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China Covid: Beijing eases some curbs despite rising cases

  • Published
    17 minutes ago

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Image source, EPA

China has slightly relaxed some of its Covid restrictions even as case numbers rise to their highest levels in months.

Quarantine for close contacts will be cut from seven days in a state facility to five days and three days at home.

Officials will also stop recording secondary contacts – meaning many people will avoid having to quarantine.

The slight easing comes weeks after Xi Jinping was re-instated as party leader for a historic third term.

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Mr Xi held his first Covid meeting with his newly elected Standing Committee on Thursday.

China’s zero-Covid policy has saved lives in the country of 1.4 billion people but also dealt a punishing blow to the economy and ordinary people’s lives.

There is increasing public fatigue over lockdowns and travel restrictions.

Stories of suffering and desperation have also circulated on social media, fuelling many outbursts of civic anger.

China’s National Health Commission (NHC) insisted the changes did not amount to “relaxing prevention and control, let alone opening up”, but were instead designed to adapt to a changing Covid situation.

The NHC also said it would develop a plan to speed up vaccinations.

On Friday, the changes were announced even as the country grapples with its worst wave of Covid in months.

The cities of Beijing, Guangzhou and Zhengzhou are currently seeing record numbers.

On Thursday, China recorded over 10,500 new Covid cases – the highest daily total since April when China shut down its largest city Shanghai to combat a wave there.

Despite the small changes however, most restrictions still remain in place. Mr Xi has insisted on sticking to a stringent zero-Covid policy involving lockdowns even as the rest of the world has moved on.

That means in many cities residents have been subject to sudden restrictions on their movement and disruptions to work and schooling.

For example, this week in Guangzhou – the current epicentre of the Covid wave in China – locals in one district were barred from venturing outside and only one member of each household was allowed outside to grocery shop.

Public transport has been suspended while schools and workplaces are also shut down.

In Zhengzhou, another Covid centre at the moment, lockdowns there prompted many workers living at a vast factory owned by Taiwanese iPhone-maker Foxconn to flee the area on foot to escape restrictions.

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