Life in China’s capital city Beijing is regaining its glamor and vitality in the hot summer season, as epidemic prevention and control has achieved decisive success. Shops, malls, and cinemas are once again abuzz with people who are returning to various recreational activities. The city has returned to its routine morning and evening peak hours, and commuters are once again confronted with crowded subway trains and traffic jams.
With zero domestic COVID-19 cases for nine consecutive days, schools are prepared for their reopening in the fall semester, and life has been returning to the days before the outbreak, even if people have gotten used to wearing a mask in public. Only six areas, mostly in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and southeast China’s Guangdong Province, remain as medium-risk and high-risk zones for COVID-19.
China’s gradual return to normalcy reflects the success of its epidemic prevention and control measures. From the top-down level, the country has adopted a strong national strategy, including travel restrictions, enclosed community management, citywide nucleic acid testing, and a series of quarantine measures to cut further transmissions of the virus. From Wuhan to Beijing, Dalian to Urumqi, cities with newly emerging COVID-19 cases have been given priority to identify the source of the virus, and to locate contacts of confirmed cases. The country’s stringent measures in dealing with such an unprecedented public health crisis has prevented it from a potential second or third wave of outbreak.
To be totally scientific in its handlings of the COVID-19, China has attached great importance to expert discussions and summarizing the expertise of frontline medics. Dr. Zhong Nanshan was awarded the Medal of the Republic for his outstanding contributions to the fight against the COVID-19. In comparison, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top infectious disease expert in the US, has had to hire security to protect himself and his family after receiving death threats. The anti-intellectual attitude is also one of the reasons why the US has failed to contain the pandemic.
From the bottom-up level, the Chinese have shown strong self-discipline in performing social-distancing rules, wearing masks and disinfecting facilities, when their life was almost halted at the beginning. In a country with 1.4 billion people, they are more aware of the risks of infectious diseases than people elsewhere in the world. In 2020, the Chinese made utmost efforts to follow the guidelines made by the CDC and abided by the suggestions given by experts and officials in the public health sector.
China’s gradual return to normalcy doesn’t mean the country or the Chinese are letting their guards down. Now wearing masks, checking temperature, or showing health codes has turned into a habit for most Chinese around the country.
As imported COVID-19 cases continue to exist and the rest of the world is grappling with the virus, they are fully aware that previous practices shall remain, and that they should continue taking precautions. Travel restrictions still work for the country’s remaining medium and low-risk areas for coronavirus, with some tourist sites requiring bookings, and cinemas limiting the number of moviegoers, operating at half capacity.
With overseas Chinese getting chartered flights to return to the homeland, how people think of the Chinese government’s response to the pandemic is simple and clear. Even the New York Times praised the country, saying that “the return to normalcy has made China an outlier in the global economy”. The Chinese will always be prudent but won’t panic in the anti-virus fight.