China's constricting quarantine policies strangle Chinese citizens
Since the outbreak of COVID-19, China has been holding tight on quarantine policies restricting the flow of people into cities or the country regardless of their nationality or health state. Shanghai, for instance, persisted in the “zero-case” policy in which the city was strictly entrenched until no new cases emerged. Unlike other countries around the globe, the Chinese government was distraught about the increased number of vulnerable minority groups in the nation including the elderly, children, and people with a medical history of disease. With the purpose of protecting civilians from infection, any citizen traveling to another province, city or returning from a trip abroad were required to quarantine for weeks, even months, depending on the local decrees. International cities or cities with extensive floating populations such as Beijing and Shenzhen, required a longer quarantine period than smaller ones. Overall, China achieved prodigious results: on average the Chinese government says 0.6 people died in every one hundred thousand people, compared to the world's average of one hundred thousand deaths in every 1.2 million people.
Though significant achievements were reached, dissatisfaction among Chinese citizens has risen drastically. In the last two months of 2022, protests bursted out after a severe residence fire incident in Urumqi due to Covid protocols. To briefly summarize the affair, the fire department arrived at the building quickly after receiving a call for help, but couldn’t take immediate action due to the strict protocols that surrounded the site. As a result, 10 civilians were killed and 9 were injured.
This event of mistreating innocent citizens kindled the repressed grievances and anger among the people, and protests broke out almost everywhere in the country. Considering the drastically declining economy in various industries and popular emotions, the Chinese government eventually decided to alter the protocols for good. On January 8th 2023, Shanghai legislature announced that quarantine was officially canceled. The only requirement is a Covid test result done within 48 hours before entering the country. Even if the result is positive, people can still choose to quarantine at home or wait for it to end. In one line, the vast majority of the restrictions set on the past were unleashed. However, masks, social distancing, and other protective measures are still necessary.
In other provinces in China, quarantine policies also changed remarkably, similar to the situation in Shanghai.
This groundbreaking news is doubtlessly astonishing for oversea students.
“The new policies are definitely extremely beneficial for us students, but it also directly rendered Covid to spread all over the crowd. There’re both pros and cons for this change, but I would say the benefits outweigh the unpleasantness,” said Tim Wang, a junior from China.
“It is rather ironic how the widespread phenomenon of Covid in China resembled what other countries experienced two years ago after the new policy” claimed Gabriel, another Chinese junior, “If this circumstance is meant to take place, why set so many restrictions in the first place? Economies and people’s emotions are shattered at this point.”