China Opens!…and Everyone Locked Down…I Can’t Express Strongly Enough How Urgent This China Covid Update Is… by MARIO CAVOLO Dec 16 2022
I can’t think of a more important subject on which not to let yourself be lied to, gaslighted, fed mis and disinformation. When the world’s largest top superpower country makes a huge crazy holy guacamole Batman decision that instantly turns the lives of its 1.4B citizens upside down and which will impact the entire global economy, I am safe in saying it is essential to avoid misinformation, disinformation, politicized information, gaslighting and bias as much as possible. I don’t know about you but I want to see, understand and then share with you on the most clear, reasonable, sensible. fact-based explanation of what’s actually going on. So here we are.
For the past three years since January 2020, China had become a very very different country to live in. Along the way, mindful that I have lived here as an independent local for 24 years married to a Dongbei Chinese family, I have never felt a great sense of criticism toward the government. On the contrary, from many points of view which matter to its citizens and to the entire world, they have done a remarkable job. They built up the world’s next superpower, created the world’s largest middle class, eliminated poverty for hundreds of millions of people, built the world’s most amazing high tech cities, added more green trees and coverage to the planet than any other green initiative, built and installed far more non petroleum energy sources, rescued the world in 2009 from the US caused global financial meltdown, made Steve Job’s Iphone dream possible with gorilla glass, now possesses the world’s largest deepest manufacturing infrastructure on the planet, yet has over the past ten years massively improved its pollution output to where cities once gray and polluted now have blue skies, and here we go, for the best of all, they did all this and much more over almost the past half a century WITHOUT STARTING WAR OR ATTACKING ANYONE ON PLANET EARTH. The last war they were an aggressor in was Vietnam in the late 1970s. Before that they pushed back the U.S. led UN imperial forces on the Korean Peninsula, much to the chagrin of dear General MacArthur whom I played in the CCTV-1 primetime TV series, Crossing the Yalu River aired in mainland China and yes, you can find it on Youtube as well.
Absolutely amazing China. The only conclusion you could possibly reach if you are sane, intelligent and rational, only admiring China and its people under the governance of the CPC. And in fact, 90% of Chinese know this very well and feel exactly this way. Well, one can only wonder then about the story of China the evil, bad, threat to the world which is endless spewed by our western politicians and their mainstream media and organization lackeys.
Which leads us to the unprecedented accomplishment known as ZeroCovid since january 2020. Of course only China could have pulled it off and of course only China did pull it off so successfully saving millions of lives.
So far, over one million have died in the US and over two million have died in Europe. That means that if China had not locked down as it did, especially during the first two years of highly pathogenic virus strains spreading as they did throughout the US and Europe, the equivalant # of deaths with China’s population of 1.4 billion would easily have been over 5 million people. With 80% of those deaths being folks over 60, that means the children of Chinese households would have lost over 4 million of their parents and grandparents.
Nobody in western US or European mainstream circles of media or NGOs ever talk about this. Its just looks too good for China and too embarassingly terrible for them. Ask all the dead people. You can’t, they don’t have a voice. If my projection seems inaccurate, please feel free to suggest your own.
Meanwhile, we must take two steps back to acknowledge that for the implementation of ZeroCovid, there were plenty of flaws & problems along the way as the country, its govt and people literally under a “war” stance fought the pandemic China’s way. As one will find themselves living in any country, there’s always a decently long list of things to complain about. People the world over will confront the list of “good and bad” of compromises and benefits, of strengths and weaknesses, they must weigh in choosing to live in any particular country.
Its no secret we’re happy here in Shenyang for many reasons, yet let’s not forget a big part of that is the fact that my wife and I have a strong, stable, happy marriage, with a boy and his grandma here. Having such a strong framework is a big influence on how you view your life and where you live. Yet no matter the goodness of our personal life, we were living in a state of war against a pandemic. We were living in many ways, a highly restricted lifestyle under a clear, specific policy mandated by the government. They certainly had their reasons for doing so and their reasoning for how they were doing so and we all had to live with it.
Well having said that, as of ten days ago on December 7th, that “very different country” which China became has radically changed once again, from locked down to open and surprise surprise, with the opening, the first thing that happened? It locked back down, this time voluntarily as every individual’s free personal response to what became an instantaneuos Covid runaway freight train tsunami surge thing. Did I use enough superlatives to describe it? From this past week looking forward, China will surely once again become a very different country to live in, so let’s look more deeply at how and why. It is due mainly to three core policy changes.
1) No more Covid broad testing 2) No more broad tracking. 3) The third main feature of this agressively relaxed policy is that if you feel sick, stay home. If you then test positive, still, stay home. Do your best to follow isolation procedures. Unless you are experiencing more serious, severe symptoms, do not go to the hospital. By the way, this is actually good, common sense advice.
Before I continue, I must admit I got the timing of this happening wrong and also, why I got the timing wrong. I had stated very clearly that I thought ZeroCovid was a permanent infrastructure of this country. And it is, but many people misunderstood what I meant and twisted it around. ZeroCovid is a remarkable permanent infrastructure that is now in place and can be implemented at the push of a button whenever it may be needed in the future. Specifically, it is truly remarkable health protection system that this country has created with two main parts; a deeply integrated, fairly well coordinated broad PCR swab testing and a mobile APP based QR health code tracking system for an entire country of over a billion people. Amazing and it worked.
I didn’t see an end in sight to ZeroCovid but the Chinese govt did. I didn’t think the Chinese CDC and NIH saw an end in sight yet. So I had said I thought ZeroCovid would continue on for at least another 6 months or even longer. Well, that assumed that the Chinese CDC / NIH did not finally confirm to their satisfaction that the severity/pathogenicity of the most recent virus hitting China, starting with the Shanghai outbreak, was mild enough to open. I’m very happy they confirmed this reduced severity sooner than I had expected and I’m certainly happy about it. A small group of idiotic trolling muppets have found this an excuse to personally attack me which is just, well, it says everything we want to know about them, doesn’t it? Twitter is a strange ugly place and we must wade through the sh*t to be able to get on with why we are there.
We are on day three of Covid in our household here in Shenyang, starting to feel better. The level of body aches and nasty headache is substantially lower, my fever is gone, my son still has a 38 fever yet he is feeling better. We’re heading in the right direction.
Far more important is this: EVERY household we know and well more than half of every household they know is also sick with Covid. That is truly, fascinating, weird, mindboggling how fast and broadly this virus went through our city. I called my friend the managing director of the gigantic Star Mall, he says 90% of his team is out sick. All four international schools, 90% of the teachers sick, the ones who weren’t sick 3 days ago are sick today. And their kids. And everyone’s kids. I checked in with my expat community contacts, same story. I checked in with all my local Chinese circle contacts; local or govt or business or billionare Chinese contacts and its the exact same story.
It went like this. Early last week, the govt said “we stop broad testing and tracking. Its over. Go where you want, do what you want, you don’t have to test, you don’t have to show your health QR code. Travel, whatever, get on with your life, have fun. Be careful. You know there’s a virus out there so please do continue to practice your health safety measures, which 90% of people here in China voluntarily put on masks without a fuss. Don’t touch things when you go out. Use hand sanitizer. Ok then.
Next, let’s take a moment to focus in on and remember why the government chose to do this, to announce a significant opening up?
Because there were a few protests from November 21-25th? (and it was just a few and they weren’t very big at all, contrary to what any wester media wants you to think)
No, that’s not the reason.
Because the economic stress was too much?
No, that’s not the reason
Because the govts were running out of money to pay for all the constant testing?
No, that’s not the reason either.
Let me be fair, those were all understandable contributing reasons to be certain. However, let’s see how smart we all are in the real world by asking the following question.
If the data of the Covid pandemic by Oct-Nov was still displaying high severity and high death rates, do you think the Chinese govt would have “opened up”?
Hell no. Of course not. That’s the entire point and that’s my answer, while I must admit I can’t say I know it 100%, it is my best intelligent observation.
ZeroCovid has been its public health policy to keep the country safe as possible from a raging evolving Covid pandemic. Here is the sequence of key factors which led to it as I see it and have analyzed it.
Early in 2022, Hong Kong had a nasty outbreak and the death rate was quite high…over 9000 deaths in a population around 7-8 million.
In mid 2022, Taiwan intentionally chose to open up and had its nasty big outbreak which also was a disaster with over 18000 deaths reported a few months later. Oops. Not good.
But then, from around April and wrapped up by August, Shanghai on the mainland had reached the end of its big nasty outbreak. That lockdown was surely a management disaster, and the outbreak was another big one but with a big difference this time; a very low death rate. Adding to this picture of reality, since final reporting in August from Shanghai, additional larger outbreaks in major cities during Sept-Oct including Beijing, Chongqing, Zhengzhou and Guangzhou also revealed this very low death rate. Wonderful news. Announced after being slowly meticulously analyzed by the Chinese govt apparatus.
Based on that very good news of the evolving pathogenicity of the virus moving in the right direction, several weeks later on Nov 11th, Beijing released a new set of 20 relaxed policies. It seems the problem is that during those subsequent weeks, those relaxed policies didn’t get implemented at the provincial & municipal levels, where local officials were all hesitating to implement them, playing instead the continuingly cautious game of “lets watch & wait to see what happens to the other guy first before we relax the policies.”
Three events then occurred over the following two weeks through the end of November which catalyzed the direction of opening up which was already in place. First, the FoxConn upheaval showed us many frustrated employees, which was due to FoxConn management. Nevertheless it revealed the people’s frustration with the ongoing restrictions which were being applied with a heavy hand. Secondly, the Urumqi fire tragedy, which led to many crowded street vigils, which some falsely labelled as protests. And thirdly, a few actual protests; these were people understandably expressing their voice appealing to the govt to relax the damn restrictions. Oh, there was a fourth influencing factor, some surmise that zillions of Chinese watching all the mask free people watching the World Cup in Qatar also triggered their sense of frustration.
Combine all the above together along with the most important fundamental fact that the govt had already confirmed the reduced severity & death rate of the virus and that leads us to the all-important December 7th press conference. The newest 10 Point Covid policy was announced and that was the big one. Because that was the policy which announced:
No more broad testing
No more tracking
No more travel restrictions
If you test positive, your sickness will be mild to moderate, STAY HOME
Go to the hospital ONLY if your symptoms become more severe
….along with a few other policies, but these were the main ones
What has happened next can only be described in many cities including here in Sheyang and across the country but we have no idea how many exactly, as a Covid outbreak runaway freight train as a result of which we have the title of this piece, China opened up and everyone locked down. This time voluntarily. Shenyang is a ghost town once again.
Let me come back around to the top point for a moment. EVERY household we know and EVERY household they know (I am forced to clarify, perhaps I should say 80% to 90%) is sick right now here in Shenyang. Our other direct contact friends living in Guangzhou, Beijing, Shanghai, Suzhou/Kunshan, Hangzhou, Chongqing are telling us the same. I can’t suggest what is going on in other cities because I have no particular friends in those cities to ask.
Several friends here in Shenyang told me they spoke with some other folks and govt officials and that by now only 9 days since the official ending of broad testing and tracking, over 50% of the city househols are already sick and that’s even though people are being cautious and are wearing masks, this city has had this wild virus surge.
Here’s the interesting problem; We said “broad testing and tracking have stopped” Right? So we simply have no idea how many cases there are other than we know that everyone we know and everyone they know is sick in a city of 8 million. So I can conlude that in Shenyang millions are now sick with Covid in a week’s time. But is it 20% of our 8 million, which is easy to believe or over 50% of our 8 million? No idea. For example, at the end of the Christmas market last Saturday, Dec 10, a group of around 12 of us went out for dinner. All but 2 of those households are now sick and the two that aren’t sick aren’t sick because they already got Covid before. The one friend who isn’t sick is the CEO of that mall I mentioned earlier and as I said, 90% of his team is out sick.
But none of us are “reporting” this to the govt for tracking. They stopped tracking, remember? None of us are official “Covid case statistics” Because we all did exactly what the govt told us to do, and which by the way, I have no problem with. We opened up, we got sick fast, we went home and we’re still home. I self tested positive with an antigen test. There’s no one to report that to. Its just for my own information. So, we obviously have no official clue whatsover how many Covid cases there are in Shenyang, or any other city across China, except the few cities who are still using testing/tracking controls. This scenario varies from province to province and city to city where some tracking/testing services are still around. Here in Shenyang, there are still testing locations if you wish to go get tested with a PCR swab, but all the local ones are gone.
From a CNBC article today “Traffic data from Baidu indicate that most people in large cities such as Beijing and Guangzhou have not ventured out…” That’s most of the country right now.
Related to the fact that the vast majority of cities have stopped broad testing and tracking, its clear as mud that they can count and report either asymptomatic or symptomatic cases. For example, everyone we know here in Shenyang is sick with pretty much the same set of symptoms…so that’s no one “asymptomatic” …and also none of us are reported as cases, we are all just staying home sick, so they have no record of any of us sick at home whether we are symptomatic or asymptomatic, no matter as i said, we are in fact, all home sick…symptomatic. The vast majority I know here in Shenyang are just home, havent gone out and got tested, or just tested with a home antigen test…so at this moment, it seems clear to me they have fully given up their ability to track anything either way. There is an uncountable, untrackable cohort of millions of people sick at home here in Shenyang today. Hmm.
My son and I are feeling better, and just this afternoon, my wife finally got her fever so she’s next in line…
All of us communicating with one another are reporting a very similar set of symptoms and timeframe. 3-5 days of classic head to toe miserable achy flu and fever type symptoms, some cough, dizziness, fatigue, and for myself and many others a nasty headache and that weird, creepy sensitive feeling on your skin which accompanies flu/fever. So far, it seems we have no major disaster but this freight train is only getting started. The good news being this severity we are all reporting to one another with of course concern for the elderly and especially unvaccinated elderly as the virus continue to spread like wildfire.
The good news is, at this accelerated crazy rate of spread, most of us will have gotten the virus and recovered by mid January. Unless I am mistaken, that means we are in a reasonable positioin with 3 to 6 months of immunity to be able to travel just in time for the Chinese New Year holiday which starts on January 21st.
My purpose in the piece is to explain to you what is the current reality down here on the ground. I hope you are satisfied with my explanation and how I have presented the information. Feel free to ask any further questions as we head into the coming chaotic weeks of Covid spreading rapidly across China.