(CTN NEWS) – BEIJING – Even if the number of daily cases in China is approaching record highs, the country is now downplaying the severity of COVID-19.
And relaxing some coronavirus restrictions in response to nationwide demonstrations sparked by the strictest restrictions in the world.
While reporting new illnesses, several cities in the world’s second-largest economy are breaking with tradition by lifting district lockdowns and allowing businesses to return.
The protests varied from candlelight vigils in Beijing to altercations with police on the streets of Guangzhou on Tuesday.
And at an iPhone manufacturing in Zhengzhou last week were not mentioned by the health authorities when they announced the lifting of the restrictions.
The demonstrations took place as the economy was about to enter a new era of considerably slower growth than in decades.
Were the largest act of civil disobedience in mainland China since President Xi Jinping assumed office a decade ago.
State media said Vice Premier Sun Chunlan, in charge of COVID activities, claimed that the virus’s capacity to spread sickness was waning despite near-record case counts.
“As the virulence of the Omicron virus lessens, more people are immunized, and expertise in confining the virus is acquired,” Sun said in remarks carried by official media.
“The country is confronting a new situation and new challenges in epidemic prevention and control.”
Further “optimization” of testing, treatment, and quarantine protocols was also suggested by Sun.
In contrast to earlier warnings from authorities about the virus’s impending doom, this statement concerning waning virulence is made.
CHANGING THE LAWS
Authorities in at least seven districts of the vast manufacturing center north of Hong Kong announced they were removing temporary lockdowns less than 24 hours after deadly protests in Guangzhou.
One district announced it would allow schools to resume regular in-person instruction and reopen eateries and other establishments, including theatres.
With little fanfare, several adjustments are being introduced.
New guidelines published by the neighborhood committee and reviewed by Reuters enable sick individuals with minor symptoms to isolate at home in a community of thousands in east Beijing.
A committee member advised that neighbors who live three floors above and below and on the same floor as a positive case should likewise remain at home throughout the quarantine period.
That contrasts sharply with the quarantine protocols used earlier in the year, when entire towns were quarantined, often for weeks, after discovering even a single positive case.
— Reuters World (@ReutersWorld) December 1, 2022
According to locals, a neighboring neighborhood is conducting an online survey this week on the potential of positive people isolating at home.
Tom Simpson, general director for China at the China-Britain Business Council, a resident, said: “I certainly support the decision of our residential community to run this poll regardless of the outcome.”
He claimed that entering a quarantine center, where “conditions can be terrible, to say the least,” was his major worry.
In a social media post on Wednesday, prominent nationalist commentator Hu Xijin claimed that many asymptomatic coronavirus carriers in Beijing had already started to quarantine themselves at home.
While Zhengzhou in central China declared the “orderly” restoration of commerce, including shops, gyms, and restaurants.
Chongqing in the southwest would permit close contact with patients with COVID who meet certain conditions to quarantine at home.
National health officials stated this week that COVID regulations should be applied more flexibly by local realities and that authorities will respond to “urgent concerns” highlighted by the public.
IS IT REOPENING NEXT YEAR?
Expectations have grown that China, which is still working to limit infections, may consider reopening in 2019 once it improves immunization rates among its older population.
Health experts foresee widespread sickness and death if COVID is released into the wild before vaccination rates are increased.
After the weekend protests in Shanghai, Beijing, and other cities, Chinese stocks and markets worldwide initially declined but later recovered on the belief that public pressure may prompt authorities to adopt a new strategy.
— けぇけ (@k__ei) December 2, 2022
On Wednesday, the International Monetary Fund warned that additional COVID outbreaks might hurt China’s economic activity shortly.
However, it added that there was room for safe policy adjustments to enable economic growth to resume in 2023.
China’s stringent containment policies have slowed domestic economic growth this year and spread to foreign nations through disruptions in supply chains.
The Caixin/S&P Global manufacturing purchasing managers’ index revealed that industrial activity decreased in November for a fourth consecutive month.
Correlating with unfavorable statistics from an official survey released on Wednesday.
Authorities are looking for people to question who were present at the demonstrations, even though the change in COVID’s tone appears to respond to public dissatisfaction with the agency’s severe policies.
From Saturday to Monday, at least 27 protests were reported across China, according to the China Dissent Monitor, managed by Freedom House, which the US government supports.
43 protests were reported in 22 places, according to the Australian ASPI think tank.
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