Dr. Steve Wong
Last December, China suddenly abandoned the Zero-COVID Policy they held firmly in the previous three years. According to reports, the change came after the earlier protests, where people expressed dissatisfaction with the strict city closure and antigen test measures which seriously affected their livelihood. Others say it is because China is showing signs of a sliding economy. The country has been subject to entry and exit restrictions for the last three years. The economic activities of factories, industries and commerce have reached a standstill due to city closures and isolation measures, causing some to close down. Also, although the transmissibility of Omicron is very strong, its virus and symptoms are relatively mild, in fact, similar to influenza for most infected persons. However, its effect could be dreadful to the chronically ill, low in immunity and the elderly, as Omicron may cause complications of bronchitis and pneumonia, etc.
During my recent trip to Japan, Thailand and Malaysia, many customers expressed their eagerness to go to China after waiting for three years. They long to have a family reunion during the Chinese New Year. Therefore, the abolition of entry quarantine comes as great news. As long as they can go home to meet their family members and friends, they don’t care about the high increases in airfare which is as much as ten times.
As understood, China lifted the COVID control measures without sufficient preparation, thus has resulted in severe pressure on the medical systems and difficulty coping with the mass infections. Some patients have died due to untimely treatment. There are sayings that the number of infection cases is over 30 million, and the number of death cases is much more than that announced by the government. The media estimates the number of deaths to be in the millions.
I also learnt from my friends that over 60 per cent of their family members in China got infected. Many people want to get positive, so they no longer need to worry about getting the virus. Some people who got infected once even got a second infection within a short lapse of time. Some scientists believe this wave of Omicron must go through a particular process before it ends, and it will likely last until the second quarter of 2023. Another estimate is that by 2024, economic and social activities can return to normal. I wish everybody can stay healthy, let the pandemic period finish early, and all the businesses prosper again as in the past.