(1st UPDATE) Citizens cheer the prospect of a shift that could see China slowly emerging back into a world three years after the virus erupted in the central city of Wuhan in late 2019
In a monumental reversal of policy, China announced Wednesday a series of measures rolling back some of its most draconian “zero-COVID” anti-coronavirus restrictions. The move appeared to be in response to widespread protests in recent weeks, including some of the boldest demonstrations China has seen in decades.
Representatives from the National Health Commission held a press conference to announce the massive changes, which had been hinted at last week with a notable shift in rhetoric and an easing of some measures regionally. The changes announced Wednesday include:
Regular mandatory testing for most people will end immediately.
People will no longer have to show a recent negative COVID test result to enter most public venues, apart from places like nursing homes with added health risks.
The now-familiar armies of government health workers in hazmat suits will no longer be locking down entire apartment complexes if a positive COVID case is found inside.
People with confirmed COVID infections won’t be forced into state quarantine, allowed instead to recover at home.
That, along with a new commitment to vaccinate more elderly people, may all sound like common sense, but it represents a huge climbdown for President Xi Jinping and the Communist Party he leads.
The zero-COVID policy has for years aimed to stamp out any spread of the coronavirus through tight lockdowns and mandatory isolation in government facilities, along with a host of other measures. It was enforced and repeatedly espoused from every level of officialdom despite the huge personal inconvenience it imposed on China’s residents and the tremendous toll it took on China’s economy. It has been a hallmark policy of Xi’s regime.
RELATED: China medical expert says COVID-19 has mutated, should be renamed–state media
SHANGHAI — China should change its official name for COVID-19 to reflect the virus’ mutation, and patients with light symptoms should be allowed to quarantine at home, a leading authority on traditional Chinese medicine was quoted as saying on Wednesday.
Gu Xiaohong told the state-run Beijing Daily newspaper that the coronavirus’ Chinese name, which identifies it as a pneumonia-causing disease, should be changed to call it simply an infectious virus.
China’s approach to COVID – which has emphasized widespread testing and the quarantining of positive cases in specialized facilities – should change from “passive detection” to “active prevention,” with recuperation at home for light cases.
Gu said the China Association of Chinese Medicine’s infectious disease arm, which she heads, had reached a consensus to change how they describe the virus.
RELATED: A quick guide to China’s Covid rule changes
China stood firm with some of the strictest Covid rules in the world – until huge protests spread across the country. If you’ve not been following the story, here’s what you need to know.
China’s been using a “zero-Covid” policy
While the rest of the world has returned to something like normal, in China, just a few detected cases led to buildings or cities being put into strict lockdowns. The aim was to eliminate Covid from the country entirely – and it means that China has some of the lowest Covid death rates in the world.
That means Covid lockdowns never really ended
Shortages of supplies, relying on food deliveries, not being able to go to work – all the difficult parts of the Covid pandemic stayed a part of life in China on-and-off for three years, pushing people to breaking point.
By: Miss Cherry May Timbol – Independent Reporter