Chinese cities ease Covid-19 curbs - GulfToday

Chinese cities ease Covid-19 curbs

People line up to get tested for COVID-19 at a testing site in Shanghai. Reuters

People line up to get tested for COVID-19 at a testing site in Shanghai. Reuters

It would seem that Chinese authorities have responded to the protests about the Covid-19 restrictions in some of the major cities because of zero-Covid 19 policy of the government. People did not only feel choked by the quarantine and testing requirements, but also by the economic disruption it had caused in the lives of the people. In southern Shenzhen, in Chengdu and in Tianjin, people are not any more required to get negative tests done in order to use public transport and enter public parks and other recreational areas. But the 48-hour test is required to enter shopping malls. It is being inferred that the partial easing of the restrictions was in response to the public protests, but there is no acknowledgement from the government about the easing of restrictions. The government continues to pursue its Covid-19 policy. It would appear that the cases of Covid-19 have gone down though numbers have been shared by the authorities.

It is evident that Chinese authorities are in a dilemma on the strategy to deal with the persistence of the pandemic. When the Covid-19 broke out in December 2019 and January 2020, the Chinese government quarantined whole cities and created hundreds of temporary hospital facilities to treat the Covid-19 cases, especially in Wuhan, where it was first detected. And according to information shared by the Chinese at the time, the death toll was restricted to around 4,000 though the infections ranged in hundreds of thousands. Whenever the pandemic resurfaced in the last two years, the Chinese tried to localise it by imposing strict quarantine in the affected cities and regions. And it would see the policy worked, and the zero tolerance policy seems to have evolved from the apparent success of the method.

But there is as yet no clear data as to how many people have been infected in the country, how many have been vaccinated and whether the Chinese vaccines were effective. The Chinese vaccines have shown success rates when it was tested through clinical trials in some of the foreign countries. But the resurgence of the pandemic leaves many questions unanswered. The World Health Organisation (WHO) stance on China in the matter of Covid-19 has been ambiguous. At one level, the WHO officials have been arguing that the Covid-19 has not subsided, and that the government should not relax the rules. And there was an indirect endorsement of China’s zero-Covid19 policy. But on Friday, WHO’s Emergencies Director Dr Michael Ryan that United Nations was happy that China was easing Covid-19 restrictions, and that the Chinese authorities were responding to the people’s demands. He said, “it’s really important that governments listen to their people when the people are in pain.” The statement does not mean much as long as it is not clarified that restrictions are no more needed because the threat of coronavirus has lessened. The WHO has so far not given any signal that the Covid-19 tide has receded. It has been arguing, and rightly too, that the majority of the poor people in the world still do not have access to the Covid-19 vaccines. But that does not say much as to where the world stands in relation to the pandemic.

There is concern about China’s strict Covid-19 policies because it is impacting China’s economic activity and the growth rate is decreasing, and a fall in economic growth rate in China has a negative impact on the global economy, especially in Europe and the United Nations. China occupies a crucial position in the global supply chains, and it will take a long time before alternative supply chain systems are established.

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