BEIJING, China — Although COVID-19 originated in China, the country has made striking improvements. Since the country’s first case, the government adopted strict measures to prevent spreading the virus. As a result, life in China has returned back to normal to a large extent. For instance, social distancing rules have relaxed and many people have returned to work. Furthermore, leisurely activities, such as bars and clubs, have reopened. In analyzing how China recovered from COVID-19, experts have designated three key steps the country took: strict lockdown measures, normalization of masks and social distancing and proof of good health.
When COVID-19 first erupted in Wuhan, the government placed the city under a strict lockdown from Jan. 23 to April 8, restricting visitors’ access and travel. People in the city couldn’t leave and people outside the city couldn’t enter. The rest of Hubei province also had specific lockdown measures along with other major cities in China, including Shanghai and Beijing.
Like many other nations, China installed a travel ban on several countries that restricted people from entering. Because COVID-19 flourishes while traveling, especially on long-haul flights, the government chose to limit potential carriers from abroad. While this ban prevents possible resurfacing, it has affected those who depend on traveling to and from China.
However, despite the inconvenience these measures have caused, these efforts have proved worthwhile. After quarantining Wuhan, a central city with more than 11 million residents, health officials were able to contain the virus. Other major cities, including Shanghai and Beijing, were also able to prevent further exacerbation of the infection due to these strict lockdown measures. Considering the sheer density of China’s population, these were considered significant successes.
Normalization of Masks and Social Distancing
Even prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, masks were considered the norm. While Western countries only use masks for medical or sanitary purposes, Eastern countries, especially China, have been wearing them for decades. Thus, when governments released a mask mandate, the people had little objection.
This is a sharp contrast to countries like the U.S., where masks have become a political statement. Leaders throughout the U.S. cannot reach a consensus regarding mandatory mask mandates and social distancing requirements. The American people remain polarized on whether or not they should wear a mask. Many people see mask usage as a threat to their personal freedoms and, consequently, the virus continues to spread due to the lack of proper preventional measures.
In China, masks and social distancing were already normalized and the government quickly mandated these preventative measures to stop the spread of COVID-19. As a result, China’s rate of recovery has transpired much quicker than in countries without mask mandates and social distancing guidelines.
Proof of Good Health
Proof of good health is also important to prevent the virus from resurfacing. Before going to work or entering shops and restaurants, people are required to do a health check. In addition to requiring masks, most buildings conduct temperature checks prior to entering. Chinese application developers have even engineered a smartphone app that allows people to input information about their current state of health to show shop owners that they are not potential risks.
“Some people may find it inconvenient to conduct so many different kinds of tests, but it’s to ensure everyone’s safety,” said Yachi Wang, a student living in Shanghai. “I think people here are doing their best to make these requirements more convenient, such as creating an app where people can easily prove they are in a healthy state.”
Recovering from Economic Hardships
Although initially the epicenter of the pandemic, China recovered from COVID-19 by taking these three key steps. In addition to improving health and safety, a quick return to normal economic activity has helped those living in poverty by enabling them to return to work and provide for themselves and their families. Though the pandemic is still impacting the country’s economy, the government has plans for a smooth recovery.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has announced that he will install several policies that will allow citizens to return to work. The policies will focus on six goals, including employment, people’s livelihoods and the development of markets. They will also focus on food and energy security, stabilization of supply chains and overall community functionality. Other areas, including finance, foreign trade, foreign and domestic investment and market expectations, are also on the agenda.
While COVID-19 still remains a worldwide issue, China recovered from COVID-19, providing hope for the rest of the world. Scientists and medical professionals have yet to finalize the development and distribution of an effective vaccine. But in the meantime, China’s efforts prove that recovery is possible with proper safety measures. By implementing strict lockdown measures, widespread normalization of mask usage and social distancing guidelines and showing proof of good health, other countries can follow in China’s footsteps.
– Heather Law