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Young people are self-infecting while fear of the elderly grows.

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They went to Chaoyang Hospital in Beijing and were told to try other hospitals there or sit in the corridor with IV tubes.”There were no beds, no ventilators, no medical equipment,” Chen told the BBC. His father had only found another hospital bed through special contacts, and by then had developed severe pneumonia. Although the elderly Chen has recovered, he fears his son could die from his second infection in the future. Three years of Covid precautions were a total waste and a failure, he says. Because the government was unprepared too quickly and eased restrictions, infecting too many people with the virus. “There will be more eruptions. Older people can only count on their own fate,” Chen said. China’s latest step in quickly overturning its controversial zero-coronavirus policy is to resume international travel across borders on Sunday.

After mass testing, stringent quarantines, and a sudden massive lockdown, families like Mr. Chen’s are wary of what lies ahead. However, the young Chinese, who asked not to be named, had a different take, some telling the BBC that they were willing to expose themselves to infection. A 27-year-old Shanghai programmer who has not received any of the Chinese vaccines says he was exposed to the virus voluntarily. Because I don’t want to change my vacation schedule,” he explains. He admits he didn’t expect the muscle pain associated with the infection but said the symptoms were largely what he expected. Another 26-year-old woman from Shanghai told the BBC she was visiting a friend of hers who tested positive. But she had a difficult recovery, she says.

“I thought it was a cold, but it hurt more.” The 29-year-old woman, who works for a state-owned company based in the city of Jiaxing in northern Zhejiang province, said she was thrilled when she heard that China’s borders had reopened. She is looking forward to seeing concerts in other parts of China again. “Life was ridiculous when I had to ask my manager for permission to travel. I just want life to go back to normal,” she says. “But I’m worried about the elderly.“We finally relaxed all the restrictions, but it is too sudden. The government could have done it step by step, region by region. And winter is the worst season to do this. Why not wait until next spring? And why didn’t the government allocate enough resources before opening up?” she asks. “2022 was the worst year for us.

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