Asia And The West Face Contrasting Covid Fortunes
Photo by HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP via Getty Images

Asia And The West Face Contrasting Covid Fortunes

Manon Lamy May 21, 2022

From Monday May 16, the mask mandate in France is now no longer compulsory in public transports. This signifies the end of the mask mandate in France since the start of the pandemic. In the west it appears to be the end of the COVID-19 pandemic, at least if you believe the authorities. However, in Asia the virus is still raging and the residents of Shanghai are locked away.

The end of restrictions in the West

We should consider ourselves lucky. Covid restrictions are finally lifted and life as we knew it pre pandemic is slowly coming back. In England there are no more rules. Just ‘live with COVID.’ While that is controversial in its own way it, it encourages us to go back to living the life we knew it pre pandemic.

Since the end of April 2022 we, in the UK, do not wear masks indoors (while they are still recommended in crowded spaces), and we do not need to self isolate in the case of a positive test.

In Austria the FFP2 masks are only compulsory on public transport and inside essential shops. For France there are no more mask rules expect for hospitals. If you are in Greece face masks will be compulsory indoors until June 1.

In the West, life can go back to normal. Nearly no more masks, no more lockdowns and ‘freedom’ has been returned. Unfortunately for certain Asian countries that is not the case. Shanghai has been facing a harsh lockdown for over a month now. It is so severe that, during the French elections, the French citizens living in Shanghai were unable to go to vote.

COVID rages on in Asia

China is sticking to its zero-covid rule and Shanghai is possibly bearing the brunt of this wave. Indeed the city has been in a tight lockdown for over six weeks, with residents of the city not seeing further than their front doors. Citizens are not allowed to leave their house, apart from getting tested for the virus.

25 million people locked away in their homes. Something we, in Western Europe, have not experienced and will hopefully won’t in the future.

Many of the city’s residents have said that the regulations are harsh, and quality of life is not what it should be. Certain districts are experiencing a ‘quiet period’ where they cannot receive deliveries (of non-essential products).

The city’s residents are starting to feel disillusioned with the rules. It is now week six or seven of the lockdown when they thought it would only last a few days. These rules seem very out of step compared to a relaxation of the Covid rules in Western Europe.

Citizens are also being forced to move to centralised quarantine facilities if they report a positive test or come into contact with someone who did.

Photo by HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP via Getty Images

Their lockdown affects supply chains around the world

Shanghai is the world’s financial capital. Therefore having the city come to a complete stop poses problem that are felt all around the world. Big companies like Apple or Amazon have warned their customers of possible disruptions in the supply chain.

Shanghai is responsible for 20% of China’s international trade but things have come to a standstill. Many large companies like Elon Musk’s Tesla have been hit by the slow production. The Tesla factory in Shanghai is responsible for Tesla’s Chinese demands and is an export hub towards Europe.

Many European companies with bases in Shanghai are considering moving because of the near shutdown of the city’s companies. With the war in Ukraine and the shut down in Shanghai it is becoming difficult for companies to keep their companies in this global financial hub that is not working.

Companies, and the city’s 25 million residents, now have to hope that the rules in Shanghai will relax, and that the lockdown will end slowly but surely.

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Manon is a freelance journalist for Freshered. She joined Freshered in February 2022 where she is still working today. As a freelance journalist she enjoys covering everything from international politics to Formula 1 and travelling. Manon is currently in her final year of Politics and International Relations at the University of Nottingham after returning from a year abroad in Vienna, Austria. She hopes to continue her studies in Journalism.