three years after China announced his first death by coviddoubts persist about whether Beijing is sharing real data on the extent of the current wave of infections that the country is going through after its decision to manage the epidemic more laxly.
Three years ago now, on January 11, 2020, China reported the death of a 61-year-old man who frequented the market in the city of Wuhan (center) where the pathogen began to be transmitted.
And it was not until ten days later that Beijing recognized for the first time that what was then known as “Wuhan pneumonia” could be transmitted between humans, the same day that the Chinese president, Xi Jinpingdemanded “determination” to contain COVID.
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Some 48 hours later, the Wuhan authorities decreed a confinement that lasted more than three months, with the intention of appeasing a virus that was already beginning to spread throughout the rest of the world.
Thus, China went in just a few weeks from minimizing the impact of the disease to betting on a strict policy to avoid it, the “zero covid”, which meant locking its borders to prevent the “importation” of cases from abroad.
During much of 2020 and 2021, in which the country’s GDP grew by 2.2% and 8.1%, the strategy boomed while the virus caused thousands of deaths around the world and China limited deaths to a minimum, at least according to official figures.
The sporadic outbreaks were crushed with confinements and massive PCR campaigns, although the arrival of the omicron variant marked a before and after: the spring of 2022 witnessed rebounds in cities such as Shanghai, which resorted to a strict quarantine of months that left problems in access to food and medical care, suicides, the separation of babies from their parents and even the killing of pets, sparking growing outrage.
From protests to the explosion of cases
The accumulated discontent sparked protests at the end of December of last year in various parts of the country, before which the Government opted, almost overnight, for a more lax management of COVID and the opening of borders for January 8 of this year.
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The official propaganda and the country’s officials justified the shift by assuring that there are now “effective drugs for diagnosis and treatment” or that “more than 90% of the population is already vaccinated.”
But despite the tsunami of infections and scenes of high hospital pressure in some Chinese cities after abandoning politics, authorities have reported only a few dozen recent deaths from the disease and many voices say that Beijing is not sharing real data on the scope. of the wave of infections.
Thus, several countries and regions have imposed restrictions on travelers from China fearing new variants, which has provoked the ire of Beijing, which defends that it has shared information “in an open, timely and transparent manner” and that the measures do not take into account “neither science nor facts nor to the real epidemic situation.
“The epidemic situation is improving and some provinces and cities have already passed the peak of infections. Soon, China will offer opportunities to the world and will be in a better position to stabilize and boost the global economy.” Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said on Tuesday.
Large cities like Beijing are moving towards normality, but hospitals continue to work hard to save lives, although the challenge for the Asian giant will now be to deal with the spread of COVID in rural areas during Lunar New Year, which in the 2023 will fall between January 21 and 27.
Several Beijingers commented to Efe under anonymity that the government “does not want the truth to be known” and that, “although obviously there are more deaths than the official figures, they do not want to acknowledge that the situation had spilled over.”
“The ‘zero COVID’ policy has ended, the problem now is adapting to the new measures and their human cost. The Government has already begun to review statistics to avoid panic ”, The academic Jean-Pierre Cabestan, former professor of Political Science at the Hong Kong Baptist University, points out to Efe.
According to Cabestan, the turn to politics after the protests is actually “bad news for Xi”, because “something has broken in his relationship with society. They have shown a lack of trust. He is still very powerful but less respected, he has lost authority ”.
“But apart from social exhaustion, the key is the economy. Even if it grows this year, China faces a global slowdown. Their exports will fall and domestic consumption will not be strong enough to compensate for it.” tops off
Ricardo is a renowned author and journalist, known for his exceptional writing on top-news stories. He currently works as a writer at the 247 News Agency, where he is known for his ability to deliver breaking news and insightful analysis on the most pressing issues of the day.