HOW EVERYTHING STARTED
Just a couple of months after the virus returned to Shanghai, the Chinese metropolis is living the nightmare of Wuhan back in 2019, when Covid first appeared in our lives. The Omicron variant is hitting hard the life of Chinese citizens, representing actual harm to them, and forcing the government to impose the vigorous measures of the “Zero Covid policy”. The lockdown, which was only supposed to last a few days, holds 26 million people in prison.
While in the beginning, the government’s plan was only a few days lockdown, carrying out random tests on the entire Shanghai population, the situation soon got out of hand: walls were built around people’s condos, forcing them to lock themselves inside their houses.
Unfortunately, the government was not prepared for this. Indeed, soon food supplies started to run out, people could not buy primary necessities, and things went out of control quickly.
Images and videos of all kinds populate the web: people screaming desperately, kids (even younger than 1-year-old) being separated from their parents, and animals brutally killed on the streets. There are just some examples of what we see online from the most populous China city.
However, as we know, misinformation and fake news run pretty fast as well, and the public opinion split into those condemning the strict measures and those finding them essential to fight this common enemy: Coronavirus.
WHAT IS THE ZERO COVID CASE POLICY
The so-called Zero Covid strategy, as the name suggests, consists in eliminating the spread of COVID-19 infection thanks to a series of actions to be implemented. An actual reset of the diseases and a restart with in-depth checks and capillary tracking of all new cases.
The number of the contagious is low if compared to other countries (Such as Europe or the United States): we are talking about around 8000-9000 asymptomatic cases and 400-500 symptomatic (remember Shanghai has 26 million inhabitants), but in China, these numbers are considered extremely high.
Isolating even the mildest and most asymptomatic cases to prevent transmission is essential for China’s zero-case strategy. With the city’s health facilities exhausted by the wave of infections, the government converted some public buildings into temporary “refuge hospitals”: huge dormitories with thousands of beds ready to welcome anyone who tests positive for covid tests.
Several witnesses of people being locked in these covid centers appeared online, where the hygienic conditions are drastically ignoble (No showers, no distance, no fresh daily food). These people have to wait days to receive their covid test results back, not getting precise information on when they will be able to leave the center.
However, people are frustrated by the situation and started protesting against these measures: several videos of people screaming from their windows complaining they ran out of food or heartbreaking screams for help from more fragile and needy people are invading the internet.
But is this policy working?
As the numbers show, positive cases are decreasing, but so is the global economic situation. Indeed, experts warn that we are facing the most significant financial risk globally, and little is said about it. From food to microchips, the shutdown of production in the Chinese city slows down the global supply chain, with severe social and economic consequences.
Analysts are alarmed and warn that investors are not adequately assessing the severity of the global economic consequences of this crisis. Lu Ting, Nomura’s China economist, wrote that “world markets continue to underestimate the impact, mainly because the focus is on the conflict between Russia and Ukraine and the US Federal Reserve’s rate hike.”.
Sure is, as an article on Weibo highlights, “More dangerous than the pandemic is the fear it is surrounded by”.
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