COVID column: international update
Health mandates may come and go, but COVID is forever
The COVID-19 pandemic is a world health crisis the likes of which we haven’t seen in modern times. New subvariants continue to spread throughout the globe. The rise of COVID cases in China has prompted the government to create a zero-COVID policy. This policy requires severe lockdown protocols, with the idea of having zero COVID throughout the country.
However, these policies have led to vast protests across China in response to limitations associated with the zero-COVID policy. A protest in Northern China was ignited when an apartment fire broke out and led to the deaths of 10 people due to restrictions of the zero-COVID policy that impacted people’s ability to exit the apartment complex safely. The limitations include limited access to food and medical care, along with social distancing.
According to the New Yorker, the National Health Commission believes that approximately 250 million people are believed to have contracted the virus in the first three weeks of December, which is an estimated 37 million people being infected each day. China has since lifted restrictions, including travel restrictions, along with their zero-COVID policy.
The Canadian government has imposed new restrictions regarding entry into Canada from China, which include individuals testing negative for COVID before entering Canada. China is currently considered a Level 2 regarding COVID-19 and International Travel by the Canadian government, which means that Canadians should practice enhanced health precautions when going to and from China. Many countries fear that the Chinese government’s lack of transparency regarding COVID-19 cases and deaths could lead to new variants that are more serious than those previously known.
According to the New York Times, global hot spot map countries such as Australia and Japan are experiencing high volumes of COVID cases, along with Italy and the United States. Therefore, China is not the only country experiencing an increased number of cases; however, the protests associated with the zero-COVID policy have sparked controversy over the last few weeks.
On January 27,the World Health Organization (WHO) has scheduled a meeting to determine whether the COVID-19 pandemic is still considered a global emergency. At the moment, WHO has suggested that individuals still wear masks while flying on longer flights due to the spread of a new variant. This meeting will determine whether an outbreak represents a Public Health Emergency of International Concern, which is the highest level of alert used by the United Nations.
According to WHO, in December of 2021, the world saw more than half a billion people go back into extreme poverty or be pushed further back into extreme poverty due to health care costs alone. The global pandemic has impacted people from around the world in many different ways. However, if there is a positive takeaway from the pandemic, it is that it brought the international community together in ways that it hadn’t before. In times of uncertainty, progress is sometimes the only sign of hope. It’s important to keep in mind that COVID is here to stay whether we like it or not, and that life before COVID will likely never be fully returned to.