China’s Lethal Quarantine Policy Sparks National Protests

Cezza Cardaropoli, Reporter

China’s leader, President Xi, is being pressured by Chinese citizens to step down from his position as protestors dominate the streets. The confrontations between authorities and citizens began on November 24, 2022 when victims of an apartment fire were not able to leave due to the “zero covid” policy being enforced. People were locked inside of centralized quarantine locations while drones circled the public air with reminders to “stay inside” or “wear your mask”. This rule started in the midst of the 2020 quarantine, trying to stop the spread of coronavirus variants. The outcry was silenced until one Xinjiang apartment caught fire, the policy leaving people trapped and unable to escape the flames. This quickly turned deadly, killing 10 people and injuring 9, opening a whirlwind of protests across the nation.

Protesters finding peace amongst the crowd Cordacy of AP News

This fire is not the first time people have died due to the “zero covid” policy. Several medical emergencies went untreated as outside facilities could not help people that were being held at the segregated quarantine buildings. In the heart of COVID (Summer 2020-Fall 2022), this progressed as citizens were refused ambulances and other medical care unless they had proof of a negative coronavirus test. Furthermore, this past September, a group of “close contacts” of COVID patients were being taken to a quarantine facility early in the morning. The bus carrying them flipped over suddenly, the crash leaving 27 people dead. 

Things are looking up for the protestors as the Chinese government is slowly lowering COVID restrictions. Since the fire, there is no longer a negative test needed to access public transportation in twenty of China’s major cities. In addition, some regions are allowing people to quarantine inside of their own homes rather than assigned ones. Protestors, while thrilled with these upcoming changes, are still hoping for greater advances as COVID cases decline.