The Disastrous Implications of Lifting Zero-COVID in China

The Disastrous Implications of Lifting Zero-COVID in China

Over the past week, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) government has initiated a dangerous policy shift away from the Zero-COVID elimination strategy that has been in place across China since the pandemic began.

The clearest evidence of this change is the publication last Friday of 20 measures by the National Health Commission (NHC) which restrict all aspects of the Zero-COVID policy, in conditions where new daily cases have increased more than tenfold. since late October. According Our world in datathe seven-day average of new daily cases in China now stands at 15,897 and is on track to hit a record high next week.

[Photo by Our World In Data / CC BY 4.0]

The 20 measures include reduced mass testing protocols, restrictions on localities’ ability to impose lockdowns, shortened quarantine times for close contacts of people infected with COVID-19, easing travel restrictions to and within China, end contact tracing for secondary contacts, and more.

Despite a week-long surge of cases in Guangzhou, authorities have refrained from implementing a citywide lockdown, and rising waves in other major cities across the country have failed to trigger a lockdown. for the first time since Wuhan’s initial lockdown began on January 23. 2020.

The 20 measures also included promises to speed up vaccination programs, build health care infrastructure and stockpile medicines, clearly in anticipation of a nationwide spike in COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations. On Thursday, senior NHC official Guo Yanhong announced that the country would build more hospitals specializing in the treatment of moderate and severe COVID patients, while ensuring that intensive care units account for 10% of all beds. of hospitals.

The 20 measures were announced a day after Chinese President Xi Jinping held a meeting on the pandemic with his new Politburo standing committee, the first since the conclusion of the 20th CPC Congress on October 23.

At this Congress, Xi presented the fallacy of “socialism with Chinese characteristics,” distorting the reality that the restoration of capitalism has produced vast growth in social inequality and class tension in China. In early 2020, fearing a social revolution amid a spiraling public health crisis, the CCP first implemented Zero-COVID in order to prevent the collapse of the country’s health care system and maintain the national stability.

Despite the immense importance of China’s Zero-COVID policy, which for more than two years has saved millions of lives and proven that elimination is possible, the nationalist basis of this policy has always rendered it unsustainable at long term. Just as “socialism with Chinese characteristics” is a nationalist illusion, sustaining Zero-COVID in one country is impossible. By lifting this policy, Chinese society is now directly confronting “COVID with imperialist characteristics”.

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