Ambitious But Unsustainable: A Look into China’s Zero-Tolerance Covid-19 Policy

Most countries are either coming around to or are accepting the fact that COVID-19 is here to stay and that it is best to learn to live with it. China is not one of those countries. It is instead seeking to eliminate the virus through a series of stringent measures such as severe lockdowns, border controls, mass contact tracing, among others. This zero-tolerance approach to COVID-19 has meant that China—despite being the (probable) birthplace of SARS-CoV-2—has consistently registered zero to very few new infections. However, strictly maintaining the COVID-19 cases at practically nothing comes at the expense of rising political, social, and economic costs, especially with the advent of new variants that can breach restrictions more easily.

The zero-tolerance policy itself is not foolproof, evidenced by last month’s COVID outbreak that affected more than half of Chinese provinces. Although China was able to bring down local infections to zero in a matter of weeks, new infections have again been reported this month in the southeastern province, Fujian. Incidentally, both outbreaks were caused by the Delta variant of the COVID-19.

Amidst these outbreaks and rising costs, pressur...

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