The world’s second-largest economy has paid dearly for China’s last three policies of imposing extreme lockdowns to curb Covid-19 outbreaks.
Its president, Xi Jinping, and his inner circle of advisors must decide whether a swift relaxing of lockdown controls enacted this week would avoid a repeat of the nation’s tremor of protests while also revitalizing the economy.
Vaccines for COVID-19
The indicators are only moderately positive in the days following Beijing’s announcement of legislation reforms, including allowing persons with few or no symptoms to quarantine at home.
Due to a shortage of effective vaccines and the fact that a considerable section of the population has received fewer or no vaccinations than the three required for total protection, businesses will have to deal with a sickly staff, which may have an even greater impact on productivity than a lockdown.
State-run media has welcomed new government-approved immunizations. Still, nothing is known regarding their effectiveness. Meanwhile, rumors that pharmacies are already running low on basic prescriptions like ibuprofen are weakening public trust in the healthcare system and its ability to safeguard patients without resorting to lockdowns.
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Nonetheless, Xi was forced to soften the rules. Commerce with the rest of the world had collapsed, young unemployment had soared, and there had been extraordinary public outbursts from demonstrators demanding his resignation.
China’s Zero-Covid Policy
Since numerous local logistic hubs, such as Dongxi Hu District, reported incidents throughout the year, Wuhan, in central China, has been under intermittent, partial lockdown.
As the public outcry over the zero-COVID policy rose, Sam Yuen, a Wuhan teacher, attended rallies in November asking for an end to the lockdowns. Thousands more joined the protests in cities throughout China.
When people became ill with an unusual kind of pneumonia in December 2019, authorities were reprimanded for acting too slowly and seeking to conceal the disease. A cluster of cases related to the Huanan seafood market triggered the sickness.
On Friday, a Reuters reporter went to the downtown market, which was still boarded up. Due to the rising number of cases in Wuhan, officials were compelled to swiftly construct makeshift hospitals in gyms, stadiums, and conference halls while the city was closed down.
In April 2020, 3,869 deaths were officially registered by local officials. Others claimed the actual numbers were significantly higher due to accounts of people standing in line at funeral establishments to take up loved ones’ ashes and urns.