China relaxes ‘Zero COVID’ policy

After witnessing demonstrations in recent weeks, China on Wednesday announced loosening its strict “Zero COVID" policy, including a reduction in the frequency of nucleic tests.

The country’s National Health Commission (NHC) said in a statement the joint prevention and control mechanism of China's State Council released 10 new measures, allowing infections with mild or no symptoms to take home quarantine and reduce the frequency of nucleic acid testing.

Under the new measures, public places will no longer require nucleic acid test results.

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The NHC said test results and health code will "no longer be required for cross-regional travel."However, some special places, including nursing houses, medical institutions, and schools, may still require nucleic acid test results.

Soon after the news of relaxation in the COVID-19 control measures, markets in both mainland China and in Hong Kong bounced back.

China has followed a strict policy of closing down neighborhoods, forcibly taking people to government-run quarantine centers, and requiring people to conduct several tests before any public engagement.

It closed borders for international travel which have recently been opened.

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However, the death of 10 inmates in a fire inside an apartment in western Xinjiang province triggered a chain reaction.

The place where the deaths occurred was under strict COVID-19 measures which may have delayed the rescue operation. Soon after protests were reported in many cities, some of which turned violent as people expressed frustration with the strict policy.

China has reported 345,529 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 5,235 deaths, since the first cases of the coronavirus were reported in December 2019.

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