China could announce 10 new COVID-19 easing measures as early as Wednesday, adding to 20 announced in November, setting off a wave of COVID-19 easing across the country, two people familiar with the matter told Reuters.
Three years of zero-tolerance measures, from closed borders to frequent lockdowns, have battered China’s economy and last month sparked the largest public outrage since President Xi Jinping came to power in 2012.
The sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said on Monday that the management of the disease could be downgraded in January next year, from the current category A of the top infectious disease to a less stringent category B.
The NHC did not immediately respond to a faxed message from Reuters seeking comment.
Last week, Vice Premier Sun Chunlan said China was facing a “new situation” as the Omicron virus became less pathogenic, becoming the first senior official to publicly acknowledge the weakening ability of a new variant of the virus.
Many large cities have since begun to lift mass lockdowns, reducing routine PCR testing and stopping negative tests in public places such as subway stations and parks.
The state health department had earlier announced a series of new measures on November 11 in an effort to improve COVID management and strike a better balance between controlling the outbreak and supporting the economy.
Two sources told Reuters last week that China would allow some people who test positive to stay at home as part of additional measures to be announced.
It would be a key change in strategy from earlier this year, when entire communities were locked down after a single positive case, sometimes for weeks.
Last month, simpler new quarantine rules required only the closure of affected buildings.
Since January 2020, China has classified COVID-19 as a category B infectious disease but managed it under category A protocols, giving local authorities the power to isolate patients and their close contacts and lock down areas.
Category A includes diseases such as bubonic plague and cholera, while category B includes SARS, AIDS and anthrax, and diseases such as influenza, leprosy and mumps fall under category C.
But more than 95% of the cases in China are asymptomatic and mild, and the death toll is very small. The state-run China Business News quoted an unnamed expert as saying on Sunday that sticking to a Type A strategy was not scientific in the circumstances.
Experts told China Business News that COVID-19 can be downgraded to Category B or even Category C management.
(Aside from the title, this story is unedited by NDTV staff and published via a syndicated feed.)
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