After the Chinese government announced the easing of epidemic prevention measures, the number of infected people increased sharply. People began to rush to buy anti-epidemic products, in which N95 masks became the best-selling item. A few days ago, Tongxiang city, Zhejiang province, again issued a notice that stated, “all people have to wear masks,” which made netizens angry.

According to Sina, on December 9, the Office of the Tongxiang City Epidemic Prevention and Control Group issued a notice saying that the city has decided to continue implementing the action “All people have to wear masks” in the city. The reason is to “practically prevent the spread of respiratory infectious diseases like COVID-19”.

According to the report, all residents in the Tõngxiang city area are subject to the regulation that “All people have to wear masks,” which states staff in the working place and key positions must “wear the mask as much as possible” during working time. When local citizens or people from other places go into public spaces such as hospitals, they must wear masks. Everyone has to register in their minds that “whenever entering public places, wearing mask is a must” and “exemplifying the act of wearing a mask is also a must.”

In particular, Article 8 requires that “anyone who does not wear a mask resulting in the  spread of the disease or causing other serious consequences will be held accountable” according to the provisions of the law. This move caused public discontent and left many scolding comments.

NTDTV has quoted some comments from Chinese netizens as follows: 

“The government doesn’t seem to miss even the smallest window to punish their people”; 

“How come that the lockdown order is already removed, yet the government still emphasizes on the spread of the pandemic and still promotes ‘zero’ covid’ policy?”; 

“I will voluntarily wear a mask, but the government can’t either force me or use their power to threaten me”; 

“The magic box has been opened, and all kinds of demons will be performing for a while.”

“Isn’t the government grasping the tail of the epidemic to make money on the last sale of N95 masks?”; 

“Does wearing a mask still have to be a campaign? Is there nothing more important than wearing a mask? Isn’t it true that doing a little something to restore the economy, or promoting the whole nation to focus more on physical beings better than this?”; 

“What law does the government use to enforce the wearing of mask? Can the management people of Tongxiang Epidemic Prevention and Control Group, based on their own ignorance of the law, make arbitrary announcements to threaten society and prosecute people for criminal responsibility if they don’t wear a mask?”

During more than three years of the pandemic, the Chinese government’s long-term zero-COVID policy has caused severe economic and livelihood crises, leading to growing public discontent. Recently, a large-scale anti-lockdown “white paper revolution” has broken out in many parts of China, and political slogans such as “Chinese Communist Party, step down!” has been chanted.

Under pressure from many parties, the government is not prepared to open up fully. Recently the Chinese government announced the so-called Ten new rules and quickly loosened control, causing the number of people infected with COVID-19 to surge and fever clinics to become overcrowded.

People panic, rush to hoard fever-reducing drugs, antigen reagents, cold medicines, etc. Many pharmacies are out of stock. People rush to buy N95 masks.

Yicai reported that as Lianhua Qingwen capsules increased in price and were constantly out of stock, many consumers turned their attention to masks. Recently, this newspaper reporter went to several offline pharmacies and checked many e-commerce platforms and found that the price of masks varies from place to place, ranging from about 3 yuan up to 300 yuan (about $0.40 to $40).

Yicai said that Baidu data shows that in the past week, the number of searches for content related to “scientific disease prevention” has increased 15 times, and the popularity of searches for epidemic prevention-related items has also soared. The searched items include N95 masks, Ibuprofen pills, Lianhua Qingwen capsules. Other epidemic prevention items have received massive attention. For example, recent searches for N95 masks have increased by 715%.

According to data from mama.dxy, a medical store owned by medical services platform, sales of N95 masks have increased significantly since December 7. The current daily sales average is about 27 times more than last month.

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