The Chinese authorities are reportedly considering scrapping quarantine hurdles for travelers from Hong Kong.

According to the South China Morning Post, if officials approve the scheme, it could go into effect before the Chinese New Year, which starts on January 22. But three days of health monitoring is still a mandate.

Two sources were confident that there are “good chances” the proposal could be passed. One of them, however, noted that a full border reopening wouldn’t happen soon. And it would also depend on how nearby provinces cope with the changing environment. 

An unnamed official from Beijing said, “The central government needs to handle the opening with caution. We cannot do a full opening right away as it might cause Guangdong and other neighboring provinces’ infections to increase exponentially and overstress the local healthcare system.”

The mainland has shut its borders with Hong Kong for more than two years since the pandemic. As a result, the number of Hong Kong visitors allowed to enter China daily is limited. They must also spend at least five days quarantined in hotels upon arrival. The Beijing-based official said Hong Kong would also discuss increasing the quota beyond the 2,000 to 3,000 threshold.

Meanwhile, China is now struggling to live with the virus as limiting transmission risks is no longer a top priority. While residents hoard medical supplies, the medical system is also bracing for an expected influx of new COVID patients.

Bloomberg reported from a healthcare worker on December 12 that a prominent hospital in central Beijing has ordered its medical staff to return from vacation, and at least one other institution has asked staff to stay on the job despite having moderate COVID infections.

The Chinese state publication is also urging residents not to phone the emergency hotline in Beijing if their condition is not serious. The measure is to leave the ground for calls from people who seriously need care.

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