China further loosens COVID-19 measures in major policy shift
Updated 21:04, 07-Dec-2022
A shopping mall in Hohhot, north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, December 7, 2022. /CFP
A shopping mall in Hohhot, north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, December 7, 2022. /CFP

A shopping mall in Hohhot, north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, December 7, 2022. /CFP

China announced its latest changes to the COVID-19 response on Wednesday, further optimizing the measures against the virus to balance the epidemic control and social livelihoods.

The newly-released 10 measures fine-tuned protocols for nucleic acid testing, quarantine requirements, daily access to medication and medical services, vaccination and risk areas classification, according to China's National Health Commission (NHC).

The health regulator said the measures were introduced based on the latest epidemic situation and mutation of the virus to contain the epidemic in a more science-based and targeted manner.

China will no longer require negative PCR COVID-19 tests, health codes and upon-arrival tests for most public venues except for certain places such as nursing homes, welfare homes, medical institutions, kindergartens and schools.

As part of the efforts to optimize nucleic acid testing, people will not be subjected to mass testing according to administrative regions, and the scope and frequency of testing will be further reduced, it said. Antigen testing can be carried out in accordance with the needs of epidemic prevention, according to the NHC.

The health regulator said that patients with mild or fewer symptoms could undergo home quarantine, or choose centralized isolation at will. For the infected quarantined at home, a cycle threshold value of nucleic test greater than or equal to 35 on the sixth and seventh days of isolation can get out of quarantine. Quarantine measures imposed on high-risk areas must be lifted if no new infections are reported for five consecutive days.

People's basic needs to purchase medication should be ensured including drugs for fever, cough or cold. Pharmacies should operate normally and cannot be shut down arbitrarily for no reason.

Epidemic prevention and control measures have also been optimized in schools. Schools without COVID-19 outbreaks are required to carry out normal offline teaching activities, and on-campus stores, canteens, sports facilities and libraries must be open regularly. 

China will also accelerate COVID-19 vaccinations for the elderly, aiming to continue to push for the inoculation of those aged between 60 and 79 and accelerate the vaccination rate of people aged 80 and above.

It also said the society needs to keep daily normal functioning, adding that non-high-risk areas shall not impose travel restrictions or suspend businesses. Schools reporting no COVID-19 cases should function normally, and those affected by the epidemic should precisely designate risk areas and ensure normal functioning in unaffected areas, it adds. 

The measures also require to keep clear of the path for emergencies in the communities to ensure the residents' safety.

(With input from Xinhua)

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