China abandons, de facto, its zero covid policy

The National Health Commission announces the end of the most harsh health restrictions, the source of a wave of dissatisfaction.

by Frédéric Lemaître (Beijing, correspondent)

Like the rest of the world, China begins to live with the COVVI-19 and puts an end, without saying it explicitly, to its zero covid policy, consisting in preventing the virus from circulating by limiting the circulation of people as much as possible and goods. The National Health Commission announced on Wednesday, December 7, several decisive measures. The first establishes that “asymptomatic infected people and light cases that can be isolated at home will be generally”. Until now, these people were sent to quarantine centers where they generally benefited from any treatment, but were isolated from the rest of the population.

Furthermore, the country will “further reduce the scope of tests to nucleic acid and reduce its frequency,” said the Commission. Until now, the inhabitants had to present tests carried out in the forty-eight or seventy-two hours to enter most public places. A meeting with a political official, even of subordinate level, was sometimes preceded by three tests carried out in the previous three days.

Another major change announced: large -scale tests will now be carried out only in “schools, hospitals, retirement homes and high -risk work centers”. It has frequently happened that cities of several million inhabitants systematically test the population at the slightest detection of a case, and the endless queues on all street corners in front of the test kiosks were so far from the Urban landscape.

Complete reversal

In the same logic, the use of confinements, sometimes applied to neighborhoods, even to entire cities, will also be reduced. Risk areas that have not recorded any cases for five days will have to be reopened. From Shanghai to Urumqi, dozens of cities had, in recent months, proceeded to very severe confinements, all the less accepted as the population had the feeling that it was during the compulsory daily tests that it was likely to be contaminated.

Furthermore, “Schools without cases of cases must continue the courses normally”, according to the new rules. In Beijing, all schools were closed in mid-November as a precaution. Another novelty, announced on Wednesday: it will now be possible to travel from one province to another, without having to present a negative PCR test of less than forty-eight hours, and no test will be required on arrival either.

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/Media reports cited above.