Lockdown Fever: CBS/NBC Lament China Lifting Oppressive ‘Zero-COVID Policy’

Political News

With China experiencing a spike in COVID cases, CBS Mornings and NBC’s Today spent a chunk of their Tuesday newscasts bemoaning that the murderous regime had lifted its oppressive zero-COVID policies, following sweeping protests and violent confrontations across the country. CBS ignored the public outcry and naked oppression while NBC whined about how they caused a “whiplash” in China’s policies.

“China is battling a disturbing new surge of COVID infections. A new study from the University of Hong Kong warns the country could see nearly a million deaths [from the] virus this winter after lifting its very harsh zero-COVID policies,” warned CBS co-anchor, Gayle King.

CBS foreign correspondent Elizabeth Palmer noted that a long line at a crematorium formed “two weeks after the Chinese government abruptly lifted its strict COVID controls.”

By “abruptly lifted” Palmer apparently means after weeks of unrest that saw Chinese citizens violently clashing with government officials and destroying COVID testing centers. Regime officials would weld people into their homes and haul them off to keep them quarantined against their will. But Palmer downplayed the oppression as just “routine mass testing and mandatory quarantine.”

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“[M]any citizens just don’t know how to judge after years of being told that COVID-19 is a dangerous killer,” she added.

NBC was the most distressed, with Asia correspondent Janis Mackey Frayer warning: “COVID is spreading like wildfire here since China lifted those tough zero-COVID controls. Officials in Beijing have simply stopped counting asymptomatic cases and already the death toll appears out of step as the virus is hitting China like never before.”

Seemingly looking to trade freedom for security, Mackey Frayer huffed that Chinese officials caved to the people’s demands. “After backlash and protests last month in several cities, China’s strict zero-COVID measures were abruptly lifted two weeks ago, triggering a surge, though the virus was likely already spreading,” she said.

Coming back to the live shot, Mackey Frayer decried: “The whiplash change in rules here caught most people unprepared with the government going from full enforcement for three years to effectively saying to people, ‘you’re on your own.’”

And as she wrapped up the segment, Mackey Frayer noted that she and her crew had caught COVID, and she almost seemed to long for the days of being forcibly locked away until they recovered:

Remember, up until a few weeks ago, testing positive for COVID here meant getting dragged away to quarantine and having a fence locking down where you live. When we got it last week, I still expected there to be a knock at the door. So, it’s been a big adjustment for people here, but it’s an important one as people are being told to brace for a second, even a third wave of infection in the new year.

It’s also worth noting that Mackey Frayer was still in Beijing, thus her reporting could be colored by the watchful eyes of the Chinese Communist Party. But Palmer, who was reporting from Tokyo, Japan, had no such excuse.

This support for China’s oppressive zero-COVID policy was made possible because of lucrative sponsorships from Pfizer on both CBS and NBC. Their contact information is linked.

The transcripts are below, click “expand” to read:

CBS Mornings
December 20, 2022
7:14:34 a.m. Eastern

GAYLE KING: Turning to overseas, China is battling a disturbing new surge of COVID infections. A new study from the University of Hong Kong warns the country could see nearly a million deaths from the deaths – deaths rather from virus this winter after lifting its very harsh zero-COVID policies. Elizabeth palmer has more.

[Cuts to video]

ELIZABETH PALMER: Official hearses lined up along with private vehicles at the Guangdong Crematorium in Beijing almost two weeks after the Chinese government abruptly lifted its strict COVID controls, which had included routine mass testing and mandatory quarantine.

At the same time, the government stopped counting cases. And as for COVID deaths, the official numbers say there were only five today. Social media says different. For example, this video was posted by a user in east-central Henan Province, while another working at a funeral home in the neighboring Hebei said deaths have increased five-fold in a week. But there is no way to know for sure.

The government has increased the number of so-called fever clinics, essentially drop-in medical centers in big cities, and they appear to be coping. They’re for people who don’t feel well and believe they need treatment, though, many citizens just don’t know how to judge after years of being told that COVID-19 is a dangerous killer.

While many Chinese pharmacies are completely out of cold and flu medication, state media is pushing the optimistic view. In official videos, reassuring people that this huge wave of infection will peak soon and things will be back to normal by spring.

For CBS Mornings, I’m Elizabeth Palmer in Tokyo.

NBC’s Today
December 20, 2022
8:04:24 a.m. Eastern

SHEINELLE JONES: China yesterday reported its first COVID-related deaths in several weeks a surge of infections is sweeping through the country since zero-COVID restrictions were lifted. NBC’s Janis Mackey Frayer is in Beijing with the very latest. Janis Good morning.

JANIS MACKEY FRAYER: Sheinelle, good morning. COVID is spreading like wildfire here since China lifted those tough zero-COVID controls. Officials in Beijing have simply stopped counting asymptomatic cases and already the death toll appears out of step as the virus is hitting China like never before.

[Cuts to video]

This morning an explosion of COVID cases across China. The country’s experts say more than 840 million people could be infected within months and already grim signs that people are dying. We’ve made multiple visits to funeral sites in Beijing, designated for COVID victims, where we found long lines of funeral vans coming one after another. Drivers and funeral home staff confirming they’re busier than usual. Crematoriums in the city working around the clock.

But the wider picture emerging here isn’t reflected in government numbers. Officially, only nine COVID deaths have been recorded this month in the entire country. Yet, data modeling out of the U.S. projects that COVID could kill more than a million people in China next year.

Vaccination rates among the elderly remain low and some experts say infections here are now doubling every day.

BEN COWING (epidemiology professor): There is no pre-existing immunity from prior waves of COVID because there haven’t been prior waves of COVID in China. That’s different to other parts of the world. And so, the only immunity is from vaccination and that doesn’t do much to stop infection.

MACKEY FRAYER: After backlash and protests last month in several cities, China’s strict zero-COVID measures were abruptly lifted two weeks ago, triggering a surge, though the virus was likely already spreading. Pharmacies now can’t keep medications in stock and there aren’t enough ICU beds, therapeutic drugs, or testing kits.

There are shortages of everything, overflow clinics have been set up to meet demand. The worry is that the healthcare system can’t keep up.

Like a lot of people here, Ivy Guan has been staying at home.

[Translation] “To be honest, I was quite scared before I got COVID,” she says, adding her symptoms aren’t so bad.

But there is a looming worry that wide scale infection in China will create new COVID variants that could impact the rest of the world in the long winter months ahead.

[Cuts back to live]

The whiplash change in rules here caught most people unprepared with the government going from full enforcement for three years to effectively saying to people, “you’re on your own.”

Remember, up until a few weeks ago, testing positive for COVID here meant getting dragged away to quarantine and having a fence locking down where you live. When we got it last week, I still expected there to be a knock at the door. So, it’s been a big adjustment for people here, but it’s an important one as people are being told to brace for a second, even a third wave of infection in the new year. Sheinelle.

JONES: That is concerning. All right, Janis. Thank you.

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