Avoiding a second Covid-19 wave, China style…





Excerpts from:


How China Is Attempting to Prevent a Second Wave of Infections

Bloomberg News
April 29, 2020, 5:00 AM GMT+8

  •  Bans on foreigners, 35-day quarantines for domestic travelers
  •  Cities take different approaches in push to return to normal

As the first major country to emerge from coronavirus lockdowns, China is focused on avoiding a devastating second wave of infections as it returns to a semblance of pre-pandemic life.

Distanced school desks, compulsory face masks and tracking apps are being deployed from the financial hub of Shanghai to the frigid northern province of Heilongjiang. With Chinese experts concluding that the virus cannot be eradicated, government officials are focused on keeping infections to a manageable level to avoid catastrophic surges that overwhelm hospitals.

The most strictly-governed cities, like Beijing, are enforcing an additional seven days of home confinement after that. Anyone isolating at home in the capital city can trigger an alarm just by opening their front door while neighbors are encouraged to report people leaving their homes.

In financial hub Shanghai, hardly any restrictions are imposed on domestic travelers likely due to the need to remain open to investment and talent. A Bloomberg journalist traveling from epicenter Hubei province to Shanghai didn’t encounter any particular restrictions, quarantine or even a requirement for testing once in the city.

Shanghai’s approach will likely be watched closely by authorities in other financial centers such as New York and Tokyo, cities whose dynamism depend on open domestic travel.

In a move likely impossible in Western democracies due to privacy concerns, China is combining the powers of its surveillance apparatus and its giant internet companies to keep tabs on who is vulnerable to infection.

Tracking and health monitoring functions built into smartphone apps from Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and Tencent Holdings Ltd., China’s biggest companies, draw on data from government departments, phone carriers, locations and transactions to paint a detailed picture of each individual’s risk level.

The end result is that millions of people have to show their red, yellow or green color codes before being allowed into hotels, restaurants, shops, subways and residential compounds.

The codes are updated frequently and a green code — which gives freedom of movement — can be easily lost. Just visiting a shopping mall that an infected person also went to can mean one’s code changes to yellow, forcing mandatory home isolation.

While there has been an easing in restrictions, China has been careful to do so in stages. Many cities still don’t allow cinemas, theaters or bars to reopen, while the notorious traffic jams of Beijing and Shanghai have intensified as many shun the close confines of urban transit.

— With assistance by Sharon Chen, Dong Lyu, Sarah Chen, and Claire Che







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