Beijing lives with coronavirus after relaxing ‘zero covid’ policy

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Beijing (EFE) “zero covid”.

Last Wednesday, China announced a series of measures which, instead of tightening the draconian restrictions that have governed China for nearly three years, eased the conditions with a clear intention to start living with the virus.

These developments have fully affected cities, such as Beijing or Canton (south), which recorded thousands of infected people daily.

The disappearance of the artificial barriers created by the policies of the Chinese government has meant that the omicron variant, the most contagious and the cause of most epidemics in the country since the beginning of this year, has created a situation unimaginable a few months ago. barely. .

unreal numbers

The Asian giant’s National Health Commission today reported 10,815 new positive cases nationwide, including 1,661 in the capital.

Figures in Beijing that have been more or less repeated since the last week of November, although evidence suggests that in recent days, since the relaxation of anti-covid policies, there are many more missing cases in the city .

Several people are waiting to perform PCR in Beijing on Tuesday. EFE/EPA/Wu Hao

“In the Wechat group – the most used messaging app in China – in the community where I live, every few hours a new neighbor sends a sheep emoticon, which nowadays represents an infection by the similarity of the pronunciation of the two words,” a Venezuelan resident told EFE in the capital of 22 million where everyone seems to know someone who has contracted covid.

The reduction in the frequency of PCR tests to the population and the use of home antigen tests to detect positive cases, infections in the latter case often undeclared, have made the real situation in the capital far from the official figures provided by Beijing.

In addition, residents of the city face a shortage of antigen tests at pharmacies, which sometimes means waiting between three and five days to receive the kits and get tested.

economic reopening

Since the start of the current epidemic in the Chinese capital, most restaurants and bars have remained closed, but open shops and malls have brought some vitality to the streets.

Since last Wednesday, with the announcement of the new measures, many venues have reopened in the bustling Sanlitun district after weeks without operating, but today the influx of people is far from normal for a sunday.

Beijing lives with coronavirus after policy easing
A man dines Thursday in a restaurant in Beijing. EFE/EPA/Wu Hao

A situation, learning to live with the virus, which will positively affect the economy of the Asian giant, according to some experts.

“The ‘zero covid’ transition will eventually allow consumer spending habits to return to normal, but the increased risk of infection will keep personal spending depressed for months after reopening,” said Mark Williams, a senior executive. , in a press release. at Capital Economics.

China’s economy could grow 1.6% in the first quarter of 2023 from a year earlier, and 4.9% in the second, according to an analysis by Capital Economics.

Restrictions under the “zero covid” policy at the national level have almost disappeared, but international borders remain mostly closed to travelers from abroad.

Travelers entering the country are subject to five days of quarantine in centralized government facilities and an additional three days of self-monitoring at home, although home monitoring depends on increasingly lax neighborhood authorities, prompting hope among many residents who have not left China. for almost three years, waiting for these quarantines to disappear.

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