China will end traveller quarantine on January 8, according to government authorities, marking the last major change to the country’s zero-Covid policy. This will restore the country’s borders to individuals with employment, study, or family visit visas after nearly three years of closure.
However, this comes as China struggles with the virus’s aggressive spread following the removal of prohibitions.
According to reports, hospitals are overcrowded and elderly patients are dying.
Officials have ceased disclosing Covid data, so the exact toll – daily case counts and fatalities – is now unclear.
Last week, Beijing recorded over 4,000 new Covid infections every day, with few fatalities.
On Sunday, it was announced that case numbers would no longer be published. According to Reuters, the British health data business Airfinity calculated that China was experiencing over a million infections and 5,000 deaths every day.
After three years of lockdowns, closed borders, and mandatory quarantine for Covid cases and contacts, China is the final major economy to transition to “living with Covid.”
The so-called zero-Covid approach harmed the economy and grew citizens weary of repeated restrictions and examinations.
In November, resentment against the programme erupted into rare public protests against President Xi Jinping, which resulted to the immediate repeal of Covid regulations.
Closed borders are the only remaining major constraint. Since March 2020, everybody entering China was required to undergo a three-week quarantine at a government facility. This has recently been shortened to five days.
On Monday, however, the National Health Commission declared that on January 8, Covid would be officially reduced to a Class B infectious disease.
This means quarantine would be eliminated, although entering travellers would still be required to take a PCR test, and a daily cap on the number of planes allowed into China would be lifted.