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Coronavirus - those in China, and general discussion


Jan Finster
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On 4/1/2022 at 10:15 AM, Jan Finster said:

Those of you currently in China:

 

 

Considering the state has a monopoly on information I don't think being in China is going to give you access to more information than otherwise. Reuters had a good article on the situation in Shanghai today. 

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Things in Beijing are mostly normal (knock on wood),  scanning QR codes anytime you enter a place of course. There have been a few isolated lockdowns over the last month. A friend's wife had to stay in a mall where there was a positive case for 5 hours until a test was completed. She was then let to go home but had to quarantine at home for a week, as did my friend. Some kuai di deliveries have been delayed for several days depending where they are coming from, nothing is moving from the area around SH.

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On 4/1/2022 at 4:15 PM, Jan Finster said:

Also, what is China's COVID strategy? Do they still adhere to zero-COVID or is there a plan to gradually get herd immunity?

 

I don't know the situation in the rest of China, but here in Beijing it's still a "zero COVID" strategy (although it's probably better referred to as a "mass testing" strategy).  If there's some cases nearby, regulations tighten for a bit (e.g. we need to wear a facemask in more places, or the security guards are more strict about scanning the QR code) and you can unexpectedly wake up to a message saying everyone in the neighborhood getting tested (like this, 25 January, 2022).  (PS. Beijing reportedly achieved 90% vaccination rate mid-2021, so I don't think herd immunity is the relevant factor.)

 

Perhaps people hear "zero COVID" and envisage ultra-strict rules.  While there are strict rules about travel (especially overseas, but also domestic to a lesser extent), other things are quite relaxed.  It's been at least 1 1/2 years since I last experienced a lockdown (I think it was like July 2020), and I mostly don't need to wear a facemask (you have to on the subway, or in a library, sometimes in malls, but not on the street).

 

I doubt it's going to change soon, and I personally wouldn't want it to: the situation in other countries sounds awful.  I see my Facebook friends one-by-one getting COVID, and it's just... such a dramatic contrast.

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On 4/1/2022 at 11:31 AM, becky82 said:

I see my Facebook friends one-by-one getting COVID, and it's just... such a dramatic contrast.

 

I don't want to belittle your friends since some of the can have underlying conditions, but seeing a lot of people catching covid in Europe or other parts of the world is basically seeing people getting a cough and keep on living their lives (if they're vaccinated that is). The excess mortality is gone or almost gone in most countries and the hospitals have no increase of patients and the health authorities have stopped regarding it as a dangerous disease.

 

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Officially it’s still dynamic zero covid. Unofficially, we see some change of covid control strategy after the wave through Hong Kong.

 

Omicron is very infectious and can’t be controlled with a mask compliant population when so many people are asymptomatic and infectious.

 

China has seen the HK experience and the subsequent control strategy in Shanghai gives some food for thought. No total city lockdown. The areas that are locked are released pretty quickly. Financial services still continuing. Stock market open.

 

It looks like a covid control rather than total elimination trying to control a sudden surge of cases. A total elimination would need a shutdown of most of the city for 4 weeks for omicron until the next set of cases. In such a scenario, the city could be bouncing between opening up and lockdowns that total more than half of the year.

 

There’s an interesting issue in that a successful zero covid policy makes the population less willing to take vaccination perceiving risks of vaccination overriding any potential benefit. This happened in Hong Kong with the elderly population (and I think Samoa). I think it’s also similar in China. The vaccination uptake could be much better. To get that vaccination rate up, people have to perceive they are at risk. 
 

https://www.thestandard.com.hk/breaking-news/section/3/188776/With-carrot-and-stick,-China-presses-ahead-with-Covid-vaccinations-for-elderly 

 

 

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My Chinese teacher is in Wuxi (not far from Shanghai)... a city of around 7 million people.

She said in my lesson today that they are now fully locked down, kids are schooling online (I think they have been for a couple of weeks).  The metro isn't running, you can't drive on the streets, and she even said that she saw a tank (as in: large armoured military vehicle) blocking the street. Waimai thankfully not a problem yet.

 

I'm so glad I got out of China in mid-February... the lockdowns have just become (even more) crazy in the last few weeks. It's clear as day that the "dynamic zero covid" policy isn't working at all since Omicron arrived, and the people are now suffering greatly from a combination of low uptake of vaccinations amongst the elderly, and low natural immunity due to relatively few people having been infected. 

Finally authorities seem to be realising that rapid antigen tests have an important role to play, and they're making sure that prices for these (and PCR tests) are capped at affordable prices, but they should've been onto this as soon as Omicron appeared IMHO.

 

 

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Glad to hear you made it out safely, @mungouk. Were the logistics of your exit challenging? 

 

It does sound like the 麻烦 "hassle factor" has been ramped way up. It would make ordinary day to day planning problematic. Hugely disruptive. 

 

I often wish I had stayed behind in Kunming instead of scooting out for what I thought would just be a short "home visit" to the U.S. I miss my Kunming friends and I miss China living. But then I read the news two years later and have to question whether that would have been such a great idea after all. 

 

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On 4/2/2022 at 8:46 AM, Jellyfish said:

plus, on a more selfish note, losing my sense of smell and taste would be devastating

 

This is not selfish. My personal worry was with covid affecting quality of life. 

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On 4/1/2022 at 7:46 PM, Jellyfish said:

Yes, China's zero covid strategy is a hassle in many ways, especially if you're trying to travel, which is what I'm doing. I'd imagine the possibility of being locked down from a few days up to a week or two is somewhat less daunting if you're staying in your own flat as opposed to cheap hotels in unfamiliar cities.

 

I'm so glad to hear your first-hand experience. Many thanks! Please keep such reports coming as you get settled into your new city and your new job. And, for what it's worth, my Chinese friends seem pretty relaxed about the current Covid restrictions when we chat. They seem to have adapted; learned to take them in stride.  

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On 4/1/2022 at 11:17 PM, abcdefg said:

Glad to hear you made it out safely, @mungouk. Were the logistics of your exit challenging? 

 

Thanks @abcdefg — the trickiest bit was keeping track of all the travel rules, especially for entering the UK as they were changing every few days between December and February when I left.  

 

It was a badly thought-through and difficult to navigate mess, for example the UK was accepting Sinovac (of which I'd got my 3 doses) as an officially-recognised vaccine, but they weren't accepting any mainland proof of vaccination, even though they where accepting HK vaccine certificates. Fortunately they started accepting them the week before I flew, and I didn't have to quarantine on arrival as I qualified as fully-vaccinated.

 

As for paperwork, before leaving I had to go to the international health centre in Hangzhou so they could issue my vaccine certificate in English as well as Chinese, and I had to get a PCR test — the last of around 7-8 I had in the 3 months before I left — and fill in a "passenger locator form" so the UK govt knew where I would be on arrival (in case I was sitting near an infected person on the plane). In the end the only time anyone even looked at any of this, including when I got a connecting flight in Doha, was when I checked in for my flight in Hangzhou.  

 

 

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On 4/3/2022 at 4:03 AM, mungouk said:

fill in a "passenger locator form" so the UK govt knew where I would be on arrival (in case I was sitting near an infected person on the plane). In the end the only time anyone even looked at any of this, including when I got a connecting flight in Doha, was when I checked in for my flight in Hangzhou.  


This sounds consistent for the UK. Odd behaviour for a country that has made so many historical contributions to public health.

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spoke to a uni student who said she went back home for the winter break, and is now stuck home cos her uni doesn't want them bringing covid to beijing. I believe it was a blanket rule for everyone who went home

 

She also mentioned other uni's have different rules and some allowed students to come back. sounds like a mess

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On 4/3/2022 at 3:11 AM, Flickserve said:

This sounds consistent for the UK. Odd behaviour for a country that has made so many historical contributions to public health.

 

It's all political — Boris was desperate to be giving out some "good news" while he was tied up in various scandals. They've more or less removed all restrictions now in England and many people are acting as if the pandemic is over.  There are still slightly more sensible approaches in Scotland, and here in Wales.


And since Ukraine "happened", Covid is scarcely even in the news here any more — even though hospital admissions are now back at the same level as the peak in January (4th/5th wave depending on how you count), and deaths are still running at over 180/day.

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On 4/3/2022 at 1:49 PM, mungouk said:

They've more or less removed all restrictions now in England and many people are acting as if the pandemic is over. 

 

While the UK government surely haven't come out of the last few years looking good, this current analysis is in line with most western democracies in the world where vaccination rate is high. Keeping restrictions in a situation where the disease is not a danger for the population would not be motivated. An increase in reported deaths is not synonymous to an increase in mortality.

 

The health agencies' work are of course not going to be on hold just because of the war in Ukraine.

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Another way of looking at it is that it didn't matter than no one checked mungouk's documents upon arrival in the UK in February 2022 because it didn't matter if mungouk did or didn't have Covid: England is in a "life-as-close-to-normal-as-possible" phase.

 

Personally I don't think there's any kind of middle-ground between China's current approach and the UK's current approach.

China's approach seems desirable unless or until they're confident that widespread prevelance of Omicron won't kill lots of people and/or overwhelm hospitals.

The UK's approach seems desirable unless or until we're confident that widespread prevelance of Omicron will kill lots of people and/or overwhelm hospitals.

 

Calculations would have been and could in the future be different with a different variant that is more or less infections or more or less virulent.

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On 4/3/2022 at 2:30 PM, realmayo said:

China's approach seems desirable unless or until they're confident that widespread prevelance of Omicron won't kill lots of people and/or overwhelm hospitals.

 

I see your point, but your argument proves that state philosophy is something you'll never do away with, since I would want to alter your argument, based on my view of civil liberties. The state should not have to be confident the spread wouldn't overwhelm hospitals, but rather be confident that it would if they weren't using the restrictions they are. "We can't be sure" would be a convenient argument for oppressive regimes to restrict demonstrations. I'm not saying this for you to agree with me, but rather to show that the opinions will always vary.

 

Shutting down society can also be done by not restricting freedom of movement. A a few countries, such as Japan and my own, have no legal basis of introducing a lockdown.

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On 4/3/2022 at 1:52 PM, Insectosaurus said:

but rather be confident that it would if they weren't using the restrictions they are.

Makes perfect sense. In the case of China right now, I think they can be confident that there would be a very bad outcome without restrictions. I don't know if they will cover up the numbers of people who will die of Covid: if they don't cover them up, it might make the government look bad, if they do cover them up, the elderly might not be scared enough to get vaccinated.

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On 4/3/2022 at 5:00 PM, realmayo said:

I think they can be confident that there would be a very bad outcome without restrictions

 

On 4/3/2022 at 5:00 PM, realmayo said:

the elderly might not be scared enough to get vaccinated

 

There is quite a wide span between lockdowns and no restrictions, though. I have not followed mainland vaccinations apart from the total percentage of the population. Have China failed to vaccinate its elders? An elderly full vaccination rate of way more than 90 percent is probably needed. I remember reading Hong Kong had not managed to reach its elderly population. Japan have so far managed to avoid a huge spike in excess deaths and their 70+ vaccination rate is somewhere around 97 or 98 percent, similar to here in Sweden.

 

Edit: Just checked numbers for Taiwan.

 

Quote

In Taiwan, 76.5 percent of people aged 75 and above have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine shot, 69.9 percent have gotten at least two doses, and 50.1 percent have gotten a booster shot, according to CECC data valid as of the end of February.

 

That's certainly not impressive.

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On 4/3/2022 at 11:24 PM, Insectosaurus said:

That's certainly not impressive.


Truly so. Being too successful to buy time for vaccination has an unintended effect. 

 

On 4/1/2022 at 7:45 PM, Flickserve said:

There’s an interesting issue in that a successful zero covid policy makes the population less willing to take vaccination perceiving risks of vaccination overriding any potential benefit.

 

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