“The Pandemic is Winding Down” but not According to China

Since January of 2022, citizens of China have been forced to live under atrocious conditions. China’s zero-COVID policies have caused whole buildings to be put under lockdown where citizens are essentially prisoners struggling to obtain food and medicine.

While most countries are removing mask and distance mandates, finally getting a break from the pandemic, China has ramped up their COVID policies. The Chinese population were given vaccines created within and by Chinese companies that have been proven less effective than those used throughout the rest of the world. The Chinese vaccines were not fully optimized before their release, unlike the effective vaccines that most are using around the world. This, paired with the lack of natural immunity in Chinese citizens, has caused infection rates to stay high and the severity of cases is increasing. 

The Omicron variant has caused the largest surge of COVID-19 infections since the original outbreak in Wuhan 2-years ago. In addition, there are numerous asymptomatic cases that become issues when attempting to control the spread of infection. President Xi Jinping insisted on implementing zero-COVID policies; however, there is no way to identify those who are asymptomatic.

These policies include measures for on-the-spot testing and quarantines. When someone tests positive for COVID, the entire building where they are or reside is put into lockdown as are people inside adjacent buildings. This has caused many employees of companies, factories, and offices to be quarantined in their workplaces or residences due to a single positive COVID case. 

If a building or workplace is quarantined, everyone inside the quarantine zone is isolated from their families, pets, food, and health care. Instances of mothers not being able to see or care for their children and pets being killed by officers because owners are unable to take care of them have become widespread issues throughout China. 

With so much focus on preventing the spread of COVID patients, medical professionals have not been able to treat patients with other serious illnesses. Both quarantined and non-contaminated individuals have had trouble obtaining their medicine and treatments from hospitals.

            Many people have died due to the lack of accessibility. This applies to healthcare workers as well.  A nurse who suffered an asthma attack went to the hospital where she worked but was denied treatment because of pandemic prevention protocols.  She later died. 

Officers have been brutally enforcing the COVID-19 policies by beating people who fail to follow the rules. They have gone as far as harming people for taking their masks off to eat in public. 

           Local officers have been put in charge of reducing the infection spread by the local governments. They monitor food deliveries, health information, and detainment. Officers demand residents’ keys to lock them in their homes when placed under quarantine. Non-compliant residents have a hole drilled in the wall next to their doors which allows it to be chained shut. 

As conditions continue to worsen, many Chinese citizens have become fed up with the lives they have been forced to live. Some people have freed themselves from the government’s grasp through suicide. This is affirmed by examining the suicide rates after Hong Kong implemented the zero-tolerance COVID policies for Beijing. It has reached crisis levels.

Entrances of neighborhoods and cities have been blocked off by barriers to prevent citizens from leaving the area as well as prohibiting entry. Many citizens have begun to revolt by breaking through the barriers and even attacking officers. 

Neighborhood entrance blocked off with metal barriers due to lockdown

As of May 2022, 27-cities have been put under complete lockdown including major industrial cities like Xi’an, Shenyang, Shenzhen, and Shanghai. May Day, a holiday that is heavily tourist reliant is coming up, but expected travel rates are down by more than 60% compared to previous years. There is no sign of China letting up or even slowing down with their cruel and relentless policies.

Ian Valenzuela | ivalenzuela@theaskacademy.org | ASK Catalyst Writer



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