China: Many cities ease COVID-19 curbs following protests
Following widespread protests in China against COVID-19 curbs, some cities are reportedly easing restrictions regarding testing requirements and quarantine rules. Reuters reported that China could soon make an official announcement in this regard despite witnessing a record-high number of cases since the beginning of the pandemic. Although, the number of cases is much lower than the peak in Europe and the US.
Why does this story matter?
- China is struggling to contain an unprecedented rise in COVID-19 cases.
- The anti-lockdown protests intensified after a fire in a residential building left 10 people dead last week in Urumqi, Xinjiang, and it was alleged that the lockdown impeded rescue efforts.
- After dubbing the anti-lockdown protests as an uprising "against the government," the Western media now reports fear among residents due to sudden relaxations.
Which cities have eased curbs?
Many major cities including Guangzhou, Chongqing, Shijiazhuang, and Chengdu have announced relaxations in the prescribed curbs, such as testing requirements and control of movement. Keeping in mind that the elderly were more vulnerable to the virus, China's National Health Commission (NHC) said it planned to encourage them to get vaccinated. However, experts said that the restrictions could remain in place for another year.
The zero-COVID-19 policy was feared to hurt global economy
China is set to announce an easing of its COVID quarantine protocols in the coming days and a reduction in mass testing, sources told @Reuters, a marked shift in policy after anger over the world's toughest curbs fueled widespread protests https://t.co/M0Who9LAoY pic.twitter.com/5JtTN9dkVs— Reuters (@Reuters) December 1, 2022
90% of total population vaccinated: NHC
The NHC said 90% of its total population was vaccinated and 86% of the people aged above 60 were vaccinated while 40% had received a booster shot. However, only 66% of those aged above 80 have gotten their first shot. The government said it will send mobile vaccination units to those in their 70s and 80s who can't leave their homes.
Home isolation, quarantine allowed, testing frequency reduced
In China's industrial hubs of Shenyang and Harbin, students attending classes online were granted relaxation from undergoing COVID-19 tests, which were reportedly often administered daily. The government is set to allow patients such as the elderly, pregnant women, and people with underlying illnesses to isolate at home itself, along with reducing the required duration of quarantine and isolation.