The zero-Covid policy has also allowed some form of normality to return. Masks are required in public, but unless the city is on lockdown, people have been partying and dining in restaurants for most of the past two years, Amy noted.
As Covid began to spread in Wuhan, it looked like it could potentially weaken the Communist Party’s position. Instead, China’s success in controlling Covid has become a public relations victory for the regime. President Xi Jinping uses China’s management of the virus to fuel his campaign for global influence, arguing that China’s system of government works better than Western democracies.
China’s maximalism approach has had harmful side effects.
Even modest outbreaks can lead local officials to lock up millions, sometimes with dire consequences. As our colleague Li Yuan wrote:
In the northwestern city of Xi’an, hospital staff refused to admit a man with chest pain because he lived in a medium-risk county. He died of a heart attack.
They informed a woman who was 8 months pregnant and bleeding that her Covid test was invalid. She lost her child.
Two community security guards told a young man they didn’t care he wouldn’t have anything to eat after forcing him out while locking the door. They beat him.
The lockdowns have also taken a toll on Chinese businesses and the global economy. One reason for rising inflation around the world is that China’s factories and ports were quick to close when incidents happened nearby, disrupting supply chains.
Chinese officials insist that zero Covid is still possible. If that is correct, the approach may need to become even more aggressive, as the Omicron variant is highly contagious. China’s two main vaccines appear to offer significant protection against fatal disease but little protection against infection.
China also has little natural immunity, unlike countries where the virus has spread widely. Yanzhong Huang, a global health expert at the Council on Foreign Relations, told us: “The immunity gap between China and the outside world is widening. Several other countries that previously had zero-Covid strategies, such as Singapore and New Zealand, have recently left them.
Huang said that China is facing a choice “between short-term pain and long-term pain”. Keeping Covid to zero would probably require long-term social and economic disruption; Giving up it will lead to a rapid increase in infections. “But then you can be in much better shape,” Huang said.
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/04/briefing/zero-covid-china-olympics.html Zero Covid in China – The New York Times