Here Are the Risks of China Easing Its Zero-COVID Policy & How It’ll Affect Us

For three years now, China’s “Zero-COVID” policy has been haunting its citizens with lockdowns for days and sometimes even months.

This has caused many to feel anger and annoyance at the government due to the inconvenience it has brought them.

Many lost their jobs, with employment rates reaching an all-time high and small businesses being forced to shut down due to the measures put in place.

The bubble finally popped when protestors of all ages suddenly took to the streets to express their discontent with the policy.

This protest, which happened in the Xinjiang region, saw protestors stomping the streets while carrying the national flag to demand an end to the lockdown imposed on them for more than 100 days.

This situation caused the government to start easing measures in phases in hopes of allowing citizens to, in a way, lead a “normal” life once again.

PCR Test is no longer Needed

Previously, a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test was needed if one wanted to visit another region in China.

However, according to the new rules, one does not need to undergo a PCR test anymore when travelling.

Furthermore, mass testing will no longer be the norm for “high-risk” areas.

The term “High-Risk Area” is now limited to buildings and certain floors compared to a whole neighbourhood in the past.

Self-Quarantine at Home

Unlike Singapore, those in China with mild symptoms of COVID were forced to stay in makeshift isolation facilities and hospitals.

This caused a great load of stress on the country’s healthcare system as well as the mental health of its citizens.

However, due to the new measures, people with mild COVID symptoms can now self-isolate at home instead of staying at an isolation facility.

Close contact cases can also self-isolate at home and are free to leave their house on the fifth day if their PCR test returns negative.

COVID now a Class B Disease

In an effort to help its citizens recognise the disease is not as severe as it was thought to be, the Chinese government has indicated that COVID-19 is now a class B disease, which is the group that contains other more common diseases such as AIDS and typhoid.

Furthermore, the restrictions that were implemented for the sales of flu and cold medications to prevent “panic buying” has been lifted.

Pros and Cons of Easing Policy

The world shared many opinions on the easing of rules by the Chinese government.

One of the pros mentioned consistently is that the easing of their Zero-COVID policy will definitely help to boost its economy once again.

However, many have been bashing the change due to its risks.

This is because, with the easing of the rules, many people feel it is unsafe to go out onto the streets.

With self-isolation now a thing, many are left wondering how the government will keep track of those who break the law.

Unlike Singapore, China has a population of over 1.4 billion people. This makes it almost impossible to track who is self-isolating and who is not, making infections more prominent if people do not follow the measures put in place.

Others also feel that the government should only ease measures after a certain percentage of the population is fully vaccinated.

Despite the government’s effort to encourage its citizens to take the vaccine, a huge amount, especially the vulnerable elderly, has yet to go for their jab.

According to Medicalxpress, only 9 in ten people are fully vaccinated, while only 66% of those over 80 are vaccinated.

This causes them to be extra vulnerable to COVID, which in turn leads to the spreading of the disease and a higher rate of death.

Furthermore, a study done by ScienceDirect has shown that those who have taken three jabs of Sinovac are 50% more likely to be infected by the COVID-19 disease.

According to the study, the jab’s ineffectiveness against the disease is due to the use of older technology which uses inactivated virus to get a response during its testing stage.

With all that being said, a few netizens have pointed out that by going in this direction, the disease could possibly transit into an endemic problem for the country instead of needing to face it as a pandemic.

This means that instead of living in fear and trying to prevent people from contracting the disease, people will have to learn to live with it as though it is a common illness, such as a cold or a cough.

However, one concern that many scientists have is that this will cause an evolution of a new variant.

According to Eric Topol, the founder and director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute, if there is a sudden significant spike of COVID cases in China, there is a possibility that a new form of variant can be created.

If a new variant spreads, this could mean that the world could be at risk as well because, as we know, some of the vaccines that are given to many people around the world are defenceless against newer variants such as Omnicron.

Travelling to China

As of the writing of this article, the borders of China are still closed to those who are looking to enter the country for leisure purposes.

However, the Singapore-China Fast Lane for essential business and official travel between Singapore and China is still valid as long as the individual is sponsored either by a company or government agency from China.

All they have to do is simply make an application to the Chinese government on behalf of the visitor.

Also, since 11 Nov, visitors visiting China only need to undergo five days of centralised quarantine, which needs to be followed up by three days of self-isolation.

Travellers are encouraged to check for new information regarding the COVID-19 situation in China, such as the restrictions, quarantine orders, tests and others, before departing for the country.

You can click on this link for more information on the application process for travelling to China.

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Featured Image: Shutterstock (Graeme Kennedy & Pim Pic)