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China downgrades Covid; to reopen borders, drop Covid quarantine from January 8
No more mandatory quarantine. No more restrictions on flights. A negative testing result 48 hours before the trip is the only requirement to travel to China.
China published two notices on the night of Monday, Dec. 26, announcing major policy changes regarding Covid-19. Below are some of the major policy changes.
Effective immediately, China renames "novel coronavirus pneumonia" to "novel coronavirus infection," dropping the word "pneumonia" from its official name of Covid-19.
Covid-19 has been designated as a Category B infectious disease but has been managed as the top, most serious Category A infectious disease since 2020. Starting Jan 8, 2023, Covid-19 will be managed as a Category B infectious disease, paving the way for dropping restrictions.
[Everything below will be effective from Jan 8, 2023.]
As a result of Covid-19 being managed as a Category B infectious disease starting Jan 8, 2023, according to China’s Infectious Disease Prevention and Control law, China will no longer implement quarantine measures for people infected with Covid-19; no longer determine close contacts; no longer designate high- and low-risk areas; adjust its testing of Covid-19 to voluntary testing-based; adjust the frequency and content of relevant information release;
According to China’s Frontier Health and Quarantine Law, China will no longer
impose relevant quarantine measures on inbound personnel and goods.
The nucleic acid/PCR testing will be conducted 48 hours before starting the trip to China. Those with negative results can come to China without applying for a health code from Chinese embassies/consulates abroad.
If the testing result is positive, the person should travel to China after the result has turned negative.
China will eliminate nucleic acid/PCR testing and centralized quarantine upon entry. If the health declaration is normal and there is no abnormality in the routine quarantine at the customs port, the person will be released to enter China.
China will eliminate the so-called "Five One" policy, the occupancy requirement on flights, and other restrictions on the number of flights. Airlines are still required to take in-flight precautions, and passengers are still required to mask themselves. (The “Five One” policy allowed Chinese mainland carriers to fly just one flight a week on one route to any country and foreign airlines to operate just one flight a week to China. Most flights into China have been limited to filling 75% of their seats.)
China will further optimize the arrangements for foreigners coming to China for resumption of work and production, business, study, family visits, and reunion, and provide corresponding visa convenience.
China will gradually resume the entry and exit of passengers at waterways and land ports.
China will resume Chinese citizens' outbound travel in an orderly manner according to the international epidemic situation and the capacity of various services.
The official notice gave the following as the background of the policy change
Since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus infection, the Party Central Committee, with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core, has attached great importance to the prevention and control of the epidemic, comprehensively strengthened the centralized and unified leadership of the prevention and control work, and clearly defined the institutional mechanism, strategic principles, objectives and tasks, and work requirements for the prevention and control of the epidemic, providing fundamental guidelines and scientific guidance for winning the People's War and the Overall War, the Interdiction War, and the normalization in the prevention and control of the epidemic.
The epidemic prevention and control in China have always adhered to “people first” and “life first,” with all regions and departments working closely together, performing their duties, optimizing and adjusting prevention and control measures dynamically according to the situation, and constantly improving scientific and precise prevention and control.
1.4 billion people have fought the epidemic with one heart and with perseverance and dedication, effectively responding to the impact of five waves of global epidemics, successfully avoiding the widespread spread of the relatively strongly-pathogenic original strain and the Delta strain, and greatly reducing serious illnesses and deaths. The epidemics and deaths were greatly reduced, and valuable time was gained for the development and application of vaccines and drugs, as well as the preparation of medical resources.
China has maintained the lowest epidemic and death rates in the world, steadily improved people's health, and achieved the best results in the world in integrating economic development and epidemic prevention and control, strongly demonstrating the role of a responsible power and creating a miracle of prevention and control in the history of human struggle against diseases.
At present, with the virus mutation, changes in the epidemic, the popularity of vaccination, and the accumulation of experience in prevention and control, China's prevention and control of novel coronavirus infections face new situations and new tasks. The prevention and control work has entered a new stage.
From the situation of virus mutation, domestic and foreign experts generally believe that the general direction of virus mutation is: it will become less pathogenic, more upper respiratory tract infections, with a shorter incubation period, the novel coronavirus will exist in nature for a long time, its pathogenicity will be significantly reduced, and the resulting disease will gradually evolve into a common respiratory infectious disease.
Although the number of infections is high, the proportion of asymptomatic infections and mild cases is over 90%, and the rate of serious illness and death is extremely low. From the perspective of China's foundation in prevention and control, China has accumulated more than 3.4 billion doses of vaccination against the novel coronavirus, with a full vaccination rate of more than 90% for people over three years old; progress has been made in the research and development of specific antiviral drugs at home and abroad, and China has screened clinically effective prescriptions such as "three drugs and three prescriptions" (of traditional Chinese medicine). The medical and health personnel have accumulated rich experience in epidemic prevention & control and treatment, and the prevention and control capability has been significantly improved.
After a comprehensive assessment of the virus mutation, the epidemic situation, and China's foundation in prevention and control foundation, China has (met) the basic conditions to adjust the novel coronavirus infection from "designated as Category B but managed under Category A" to "designated as Category B and managed under Category B."