On Wednesday, the Chinese National Health Commission announced a major easing from the rigid “zero COVID” strategy with which the country has dealt with the pandemic in recent years, which envisaged the complete elimination of all outbreaks with very harsh lockdowns and mass on the population.
The announcement comes after the large and unprecedented protests in recent weeks by the population against lockdowns and restrictions, in some cases even violent, which have been the greatest form of dissent in China towards the regime of President Xi Jinping.
Under the new rules, asymptomatic coronavirus-positive people and those with mild symptoms of COVID-19 will be able to self-isolate and treat themselves at home, rather than in specially set up field hospitals by the government, as has been the case up to now. The lockdowns will no longer affect entire neighborhoods – and therefore millions of people – for each positive case, but will eventually be limited to entire buildings at most, or to a single floor or apartment.
Among other announced measures, it will no longer be necessary to present negative tests for the coronavirus to access most public places and schools where there have been no outbreaks will be able to continue face-to-face teaching. Among other things, the government has also announced that the process of vaccinating the elderly will be accelerated.
In the statement announcing the easing of restrictions, the commission acknowledged for the first time that the vast majority of coronavirus infections are asymptomatic or cause mild symptoms, and therefore do not require specific health treatments. Positive people will eventually be transferred to hospitals only if their conditions worsen.