Despite exerting a lot of pressure on China’s economy and facing criticism from citizens of China, the Chinese government is still pushing forward the zero-COVID program. At the moment, several cities in China are either under partial lockdowns or full lockdowns. Some cities have been placed under district-based controls as the Chinese government tries to control the spread of COVID-19 infections. On Monday, the government issued a work from home policy in Beijing. Therefore, most subway systems across the city remained empty. In addition, parks, roads, and apartment blocks were closed as per the zero-COVID policy.
The Zero-COVID Policy
The Chinese zero-COVID policy is a strategy that has been put in place by the Chinese government to ensure that the coronavirus does not spread at the community level. To achieve this objective, the Chinese government has put in place some strict measures. In addition, the officials have also implemented a plan to use stringent and targeted lockdowns and mass testing. Officials have also ensured that the surrounding boarders have been closed across the country.
The Chinese officials enforced a lockdown that lasted for weeks in Shanghai after the massive coronavirus outbreak in the city. The outbreak has been going on since March. All the town residents were not allowed to leave their homes unless it was a medical emergency. The lockdown went on for several weeks until the authorities lifted it earlier this month. The lockdown ended when the Chinese government confirmed that there had been no coronavirus cases outside the strictest quarantine zone for two consecutive days. Lately, Shanghai has launched a new push to ensure that coronavirus infections outside quarantine zones cease to exist by the end of this month.
Despite no official reports, some residents in Beijing over the weekend claimed they received notices notifying them that they were not allowed to leave their homes or collect deliveries. The notice informed them these measures were part of the government’s plan to reduce coronavirus community infection to zero.
Citizens’ Reactions to the Zero COVID Policy
For the Chinese government to be able to drive coronavirus community infection to zero, it has been forced to separate individuals who test positive for the virus from their families. In addition, some vital medical services and treatment have also been delayed. These are some of the factors that have caused the zero COVID policy to face stern criticism from the citizens of China.
Since The government put the zero COVID policy in practice, there has been simmering antipathy at the apparent inept of the coronavirus controls, assorted messaging, and clumsiness of officials from Shanghai. It is reported that officials swept citizens with a negative test of COVID-19 into the national quarantine and then ordered keys to their houses for fumigation. Most legal experts have condemned these actions by the Chinese officials as illegal.
In an exclusive interview with Eat News, Sezan Tairi, a program change analyst at Kangan Institute, sided with WHO in condemning China’s zero COVID strategy. He added that the program is not sustainable given the nature of the virus.
Footage filming citizens as they were demanding help has been circulated across several social media users. The video featured citizens begging for introductory provisions and cries of babies who have separated from their mothers, relatives, and friends, imploring them to get medical attention for their dying loved ones.
There were efforts to remove the six-minute video clip from the Chinese internet; however, Chinese netizens and those living abroad have kept it alive on social media platforms of the West. More videos that emerged from Shanghai showed residents protesting by hitting pans and other utensils outside their windows. The residents were demanding the officials provide more food and other necessities. Another video featured men yelling to be given back their freedom.
Also, an online user shared a video of a police tampering with a lock on the internet after a resident resisted opening a door. A voice recording of a call between a woman and an official arguing also emerged. In the recording, the official is demanding to spray disinfectant in the woman’s house even though she tested negative for the COVID-19 virus.
The Chinese authorities have shrugged away the criticism from the public, arguing that the zero-COVID policy is saving lives. The officials in Shanghai claim that the zero COVID policy is helping them win the fight against coronavirus.
Zero-COVID Policy Impact on The Chinese Economy
The firm COVID-19 rules outlined by the zero-COVID policy hit China’s trade as its export growth decelerated in April to its lowest level ever since June 2020. The country recorded almost no increase in imports with the partial domestic demands. In addition, the implementation of these policies has caused several factories to close down across Shanghai. Experts have warned the Chinese officials that the situation will continue to worsen.
In the meantime, the European Chamber of Commerce in China reported that China-based European firms experienced reduced business assurance due to China’s stringent lockdowns.
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