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Omicron will hit zero-tolerance China especially hard: Economist

Taiwan currently has no plans to ban arrivals from Omicron countries

Anti-pandemic workers walk down a street in China. (CNA photo)

Anti-pandemic workers walk down a street in China. (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — China’s economy will be hit particularly hard by the new COVID-19 variant Omicron, as the country will likely further restrict international travel to keep case numbers as close to zero as possible.

Cross-border travel is vital for innovation, and that has been particularly true of China’s economic growth in recent decades, according to a report by The Economist.

A sustained “zero tolerance” COVID policy, however, will do immeasurable damage to future innovation.

International business travel enables supply chains to form, ideas to spread, and new markets to open. The Economist cites one study by researchers in Italy that concludes cutting business-travel spending in half is just as damaging to a country’s productivity as decreasing R&D spending by a quarter.

China continues to require all visitors to undergo at least 14 days of hotel quarantine when arriving. The number of Chinese crossing their country’s borders has dropped by 99%, per data firm Wind.

Travel restrictions seem unlikely to change, with Beijing looking to keep the current rules in place well into next year. Some Shanghai-based business people even predict the policy will stay the same until 2024.

Though Taiwan has recently announced new “10 plus 4" and "7 plus 7" shortened hotel quarantine schemes, Taiwan has put 10 African nations on a high-risk list in the wake of the Omicron outbreak. Arrivals from those countries must undergo quarantine at a specialized center.

Despite this, Taiwan currently has no plans to ban travel from countries where Omicron is spreading.