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COVID Restrictions Announced Loosening in China

COVID Restrictions Announced Loosening in China

China ease Covid restriction, responding to demand for more liberties.

Anger over China’s zero-Covid policy which included huge lockdowns, frequent testing, and quarantines even for those who were not affected sparked upheaval unprecedented since the 1989 pro-democracy demonstrations.

The National Health Commission has issued new recommendations that would minimize the frequency and scope of PCR testing, which has long been a tiresome part of life in zero-Covid China. Lockdowns will also be reduced, and those with non-severe Covid cases will be able to isolate at home rather than at centralized government facilities.

Additionally, save for “nursing homes, medical institutions, kindergartens, middle and high schools,” users will no longer need to display a green health code on their phones to access public buildings and areas.

The new regulations do away with the mandatory quarantines for those who have mild illnesses or no symptoms. The revised guidelines said that “asymptomatic infected patients and mild cases who are eligible for home isolation are often isolated at home, or they can voluntarily elect centralized isolation for treatment.”

They said, “Scope and frequency of PCR testing must be further curtailed; mass PCR testing only carried out in schools, hospitals, nursing homes, and high-risk work units.” “People traveling between provinces do not need to test upon arrival or produce a 48-hour test result.”

According to the NHC, China will also quicken the immunization of the elderly, which has long been viewed as a significant barrier to Beijing easing its zero-tolerance policy for Covid. Late this month, rare protests across China against the zero-Covid campaign of the governing Communist Party erupted.

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More political liberties were demanded, and some even called for President Xi Jinping China to step down. Authorities tightened down on following protest attempts while loosening some limitations; some Chinese towns even hesitantly lifted mass testing and movement restrictions.

Beijing

The nation’s capital, said this week that passengers no longer had to present a negative virus test obtained within 48 hours in order to utilize public transportation, where many companies have completely reopened.

Financial powerhouse Shanghai, which this year had a severe two-month lockdown, issued the same guidelines, allowing locals to attend outdoor spaces like parks and tourist destinations without having just taken a test.

And China’s carefully regulated media, which was previously dominated by doom and gloom reportage of the virus’ risks and images of pandemic havoc outside, radically changed the tone to back a gradual move away from zero-Covid.

According to Guangzhou-based medical scholar Chong Yutian, the common Omicron strain is “not at all like last year’s Delta variety.” This was said in an article by the China Youth Daily, which is controlled by the Communist Party.

“The great majority will have no or minor symptoms after infection with the Omicron strain, and very few will go on to develop severe symptoms, this is already generally recognized,” he reassured readers.

However, experts at the Japanese company Nomura determined that 53 cities, or almost a third of China’s population, still had some limitations in place on Monday. After the administration provided new information demonstrating the devastating economic effects of zero-Covid, Wednesday’s declaration followed shortly after.

In November, imports and exports fell to levels not seen since the beginning of 2020. According to the General Administration of Customs, imports decreased by 10.6% from the previous year to November, which is the largest decrease since May 2020. The same period saw an 8.7% decline in exports.

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