Coronavirus: China eases its measures to fight ‘Covid’ despite surge in infections
- Franz Mao
- BBC News
China has announced a series of “changes” to the authorities’ tough measures to combat COVID-19.
The Chinese move comes to its highest level in months despite a surge in injury numbers.
The changes included relaxing a number of quarantine rules for those arriving from abroad, as well as those related to the internal fight against the epidemic.
The announcement prompted a rebound in markets, with the Shanghai CSI 300 index rising 3 percent and the Chinese yuan posting its highest rise in a month.
Under the changes, those entering China will only have to quarantine at a central quarantine facility for five days instead of seven before spending three days in home quarantine.
And the application of the vicious circle-breaking mechanism, which was carried out on incoming flights to China, is being canceled because planes were forbidden to take certain routes when carrying passengers infected with Covid.
Travelers only need to present a Covid-free certificate within 48 hours.
Sanctions against airlines whose planes bring large numbers of Covid patients to China will also be lifted.
Similar to those arriving from abroad, contact persons of Covid-infected people are not subjected to a central quarantine for more than five days before entering a three-day home quarantine.
Also, contacts with Covid patients no longer have to be identified as a secondary matter.
China’s National Health Commission called for compliance with the rules of the ninth edition of the COVID-19 control protocols issued by authorities in June 2022.
This requirement prohibits expanding Covid investigations in areas not experiencing an outbreak of the epidemic, as well as correcting “unscientific methods” by conducting two or three tests in one day.
The National Health Committee said that the “improvement and adjustment” of prevention and control measures is not complacency, but a measure of adjustment to the current situation of the epidemic and the new characteristics of the mutant virus. The committee also announced its intention to develop a plan to accelerate the pace of vaccination.
The easing of measures comes in this minor form just weeks after Xi Jinping, leader of the ruling Communist Party, was reinstated to a historic third term.
On Thursday, Xi Jinping held his first meeting on COVID-19 with the party’s Politburo Standing Committee, which emphasized continuing to implement the “zero Covid” strategy while calling for mitigating the economic and social impact of the epidemic in China.
Closures and travel restrictions have exhausted a growing mass of Chinese, and social media has circulated stories of the suffering and despair of many, fueling popular anger.
The announcement coincides with China recording its highest number of injuries in months; As the capital, both Beijing and the city of Zhengzhou recorded a record number of injuries, with over 10,500 cases.
In the south of the country, the city of Guangzhou, a manufacturing and transportation hub, recorded 2,824 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, the fourth day that exceeded 2,000 cases.
Xi Jinping insists on sticking to the zero-Covid strategy, which includes lockdown measures, even as he disagrees with the rest of the world.
That means people in many Chinese cities are still facing sudden movement restrictions, as well as disruptions to work and education.
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