We enter 2023 with one certainty: the dynamic zero-case policy is not coming with us.
Both in China and in the special administrative regions, isolation has slowed progress and the building of bridges with the outside world – something China needs to counter the hegemony of the West. The economic jolt has been devastating, and it is time to turn the page. From the beginning of the pandemic, the only solution was to reopen the country. Without this, any projects would hardly get off the paper.
But one is surprised at the speed of the dismantling of a policy that until recently was untouchable and intransigent to the appeals of the population. One certainly appreciates this new phase, were it not for a contradiction to the message that sustained the rigidity of the measures: “Saving lives is the priority. I wonder if it still is, because it doesn’t seem to be, given the health system’s lack of preparedness to cope with the increasing contagion.
It took three years, but it was finally realized that the pandemic would not go away. The virus had to be dealt with, because avoiding it forever was untenable – on many levels.
But during these three years it was possible to observe and study the impact that laissez-faire policies have on the health systems of developed, developing, and third world countries. There was no lack of samples, so that the mistakes made by others didn’t have to be the mistakes made by Macau.
And the result is what we see today: the health care system breaks down, as medical personnel fall prey to Covid-19 and patients multiply.
The population complains of shortages of medicines, rising prices of those still found, chaos in the public hospital emergency rooms, uselessness of community clinics and outpatient treatment centers. The scales are clearly not balanced, and it is known that we are going through the peak of infections. Obviously, protecting lives is not just about Covid-19 policy.
Working for the economic recovery of the city has a similar effect on people’s lives. Creating revenue streams, lowering the unemployment and underemployment rate, getting batches of tourists back, all of these things matter. But the counterbalance has not been well measured. The volte-face in politics does not yet project recovery.
And this is normal.
The city freezes to achieve group immunity. Until mid-January, Macau will not have enough human resources to resume the tourist industry. But the virus will not disappear; there will be new waves, and the health services will have to rethink their strategy. Macau has to guarantee minimum services to its population. At this moment, the incapacity is glaring.
*Executive Director of PLATAFORMA