China Abandons
Zero-Covid Policy — December 2022

Since the first notified case of the novel coronivirus strain in Wuhan at the end of December 2019, the UN World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that there have been 646m cases worldwide and 6.6m deaths attributable to the disease. However conservative these estimates, it is a far cry from the effects of the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic which infected a third of the world’s then population and is thought to have killed anything between 17m and 100m souls. But the “past is another country”, and the Covid-19 pandemic has been devastating.

China quickly reacted to the outbreak with a three-month lock-down and effective blockade of the source city. The WHO at the time commended the move to lock down 11m people in Wuhan (and then a total 57m in Hubei province) as a commitment to contain the outbreak, even though it would not have recommended it, calling it “unprecedented in public health history”. In March 2020 China closed its borders to foreign visitors.

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