China will officially put an end to its “zero-covid” policy by reopening its border with Hong Kong on Sunday, but the consequences of this move could bring the world back to the early pandemic days.
For 1,016 days, China closed off its country to the world and forced its citizens to adhere to a series of mass lockdowns while trying to contain its local Covid situation.
But Sunday marks a new start for the Asian giant and the rest of the world when it fully opens its country. For about three years, China did everything it could to control the spread of the virus in its territory. From here on out, huge consequences would be felt, with The Economist reporting that the world economy would be disrupted again.
Experts anticipate horrific effects of the reopening since SARS-CoV-2 is raging in China and causing quite a spike in cases. Tens of millions of people are reportedly getting infected each day in a country home to a 1.4 billion population.
World leaders have expressed concerns that China could be “under-representing” the severity of the situation. Local hospitals are reportedly overwhelmed by the sudden increase in cases. A data model even suggests that in the coming months, China could record 1.5 million deaths.
The reopening of the border will allow up to 60,000 Hong Kong residents to travel to the mainland. At the same time, China will also drop quarantine requirements for international tourists and scrap several Covid restrictions on airlines imposed at the start of the pandemic, CNN reported.
A disruption in the world economy similar to the early days of the pandemic is anticipated. But this will be mostly benign. Overseas entrepreneurs and experts look forward to the massive export opportunities this will bring them. The costs of manufactured items and machinery would also be reduced, but there will be more competition for the strained energy resources, according to The Business Standard.
In the long run, China’s reopening would benefit the world economy. However, the fact remains that there is fear of another wave of transmissions in many places. International health authorities worry that new SARS-CoV-2 variants could come from the country. But China is also on alert for new strains coming to its premises amid the reopening of its borders.
China has been recording numerous new cases regularly since late last year. However, it has yet to report any domestic transmission of XBB.1.5 — the Omicron subvariant that is now the dominant strain in the United States, as per The Straits Times.
On Thursday, Greece, Germany and Sweden joined the growing list of countries demanding Covid testing for travelers from China. Meanwhile, the United Kingdom announced that it would not force plane passengers from China to take Covid tests and self-isolate when they reach Heathrow airport.