In China, People Are Learning to Live With COVID

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Only a few weeks ago COVID-19 positive Chinese teacher Yang Zengdong and her husband would probably have ended up in a makeshift quarantine centre with patchy heating, sparse bedding and overwhelmed toilets, but today they are isolating at home.

Living in a post “zero-COVID” China, despite the anxiety about being infected and rapidly rising cases, hasn’t been too bad, says Yang.

“I wasn’t too worried (when we tested positive), I was quite well prepared with food and medicine,” she said.

Yang, her IT manager husband Hong Ruwei, 41, oldest daughter Xichen, 11, and Hong’s parents are all going about their lives, work and school while isolating in their downtown Shanghai apartment after testing positive for COVID-19. Youngest daughter Zixi, 5, has so far managed to avoid infection.

Though living with COVID-19 has been the norm for most countries around the world this year, it marks an abrupt change for China, which spent most of 2022 trying to keep the virus at bay with harsh lockdowns and near-constant mass PCR testing.

Positive cases and their close contacts were routinely taken to makeshift quarantine centres, but Yang and her family avoided that fate by contracting the virus after restrictions were lifted on Dec. 7.

“When I think of this situation my feeling is just, wow, we are so lucky because now we can isolate at home,” Yang said.

Now, although they are mildly ill with a virus they were told to fear for years, the family believes the worst is behind them.

“This wave is something we have to face, because it is impossible to stay closed forever,” Yang said.

“It may have some impact on the economy and cause some problems in people’s lives, but many of us see hope in front of us now.”

(Reporting by Casey Hall; Editing by Michael Perry)

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