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China Declares Loosening COVID Restrictions Nationwide

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The government rapidly put a stop to the protests by putting security troops into the streets and using a sophisticated surveillance system to target demonstrators. However, they also started to loosen limitations, with certain Chinese towns hesitantly reversing movement prohibitions and widespread testing. And China's state-run media, which had previously been dominated by news of the virus's dangers and images of pandemic devastation abroad, radically changed tone to encourage a move away from zero-COVID. After Wednesday's statement, China showed immediate signals of relief. Given that it has been three years, one Beijing resident who preferred to remain anonymous told AFP that it was high time for greater transparency. You can't just advise people not to leave their homes any longer; people need to work and eat, they said. "People who are frustrated right now should stay inside and avoid going out; other people should go to work and carry on with their lives." Some people were more frightened about a pandemic. What should we do if the pandemic situation worsens? "We are very worried; now that we will be fully open, the government doesn't care any further." said 60-year-old migrant employee Meng Qingcheng to AFP. It will be more difficult for us to get employment, he continued. We are also worried because we don't want to catch the disease. Prior to Chinese New Year, searches for flights on Ctrip, the nation's top travel app, reached a three-year high, according to state-run media site The Paper. Following the relaxations, analysts at the Japanese company Nomura predicted that China's GDP will increase the following year. Nevertheless, they issued a warning that China "does not appear to be well prepared for a big surge of COVID infections." China Declares Loosening COVID Restrictions Nationwide

(CTN NEWS) – BEIJING — As a result of protests over the hardline COVID-19 policy that grew into calls for greater political freedoms, China announced Wednesday it would loosen COVID-19 restrictions nationwide.

Unrest not seen since the 1989 pro-democracy uprisings was sparked by anger over China’s zero-COVID policy, which includes widespread lockdowns, continuous testing, and quarantines even for those who were not affected.

The National Health Commission recently released new rules that will minimize the frequency and scope of PCR testing, which has long been time-consuming in zero-COVID China.

People with mild symptoms of COVID can isolate themselves at home rather than in centralized government facilities, and lockdowns will also be reduced.

China Declares Loosening COVID Restrictions Nationwide

A woman shows her health check QR code as residents line up to get their routine COVID-19 throat swabs at a coronavirus testing site although authorities start easing some of the anti-virus controls in Beijing, Wednesday, December 7, 2022. China has announced new measures rolling back COVID-19 restrictions, including limiting lockdowns and testing requirements.

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 enter public buildings and areas.

The new regulations eliminate the mandatory quarantines for persons with mild or no symptoms.

The new regulations said that “asymptomatic infected patients and mild cases who are qualified for home isolation are typically isolated at home, or they can voluntarily select centralized isolation for treatment.”

“People moving across provinces do not need to produce a 48-hour test result and do not need to test upon arrival.”

China Declares Loosening COVID Restrictions Nationwide

A woman wearing a face mask and face shield gets ready for her routine COVID-19 throat swab at a coronavirus testing site in Beijing, Wednesday, December 7, 2022. China has announced new measures rolling back COVID-19 restrictions, including limiting lockdowns and testing requirements. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

They said, “mass PCR testing was only done in schools, hospitals, nursing homes, and high-risk work units.”

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 toward COVID.

Late last month, rare protests across China against the zero-COVID policy of the governing Communist Party erupted.

China Declares Loosening COVID Restrictions Nationwide

 

More political freedoms 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 cities even hesitantly lifted mass testing and movement restrictions.

Beijing, the nation’s capital, announced this week that passengers were no longer required to present a negative virus test obtained within 48 hours to use public transportation, where many companies have fully reopened.

Shanghai, a financial powerhouse that this year endured a severe two-month lockdown, announced the same guidelines.

Allowing citizens to visit outdoor locations like parks and tourist attractions without recently passing a test.

China Declares Loosening COVID Restrictions Nationwide

People wearing face masks wait at a traffic light to cross a street as coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreaks continue in Shanghai on December 7. — Reuters

And China’s carefully regulated media was previously dominated by gloomy coverage of the virus’ dangers and images of pandemic devastation abroad.

Radically changed its tone to promote a gradual shift away from zero COVID.

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

He soothed readers, saying, “This is already generally known. The majority has no or light symptoms after infections with the Omicron form.”

53 cities, or over a third of China’s population, were found to still have some limitations, according to analysts at the Japanese company Nomura on Monday.

Following the government’s publication of additional statistics demonstrating the debilitating economic effects of zero-COVID, Wednesday’s declaration followed hours later.

November saw a sharp decline in imports and exports to levels not seen since early 2020.

China Declares Loosening COVID Restrictions Nationwide

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.

The government rapidly stopped the protests by putting security troops into the streets and using a sophisticated surveillance system to target demonstrators.

However, they also started to loosen limitations, with certain Chinese towns hesitantly reversing movement prohibitions and widespread testing.

And China’s state-run media, which had previously been dominated by news of the virus’s dangers and images of pandemic devastation abroad, radically changed its tone to encourage a move away from zero COVID.

After Wednesday’s statement, China showed immediate signals of relief.

Given that it has been three years, one Beijing resident who preferred to remain anonymous told AFP it was high time for greater transparency.

You can’t just advise people not to leave their homes any longer; people need to work and eat, they said.

“People who are frustrated right now should stay inside and avoid going out; others should go to work and carry on with their lives.”

China Declares Loosening COVID Restrictions Nationwide

FILE – A man has his routine COVID-19 throat swab at a coronavirus testing site in Beijing, Tuesday, December 6, 2022.

Some people were more frightened about the pandemic.

What should we do if the pandemic situation worsens? “We are very worried; now that we will be fully open, the government doesn’t care any further.” said 60-year-old migrant employee Meng Qingcheng to AFP.

It will be more difficult for us to get employment, he continued. We are also worried because we don’t want to catch the disease.

Before Chinese New Year, searches for flights on Ctrip, the nation’s top travel app, reached a three-year high, according to state-run media site The Paper.

Following the relaxation, analysts at the Japanese company Nomura predicted that China‘s GDP would increase the following year.

Nevertheless, they warned that China “does not appear to be well prepared for a big surge of COVID infections.”

They wrote in an email that “it may pay for delaying the adoption of a ‘living with COVID’ approach.”

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