China partially eases Covid-19 restrictions to mitigate its impact on the economy.
As China continues to battle its worst wave of the Covid-19 crisis and its attendant negative impact on its economy, the Chinese health authority has announced the easing of its “Zero-Covid policy”, even as it continues to witness a record number of Covid-19 cases.
Three Chinese cities of Beijing, Guangzhou, and Zhengzhou have seen a records-high number of cases as health officials, on Thursday, November 10, announced over 10,000 new Covid cases – the highest daily total since April when China shut down its largest city Shanghai, to combat a wave there.
What are the new restrictions?
Announcing the relaxation of the Covid restriction on Friday, November 12, following a meeting of the ruling Communist Party’s top decision-making body, China’s National Health Commission (NHC) affirmed that the changes did not amount to “relaxing prevention and control, let alone opening up” but are instead, meant to “adapt to the new situation of epidemic prevention and control and the new characteristics of Covid-19 mutation”.
In the new restriction, the pre-departure test requirement for people coming into the country was reduced from two to one, while the mandatory centralized quarantine upon arrival days was reduced from seven days at the state facility to five days in the hotel and three days at home. This is against the previous 10 days in quarantine and seven days in government facilities.
Also, the “circuit breaker” mechanism which hitherto, suspended any China-bound flight, where the airline is suspected to be carrying a certain number of passengers who tested positive for covid upon arrival, was scrapped.
In addition, health workers will no longer be required to trace secondary close contacts cases, a situation that saw many Chinese citizens thrown into quarantine centers.
What’s the reaction to the news?
China’s stock exchange market reacted positively to the news as its currency, the yuan extended its gain to a seven-week high, and the blue-chip CSI index shares rose by 2.8%, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index appreciated by more than 7%-the biggest daily gain recorded since March.
The easing of the Covid restriction was received with excitement by several Chinese citizens, who had already started expressing outbursts on social media, complaining of suffering and depression as a result of the country’s initial zero-covid policy which dealt a great blow to China’s economy.
NHC did not however announce when the changes will begin to take effect as economic experts warn that a full reopening of China’s economy may take a longer time.