Some in China bristle at Covid-19 rollback

China on Wednesday announced that those with Covid-19 would no longer be taken into mandatory quarantine. - Reuters

BEIJING (The Straits Times/Asia News Network): Museum curator Sun Yini, who is not vaccinated against Covid-19, does not want to go out in her free time.

The Shanghai resident thinks that the country is easing back Covid-19 controls far too quickly, which could result in widespread infections.

“Now that sick people can stay home, of course a responsible person like me will do that (if I fall sick). But can we trust that others will do the same?” she said.

Sun is among a small group of Chinese who are either wary of the speed at which policies are being dialled back or chafing at it, even though the authorities have said the current strain of Omicron variant has mild effects.

Those who spoke to The Straits Times said this stems from a fear of falling sick or even not being able to wrap their heads around the relative freedom that now exists.

China on Wednesday (Dec 7) announced that those with Covid-19 would no longer be taken into mandatory quarantine. Mass testing and harsh lockdowns, which have characterised the country’s pandemic response for the past three years, have been greatly reduced.

Some parents worry that their young children might get infected, especially with the government now pushing for in-person classes in schools, in a bid to minimise disruption to schooling.

Housewife Yang Meijie, 42, and her family have lived through two lockdowns in the past six weeks because of positive cases in their Beijing housing compound. Both instances involved school-going children who were infected.

“If they are letting people recover at home now, it is inevitable that some may not realise they are sick and go to school,” said Madam Yang, who has a 12-year-old daughter.

“There are three dozen students in a class. How quickly is the virus going to spread?”

Others think that the accelerated timeline – without giving time for unvaccinated elderly to get immunised – seems to be unnecessarily rushing things.

“I have an 80-year-old mother, who has not had time to get vaccinated, living with me. So, with positive cases in the community, what if I get infected and pass it on to her?” said an entrepreneur who wanted to be known only by his surname Meng.

China has made vaccines available to the public since early 2021, first targeting front-line workers and young, healthy people. They were extended to the elderly by the end of March that year, but the numbers of those above 60 getting jabbed remain below the national average.

Despite the protection that vaccines can offer, there are some younger people such as Ms Sun who are still resisting.

“I don’t want to get vaccinated because there are still many unknowns about the vaccines,” the 32-year-old said.

“I have been trying to get pregnant for the last two years, so I would rather not have anything foreign in my bloodstream.”

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China , covid-19 , reopening


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