China’s National Health Commission announced on Wednesday, December 7 a nationwide relaxation of its COVID restrictions. Widespread protests late last month against the country’s COVID strategy led to this decision.

Quarantine, people movement, lockdowns, and testing regulations are relaxed. Other aspects of policy are also modified. 

Several unprecedented unrest broke out in a number of Chinese cities late last month triggered by China’s zero-COVID policy. The policy involves mass testing, lockdowns as well as quarantines even for people who have negative test results.

According to France 24 News, the National Health Commission has announced new guidelines that will lower the frequency and scope of PCR testing.

The new rules read, “Asymptomatic infected persons and mild cases who are eligible for home isolation are generally isolated at home, or they can voluntarily choose centralised isolation for treatment.”

They added, “Mass PCR testing only carried out in schools, hospitals, nursing homes and high-risk work units; scope and frequency of PCR testing to be further reduced.”

“People travelling across provinces do not need to provide a 48h test result and do not need to test upon arrival.”

As Bloomberg News reported, the easing measures can’t be interpreted as China abandoning its zero-COVID policy. 

Goldman Sachs Group Inc.’s chief China economist Hui Shan and colleagues wrote in a note on December 4, “we see them as clear evidence of the Chinese government preparing for an exit, and trying to minimize the economic and social cost of COVID control in the meantime.”

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