The Chinese government is losing its battle against the Omicron virus with the insistence of continuing the Zero-Case policy and using exclusively Chinese vaccines which seem to be not stopping Omicron. With the Olympic games and the Chinese New Year in sight, the Chinese authorities continue to blame imported viruses and even hamsters as the source of infections.
2,000 hamsters in pet shops in Hong Kong were culled after an employee in one of the shops was infected with CoViD-19 and several of the hamsters in the shop were tested positive. Their cousins in Mainland China might face the same fate soon, privately-owned hamsters are however not yet included in the frenzied attempts to stop Omicron.
China is the only major country still following the Zero-Case policy, even though many scientists and even the IMF have pointed out in the past week that the method, which successfully stopped any deaths from CoViD-19 in the last twelve months in China, is not working for the easily transmitted Omicron variation. More than half of all provinces have reported Omicron cases since December 9th, 2021, and even in Beijing about 30 cases were detected within the last week.
For the third year, Chinese are asked not to travel for family meetings, a heart-breaking perspective for parents from the countryside working in the big cities, who might not have seen their child back in the village since two years. The Olympic Games will be started on Feb. 4th, however, if they will be finished according to plan or have to be aborted after the Omicron enters into the “bubble” which is meant to protect the athletes, remains to be seen.
In a parallel development to the hamster scare, the Centre for Disease Control has asked Chinese citizens not to buy products directly from foreign countries, as the parcels arriving could carry active viruses. If parcels arrive, they have to be opened in the open, wearing protective cloth. All packaging has to be destroyed immediately. Scientists outside of China agree that it is almost impossible that a virus can survive more than a few days at the surface of a parcel or frozen food. It does not make much sense to lock the door of the hen house if the fox is already inside. However, if the Chinese authorities restrict the import of goods in such a way, an alternative for international suppliers selling products cross-border online is needed.
An alternative which can clear this hurdle is the usage a specialised sales App with goods stored in a bonded warehouse in China to sell regional products. Chinese consumers can rest assured that the goods have been treated according to the government hygiene regulations and can be unpacked at leisure. O+MALL is one of such Apps, concentrating on products connected to the main travel destinations of Chinese outbound travellers which for the time being can only dream with the help of regional products about the destinations they visited in the past or plan to visit after the end of the pandemic.
As always, all best wishes from Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Georg Arlt and the whole COTRI WEEKLY team!