders are perhaps right that caution is a better policy in these matters. Covid-19, despite intense scientific research, remains an X factor.

One is not sure of its unpredictable mutations and what the antidotes in the form of vaccines could be.

Secondly, it appears that Chinese authorities recognise that vaccines are of limited use and that they are not effective against mutations.

Unlike many other governments in the world, Chinese government is not willing to proclaim a hasty victory over Covid-19.

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