China loosens countrywide COVID restrictions
China’s State Council on Wednesday announced sweeping changes to the country’s zero-COVID policy, loosening countrywide restrictions nationwide for the first time since the pandemic began. Director of China’s Department of Medical Emergency Response Guo Yanhong said that individuals who are asymptomatic or have mild symptoms may now quarantine at home rather than being moved to government-run quarantine centers. Local governments had previously loosened some regulations in some cities following widespread protests. Chinese officials have not said what is driving the policy changes, although international analysts say protests over the last month have been historically significant.
What about the lockdown procedures? The new guidelines urge local authorities to only enforce lockdowns in high-risk areas and to lift the measures after no new cases are found within five consecutive days. China also ended the use of health codes on mobile phones that had been used to track individuals’ health status and restrict their access to public places and public transportation. Facilities like nursing homes and medical facilities will still require individuals to show a negative COVID test or their health code to enter.
Dig deeper: Read Erica Kwong’s report in World Tour about how China’s zero-COVID policy has affected Chinese citizens.
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