Friday, February 3, 2023

China eases its strict measures against COVID-19

BEIJING ( Associated Press) – In what surely turned out to be a sharp reversal, China on Wednesday announced a series of measures to lift some of the toughest restrictions against COVID-19.

According to the National Health Commission’s 10-point announcement, a negative COVID-19 test and a health bill displayed on an app will no longer be required, except in vulnerable sectors such as nursery schools, nursing homes and schools. The scale of the lockdown was also limited to individual floors and apartment buildings, rather than entire districts and neighborhoods.

Those who test positive for the virus will be able to isolate at home rather than in crowded and unhygienic field hospitals, and schools that have had no outbreaks should resume face-to-face education.

The announcement came after street protests in several cities against the strict “zero COVID” policy, which is entering its fourth year and has disrupted daily life, commuting and employment, as well as national There is an allegation of giving a huge blow to the economy. ,

China has tried to maintain a tough strategy while keeping the world’s second-largest economy running, but public frustration with sanctions has changed the minds of officials, who have defended policy as better than strategy to eradicate COVID-19. did. Other countries that lifted their measures in hopes of containing the virus.

New cases reported in China fell from a daily record of more than 40,000 in recent days to just 20,764 on Wednesday, with the vast majority asymptomatic.

Under the new measures, the lockdown could last no more than five days if no additional cases are found, a ban on the sale of cold medicines would be lifted and vaccinations of the elderly would be increased.

Orders for transport companies and businesses to suspend their services will also be withdrawn and more attention will be paid to public safety, without blocking emergency exits when confinement orders are executed.

Recent protests have included calls for the resignation of President Xi Jinping. The demonstrations began on November 25 after at least 10 people were killed in a fire at an apartment building in Urumqi, in the country’s northwest. Officials denied suggestions that closed doors or other virus checks may have blocked the way for firefighters or victims of the blaze. However, the disaster became a catalyst for public desperation.

In its statement, the National Health Commission made no reference to the fires, protests or any formal abandonment of the “zero COVID” strategy closely associated with Xi’s authority. The policy has kept most visitors out of China and disrupted manufacturing activity and global trade.

Authorities have been gradually lifting restrictions over the days.

Beijing and 16 other cities on Monday allowed people to board buses and subways for the first time in months without showing a negative diagnostic test in the previous 48 hours.

Industrial centers such as Guangzhou near Hong Kong have reopened markets and businesses and lifted most restrictions on movement, though they keep them in neighborhoods with positive cases.

The government last week announced plans to vaccinate millions of septuagenarians and octogenarians, a condition of ending “zero COVID” restrictions.

Health experts and economists have warned that it could take mid-2023 and perhaps as long as 2024 to bring vaccination rates up to sufficient levels and prepare hospitals for a possible spike in infections.

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Desk
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