As China rolls back 'zero-COVID', virus fears spread

STORY: With COVID-19 controls softening in China, people on the street were also more candid on Thursday...

...with their opinions of the country’s tough zero-COVID regime of the past three years.

In Shanghai, testing stations are still crowded, but residents say they no longer face the pandemic with fear.

“It’s just like a normal cold, the less you worry about it, the less it will affect you. So I think everyone should take it easy and face it. Now that it has coexisted with everyone, treat it as a cold.”

China announced it was rolling back parts of its COVID-19 curbs this week.

People with mild or no symptoms are allowed to isolate at home, and testing is dropped for traveling within China.

Shanghai said that on Friday it will drop requirements to show a negative COVID test to enter restaurants.

And state media say domestic ticket sales for tourist and leisure spots have soared.

People have also taken to social media to reveal they had tested positive for the virus - something that had previously carried heavy stigma in China.

But cities are urging residents to remain vigilant, on mask wearing, social distancing, and other measures.

Residents Reuters spoke to in Beijing, said they would stock up on medicines to battle COVID-19 at home.

Flu and cough medicines have been flying off pharmacy shelves, as residents – especially unvaccinated, elderly people – feel that one case of COVID-19 is too many.

Only 0.13% of China’s population has been infected.

Analysts say that’s far from the level needed for herd immunity.

A former official in China’s Center for Disease Control, told state media up to 60% of China’s population could be infected in the first large-scale wave before stabilizing.

Some experts have also warned China’s death toll from COVID-19 could rise above 1.5 million if the exit is too hasty.