As China opens its zero-tolerance restrictions, fears of the spread of COVID-19 are growing

As China opens its zero-tolerance restrictions, fears of the spread of COVID-19 are growing
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  • The biggest relief of curbs since the pandemic began
  • Cities urge citizens to be vigilant
  • Analysts say China is not ready for a big leap in business

BEIJING/SHANGHAI, Dec 8 (Reuters) – Many Chinese embraced new freedoms after leaving the country on Thursday. dropped key parts of the strict zero-COVID regimethere was growing concern that a virus that had been largely contained could soon go wild.

Three years into the pandemic, many in China have been anxiously waiting for Beijing to begin bringing its strict virus containment measures into line with the rest of the world, which has opened up in its effort to live with the disease.

Those frustrations erupted into large-scale protests last month, the biggest public outcry since President Xi Jinping took power in 2012.

Without saying it was a response to those protests, some cities and regions have begun easing their COVID controls in moves that herald a nationwide easing of rules announced by the National Health Commission on Wednesday.

Infected people with mild symptoms can now self-quarantine at home, reducing the need for testing and health checks on mobile apps for various activities, including travel within the country, the NHC said.

Domestic ticket sales for tourist and leisure destinations surged, according to state media, with some people taking to social media to announce they had tested positive for the virus – something that used to carry a heavy stigma in China.

Others expressed caution.

“I know that COVID is not so ‘terrible’ now, but it is still contagious and will hurt,” said a post on the Weibo platform. “The fear brought into our hearts cannot be easily dispelled.”

“Very positive!” said another Weibo user.

Some manufacturers and restaurants eager to stay open in China are choosing to err on the side of caution. Keeping the reins of COVID-19 until we have a clearer picture of how the easing of austerity measures will affect jobs.

However, Apple supplier Foxconn (2317.TW) The Zhengzhou facility in China was hit by COVID lifted the “closed loop” control constraints said a statement posted on its WeChat account on Thursday.

For 56 days, the Zhengzhou industrial park where Foxconn is located is under a closed loop system that isolates the plant from the wider world.

China reported 21,439 new local COVID-19 infections in December. 7, down slightly from the previous day and down from November’s peak of 40,052 cases. 27. As authorities across the country have lifted testing requirements, cases have recently begun to decline.

China and Hong Kong stocks Asian stock markets rose On Thursday, these still-cautious steps toward reopening were seen as giving the world’s second-largest economy a chance to regain momentum. Macau casino operators (.CSICESG10) partially led the rally by rising 12.2% to 46.5% of its quarterly gain.

The Chinese yuan, which has strengthened slightly against the dollar in recent weeks, was little changed on Thursday.

More broadly, change is likely to happen depressed economic growth According to economists, infections will increase over the next few months and will only rise again in 2023.

State media CCTV quoted Premier Li Keqiang on Thursday as saying the increase would continue to accelerate with the implementation of recreational measures.


China’s most populous city, Shanghai, which has endured one of the nation’s longest and toughest lockdowns, on Thursday eliminated the need for COVID tests to enter restaurants or entertainment venues.

“China has no say.”zero-covid” The policy in recent comments raises concerns that the term is becoming obsolete.

Senior officials are also softening their tone on the dangers posed by the virus.

But while adopting the new, more relaxed controls, some cities have urged residents to remain vigilant.

Some analysts and medical experts say China is unprepared for a major surge in infections, partly because of low vaccination rates among vulnerable people and its fragile health system.

Amid reports of fever drug panic buying, financial news outlet Yicai said the average daily sales volume of home testing kits had increased more than 400 times since November, citing third-party data.

“It (China) may have to pay for procrastination in adopting a ‘live with COVID’ approach,” Nomura analysts said in a note on Thursday.

Infection rates in China are only around 0.13%, “far from the level needed for herd immunity,” Nomura said.

Feng Zijian, a former official at China’s Center for Disease Control, told China Youth Daily that up to 60% of China’s population could be infected in the first large-scale wave before stabilization.

“Eventually, about 80-90% of people will be infected,” he said.

On Thursday, the state-owned China Newsweek magazine reported, citing health experts, that the country is likely to face a large-scale epidemic within the next month or two.

China’s current 5,235 COVID-related deaths are a tiny fraction of its population of 1.4 billion, and quite low by global standards. Some experts have warned that there could be payouts It rose above 1.5 million if the exit is too urgent.

But despite the dangers, for many they accept that life must go on.

Yan, a 22-year-old unemployed Beijing resident who said he hopes further opening up of China’s economy will help him, said: “It’s impossible to kill this virus completely, maybe just live with it and hope it becomes the flu.” find a job.

Reporting by Ella Cao, Bernard Orr, Ryan Woo and Albee Zhang and Brenda Goh in Beijing newsroom and Shanghai; Written by John Geddie and Greg Torode; Edited by Simon Cameron-Moore, Toby Chopra and Nick Macfie

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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