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China To Relax Covid Curbs Amid Nationwide Protest
Vice-Premier Sun Chunlan, the senior-most Chinese official overseeing Covid-control strategies said, the country's battle against Covid-19 “requires a new approach as the Omicron variant becomes less pathogenic, more people get vaccinated and experience is gained in controlling the virus”
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China appears likely to relax some of its strict zero-Covid rules after rare protests in several cities last weekend called for an end to strict Covid curbs, according to a senior Chinese official’s comments and reports on Thursday.
According to the official news agency, Xinhua, Vice-Premier Sun Chunlan, the senior-most Chinese official overseeing Covid-control strategies said, the country's battle against Covid-19 “requires a new approach as the Omicron variant becomes less pathogenic, more people get vaccinated and experience is gained in controlling the virus.”
According to Xinhua, she made the remarks during a meeting of national health officials on Wednesday.
Sun's comments come amid the country's worst ongoing Covid outbreak, which has hit some of the country's largest cities, including Beijing, Guangzhou and Chongqing.
For nearly a week, the country’s daily caseload has remained above 30,000.
According to Xinhua, Sun said that the “optimisation” of Covid-19 control rules would continue. “With people at the centre, prevention and control work must progress steadily, and policies must be optimised in small steps but without stopping,” she said.
“We believe Sun's speech, along with the notable easing of Covid control measures in Guangzhou yesterday, sends yet another strong signal that the zero-Covid policy will end within the next few months,” brokerage Nomura's Chief China Economist Ting Lu and a team said in a report on Thursday, according to CNBC.
Despite thousands of daily infections, some cities have relaxed some of their strict zero-Covid requirements, such as testing and negative Covid tests to enter public spaces.
Half a dozen districts in Guangzhou, China's southernmost city, issued notices on Wednesday to adjust epidemic prevention and control measures, according to the tabloid Global Times, adding that close contacts who meet the conditions to be quarantined at home in Haizhu and several other districts will lift restrictions in temporary control zones.
On Thursday, lockdowns were lifted in dozens of Shanghai districts.
Beijing has “optimised” its nucleic acid testing rules, directing that residents who do not participate in social activities are exempt from taking the tests if they do not leave their homes.
According to the state-run China Daily, “this includes groups such as homebound seniors, children and people working or studying from home.”
However, Beijing reported over 5,000 cases on Wednesday, a record since the pandemic began three years ago.
The national health commission (NHC) reported 36,061 new Covid-19 infections in China on Wednesday, of which 4,150 were symptomatic, in its daily bulletin on Thursday.