China abruptly lifted COVID-19 restrictions in several Chinese cities, after large protests erupted in at least seventeen cities.
China Lifts Some COVID-19 Restrictions Over Protests
The CCP government of China has been cracking down on protests that have spread to at least seventeen cities, but its resolve appear to have cracked a little.
The authorities in the major cities of Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chongqing and Zhengzhou abruptly lifted COVID-19 lockdown measures and restrictions.
On Wednesday afternoon, 30 November 2022, Chinese authorities announced the lifting of lockdowns in four districts in Guangzhou, and instructed local officials to remove “temporary control orders” and to predesignate those areas as “low risk”. They also announced an end to mass PCR testing for COVID-19.
Both Guangzhou and Chongqing also announced that close contacts of COVID-19 positive people will be allowed to quarantine at home instead of being forcibly taken to a quarantine centre, subject to certain conditions.
Shanghai – China’s largest and most affluent city, announced that the lockdown of 24 high-risk areas across 11 of its districts would be lifted on Thursday, 1 December 2022.
The city of Zhengzhou – the location of the massive iPhone factory and earlier protests, announced the “orderly” resumption of business, including markets, supermark1ets, restaurants and cinemas. While lifting COVID-19 restrictions in general, they published a list of buildings that would remain under lockdown.
China Could Quietly Kill Zero COVID Policy Over Protests
China could be preparing to quietly “kill” its Zero COVID policy that had been the hallmark “achievement” of President Xi Jinping.
On Wednesday, 30 November 2022, Vice-Premier Sun Chunlan – China’s most senior official in charge of its COVID-19 response, told health officials that the country faced “a new stage and mission” in pandemic control.
She noticeably did not mention the Zero COVID policy, but said that the National Health Commission (NHC) should take a “human-centred approach”, in an apparent nod to the anti-government protests that have wracked multiple Chinese cities.
Sun also called for China to enhance its “diagnosis, testing, treatment and quarantine” measures, while boosting vaccination rates especially for its senior citizens, and beef up medication and medical resources.
This appears to suggest that the Chinese authorities are at least thinking of further loosening its strict Zero COVID measures, if not killing it completely.
Her comments come a day after top Chinese health officials pledged to change COVID-19 control measures to reduce their impact on people’s lives.
Chinese National Health Commission (NHC) officials said that lockdowns to suppress the spread of COVID-19 should be lifted “as quickly as possible” during outbreaks.
Cheng Youquan – a director at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said that some control measures were implemented “excessively” by local officials taking a “one size fits all” approach, without regard for people’s demands.
NHC officials also announced an “action plan’ to boost vaccination rates amongst the elderly, which would be necessary if China is to reopen the country.
As of November 28, about 90% of Chinese population received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, but only 66% of people over 80 have done so. A very high vaccination rate is critical, because Chinese vaccines have much lower efficacy than Western vaccines.
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