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Does China's “Zero-Covid” Policy Really Work?

On the 20th of April, China reported 33,746 new covid-19 cases and is currently battling its worst covid-19 outbreak since March 2020. In order to prevent the spread of the virus, China’s government has applied the “zero-covid” policy by establishing a complete lockdown, confining people to their homes and facilitating multiple rounds of mass testing. There is no right definition of this policy, however, its goal is to reduce new covid cases


Unlike any other lockdown that China has ever had, the “zero-covid” policy is the most rigid and serious one yet. Public places such as schools, supermarkets, malls, parks, tourist areas and bakeries are closed for an undetermined period of time. The government established a mandatory rule that all people must download track-and-trace apps (such as LeaveHomeSafe, The Close Contact Detector and 17TRACK), close contacts must be identified, and positive cases should be quarantined immediately.


Although the “zero-covid” policy was established with the intent of preventing new covid cases, public frustration has been extremely high. Residents have been expressing their anger through protests, social media posts, screaming from their apartment balconies after being confined indoors for days, overall taking a serious toll on people’s lives. People are desperate, with a shortage of food supplies, medications, and basic essentials. People's mental, economic, and social situations have been seriously affected. There is nothing that they can do in order to help themselves and improve their current life conditions.


The comment “we are not being killed by Covid, but by Covid control measures” has been trending on the Chinese social media platform Weibo. In Shanghai, an off-duty nurse passed away after being turned away from an emergency ward at her own hospital, which was closed from disinfection. Moreover, images on social media that have been gaining an increasing amount of attention, showed cleaning workers sleeping in a garage in a neighbourhood in Shanghai. One of the cleaning workers gave a depoiment to CNN and explained that she and her colleagues had been asked to live in the garage for almost a week after being infected by the virus.


Not only that, but due to the “zero-covid” policy requiring people who tested positive to quarantine and isolate themselves, children are also being torn apart and separated from their parents. According to a depoiment given by a Chinese businessman to Time New Magazine, two of his children, aged 9 and 13, were taken away from him and his wife.They were required to isolate themselves in a Shanghai hospital, and only after an entire month were able to reunite with their family. Additionally, one mother told CNN that she had been separated from her 2-year old daughter, who had unfortunately contracted the virus, for an entire week, as her child was required to be isolated. Parents have and proceed to raise their voices against child isolation and separation in the midst of such critical times.


Nevertheless, after all of the restrictions, does China's “zero-covid” policy really work? Are all of the sacrifices made by people worthy? When the policy was implemented late March, the number of new covid cases reported was 6,195. And on April 15th, almost a month after having implemented the strategy, the new covid case number increased to 53,345. As for right now, the policy has not been effective. Although China has implemented some rigid rules, the rate of new covid cases have not decreased, instead increased, reaching new records every week, affecting people’s mental, economic, and financial situation negatively.





Works Cited

“Shanghai Coronavirus Lockdown: What's Happening and Why COVID-19 Cases Are Still Surging in China, Even after 'Zero COVID Policy' - Times of India.” The Times of India, The Times of India, 20 Apr. 2022,

Yeung, Jessie. “Public Anger Mounts in Locked-down Shanghai with No End in Sight.” CNN, Cable News Network, 7 Apr. 2022,

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