Al Jazeera Beijing based reporter Katrina Yu recounts the story of her emergency visit to the hospital to give birth but was blocked by the zero-COVID policy.

 “It’s 3:30 in the afternoon. I try to stay calm. My husband was throwing a suitcase…in and out of the rental car while I struggled to put the seat belt on my bulging stomach.”

“Contractions come quickly and densely. My baby has decided to come to this world two weeks early. I closed my eyes and heard my husband’s seat belt ‘click’.”

Her husband was worried and shouted to urge the driver to speed up. Their destination was only a 20-minute drive away, but the driver coldly refused to start immediately and said irritably, “Scan the health code!”

Her husband followed suit, opened the Beijing Health app, and scanned the QR code taped to the back of the driver’s seat.

The driver shouted, “Her too!” but Yu couldn’t remember where her phone was.

Her husband couldn’t help yelling: “She’s having a baby can’t you see?!?”

But the driver replied emotionless, “Scan the health code first.”

Yang Lizhu did not explain further. They finally rushed to the hospital and underwent additional COVID-19 tests upon arrival. She gave birth to a baby boy just two hours later.

Although Katrina Yu was lucky enough, she said that the impact of the “Zero COVID” policy was devastating and even fatal to many people.

The whole of China suffered from mobile app control for 3 years

Yu began covering the COVID-19 outbreak in January 2020, when it first spread from Wuhan. She said that, since then, there have been countless cases of emergency patients, children, pregnant women, the elderly, and so on, not being cared for because they did not have the latest negative nucleic acid test document. Millions are starving, losing their livelihoods, and declining mental health due to the widespread lockdown.

“For almost three years, our mobile phone health app has been our passport to venture beyond our homes… Scanning means your location and identity are also noted, so authorities know who you are and where to find you.”

She said that in the past three years, everyone has become frozen when they see the threatening “Big White” or “Dabai.” Dabai is an unfriendly nickname for the state staff dressed head-to-toe in white medical suits and goggles.

This is because spotting a “Dabai” meant that someone nearby was dragged to a centralized isolation camp, where they could not feel the sun for a few days or weeks.

She said, “For almost three years, we became used to long testing queues, stocking our freezers with weeks worth of food, stopping non-essential travel, and fearing flu and colds because buying any fever-treating medicines was restricted. The rationale being that all people wanting to take Ibuprofen were clearly trying to hide their COVID-19 infection from the authorities.”

The Xinjiang tragedy has awakened the Chinese people. She asked, “How could a policy designed to protect people be responsible for such needless deaths?”

The most severe public protest in China since the June 4, 1989 incident broke out. Angry protestors even risked jail and shouted “Down the Communist Party, Down Xi Jinping.”

What made Yu shocked again turned out to be the reversal of CCP’s Zero policy.

They announced some significant changes: COVID-19-positive cases and close contacts will no longer be forced to quarantine at government facilities and will no longer need test results when traveling within the country or entering a supermarket, mall, office building or park.

If a lockdown order is imposed, it cannot be extended to entire neighborhoods, and it must be targeted and lifted as soon as possible.

All these changes will be implemented when up to 10,000 infections are recorded daily. China has finally surrendered to live with the virus.

However, the government doesn’t have a clear roadmap to “live with the virus.” Many people fear that this could bring great risks. It caused confusion and anxiety among the people.

As a result, people panic buying drugs and rapid testing kits. Social media chat groups are flooded with questions. The mRNA vaccine shown to be more effective than the Chinese-made vaccine is unavailable in China.

Everyone lacks confidence because they are not equipped with any knowledge of living with the virus—all hope for a complete health system, which is hard to believe at this point.

Testing 3 times a week is still needed to enter public places.

Yu finally said, “The only difference is I’ll be walking to my local testing site a little lighter;… and knowing a mobile phone app now has less power over my life.”

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