China slowly emerges from ‘zero-COVID’ after unprecedented protests

China Zero COVID
A worker in protective suit wipes his face shield at a coronavirus testing side in Beijing, Monday, Dec. 5, 2022. China is easing some of the world’s most stringent anti-virus controls and authorities say new variants are weaker. But they have yet to say when they might end a “zero-COVID” strategy that confines millions of people to their homes and set off protests and demands for President Xi Jinping to resign. (AP Photo/Andy Wong) Andy Wong/AP

China slowly emerges from ‘zero-COVID’ after unprecedented protests

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As the Chinese Communist Party eases its draconian “zero-COVID” policies, Chinese citizens appear less than eager to return to normal, pre-COVID life.

On Friday, two days after the CCP announced the relaxation of some “zero COVID” policies, the streets of Beijing were mostly deserted, Reuters reported.

EXPLAINER: CHINA’S RELAXED ‘ZERO COVID’ BRINGS BIG CHANGES

Many businesses are hesitant to ease COVID restrictions, despite being given clearance to do so. This hesitation could continue to slow the growth of the world’s second-largest economy.

“They’ve relaxed the measures, but still, there’s nobody about,” a taxi driver in Wuhan told Reuters. “You see these roads, these streets … they ought to be busy, full of people. But there’s no one. It’s dead out here.”

Among the restrictions loosened on Wednesday were requirements for a negative COVID-19 test to be allowed on the subway or in restaurants. Despite this, in Beijing, the subway was all but deserted at rush hour, as were most restaurants at lunchtime on Friday.

The silver lining of Chinese citizens’ reluctance to return to life as normal is that the expected spread of COVID-19 may not be as drastic as previously predicted. Some experts worry that the estimated death toll of a renewed outbreak in China could reach 1.5 million, Reuters reported, several times larger than the current death toll — around 5,235 out of a population of 1.4 billion.

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Despite some dire predictions, the CCP has begun to publicly downplay the severity of the virus. One prominent Chinese epidemiologist, Zhong Nanshan, speaking through a CCP mouthpiece, claimed that 99% of infectees would recover in about one week.

China finally eased its “zero COVID” restrictions following unprecedented protests that gripped the nation after a fire killed 10 people, a death toll many believed was exacerbated by the restrictive policies.

© 2022 Washington Examiner

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