Feb 28, 2023, 5:00am EST
East Asia

COVID is no longer a trending topic in China right now

Chinese tourists
REUTERS/Tingshu Wang

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The News

As COVID cases continue to drop across China, internet and social media conversations on COVID-related topics also appear to be dwindling.

Here’s what a Semafor review of WeChat — China’s most popular messaging and social media app — found.

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Know More

WeChat’s Index tool provides data on how often specific terms are mentioned on the app, either in the form of a blog post, direct message, shared article, or video.

Terms like “coronavirus,” “testing,” “mask,” “vaccine,” “isolation/quarantine,” and “infection,” were used much less this February compared to December and January, when China largely abandoned zero-COVID restrictions and triggered a nationwide surge in cases that has since dropped.

For example, the term “COVID” had around 122 million WeChat mentions on Sunday, compared to nearly 3.3 billion on Dec 21. In Feb. 2022, users referred to “COVID” about 89 million times.


The term “PCR test” had about 46 million mentions on Sunday compared to more than 4 billion on Dec. 7.

Around a year ago, there were about 721 million references to “PCR test,” which significantly increased in the following days, coinciding with Shanghai’s first major zero-COVID lockdown.

The terms “isolation” or “quarantine” had about 10 million references on Sunday, compared to a peak of nearly 718 million mentions in mid-December. However, last April, there were almost 943 million mentions of the terms at the height of Shanghai’s lockdown.

Notably, the term “flu” has seen an increase in mentions over the last several days, though this is likely due to a separate flu outbreak.

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Step Back

With China reopening its borders last month, and travel surging during the Lunar New Year, it appears that its residents are adopting the outlook of some other countries that view COVID as a crisis of the past.

However, the shadow of the pandemic continues to loom over the economy, with experts warning that new policies are needed to push long-term growth back to pre-pandemic levels.

The social awakening sparked by lockdown protests also appears to have lingered. Senior citizens are now protesting budget cuts implemented during the pandemic that have spiked the cost for healthcare and cut services covered under public health insurance.