Respiratory expert Zhong Nanshan recently laid down a condition which China must meet in order for its borders to be re-opened.
Zhong said that the Chinese mainland must have 80-85% of its 1.4 billion population fully vaccinated against COVID-19, something he expects to happen before the end of this year, according to The Standard.
He went on to say that once this is achieved, this will effectively stop the spread of any COVID-19 outbreak and prevent serious illness. He also stressed that most of those infected would likely be asymptomatic or only show mild symptoms.
As of October 6, 2021, China has administered 2.2 billion vaccine doses, according to Our World in Data. However, there is no data regarding how many of those constitute first and second doses.
Even if the 80-85% target is met, international travelers will likely have to wait until next year for things to return to normal.
A Wall Street Journal article published on June 22, 2021 suggested that border restrictions would remain in place until after a calendar of sensitive events. This includes the Beijing Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games, which take place in February and March next year.
In another sign that China’s borders won’t re-open until 2022, the country’s top three airlines stated in September that China’s restrictions on international flights will last until after the first half of next year, according to Bloomberg.
The current policy limits airlines to just one international flight per week, while passenger capacity is capped at 75%.
Nonetheless, more and more countries are re-opening international borders as the COVID-19 pandemic begins to ease.
Australia recently announced that it will allow some international travel from November onwards. The Australian government furthermore stated that it would recognize China’s Sinovac vaccine as valid for entry into the country, even though the vaccine is not approved for local immunizations.
The move will allow more than 80,000 Chinese international students to return to Australia, according to The Sydney Morning Herald.
China’s borders have been closed to most foreign nationals since March 2020. Those who enter the country must undergo centralized quarantine for up to 21 days, as well as a series of nucleic acid tests and ‘health monitoring.’
The fact that Zhong Nanshan believes vaccination targets will be met before the end of this year is cause for optimism. However, there’s still some way to go before a return to normality.
[Cover image via Pixabay]