End of an Era: Effects of Ending the Zero-COVID Policy | Mihika Juneja
The pandemic has left a lasting impact on all of us. Whether it be through quarantining, attempting to virtualize our lives, or even capturing the virus itself, it is clear that battling COVID for the couple of years that we did was a very historic revelation. Given that cases are decreasing, it is safe to say that we are recovering from the pandemic. Nonetheless, the transition from extreme policies some countries implemented are still leaving an impact, specifically, China’s Zero-COVID policy. The Zero-COVID policy ended late December to early January, and, given that several weeks have passed since, now is deemed the perfect time to quantify the impacts of lifting the strict quarantine rules, specifically through disease spread and the economy.
Naturally, it is expected that after lifting a policy meant to help disease control, the disease will spread. This is exactly what is being experienced in the country. Although many are saying that the loose restrictions of the status quo are much better as opposed to the strict regulations, clear disease spread is definitely present. According to the BBC, 64% of the population is infected with the virus. Of course, the many cases of infections directly correlate to the hospital rush in China. There are many crowds, resulting in the area becoming a disease-hub as a result of the sudden lift on restrictions. Several sectors collapsed during the Zero-COVID policy. Regardless, it is clear that disease cases were monitored for the better. Predictions expect the rapid increase in disease cases to cause a collapse of the healthcare system as a whole (NatureMedicine). Additionally, the increase in COVID cases will most likely also contribute to the hospital surge happening currently. All this, coupled with the effects of disease raise the question of whether to sacrifice disease cases for flourishing in other sectors.
Another impact of the Zero-COVID Policy can be tied in with the economy. Due to less productivity during these harsh lockdowns, economic activity as a whole lowered immensely. It does not take the smartest person in the world to understand that low productivity had a great effect on China. However, due to China exporting many goods, and contributing a huge amount to the global economy, the long period of the Zero-COVID policy caused a shrink in GDP. Ports, etc in China experienced inefficient operations during the lockdowns, thus resulting in receiving countries to experience a similar situation. Now, by abruptly lifting lockdown restrictions, productivity is beginning to rise. Many, including Bloomberg and CNN, predict that China’s economy will recover and surpass economic growth from the past years. The resilience of the economy is demonstrated greatly through these revelations. Perhaps here the economic productivity far outweighs the risk of disease spread.
Concluding these thoughts, the economy and disease spread are both large impacts of the end of China’s lockdown. These impacts determine the fate of the country as well, considering that they can collapse on each other. However, it is also important to note that the pandemic seems to be leaving a lasting impact on us all, through our everyday lives, but also through these revelations in coping with the disease. Finally, it is critical to keep into account that the pandemic we have lived through, and are still enduring the aftermath of today, leaves a great deal upon us.