World

China begins easing ‘zero Covid’ curbs


BEIJING: China on Wednesday announced the most sweeping changes to its resolute anti-Covid regime since the pandemic began three years ago, relaxing rules aimed at curbing the spread of the virus. of the virus but sparked protests and rocked the world’s second-largest economy. The easing of regulations, including allowing infected people with mild symptoms to be isolated at home and dropping testing for those traveling within the country, is the clearest sign that Beijing is pivoting. from a Covid-free policy to allow people to live with the disease. But health officials still warn that they will closely monitor mortality trends and the adequacy of medical resources in case a return to tougher measures is needed.
Many changes announced by National Health Commission (NHC) reflects the steps that have been taken in various cities and regions in recent days, following protests against Covid The controls are the biggest demonstration of public discontent since the President Xi Jinping came to power in 2012.
Residents applaud the prospect of a change that could see China slowly re-emerge into the world three years after the virus was first identified in the central city of Wuhan in late December. 2019 . “It’s time for our lives to return to normal and let China return to the world,” wrote one Weibo user.
Dozens of people also flocked to the Weibo account of Li Wenliang, a Wuhan doctor who died in 2020 after sounding the early warning about Covid-19. “Doctor, we made it through, we will be free,” wrote one user. “Daylight has come,” another wrote.
Shanghai was one of the first to announce that it would adopt new home quarantine guidelines and also remove regulations for travelers entering the city.
Some investors also welcomed the change that could revive China’s weakening economy and currency, while boosting global growth. “This policy change is a big step forward,” said Zhiwei Zhang, chief economist at Pinpoint Asset Management. “I hope China will fully reopen its borders no later than mid-2023.” Foreign businesses in China also hope these changes will mark a shift towards greater openness. But NHC spokeswoman Mi Feng told a news conference that any changes to measures related to domestic travel would be “gradual”.
The policy changes were announced after Xi, who counts China’s relentless fight against Covid as one of his main achievements, chaired a meeting of the Communist Party’s Politburo on Wednesday. Tuesday.
Major cities across China, including Beijing and Shanghai, were besieged by protests last month, but have begun to subside amid a dense police presence and restrictions imposed. removed in different parts of the country. Officials have not linked any of the changes, made on Wednesday or earlier, to the protests. But they have downplayed their stark tone about the health risks of the virus — bringing China closer to what other countries have been saying for more than a year as they dropped restrictions and moved to live with the virus. virus.

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