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China eases its anti-Covid health rules, WHO is delighted

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Several Chinese cities further eased the draconian anti-Covid rules on Friday, to the great satisfaction of the World Health Organization. President Xi Jinping argues that the less lethal Omicron variant allows for “more flexibility”.

The easing of health restrictions continues in China. Several cities further loosened the screw, Friday, December 2, by reviewing several draconian anti-Covid-19 rules to the great satisfaction of the World Health Organization (WHO).

Protests in recent days to demand an end to restrictions can be explained by the fact that “people were frustrated” after three years of the epidemic, Xi Jinping told European Council President Charles Michel on a visit to Beijing on Thursday. , according to a European official speaking on condition of anonymity.

Xi Jinping defended the relaxation of the policy followed in the face of the Covid by pointing out that, from now on, the variant of the Covid in China is mainly Omicron, less deadly, which opens the way for more flexibility in the restrictions, “said European manager.

“We are happy to hear that the Chinese authorities are adjusting their current strategies and are really trying to calibrate the control measures for this virus now”, reacted on Thursday Dr. Michael Ryan, the head of emergency situations at the WHO. “It’s really important that governments listen to their people when people are hurting. We really want to see this adjustment happen and accelerate.”

>> To read also: in China, the zero tolerance of the demonstrators for the “zero Covid”

A reaction to historic protests

The anger of the Chinese towards the hard line in the fight against the pandemic had spilled over into the streets last weekend, a mobilization on a scale not seen in decades. China quickly sought to quell the movement, with a heavy police presence on the streets and increased surveillance of social media.

At the same time, several cities have begun to ease restrictions, in particular by abandoning mass daily testing, one of the tedious pillars of “zero-Covid”, in place for almost three years.

This did not prevent sporadic scuffles. Images broadcast Thursday evening on the internet and geolocated by AFP show dozens of people facing agents in full protective suits in front of a middle school in Yicheng, in the province of Hubei (center). According to the person who uploaded the video, these are parents whose children tested positive and were taken to quarantine facilities. We see people coming to blows and parents kneeling, begging to be able to bring their offspring home. Anyone who tests positive in China must in theory be placed in a quarantine center, with variable comfort. But a radical change in doctrine seems to be at work.

Possibility of home quarantine

Another novelty, in an analysis published Friday in the People’s Daily, the organ of the ruling Communist Party, several medical experts support the measures taken by local authorities to authorize this quarantine at home. Officials from some neighborhoods in Beijing’s Chaoyang district said the quarantine was now in effect there.

The industrial city of Dongguan (south) announced Thursday that people meeting “specific conditions” could carry out quarantine at home – without detailing these conditions. The technology megalopolis of Shenzhen (south) has applied a similar policy since Wednesday.

At the national level, members of the government have also signaled that a broader relaxation of the policy could be envisaged.

On Wednesday, before the Ministry of Health, Deputy Prime Minister Sun Chunlan acknowledged the low dangerousness of the Omicron variant and the improvement in the vaccination rate. A central figure in Chinese policy in the face of the pandemic, Sun Chunlan did not mention the term “zero Covid”, giving hope that this strategy would soon be lightened.

From Monday, Beijingers will again be able to use buses and the subway without having to present a negative PCR test result dating back less than 48 hours, the town hall announced on Friday. Users must, however, continue to present a health pass to the green, confirming that they have not crossed a “high risk” zone. The same measure has been in place since Friday in Chengdu (southwest).

Gradual reopening of hotels and restaurants

Also in Beijing, health authorities on Thursday called on hospitals to stop refusing care in the absence of a PCR test within 48 hours.

China has seen a series of deaths, when care or relief has been delayed by strict anti-Covid measures. In January, a pregnant woman in Xi’an (north) had lost her baby, after the hospital refused to take care of her for lack of a valid PCR test.

The deaths have been a rallying cry during the protests, with a post going viral listing the cases of all those who perished due to negligence linked to health restrictions.

Many other cities, yet affected by an upsurge in coronavirus cases, are now allowing the reopening of restaurants, shopping centers and even schools.

In Urumqi, the capital of the Xinjiang region (northwest), where a fatal fire had sparked the first demonstrations, the authorities announced on Friday that supermarkets, hotels, restaurants and ski resorts would be gradually reopened.

This city of more than four million inhabitants has undergone one of the longest confinements in China. The fire in an apartment building on November 26 killed 10 people there. The restrictions have been blamed for delaying relief.

With AFP

France 24-Trans

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