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China: Beijing seems to want to ease the “zero Covid” policy after the demonstrations

China: Beijing seems to want to ease the "zero Covid" policy after the demonstrations

Chinese health authorities have given the first signs of a possible relaxation of their strict “zero Covid” policy, after a wave of angry demonstrations against health restrictions and for more freedoms. China’s approach to the virus “faces new circumstances and new tasks”thanks to the less dangerous nature of the Omicron variant and the advancement of vaccination, said Deputy Prime Minister Sun Chunlan, speaking on Wednesday 30 November before the National Health Commission (NHC).

The Chinese authorities also seem to be giving a pledge on the health policy front. Thus, in the industrial megalopolis of Canton (south), where Tuesday clashes had opposed demonstrators and police, the confinement in place for several weeks was lifted. This, despite the record contamination figures, which remain tiny compared to the population (35 800 case for 1.4 billion people).

Towards a new strategy of “living with the Covid” ?

The city of Chongqing (center) also announced on Wednesday that contact cases meeting certain conditions would have the right to quarantine at home. A clear change from the policy applied until then which required everyone – positive cases and contacts – to go to a quarantine center.

These reliefs at the local level, as well as statements by Ms. Sun, “could be a sign that China is starting to consider ending its strict zero Covid policy”say analysts at ANZ Research in a note. “We believe the Chinese authorities are shifting to a ‘living with Covid’ strategy, as evidenced by new rules that allow people to self-isolate at home instead of being transported to quarantine centers. “they add.

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