Chinese cities ease curbs but full zero-Covid exit seen some way off

By Reuters   December 4, 2022 | 01:14 am PT
Chinese cities ease curbs but full zero-Covid exit seen some way off
Health workers in protective suits ride bicycles while on their tour to administer nucleic acid tests as coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreaks continue in Beijing, December 4, 2022. Photo by Reuters
More Chinese cities including Urumqi in the far west announced an easing of coronavirus curbs on Sunday as China tries to make its zero-Covid policy more targeted and less onerous,

Urumqi, the capital of the Xinjiang region, will reopen malls, markets, restaurants and other venues from Monday, authorities said, ending strict lockdowns after months.

Vice Premier Sun Chunlan, who oversees Covid efforts, said last week the ability of the virus to cause disease was weakening - a change in messaging that aligns with what many health authorities around the world have said for more than a year.

China is set to further announce a nationwide easing of testing requirements as well as allowing positive cases and close contacts to isolate at home under certain conditions, people familiar with the matter told Reuters last week.

For the time being, steps to ease restrictions have varied across the country.

From Monday, people in Shanghai will no longer have to show a negative Covid test to take public transport and visit parks, authorities announced on Sunday.

Earlier on Sunday, the city of Nanning, capital of the southern region of Guangxi, canceled a requirement for a negative Covid test to take the subway.

On Saturday in Beijing, authorities said the purchase of fever, cough and sore throat medicines no longer required registration. The restriction had been imposed because authorities believed people were using the medication to hide Covid infections.

Authorities in various districts in the capital have in recent days announced that people who test positive for the virus can quarantine at home.

Some inconsistencies as the restrictions are eased have angered people, including a requirement in some places for a negative Covid test even though mass testing centers were closing.

In Beijing and Wuhan city, where the virus first emerged in late 2019, that caused lengthy queues at the few remaining testing booths.

New daily case numbers dropped nationwide to 31,824, authorities said on Sunday, which may be due in part to fewer people being tested. Authorities also reported two new Covid deaths.

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