Protesting Travelers Avoid Last Days of Quarantine in China

SINGAPORE—Some groups of Chinese travelers staged spot protests against the still-mandatory quarantine and won.

China announced the end of quarantine upon arrival, but not until January 8. At Nanjing airport, nearly 100 passengers argued with health workers and the police that it was pointless to follow a rule that was about to disappear.

The group refused to take the bus that would take them to a hotel for five days of mandatory isolation. Jessica Li, a 21-year-old student who flew to Nanjing from Seoul on Sunday evening, said that after a commute where some attendees chanted “no quarantine” repeatedly, authorities softened and allowed passengers to go straight home.

“We peacefully protested,” said Ms. Li. “The medics were reluctantly trying to get us on the bus.”

A similar incident in the same city ended three hours later, this time including passengers on a flight from Tokyo, where passengers were allowed to go home after signing a commitment that they would be responsible for all risks associated with bypassing the hotel quarantine, Akira Wang, 28, said in a marketing report. professional.

“This doesn’t make sense. We are all negative. Many people in China are now positive. Why should we waste time?” said Mr. Wang.

The National Health Commission declined to comment. The Chinese Civil Aviation Administration could not be reached. The information office of the State Council of the Chinese cabinet did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The demonstrations were a minor echo of the waves of anger and protests that helped the government abruptly abandon some of the world’s toughest Covid restrictions in early December.

China’s zero-tolerance approach to Covid-19 has left the country largely closed to the outside world for nearly three years. Isolation has deepened this year as Omicron outbreaks across the country have led to long and harsh lockdowns that have slowed the economy and fueled public frustration.

Another important step towards reopening was the announcement by Chinese health officials on December 26 that they would lift Covid-19 quarantine requirements for international arrivals, even as infections spread rapidly across the country.

The National Health Commission said the change means people arriving from January 8 will no longer need to be subjected to multiple days of mandatory isolation. They will only need to show a negative Covid-19 test within 48 hours of departure to be allowed into the country.

Now arriving in China, travelers enter a country in the throes of a massive wave of infections, the true extent and extent of which is unknown. China’s central health authority stopped publishing daily Covid-19 data on December 25 after being criticized for underreporting the increase in infections.

Arriving passengers waited for hours on Christmas Day to board buses from Guangzhou Baiyun Airport in southern China’s Guangdong province to quarantine hotels and facilities.


Photograph:

Emily Wang Fujiyama/Related Press

The Chinese people are struggling to adapt to rapidly changing conditions; The country’s healthcare system was flooded with large numbers of patients, especially the elderly, and pharmacies across the country reported shortages of antipyretic drugs like paracetamol.

China Friday Merck & Co. and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics LP has approved the Covid pill molnupiravir for emergency use, he said. China approves Pfizer, a competing oral treatment Inc.’s

Paxlovid, for emergency use in February.

Officials in Beijing denied that there was a shortage of drugs or medical equipment and ignored US offers of assistance for the supply of vaccines and other medical supplies.

Ms. Li, who has spent the last six months studying in South Korea, said her fellow travelers were organized in a chat group on WeChat.,

China’s do-it-all app has agreed to get together to stay in quarantine before departure.

He said they were emboldened to take action after hearing that there had been a successful protest in Nanjing the previous day. The resulting coldness lasted for about an hour.

Mr. Wang and his companions were not so successful at first—authorities forced them to take the quarantine bus at the airport. But upon arrival at the designated hotel, passengers refused to enter. After a 90-minute discussion, the staff stepped back and let the group go home after signing the agreement to accept full responsibility for bypassing the quarantine.

Mr. Wang said, “We all and they all know that this doesn’t make sense anymore.”

He said that while in general China supports strict Covid controls, he thinks this should eventually come to an end after a month-long lockdown in Shanghai, where he lived this spring.

“It cannot be done again,” he said. “We can’t take it anymore.”

Write to Sha Hua at sha.hua@wsj.com and to Rachel Liang at rachel.liang@wsj.com.

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