The first week of December was brutal for China; daily Covid cases peaked at an all-time high. For three years, China enforced its hardline Zero Covid Policy with stringent state facility quarantine practices and constant swab testing to deter Covid surges effectively. Many factories and businesses were shut down as part of the government’s efforts to isolate cities which ultimately led to an unachieved GDP target this year.
The Zero Covid Policy is a topic of debate among its citizens; on November 26, a protest erupted in major cities after a fire broke out in an apartment building in Urumqi, resulting in 10 deaths. Critics pointed out that the building’s lockdown status hampered the residents’ escape. Years of lockdown have put many out of jobs and businesses and stripped the younger population of their social needs. The government responded to the mass protests by releasing several cities from lockdown.
The Zero Covid Policy was more or less well-favored among the Chinese in the early pandemic. Covid cases were almost non-existent thanks to stringent quarantine practices to the point that only a handful of people personally knew someone who had Covid.
Despite China’s all-time high daily Covid cases during the first week of December this year, the country will continue to relax Covid policies. Additionally, the government plans to improve vaccination rates among the elderly which experts take as a positive sign of a reopening economy.
The Philippines and many other countries are currently enjoying the immunity walls they built over time from previous surges in infections. China, on the other hand, never experienced a Covid surge as widespread as ours until sometime in mid-April and early December this year. Experts warned that easing quarantine practices must be slow otherwise daily Covid cases might spike and devastate the population with inadequate healthcare.