Budapest Post

Cum Deo pro Patria et Libertate
Budapest, Europe and world news

Beijing drops COVID testing burden as wider easing beckons

Beijing drops COVID testing burden as wider easing beckons

Residents of China's capital were allowed into parks, supermarkets, offices and airports without a negative COVID-19 test on Tuesday, the latest in a mix of easing steps nationwide after unprecedented protests against a tough zero-COVID policy.
Residents of China's capital were allowed into parks, supermarkets, offices and airports without a negative COVID-19 test on Tuesday, the latest in a mix of easing steps nationwide after unprecedented protests against a tough zero-COVID policy.

"Beijing readies itself for life again," read a headline in the government-owned China Daily newspaper, adding that people were "gradually embracing" newfound freedoms.

Authorities have been loosening some of the world's toughest COVID curbs to varying degrees and softening their tone on the threat of the virus, in what many hope could herald a more pronounced shift towards normalcy three years into the pandemic.

"This might be the first step towards reopening," Hu Dongxu, 27, told Reuters as he swiped his travel card to enter a train station in Beijing, which has also dropped the need for tests to use the subway.

As they waited for news, some people, wary the virus might now spread faster, rushed to buy COVID antigen kits and fever medicine and market regulators issued warnings against hoarding and hiking prices. read more

Both of the city's airports also no longer require people to test to enter the terminal, state media reported, although there was no indication of a change to the rule for a negative test before boarding a flight.

The loosening of the rules comes after a string of protests last month that marked the biggest show of public discontent in mainland China since President Xi Jinping took power in 2012.

While rallies have subsided, throngs of students at a university in Nanjing city chanted at a protest on Monday against COVID policy on their campus, according to videos on Twitter. Reuters confirmed that the footage was taken at Nanjing Tech University.

China may announce 10 new easing measures as early as Wednesday, two sources with knowledge of the matter told Reuters.

The prospect of a relaxation has sparked optimism among investors that the world's second biggest economy would regather strength and help to boost global growth.

The Chinese yuan has risen about 5% against the dollar since early November on expectation of an eventual reopening of China's economy.

Screenshots of an article criticising China's the zero- COVID policy published by a health supervision body in Henan province were widely shared on social media on Tuesday, after it was censored following its publication.

The article posted on the WeChat page of the Zhumadian city health commission, criticised some "devastating" impacts caused by the policy and its sometimes "brutal" implementation.

But on the ground, many people have been slow to adapt to the changing rules. Commuter traffic in major cities such as Beijing and Chongqing has remained a fraction of normal levels.

Some people remain wary of catching the virus, especially the elderly, while there is concern about the strain the loosening may put on a fragile health system.

"My parents are still very cautious," said James Liu, 22, a student in Shenzhen city in the southern province of Guangdong, where authorities dropped testing requirements to get into the family's residential compound.

China has reported 5,235 COVID-related deaths as of Monday, but some experts have warned that toll could rise above 1 million if the exit is too hasty.

NEXT PHASE
Analysts at Nomura estimate that areas under lockdown represent about 19.3% of China's total gross domestic product, equivalent to the size of India's economy but down from 25.1% last Monday.

This marks the first decline in Nomura's closely watched China lockdown index since early October.

Meanwhile, officials continue to play down the dangers posed by the virus, bringing China closer to what other countries have been saying for more than a year as they dropped restrictions and opted to live with the virus, even as it spread.

China's management of the disease may be downgraded as soon as January, to the less strict Category B from the current top-level Category A of infectious disease, Reuters reported on Monday.

"The most difficult period has passed," the official Xinhua news agency said in a commentary on Monday, citing the weakening pathogenicity of the virus and efforts to vaccinate 90% of the population.

Analysts predict China may reopen the economy and drop border controls sooner than expected next year, with some seeing it fully open in spring.

But more than half of Chinese say they will put off travel abroad even if borders reopen now, according to a survey of 4,000 consumers by consultancy Oliver Wyman.

But for all those wary of returning to normality, there are others clamouring for more freedoms.

"Let's implement these policies quickly," a Beijing-based lawyer surnamed Li wrote on WeChat, reacting to the dropping of testing requirements.

"Our lives and work have been affected for so long."
Newsletter

Related Articles

Budapest Post
Close
0:00
0:00
Bill Gates is ‘very optimistic’ about the future: ‘Better to be born 20 years from now...than any time in the past’
China is opening up for foreign investors.
Tesla reported record profits and record revenues for 2022
Germany confirms it will provide Ukraine with Leopard 2 tanks
Prince Andrew and Virginia Giuffre Photo Is Fake: Ghislaine Maxwell
Opinion | Israel’s Supreme Court Claims a Veto on Democracy
Moonwalker Buzz Aldrin Gets Married On His 93rd Birthday
Who’s Threatening Israeli Democracy?
Federal Reserve Probes Goldman’s Consumer Business
China's first population drop in six decades
Microsoft is finalising plans to become the latest technology giant to reduce its workforce during a global economic slowdown
Hungary ready to sue EU over cuts to Erasmus funding
EU against democracy: Hungary's mail-in poll on Russia sanctions dismissed by Brussels
2023 - The Year of the Rabbit
Israelis rally in three cities against Netanyahu legal reforms
Tesla slashes prices globally by as much as 20 percent
Japan prosecutors indict man for ex-PM Shinzo Abe murder
1.4 Million Copies Of Prince Harry's Memoir 'Spare' Sold On 1st Day In UK
After Failing To Pay Office Rent, Twitter May Sell User Names
Lisa Marie Presley, singer and daughter of Elvis, dies aged 54
FIFA president questioned by prosecutors
Britain's Sunak breaks silence and admits using private healthcare
Dirty bomb fears as URANIUM is found in cargo at Heathrow
Hype and backlash as Harry's memoir goes on sale. Unnamed royal source says prince 'kidnapped by cult of psychotherapy and Meghan'
Saudi Arabia set to overtake India as fastest-growing major economy this year 
International medical experts speak out against COVID-19 restrictions on China
Google and Facebook’s dominance in digital ads challenged by rapid ascent of Amazon and TikTok
FTX fraud investigators are digging deeper into Sam Bankman-Fried's inner circle – and reportedly have ex-engineer Nishad Singh in their sights
TikTok CEO Plans to Meet European Union Regulators
France has banned the online sale of paracetamol until February, citing ongoing supply issues
Japan reportedly to give families 1 million yen per child to move out of Tokyo
Saudi Arabia’s female ambassadors: Who are the five women representing the Kingdom?
Hong Kong property brokerages slash payrolls in choppy market
U.S. Moves to Seize Robinhood Shares, Silvergate Accounts Tied to FTX
Effect of EU sanctions on Moscow is ‘less than zero’ – Belgian MEP
Coinbase to Pay $100 Million in Settlement With New York Regulator
FTX assets worth $3.5bn held by Bahamas securities regulator
A Republican congressman-elect is under investigation in New York after he admitted he lied about his education and work experience.
Brazilian football legend Pele, arguably the greatest player ever, has died at the age of 82.
Hong Kong to scrap almost all its Covid rules
EU calls screening of travellers from China unjustified
Clashes erupt in central Paris after shooting at a Kurdish cultural center
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy Addresses Joint Session of Congress - FULL SPEECH
Where is Rishi? Chancellor Jeremy Hunt's excuses about the UK's economic challenges just don't make sense
Former FTX CEO Bankman-Fried finally arrested in Bahamas after U.S. files charges
Corruption works: House Financial Services Chair Waters doesn't plan to subpoena her donor, Sam Bankman-Fried, to testify at hearing on FTX collapse
Ronaldo's new contract...
The EU has outsourced a big chunk of its migration policy to the private sector
Prince William's godmother resigns honorary royal role after exposing her/their racism
British PM Rishi Sunak pledges further action on strikes to 'protect lives'
×