Despite the increasing number of cases: China continues to relax corona requirements

Despite the increasing number of cases
China continues to relax corona requirements

After nationwide protests against the zero-Covid policy, China is apparently changing course. In more and more cities, the strict corona measures are being lifted or eased.

In China, despite the high number of new infections, more and more corona requirements are being relaxed. In the capital Beijing, test stations were closed and dismantled. A negative test is no longer necessary for going to the supermarket, and from Monday the subway can also be used again without such proof. However, to enter offices and other buildings, it is still necessary to show that there is no corona infection. Long queues therefore continued to form at the remaining test stations.

In Shenzhen, too, local public transport can be used again without a corona test, and access to parks is also possible without restrictions. The cities of Chengdu and Tianjin had already announced this.

Last weekend there were protests in many cities in China against President Xi Jinping’s strict interpretation of the zero-Covid policy. This is based in particular on comparatively long, strict lockdowns. However, this is slowing down the world’s second largest economy, and the growth expected for this year is likely to be one of the weakest in almost half a century. People are less and less willing to bow to the measures.

The goal remains zero

The recent wave of civil disobedience has been unprecedented. A video has been circulating on Chinese social media showing workers in Beijing lifting a testing station onto a truck using a crane. “It should have happened much earlier,” one comment said. “Relegated to history,” wrote another user. The authenticity of the video has not yet been verified.

According to insiders, China is preparing further easing. People who have tested positive for Corona should be allowed to isolate themselves at home under certain conditions. According to analysts, however, this is not a fundamental change in corona policy. A departure from the zero Covid strategy is not to be expected before March. One of the prerequisites is the success of the recently intensified vaccination campaign for the elderly. “It’s much more about optimizing and saving costs,” says an assessment by the economic research company Capital Economics. “The goal is still to bring the number of cases close to zero.”

WHO Emergency Director Michael Ryan said in Geneva on Friday: “We are pleased to hear that the Chinese authorities are adjusting their strategies and are now really trying to balance the necessary control measures with people’s lives, livelihoods and human rights.” It is important that governments listen to people “when they are suffering”. Ryan also welcomed the increasing vaccination rate in China. On Saturday, China reported 32,827 locally transmitted new infections, almost 2,000 fewer than the day before. The highest number of new infections within a year since the outbreak of the pandemic was just over 40,000 a few days ago.

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