China announces relaxation in Covid restrictions nationwide

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Beijing: After massive protests against the draconian lockdown measures, China has announced to loosen Covid restrictions nationwide.

Under the new guidelines unveiled by Beijing’s National Health Commission (NHC), “asymptomatic infected persons and mild cases who are eligible for home isolation can generally isolated at home” and the country will “further reduce the scope of nucleic acid testing and reduce testing frequency”.

The reforms come just a week after civil protests against pandemic controls erupted across the nation.

The country has also scrapped PCR test requirements for most public venues except hospitals and schools.

It’s the strongest sign yet that China is moving away from its strict zero-Covid policy and looking to “live with the virus”, as is the case elsewhere in the world. This comes as the country is seeing its biggest wave of infections – over 30,000 each day.

Until now, China had forced Covid-infected people and anyone who was a close contact to go to quarantine camps. This policy had been deeply unpopular because it separated families and removed people from their homes.

On Wednesday, health authorities also announced several other new rules easing restrictions nationwide. The National Health Commission said:

  • Restrictions like lockdowns should be applied to more precisely identified areas – for example certain buildings, units and floors as opposed to whole neighbourhood or city-wide lockdowns
  • Identified high-risk areas should come out of lockdown in five days if no new cases are found
  • Schools should remain open if there is no wider campus outbreak

The new guidelines also included a strict ban on blocking fire exits and doors and said people had to be able to access emergency medical treatment and escape routes unhindered by pandemic control measures.

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