A city in northwest China with a population of more than 4 million people went into lockdown on Tuesday after only six new daily Covid-19 cases were recorded there. Lanzhou has documented 68 cases associated with the most recent epidemic.
And this method appears to be here to stay, at least for the time being. Despite the fact that some Chinese health authorities have indicated a preliminary or partial relaxation once immunisation rates reach 85 percent, analysts believe most restrictions will not be eased within the next year.
Despite thousands of new confirmed cases per week, South Korea will begin to live with the virus on Monday. New regulations will enable up to ten individuals to meet privately in the Greater Seoul region and up to 12 in the rest of the nation, while curfews will be lifted and most companies will be able to reopen fully.
In Japan’s metropolis, Tokyo, curfews for pubs and restaurants were abolished at the end of last month, despite hundreds of new instances being reported around the country every day.
And it isn’t only domestic limits that are being lifted across the area.
While Japan and South Korea retain rigorous border restrictions, including quarantines for most overseas arrivals, Thailand will accept tourists from 63 countries beginning Monday, as long as they can verify they are properly vaccinated and have tested negative for Covid-19.
On Monday, Australia also begins to partly reopen its borders to fully vaccinated individuals, bringing an end to a stringent border system that has divided families for over two years.
Despite a sluggish start, nations including as Australia, Japan, South Korea, and Singapore are now among the world’s most vaccinated per capita.
South Korea was one of the first nations to experience a severe Covid-19 epidemic, with hundreds of cases reported every day as early as March 2020.
It, like many other Asia Pacific countries, achieved early success in controlling infections. While Europe and North America saw significant outbreaks in 2020, countries such as South Korea, China, Thailand, and Australia were able to contain the virus at manageable levels – or kept it out for extended periods of time.
However, outbreaks of the extremely contagious Delta form in mid-2021 drove cases skyrocketing across the area, prompting virtually all governments to prioritise vaccines and coping with the virus above eradication.
The development of zero-Covid is an experiment in the Asia Pacific area to investigate if communities that previously valued low infection rates and an eradication approach can safely transition to living with the virus.
Australia’s two most populous jurisdictions, New South Wales and Victoria, have already abandoned the extermination approach, opting to live with the virus once more than 70% of the adult population had been properly vaccinated.
So far, infection rates have not risen, and on Monday, selected Australian states’ borders will reopen to citizens for the first time.
While instances were certain to grow, Chen stated that immunisation has significantly lowered the severity of Covid-19 for many patients and provided nations with a window to reopen.
“At some point, you have to open, you have to enable the cases to go up but in a reasonable fashion,” he explained. “You can’t just put the place on lockdown because the virus is circulating.”
China, on the other hand, shows no signs of softening its stance on Covid-19.
At the moment, China’s borders remain essentially closed, with airline travel severely restricted and foreign students and tourists barred from entering the country. Chinese nationals and some other international tourists are permitted to enter, but must quarantine for at least two weeks.