Since the China Communist Party (CCP) hastily abandoned most of its “zero-COVID” measures a week ago, the nation has fallen into chaos again. The number of infected cases has surged in major cities, and many companies face labor shortages. As a result, people tend to be afraid of going out and spending money.

Beijing’s public health department reported 22,000 fever clinic visits on December 11, 16 times more than a week ago. People have waited in long lines at hospitals.

However, the CCP reported only about 7,500 new cases in mainland China on December 12. Chief economist at Nomura, Lu Ting, said in a report that China’s data was misleading, pointing to a sharp drop in PCR testing.

In a survey conducted by the social media platform Weibo and local media outlet Economic View, about 70% of respondents said they or those around them were infected.

Guan Guan, a Shanghai resident, said in an interview posted on the QQ that after reopening for a week, half of her circle of friends tested positive.

Beijing resident Bob Yu told Nikkei Asia the same situation, showing that in the past week, more than half of his friends were infected with COVID.

The sudden shift in the CCP policy is beginning to affect businesses. Employees are in two categories—those who may be infected with COVID,—and those who want to avoid the risk of infection. As a result, companies across industries find their labor force is rapidly reducing.

An executive at a major Japanese company operating in Beijing told Nikkei only about 20% of staff would come to the office.

A representative of a Japanese company that runs an electric components factory in Guangzhou said the number of infections among employees is increasing. His company managed to avoid the shutdown, but he doesn’t know what the future holds.

Leland Miller, CEO of China Beige Book—a research firm that conducted the private survey—says the problem is that people think the COVID exit measure is the same as reopening China’s economy. But that is not the case.

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