China to make ‘significant’ changes to COVID-related policy soon former government expert
- The remarks add to investor optimism about further easing
- The former official says that changes are possible in the next 5-6 months
- China may ease quarantine for sources of inbound travelers
- Health officials will hold a press conference on Saturday
SHANGHAI, Nov 4 (Reuters) – China will make significant changes to its “dynamic-zero” COVID-19 policy in the coming months, a former Chinese disease control official told a conference hosted by Citi on Friday, according to a recording of the session. Reuters heard.
Separately, three sources familiar with the matter said China could soon further shorten quarantine requirements for inbound travelers.
Zeng Guang, the former chief epidemiologist at the Chinese Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who remains outspoken about China’s fight against COVID, said the conditions for China’s opening are “stacking up,” citing new vaccines and the country’s progress in antiviral drug research.
Asked whether China would open up after the annual parliament meeting, traditionally held in early March, Yu Xiangrong, Citi’s chief China economist, said many new policies would be introduced in the next five to six months, without specifying the basis for the information. .
“The situation is changing now, and China’s “dynamic zero” will also undergo serious changes. There will be substantive changes soon,” he said, according to a recording of the session titled “China’s Exit Strategy from Zero-COVID.”
Citi declined to comment on Zeng’s remarks. Zeng and Yu did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Zeng’s words provide a boost in recent days the investor hopes China will ease some of the austerity measures that have made it a global outcast and deeply damaged the world’s second-largest economy.
Public health experts have warned that reversing China’s tough COVID regime will require a clear timetable and strategy for booster shots in a country of 1.4 billion people with little natural immunity, and many believe China will not begin significant easing until after the March parliamentary session.
This week’s optimism contrasted with news of rising infections in China and widespread disruptions related to COVID-19, including Friday’s postponement of the Guangzhou Auto Show, which had been scheduled for later this month.
Chinese health authorities will hold a press conference at 3:00 p.m. (0700 GMT) on Saturday on the prevention of COVID-19, according to the notice, which said officials from the National Bureau of Disease Control and Prevention will be present. No other details were immediately available.
However, China has continued to fine-tune its approach to COVID and may soon reduce its COVID-19 quarantine requirements. inbound travelers from the current 10 days to seven or eight days, sources familiar with the matter told Reuters on Friday.
Under the new rule, arrivals must spend five days in a quarantine facility and another two or three days at home, one of the sources said, compared with the current requirement of seven days in a facility, usually a hotel. another three days under home monitoring.
China’s National Health Commission did not immediately respond to a faxed request for comment.
Such a move would follow China’s decision in June to halve the quarantine time for inbound travelers.
Also on Friday, Bloomberg News reported that China is working on plans to phase out a system that penalizes airlines for bringing in COVID-positive passengers, citing people familiar with the matter as saying that the effort is a sign that authorities are on the way to finding out. looking for impact of its COVID policy.
Chinese airlines operated an average of 145 international flights a day in October, up 21.9% from September, according to aviation data provider Variflight. Still, China and international capacity from China is only 7.3% of 2019 levels, based on data from industry information providers CAPA and OAG.
Blockades and Demonstrations of Protest
Authorities reported 3,871 new local transmissions on Friday infections for the previous day, a tiny number by global standards, but the most in China since early May.
Zeng was a member of the top team at China’s National Health Commission when the virus began spreading from the central Chinese city of Wuhan to other parts of China in 2020.
He used to urged against using extra measures to fight COVID that risk exhausting people, and said in March that China would seek a path to a “flexible and controlled opening”.
While much of the world has largely lifted restrictions on the virus, China has steadfastly stuck to a zero-tolerance approach, responding to even isolated cases with lockdowns and mass testing. Those measures have rocked the economy and increasingly frustrated the public.
Markets rallied this week on hopes that China would relax its approach after rumors based on an unverified post circulating on social media indicated that China plans to reopen from strict COVID restrictions in March next year. :
A spokesman for China’s foreign ministry said at the time that it was unaware of the situation. The country’s National Health Commission said on Wednesday that the nation must remain steadfastly committed to zero-COVID.
Wuhan is making headlines again in China over COVID-19 after dozens of new cases were reported in the past week after imposing a series of temporary lockdowns and restrictions.
Videos showing noisy protests inside the compound in Wuhan’s Hanyan district on Thursday night were shared on social media on Friday. Reuters could not immediately verify them.
In videos, angry residents were seen tearing apart tents affected by the COVID-19 disaster and calling for an end to their lockdown, with crowds shouting: “Give us freedom, give us freedom.”
Reporting by Newsrooms in Beijing and Shanghai; Written by Brenda Goh and Tony Munro; Edited by Alex Richardson, Edmund Claman and Mark Potter
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