China eases its 'zero COVID' policy with shorter quarantines and fewer restrictions
SHANGHAI — China on Friday announced steps to ease its "dynamic zero COVID" policy by shortening quarantine requirements, simplifying travel rules, and adjusting its monitoring and control regime.
The announcement comes a day after the country's top leaders recommitted to the "zero COVID" policy but also called for improvements.
On Friday, the National Health Commission said "optimizing and adjusting" the rules do not amount to a relaxation of prevention and control measures, but the latest steps were being taken "to adapt the new characteristics of the virus and the new COVID prevention situation," it said.
Beijing's tough COVID-19 control policies have led to a seemingly never-ending string of lockdowns around the country, including several under way in major cities as cases rise. The lockdowns and travel restrictions have also hurt China's economy and engendered a deep sense of frustration in a swath of the populace.
Chinese stocks rose on the news, and Guangdong province, one of the most populous in the country, announced it's immediately enacting the changes.
Major changes for inbound travelers are:
Key domestic changes:
The government reported 10,535 new domestically transmitted cases on Thursday, the highest in months, and the authorities girded for the situation to worsen.
The National Health Commission warned that the epidemic "is likely to further expand in scope and scale" due to mutations and weather factors in the winter and spring.
"We must maintain our strategic determination and conduct epidemic control properly and with scientific precision," it said.
Aowen Cao contributed to this report from Beijing.
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