The “wave of COVID-19” currently active in China is actually a wave of prevention

Reading through Twitter and watching Western mainstream media (WMSM), it’s easy to believe that China is collapsing because “a new wave of COVID is decimating the country”. Nothing could be further from the truth. It’s just another example of how WMSM distorts a tiny truth into a larger fabrication designed to paint their chosen target in a bad light.

According to Wikipedia.com, “Schadenfreude is a complex emotion where, rather than feeling sympathy, one takes pleasure from watching someone’s misfortune.” There’s no English word for this, nor is there a Chinese word, but Chinese do use the expression: 幸灾乐祸(Xing zai le huo) which has a very similar meaning to: take pleasure in the misfortune of others.

While WMSM looks at China’s re-emergence of COVID-19 there are two main reasons to point out that the current “wave” is nothing more than a ripple. Onlookers currently viewing China through their lens of Schadenfreude, are going to be sadly disappointed because this “wave” is not a wave of infections but a tsunami of activity to prevent further infections.

Just over two weeks ago there were two new outbreaks of COVID-19 in Guangdong province. One in Shenzhen were a few people got sick because they worked on a ship which came into the port and contaminated them. The procedures in place in their workplace, because they were high risk, meant that they were regularly tested and found positive, before they even knew they were sick. Immediate action was to isolate them, track and trace everyone they’ve been in contact with and withing a few days hundreds of thousands of tests had taken place and the outbreak was confined to very few cases — all over within a few days with several thousand people isolated, checked and found to be healthy although, for the sake of ongoing safety, isolation for close contacts and other measures, such as some travel restrictions, are still in place.

In Guangzhou it was a slightly different story. COVID-19 did escape into the community. How this happened is still not confirmed and under investigation. One of the infected people was a Chinese national who had entered China and been through all the appropriate quarantine and testing procedures before being allowed to continue his journey. He travelled by train but reported that he wasn’t feeling well after arriving in Nanning in neighbouring Guangxi. He was tested and found positive. So far, despite massive testing, no one on the train has tested positive (all passengers on trains need to wear masks as tall times, now we can understand why this is a good thing). No one in his immediate group of contacts has tested positive and it looks like, as far as Nanning is concerned, nothing more to worry about.

During his journey, he had a meal in a Yum Cha restaurant, a morning tea house. He was served by a waitress, she served others and a few days later, a 75-year-old lady, Mrs. Gao, felt unwell, went to the hospital and was confirmed with COVID-19. Her husband was also confirmed positive, the waitress who served them was traced, she had already travelled from Guangzhou to her home town of Maoming, a few hundred kilometres away. Once again local authorities swept into action, testing thousands of travellers and residents of Maoming, so far, only the waitress has been confirmed with COVID-19.

Mr and Mrs Gao visited family in another part of Guangzhou and, through testing all of their contacts, a few other cases were confirmed, one of whom was a student so the school needed to be tested and some more cases were confirmed. The family had connections in Foshan, a neighbouring city to Guangzhou and some cases have been found there too.

Which brings us up to now. Mass testing, accompanied by mass vaccinations (Guangzhou must certainly hold the world record for this by vaccinating 2.5 million people in just one day) means that, while there are new cases being found in Guangzhou and neighbouring Foshan city, so far, all of them have been found within the isolated communities and found by testing, rather than reporting independently to the hospital because the patient felt unwell. As soon as one case is found, the building or street is locked down, all contacts are traced and, in some cases, more are found, but usually there are no more positive tests.

For some perspective into how seriously the Guangdong authorities are taking this, even though people living in Guangzhou are now forbidden to leave without having a negative test in the preceding 48 hours, cities like Zhongshan, (the writer’s home) 80km from Guangzhou (bordering Foshan where some cases have been identified), has been subject to a massive logistical health operation.

Over three days, despite there being no cases in Zhongshan, the entire city of 4 million people was tested (at no charge). Restaurants are encouraging take away or pick up food but still allowed to operate at 75% capacity. Cinemas, swimming pools, Karaoke bars and other places of entertainment are closed. Gatherings of people outside of immediate family are discouraged and have been banned in public places and the requirement to wear a mask, which was never officially lifted, is now being strictly enforced on buses, in banks, supermarkets, restaurants and basically any other place where citizens might want to go. There’s also a requirement to show a green pass code which is obtained by scanning a QR code placed at the entrance of every facility. It takes about 20 seconds and is hardly an inconvenience.

The health and safety steps described above are being taken after only 5 to 10 cases a day are being discovered in a neighbouring city. Not only is Guangzhou a city of 18 million people but 100% of the small number of new cases which are being discovered come from within the testing, isolation and management systems being carried out there.

For even more perspective, statistics show, since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Guangdong province, with a population of 110 million citizens, larger than most countries. Has reported a total of 2,542 confirmed cases, this includes 1,052 cases imported from other countries and captured in the closed-loop management system of quarantine and testing on arrival. So far, only one patient has died in Guangdong province.

And one final piece of perspective to measure Guangdong’s success: the United States, currently reporting how pleased they are with the way they have handled COVID-19 stated last week that new cases there dropped to just below 22,000 a day for the first time since June 2020.

It’s fair to say, even though there is an increase of cases in China, when placed in a proper perspective this is nothing more than a spark and the processes in place will ensure it remains so. To report waves of COVID-19 at a time like this is not only alarmist and misleading, it demeans the journalist and the publications they write for, it insults the Chinese people working so hard to eradicate this disease and prevent its spread.

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Jerry Grey

I’m British born Australian living in Guangdong and have an MA in Cross Cultural Change Management. I write mostly positively about my China experiences