Last Updated on January 7, 2023 by Bitfinsider
As part of the country’s efforts to become more transparent, the Chinese government has removed or disabled the social media accounts of over one thousand individuals who have voiced criticism of the policies the government has implemented with the COVID-19 epidemic.
Popular social media site Sina Weibo claimed that it has dealt with 12,854 infractions, which included assaults on professionals, intellectuals, and medical staff, and banned either temporarily or permanently 1,120 accounts.
The ruling Communist Party had largely relied on the medical community to justify its harsh lockdowns, quarantine measures, and mass testing. However, it abruptly abandoned almost all of these measures last month, leading to an increase in new cases that has stretched medical resources to their absolute limits. The party does not tolerate any form of direct criticism and places severe restrictions on members’ right to express themselves freely.
Sina Weibo released a statement on Thursday stating that the company “will continue to increase the investigation and cleanup of all kinds of illegal content, and create a harmonious and friendly community environment for the majority of users.” The statement was made in response to criticism that the company had been slow to address the issue of illegal content on the platform.
The majority of the criticism has been on the indefinite travel restrictions that kept individuals cooped up inside their houses for several weeks, at times leaving them without sufficient food or access to competent medical care. Anger was also expressed over the necessity that anyone who possibly tested positive or had had in contact with such a person be held for observation in a field hospital, where it was frequently reported that there was congestion, bad food, and poor cleanliness.
In the end, the social and economic consequences led to rare street protests in Beijing and other cities, which may have influenced the decision of the party to immediately soften the tightest sanctions.
With the commencement of the Lunar New Year travel rush due to begin in the coming days, China is already dealing with an increase in the number of cases and hospitalizations in major cities, and the country is preparing for a further spread into less developed areas with the anticipation of the holiday. While there has been a reduction in the number of international flights, the authorities anticipate that the number of domestic rail and air journeys will double in comparison to the same period last year. This will bring the overall number of travelers closer to what it was during the holiday season in 2019 before the pandemic hit.
On Friday, the Ministry of Transportation issued an appeal to passengers, urging them to restrict the number of excursions and events they are attending, especially if they include old people, pregnant women, young children, or those with underlying diseases.
Vice Minister Xu Chengguang told reporters at a conference that those who use public transportation are also being reminded to wear masks and pay careful attention to their health and personal cleanliness. Xu Chengguang made these comments.
Despite this, China is moving through with its plan to abolish strict quarantines for anyone entering the country from other countries starting on Sunday.
When classes resume on February 13 following the holiday break, Beijing plans to remove the requirement that pupils at municipal schools have a negative test result for COVID-19 in order to attend campus. This change is scheduled to take place. According to a statement released by the municipal education bureau on Friday, schools are required to resume in-person instruction as quickly as possible even though they will be permitted to shift sessions online in the case of further outbreaks of the disease.
However, because mass testing has been discontinued, there is an extremely limited amount of basic data available (such as the number of deaths, infections, and severe cases), and there is a possibility that new strains of the virus will emerge, governments in other countries have instituted testing requirements for travelers coming from China.
The World Health Organization has also voiced their worry with the paucity of data coming from China, while the United States has mandated that all travelers coming from China must have a negative test result within 48 hours of their departure.
The Chinese health authorities provide a daily tally of new cases, severe cases, and fatalities; however, these data include only officially verified cases and utilize a very restricted definition of mortality resulting from COVID exposure.
Since the government lifted its ban on voluntary testing and gave persons with minor symptoms permission to test themselves and recover at home, the authorities claim that the government is no longer able to present an accurate picture of the current situation of the most recent epidemic.
The National Health Commission announced 10,681 new domestic cases on Sunday, increasing the total number of verified cases across the country to 482,057. In the past twenty-four hours, there were reportedly reports of three further deaths, bringing the total number of fatalities to 5,267.
The statistics are a fraction of those that have been reported by the United States, which has placed its death toll at more than 1 million among roughly 101 million cases.
However, they are far lower than the projections that have been made public by a number of municipal governments. On Tuesday, the eastern province of Zhejiang announced that it was receiving almost one million new cases of the disease each day.
China has claimed that the testing requirements that are being imposed by other governments, most notably Germany and Sweden, are not based on science and has vowed to take unspecified retaliatory action. Germany and Sweden were the most recent countries to do so. The organization’s representatives have stated that the issue is under control and have refuted allegations that there has been a lack of preparedness for the reopening.
The genetic sequencing of the virus is what is used to identify any variants that may occur during an outbreak.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, China has provided GISAID, which is a worldwide platform for coronavirus data, with a total of 4,144 sequences. That is only 0.04% of the total number of cases that have been recorded, which is a rate that is more than 100 times lower than that of the United States and nearly four times lower than that of Mongolia, which is a nearby country.
In the meantime, Hong Kong is making preparations to reopen some of its border crossings with mainland China on Sunday. This would allow tens of thousands of people to cross the border each day without having to go through quarantine.
The semi-autonomous city in southern China has been severely impacted by the virus, which has resulted in the majority of its land and sea border controls with the mainland being closed for over three years. In spite of the danger, it is anticipated that the reopening would provide the retail and tourist industries in Hong Kong the much-needed boost they require.
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