Shops, restaurants and the used-to-be bustling streets of China’s capital, Beijing, are empty this mid-December — but it is not because of forced COVID-19 lockdowns; it’s the opposite.
What Happened: Beijing appeared to be in lockdown less than a week after the Chinese government lifted its harsh “zero-COVID” restrictions in response to a wave of nationwide protests. But this lockdown is self-imposed by the city’s residents, who have chosen to stay at home out of concern for contracting the virus.
Weibo Corp WB, China’s social media platform, was flooded with people around the nation sharing news of their infections and experiences with COVID-19, according to the New York Times.
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The testing standards that traditionally governed daily life in China have been greatly reduced by the new COVID-19 rules, and residents now prefer to use home antigen tests when they are available, making official data unreliable.
China’s National Health Commission (NHC) announced on Wednesday it would stop including asymptomatic infections as part of its daily tally after giving up on trying to keep track of all the new COVID-19 cases.
Why It Matters: In COVID-19 outbreaks, the severity of the disease usually takes time to become evident, but there are indications of insufficient vaccination levels. This could possibly have an impact on Chinese stocks listed on U.S. equity markets if the outbreak worsens and forces businesses to close and employees to stay at home.
The Hang Seng China Enterprises index added 0.39% Wednesday, paring December’s rally to 7.25%.
China’s biggest online travel firm, Trip.com Group Ltd TCOM, which has its headquarters in Shanghai, dipped 2.48% on Wednesday as news of the virus spread but increased 13% in the past month as investors took in the news of the country’s reopening.
China’s citizens hurried to buy canned peaches amid fears of the virus due to speculations that vitamin C-rich food might either prevent or treat COVID-19. Since then, the preserved fruit was disclaimed by Chinese state media as neither a cure-all nor a replacement for medication.
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Photo: Grindstone Media Group via Shutterstock
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