Beijing, Shenzhen loosen more Covid restrictions as China eases collection rate

Disease control officers performing nucleic acid tests wear protective gear as they ride scooters to prevent the spread of COVID-19 on an almost deserted street in Beijing, China. (Photo by Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)

Kevin Frayer | Getty Images News | beautiful pictures

Beijing residents cheered the removal of Covid-19 testing stations while Shenzhen followed in the footsteps of other cities announcing that they would no longer require passengers to present test results when traveling, due to the speed of the expansion. loosening of China’s virus restrictions is increasing.

Although daily cases hover near all-time highs, some cities are taking steps to relax Covid-19 testing requirements and quarantine rules as China looks to do so. Its Covid-free policy is more targeted amid an economic downturn and public frustration that has flared into unrest.

Three years after the pandemic, China has become a global outlier with its zero-tolerance approach to Covid, prompting it to enforce lockdown measures and test regularly for the virus. It says the measures are needed to save lives and avoid overwhelming its health care system.

China began tweaking its approach last month, calling for localities to become more specific. However, initial reactions were marked by confusion and even tighter lockdowns as cities tried to contain a rise in infections.

Then, a deadly apartment fire last month in the remote western city of Urumqi sparked dozens of protests against Covid restrictions in a wave unprecedented in mainland China since when President Xi Jinping came to power in 2012. Since then, cities including Guangzhou and Beijing have been at the forefront of implementing the changes.

Less testing

On Saturday, the southern city of Shenzhen announced it would no longer require people to present a negative Covid test result to use public transport or enter parks, following a similar move by Chengdu. and Tianjin, among China’s largest cities.

Many testing booths in the Chinese capital Beijing have also been closed, as the city stops requiring negative test results as a condition for entering places like supermarkets and prepares to do so for ships. subway from Monday, although many other locations including offices still have requests.

A video showing workers in Beijing unloading a test stall with a crane onto a truck went viral on Chinese social media on Friday.

“This should have been taken away sooner!” one person commented. “Had been banished to history,” said another.

Reuters was unable to verify the authenticity of the footage. However, at some of the remaining stalls, people complained about the hours-long queues to be checked in due to the closure.

More discount coming soon

China is set to continue announcing a nationwide reduction in testing requirements as well as allowing positive cases and close contacts to be isolated at home under certain conditions, sources familiar with the matter said. with the matter told Reuters earlier this week.

Xi, in a meeting with European Union officials in Beijing on Thursday, blamed the mass protests on young people frustrated by the Covid-19 pandemic for years, but said variation The virus-dominated omicron has paved the way for fewer restrictions, EU officials say.

Officials have only recently begun to downplay the dangers of Omicron, a dramatic shift in messaging in a country where fear of Covid is ingrained.

On Friday, several neighborhoods in Beijing posted instructions on social media on isolating positive cases at home, a landmark move that marked a break with official guidance on the virus. sending such people to concentrated isolation wards.

But the relief has also come with concerns, especially from groups like the elderly, who feel vulnerable to the disease, which authorities have repeatedly described as deadly until this week. highlights the difficulties faced by Xi Jinping and China’s leaders in easing.

China reported 32,827 new local Covid-19 infections on December 2, down from 34,772 cases a day earlier.


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