Chinese health officials said that the country is facing increasing pressure to prevent inbound COVID-19 infections as the new Omicron variant has become widely prevalent in some countries, once again shattering the dreams of thousands of international students and families waiting to return to China for the past two years.
Mi Feng, a spokesperson for the National Health Commission, said at a press conference on Wednesday that strict anti-epidemic measures should occur resolutely and decisively considering that the upcoming New Year and Spring Festival holidays will see more flows of people,
Chinese state news agency reported. Beijing is preparing to welcome thousands of overseas visitors to February’s Winter Olympics but has effectively banned its borders with stringent restrictions for international travelers including students and separated families.
As of Dec 28, “More than 1.2 billion people have been fully vaccinated in China, accounting for around 85.6 percent of total population,” Mi Feng added.
Students are baffled that no sort of logic either based on percentage of fully vaccinated people in China or condition of full vaccination for incoming students nor any other requirement is working in their favor as they have lost precious 2 years in the formative period of their life. China has not shown any interest in allowing international students to return except those from South Korea and few from the US.
Beijing has followed a strict “zero Covid” strategy involving tight border restrictions and targeted lockdowns since the COVID-19 pandemic first emerged in Wuhan.
China is insisting on its much touted ‘Zero-COVID’ policy even as repeated outbreaks this year in different parts of the country threw a spanner in it and questioned the stringent restrictions imposed on its citizens and the ensuing uncertainty in social and economic life in the country. Many experts have spoken about the diminishing returns of this approach as fatigue has set in.
Despite a strict “zero Covid” strategy, China has seen many outbreaks this year. In the current outbreak, which is the most serious outbreak this year, China has reported around 200 daily new cases for the last 5 days.
These are in addition to more than 500 asymptomatic cases which China does not consider as confirmed cases. NHC said 2,563 patients are still receiving treatment, of whom 15 were in severe conditions.
All these cases are adding to growing concerns over the spread of the Omicron variant. Chinese officials reported a case of Omicron on December 13 in Tianjin city followed by a few more officially reported cases.
However, there is not much information about Omicron’s spread in the country amid continuous concerns expressed by officials about it.