China will end Covid restrictions and quarantining for international travelers

Funviralpark 2 years ago 0 3

New York

Starting January 8, China will lift quarantine requirements for international arrivals. This is a big step towards reopening the borders that have closed the country from the rest of the world for about three years.

China’s National Health Commission (NHC) said in an announcement released late Monday that inbound travelers only need to show a negative Covid test result obtained within 48 hours before departure. said there is. They are now subject to a 5-day hotel quarantine and a 3-day home quarantine.

According to the announcement, airline restrictions on the number of international flights and passenger capacity will also be removed.

Border relaxation is a move by China to dismantle the remnants of its long-held zero-coronavirus policy, which was abruptly abandoned earlier this month following nationwide protests over social and economic damage. Part of a broader movement.

The sudden policy shift left the nation and the country’s fragile healthcare system ill-prepared, with widespread shortages of cold and fever medicines, and hospitals scrambling to cope with an unprecedented surge in infections.

After reversing lockdowns and mass testing and allowing home isolation for positive patients, the government has scrapped remaining precautions, including contact tracing.

China has closed its borders since March 2020 to prevent the spread of the virus, maintaining a global quarantine even after the rest of the world has reopened and pulled out of the pandemic.

Foreigners are mostly prohibited from entering China, except for a limited number of business and family visits. The NHC said it would further “optimize” arrangements for foreigners to visit China for work, business, study or family reasons, and “provide convenience” for visa applications.

Lifting travel restrictions is also a big relief for Chinese people studying and working abroad. Those who couldn’t stand the high cost of air tickets, lengthy hotel quarantines, or onerous testing requirements were unable to return home for three years.

Authorities have also pledged to resume outbound tourism for Chinese citizens in an orderly manner, depending on the international Covid situation and the capacity of various domestic services, but no implementation timeline or details have been provided.

On Chinese social media, many celebrated the long-awaited relaxation of international travel restrictions.According to Chinese travel booking site Ctrip, searches for popular overseas tourist destinations on the platform took less than an hour after the new policy was announced. jumped tenfold to

Some mourn the suffering, losses and missed opportunities of the past years.

“How many people, from international students to workers making a living in Africa, who once lived across borders, had to change their plans for life? How many families have we been forbidden to see? How many three years are there in our lives? These three years have changed us forever,” said a Chinese journalist. I wrote it on the microblogging site Weibo.

China’s top health officials made a sweeping announcement on Monday in an action plan to downgrade Covid controls.

Since 2020, China has classified Covid as a Category B infectious disease, but has treated it as a Category A disease, equating it to bubonic plague or cholera, and empowering local governments to impose lockdowns and other restrictions. It is now treated as a Category B disease, the same as HIV and bird flu.

The committee also changed the official Chinese name for Covid from “novel coronavirus pneumonia” to “novel coronavirus infectious disease,” saying it “is more in line with the current characteristics and danger levels of the disease.”

“A low-lethal variant of Omicron has become the dominant strain of SARS-Cov-2, with only a minority of cases developing into pneumonia,” the NHC said in a statement.

China’s top leaders recently hinted at returning focus to growth next year, betting on easing pandemic restrictions to boost the economy.

China’s current focus is to prepare enough medical resources, according to an NHC statement. Large and medium-sized cities need to quickly transform ‘Fangcang’, a makeshift centralized Covid quarantine facility, into a designated hospital staffed with sufficient medical workers, the NHC added. .

The NHC also did not completely rule out the possibility of future temporary and regional restrictive measures.

“In managing outbreaks, special attention should be paid to the real-time global assessment of the intensity of the outbreak (the pressure on the health system and the general state of society), and appropriate legal measures should be taken to protect the population. We need to flexibly limit group activities and movement: how to flatten the curve,” he said in a statement, adding that lockdowns could be re-imposed at nursing homes if the outbreak is severe.

– CNN’s Selina Wang and Laura he contributed to this report

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