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China COVID Policy: How the Measures Have Changed

BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s National Health Commission on Friday adjusted its COVID-19 prevention and control protocols.

Below are the 20 adjusted measures announced – affecting travel, quarantine, lockdowns on businesses and testing as well as other aspects of policy:

  • Quarantine of inbound travellers was shortened to five days at a centralised location plus three days of isolation at home, from seven days centralised quarantine and three days of health monitoring at home.

  • Suspension of international flight routes due to the detection of infected passengers was abolished. For inbound travellers, the pre-departure COVID test requirement was cut to once in 48 hours from twice.

  • Quarantine of close contacts was cut to five days at a centralised location plus three days of isolation at home, from seven days centralised quarantine and three days of health monitoring at home.

  • Secondary close contacts would no longer have to be identified although close contacts would still be.

  • Quarantine of people from high-risk areas but who do not reside in the area at the time of an outbreak was adjusted to seven days of isolation at home versus seven days at a centralised location.

  • Categorisation of COVID risk areas was simplified to “high” and “low” risk, from “high”, “medium” and “low”. If no new COVID infections are found within five consecutive days in a high-risk area, it will be downgraded to a low-risk area.

  • Quarantine of employees under closed-loop management for jobs with high risk of COVID infection was cut to five days at home versus either seven days at a centralised location or seven days at home previously.

  • Localities are not allowed to expand the scope of PCR testing to districts and even citywide unless the origin of the infection or transmission chain is unclear. Individuals should also not be subjected to two or even three PCR tests per day.

  • Key inbound business travellers and sports groups are to be transferred from “point to point” to “closed-loop bubbles” for business, training and other activities. They are not allowed to leave the bubbles for the duration of their activity.

  • The criterion for confirming if an inbound traveller is COVID positive will be a CT value – indicating how much virus an infected person harbours – of less than 35. Risk assessment is required for travellers whose CT value range between 35 and 40 when their quarantine period at a centralised location ends. A high CT value indicates an infection is waning.

  • China will speed up acceleration of COVID vaccination, especially for the elderly.

  • China will strengthen the building of medical resources.

  • China will accelerate the stockpiling of COVID treatment drugs to meet patients’ needs for medication, especially for treatment of the elderly and those with critical medical conditions.

  • China will step up rectification efforts to curb “one-size-fits-all” COVID policies such as the casual lockdown of schools and suspension of classes, halting of work and production, suspending transportation without prior approval and prolonged lockdowns.

  • China will try to minimise the size of a COVID outbreak and the time needed to contain the spread, taking steps such as administering COVID tests on travellers arriving from another province.

  • China will strengthen the protection of key institutions such as nursing homes for the elderly and population segments including pregnant women.

  • China will strengthen services for people under quarantine. Localities are required to ensure supply of daily essentials.

  • China will optimise COVID control measures for schools.

  • China will ensure smooth logistics for firms and industrial parks during outbreaks, and important firms should not be arbitrarily required to suspend production.

  • China will step up efforts to evacuate people stranded by COVID measures in an orderly way.

(Reporting by Beijing newsroom; Editing by Alison Williams)

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