5 Weeks Of Quarantine Required? No Wonder There’s Just 32 Non-Stop Flights To China This MONTH

During the pandemic we’ve learned clearly some of the basic lessons that virologists knew all along. You can’t really contain a fast-spreading virus once it has moved beyond a small population. Australia, New Zealand and some other places (mostly surrounded by water) managed to keep the virus under control but as the virus mutated and became faster-spreading still even that was no longer a tenable strategy.

Mitigation measures, however, served important purposes.

  • Getting Covid later was better than getting it early. In February 2020 I mused on this blog – looking at how dire things might get – that perhaps I should purposely get infected while there was still hospital capacity. That would have been a bad idea. Survivability was going to go way up by delaying infection.

    You want to delay if you think there will be vaccines and better treatments, and it’s miraculous how quickly bioscience developed those. Even aside from a less virulent strain, we have ways of protecting ourselves against bad outcomes. Delay was great.

  • Protecting hospital capacity. When hospitals become overwhelmed, treatment has to be rationed. That drives down survivability. So spreading out infections, which means delaying infection for some, leads to better outcomes overall.

Covid policies that delayed infection until there were treatments, and spread out infections to protect hospital capacity made sense.

But what you did with the time you bought mattered, and it mattered a lot. Marriott CEO, flattering China’s dictator, praised China’s Covid strategy as a model for the world. That was completely wrong-headed.

China kept Covid at bay through extreme measures (going ‘full Wuhan’ which meant in some cases nailing people shut into their homes, which in some cases became tombs). But they couldn’t do that forever.

In the meantime they developed their own home-grown vaccines which worked sort of okay against the original strain of the virus (Coronavac was 51% effect maybe before Delta, but there are doubts about even those results).

For national prestige reasons they refused to roll out Western vaccines (even when BioNTech’s vaccine was manufactured onshore) and refused to acquire Western small molecule inhibitors as treatment.

And even China tired of lockdowns, which is why Shanghai wasn’t fully locked down as Omicron began to spread, and why the government was late to go full Wuhan there. Although reports have been pretty miserable, and cases are heading up not down.

And it’s why travel to China is still nearly impossible, even as the rest of the world re-opens. (HT: TheZvi)

At least she’s not getting the anal probe. In fairness, quarantine would have ‘only’ been four weeks if she hadn’t arrived in China via Shanghai. But flights remain limited, there’s not a lot of choice either.

According to data from Cirium’s Diio Mi, there are only 32 flights scheduled between the U.S. and China this month. That’s a total of just 11,634 seats. (That does not include United’s San Francisco – Seoul flight which continues to Shanghai with a change of crew to avoid having to stay over in China.)

  • Air China: 4 Beijing – Los Angeles flights and 3 Shenzhen flights
  • China Southern: 7 Guangzhou – Los Angeles flights
  • Xiamen Airlines: 10 XIamen – Los Angeles flights
  • China Eastern: 8 Shanghai – New York JFK flights

Going full Wuhan in Shanghai isn’t working. And by the way masking only on planes and in preschools does far less. But without having used the time well to prepare for inevitable virus spread, which was ultimately the point of a suppression strategy, what’s the exit plan for China?

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Covid is inevitable–seems you either catch it sooner or later. Symptomatic, asymptomatic; no escaping it indefinitely.

    I don’t understand China’s reluctance to use Western vaccines to mitigate the Covid infections. Honestly, it’s costing China more to do these rotating shutdowns than it would have been to just purchase the %$&*#! Western vaccine, jab the citizenry, then get on with the show.

    What China is doing is kinda like an infinite game of Whack-A-Mole. Methinks it might be a (feeble) excuse to isolate from the West.

  2. No surprise. This is what happens when powerful elites get divorced from reality and start to believe their own hype/narrative. It always ends in tears. And its not specific to China, plenty of other ‘leaders’ surrounded by yes men, who seem to think they can change reality. We are way beyond being able to eliminate Covid, need to accept its here to stay and deal with it.

    All that remains is to see how much suffering they will subject their population to in order to save face.

  3. China not wanting to use western vaccines is odd considering they love stealing our tech.

  4. Another argument against the useless testing of airline passengers before they enter the U.S. This virus has conquered the world. No more games. Deal with it.

  5. By the time they’re done quarantining, the next chinese virus will be ready for a printemps shopping spree

  6. Waiting for UA NYC to bless us with his presence and tell us how if everyone would just mask harder and vax passport harder this all could be eliminated. Clearly China just isn’t doing it.

  7. — Mitigation measures, however, served important purposes.
    — Covid policies that delayed infection until there were treatments, and spread out infections to protect hospital capacity made sense. [this is the “flattening the curve” that you heard so much about when the “mitigation measures” were being urged on everybody]

    All in all an uncharacteristically informed and even-handed post…

    Does this clear evidence that we are better off today than China thanks to the “flattening curve” “mitigation measures” that were pooh-poohed in MAGAland change the cult’s adherents’ minds about the wisdom of lifting the measures progressively? Don’t bet on it!

  8. I caught COVID from a toilet seat, even though I was wearing a mask and triple vaxxed. ¡Ay, caramba!

  9. Cannot wait to go to China to give them the XE strain.
    Yay. Bring it on Cathay Pacific!

  10. has nothing to do with spread.
    just activation.

    that’s why it is largely seasonal.

  11. They have painted themselves in a corner and they can’t get out without getting the Western vaccines and doing a mass vaccination campaign that they would be able to do quite efficiently if they would put aside their pride. There is no exit. With no natural immunity, mediocre vaccines at best, and over a billion people to be infected, they are headed for bad things.

  12. China not wanting to use western vaccines can be explained with one word—pride. Stolen tech can be denied to their population, but to openly have to admit that their vaccine does not work is unthinkable to the leadership.

  13. Most here do not understand china and it’s mentality. CCP an existential threat to the world other than Han Chinese

  14. could care less if I go to China. Saving face is coming at a huge cost for China. We will be giving our vacation dollars to Botswana and South Africa this year. Now if only the riduculous antigen testing for international travelers to the US can be dropped. I am talking to you Joe Biden and CDC!

  15. Cahn’t make this stuff up!

    Now if only the riduculous [sic] antigen testing for international travelers to the US can be dropped. I am talking to you Joe Biden and CDC!

    You know, if Joe and the CDC actually listened to ignoramuses that want all “mitigation measures” lifted right away, we might just get back to battling the virus the way China and other countries are, which means that travel restrictions would be even more stringent than they are now?

    Beware what you wish or ask for…

  16. Who the hell would fly to China right now? Shanghai or at least large parts of it are under lockdown. They are literally killing the pets of people who testified positive for covid and hospitals are losing staff to the covid protocols leading to a number of people dying due to inadequate care in the medical system. None of these decisions are science based. Xi is trying to get a third term which will be decided in the second half of 2022 at the 20th congress. Politically he can’t go from zero covid to living with covid now. Also, it is questionable how well the chinese medical system will hold up with their subpar vaccines and treatments. Most people will be fine but even if 2% have an issue that is a massive number of people that would overwhelm the hospital system and lead to countless other deaths.

  17. The illegal traffic is still not mandated to get tested before entry and disbursement to anywhere in the US..so a job all Legal Citizens entering the US must Pay for an present a NEGATIVE TEST to enter or have to Quarantine outside of the US.. till NEGATIVE NUTS!!!

  18. Most Western airlines (European & North American) operate to China via a technical stop in Incheon so crew can rest in Korea rather than in China due to the zero covid quarantine policies.

    There are slightly more routes than listed, as others have alluded to, if you count the technical stops.
    (Also, AC operates PVG-ICN-YYZ with good connections to the US, and Cathay Pacific operates a thin number of routes/flights from Hong Kong to the US).
    PVG-EWR UA operated for a while but no more.

    Nonetheless, frequencies are far down and the number of US-China routes can now be counted on two hands vs. the 30+ city pairings pre-pandemic (which included a bunch of random second tier cities flights to LAX, e.g. Jinan-LAX on Sichuan Air, plus various routes run by the now-defunct Hainan).

    Also, Japanese/Korean airlines used to carry a lot of US-China feed, and that too is down significantly. If you choose to fly ANA/JAL/Asiana/Korean + Air Canada to transit US-China, make sure you understand the rules.

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