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China to end quarantine and reopen borders from 8 January

New directive focuses on “treatment” rather than “prevention” after nearly three years of sticking to a very strict zero-Covid policy.

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New directive focuses on “treatment” rather than “prevention” after nearly three years of sticking to a very strict zero-Covid policy.

ARTICLE BY

PUBLISHED

READING TIME

Less than 1 minute Minutes

UPDATED: 22 Dec 2023, 12:31 am

China will reopen its borders and abandon quarantine regulations on 8 January. The decision was published today by the South China Morning Post (SCMP) and is the country’s last step in shedding three years of zero-Covid and pivoting to living with the virus.

Three sources from provincial health authorities and hospitals in Guangdong, Fujian and Jiangsu said they have been notified by the National Health Commission (NHC) today to ask them to prepare for the downgrade to category B management from 8 January, the SCMP reported. Category B means Covid-19 only requires “necessary treatment and measures to curb the spread”.

Confirming the new directive from Beijing, a health official from Guangdong said it would help the province prepare to reopen its border with neighbouring Hong Kong. “It sets the direction going forward on China’s Covid-19 control, which is more flexible and less disruptive to people’s lives,” he said.

Top Hong Kong officials met on Christmas Day to discuss details of a plan to fully reopen the city’s border with mainland China, the first stages of which could be implemented as soon as the start of next month, sources told SCMP.

Recently, Vice-Premier Sun Chunlan, who has been in charge of the Covid-19 response, urged  authorities to focus on treatment instead of infections. From today, the NHC will also stop announcing daily Covid-19 cases.

Cases have surged since China largely took a u-turn on its zero-tolerance Covid-19 policy in recent weeks, inducing nationwide shortages of test kits and medication.

 

UPDATED: 22 Dec 2023, 12:31 am

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