On Tuesday, the northwestern city of Lango of more than 4 million was under lockdown, after six government reports were received there.
At least this situation appears to be the same now. While some Chinese health officials have recommended temporary or partial easing once vaccination rates reach 85%, researchers say most restrictions are unlikely to be eased over the next 12 months.
However, things could not be very different in the Asia-Pacific region bordering China.
From Monday, South Korea will begin to live with the virus, despite thousands of new confirmed cases each week. The new measures will allow up to 10 people to attend private meetings across the country, while most businesses will be able to fully reopen once the curfew ends.
It’s not just local restrictions moving around the region.
On Monday, Australia also began partially reopening its borders to fully vaccinated citizens, ending nearly two years of strict border rules separating families.
South Korea is back to normal life
With hundreds of cases per day in March 2020, South Korea was one of the first countries affected by the Big Bang-19 explosion.
Like many countries in Asia Pacific, it has had early success in controlling infections. When Europe and North America saw major outbreaks in 2020, countries like South Korea, China, Thailand and Australia were able to keep the virus within manageable levels — or keep it out for an extended period.
“With the delta variant, it is almost impossible to eradicate,” said Chengming Sen, professor of epidemiology at the University of Oxford. “The experience is in Australia and New Zealand, they tried really hard, but you got to the point where you couldn’t keep going into Lockdown. Will come back again and again.”
“It is time for the country to take the first step to resuming our normal lives,” Prime Minister Kim Jong Un said Friday, with at least 73% of South Korea’s population fully vaccinated.
The 10pm curfew has been lifted in businesses, including restaurants and bars, while mass gatherings of up to 499 people are possible once everyone is vaccinated. All students will return to school from November 22, according to the Ministry of Education.
The restrictions were lifted despite an increase in the number of Govt-19 cases in the past week. On Sunday, 1,686 new infections were reported in South Korea, bringing the total to 366,386 since the outbreak began. In South Korea, 2,858 people have died from the disease so far.
Prime Minister Kim said this is not the end of the fight against the COVID-19 government, it is a “new beginning”. And the country’s health minister warned that reopening the hospital could lead to an increase in infections.
Despite the virus outbreak locally, other countries in the region are following suit.
Thailand last week reported an average of 9,000 new Kovit-19 infections per day, much longer than months of single-digit cases for most of 2020. Despite high infection rates, the country is reopening to international travelers. According to Reuters, it is trying to save the tourism sector, which accounted for more than 11% of GDP in 2019.
From Monday, citizens of dozens of low-risk countries, including Australia, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States, will be able to travel to Thailand without becoming isolated. In a statement issued on October 12, Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-sa said his country should not miss the December holiday. “We need to move quickly, but we must be more vigilant and not miss the opportunity to attract travelers to the end of the year and the New Year holidays,” he said.
For the Asia Pacific region, the rise of zero-sum government is a test to see if people who previously praised low infection rates and a virus elimination strategy can live safely with the virus.
Australia’s two largest states, New South Wales and Victoria, have already abandoned their strategy to eliminate the virus and more than 70% of adults have started living with the virus once they are fully vaccinated.
So far, infection rates have not risen and Australian borders in select states will open to citizens for the first time on Monday.
While the increase in cases is certain, Chen said the vaccine has significantly reduced the severity of COV-19 in many patients and provided a window for states to reopen.
“At some point you have to open up and let things really escalate, but in a manageable way,” he said. “You can’t make a permanent lock because the virus is spreading.”
China has more than doubled the zero government
But China has shown no signs of softening its tough stance on Govt-19.
Currently, China’s borders are largely closed, air traffic is severely restricted and foreign students and tourists are not allowed in. Chinese nationals and some other international visitors are allowed in, but must be isolated for at least two weeks.
Within the country, even a small number of cases in the city can lead to rapid and widespread flooding.
The 2022 Winter Olympics are set to begin in Beijing in February, after China’s reluctance to reopen its borders. After seeing the chaos and postponement in the run-up to the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, the Chinese government does not want this to happen again.
But according to SOAS China Director Stephen Zhang, the 2022 Winter Olympics will not be the only major event in Beijing’s strategy next year. In November, the Chinese Communist Party will hold its 20th Congress, which holds a rally of the country’s leaders twice a decade, at which President Xi Jinping is expected to take office for the third time.
Zhang said Xi wanted no indication that the virus was under control in the country before he left for Congress in November. “How can it seem that Xi Jinping has not defeated the virus?” He said. “Xi said the Chinese system is superior.”
“As a global financial center, it should have a very user-friendly access system, but the Chinese vision for Hong Kong, Xi’s vision, is the global financial center of China,” he said.
Chen, from Oxford University, said there may be uncertainty in the country’s leadership about the efficacy of vaccines made in China. One of the most frequently used scenarios has been shown to be less effective in international trials than mRNA vaccines, including Sinovac, Pfizer and Moderna.
In addition, he added, not a large number of experiments have been conducted on the elderly, adding that they may be at risk in the event of an explosion.
“Why don’t we open?” He told the government-run China Daily.
China will likely see what happens in other parts of the region before deciding what to do on its borders, Chen said. He said Beijing would consider opening earlier if there are some major volcanic eruptions in the Asia-Pacific countries coexisting with the government.
“It gives China some hope of relaxation,” he said.
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