China, the country where COVID-19 first originated in 2019, is still forced to go to great lengths to keep the deadly coronavirus in control, more than two years later. With Beijing Winter Olympics 2022 nearly a month away, China has embarked upon a strict ‘zero COVID’ policy even if it meant delaying medical access to a pregnant Chinese woman thereby leading to her miscarriage. The country has been engulfed in several controversies ever since COVID-19 was first publicly reported in December 2019, including allegations that coronavirus was genetically engineered in a lab in Wuhan, the first known hotspot of SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19.
China has imposed stringent measures to control the virus that first originated in its own province, calling the formula ‘Zero Covid’ for curbing the outbreaks which include strict lockdowns and immediate mass testing. However, unlike the lockdowns practised in the rest of the world, people in China can be banned from leaving their building complexes or even forced to remain inside the hotel rooms if they are considered to be high-risk contacts of COVID-19.
China’s historic city of 13 million, Xi’an also emerged to prominence after Chinese authorities imposed a lockdown in December 2021 following the detection of 150 COVID-19 cases. Adhering to its “dynamic zero” formula, a Chinese city of similar size as Xi’an, Zhengzhou tested every resident after the detection of 11 Coronavirus cases.
In addendum to locking down Chinese cities, the country has broadly kept its borders shut for international travel. The international flights are still at a fraction of the pre-COVID-19 pandemic levels and the arrivals are met with weeks-long quarantine. Notably, it is mandatory for people in China to use track-and-trace applications, which means that close contacts are usually detected and quarantined rapidly, stated Channel News Asia report.
Even though all cases from the initial outbreak in Wuhan in early 2020 are believed to be underreported, China’s official tally since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic is around 100,000. As compared to the United States logging 1 million Coronavirus infections in a single day earlier this month, China’s tally remains only a fraction. As per the CNA report, China’s National Health Commission official Liang Wannian told reporters last month, “There is still no ability to stop single local cases from appearing, but we have the ability and confidence to quickly extinguish the outbreak when a local case is found”.
However, it is to note that China’s ‘Zero COVID’ comes at a cost that is mainly paid by border areas especially the ones near Myanmar. The locked-down communities, according to CNA, have flagged the poor access to essential needs such as food, supplies and even medical treatment. Meanwhile, migrant workers have also been left stranded for several months.
While Tokyo in Japan also held the Olympics amid COVID-19, China is going at comparatively stricter lengths to contain Coronavirus during the Beijing Winter Olympics 2022. BBC reported that foreign spectators will be barred in china for the sporting event, due to start next month, and only residents of the country will be allowed inside the games. People in China are also advised to not travel to Beijing from other parts of the country.
Notably, China has already created an Olympic bubble and has kept media, athletes, and observers in three distinct bubbles. People entering these bubbles should be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or should spend at least 21 days in quarantine. COVID testing is reportedly carried out every day and no one is allowed to leave these bubbles.