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Shenzhen eases COVID restrictions as China eases after protests


South China’s tech hub Shenzhen has ended mandatory Covid testing to enter public places, adding to a growing list of local authorities easing strict social restrictions imposed across the country since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. the pandemic three years ago.

Covid test results are no longer required in Shenzhen to enter public transport, pharmacies, parks and outdoor tourism sites, according tostatementsreleased by the local government on Saturday. China reported 32,206 new Covid cases for Friday.

Earlier this week, the capital Beijing and the southern industrial hub of Guangzhou lifted some of their restrictions even as virus infections stoked the worst outbreak since the crisis began.

This week, senior government officials signaled a shift away from the harshest lockdowns, shortly after anti-lockdown protests erupted across China. Its goal of eliminating the virus has become more difficult to enforce since the arrival of the more infectious omicron variant. It has increased the toll on the world’s second-largest economy and angered citizens with each increased attempt to crush Covid-19 by restricting travel.

Vice Premier Sun Chunlan, the leader who besides President Xi Jinping has been most closely associated with the Covid-Zero strategy, struck a ringtoneat a meeting this week, saying that the fight against the pandemic is at a new stage and that it comes with new tasks because the omicron is less pathogenic and more people are vaccinated.

The less lethal variant of omicron is now the most prevalent strain in China, Xi told European Council President Charles Michel in Beijing on Thursday, according to aEuropean Union officialwho was informed of the meeting. If confirmed, Xi’s comments would be the first public acknowledgment that the virus is weakening, adding to suggestions that Chinese leaders are moving towards further easing strict Covid-Zero policies.

Underscoring China’s cautious approach, Beijing’s municipal government on Saturday denied online rumors that the capital would begin a full reopening, including halting mass Covid testing and tracking, according to the official Beijing daily. Beijing.reported. As the situation stabilizes, cases are high and widespread, according to the report.

Other developments this week have prompted cautious optimism China’s Covid mood has taken a turn:

  • Authorities in the capital Beijing have said hospitals and public transport cannot reject people who are unable to provide negative Covid test results taken within 48 hours.
  • Beijing will now allow some people infected with the virus toisolate yourself at home, starting with the inhabitants of the most populated district of the city. Bus and metro operators have also been warned not to reject passengers who do not have negative Covid test results within 48 hours.
  • Chengdu has rescinded a rule requiring citizens to show negative test results to enter public places such as malls and supermarkets.
  • The southern province of Guangdong saidclose contactswho meet certain requirements can stay at home instead of going to centralized isolation facilities.
  • Guangzhou, the capital of later Guangdongreplacedconfinements with more targeted restrictions,similar to movingannounced in Zhengzhou, home to Apple Inc.’s largest manufacturing site in China.
  • Beijing, Guangzhou and Hebei Province have ended the requirement to register before residents can buy fever and cough medicine, antivirals and antibiotics, 21st Century Business HeraldreportedSaturday, citing government advisories.

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