China has signalled a shift in its Covid stance as it moves to ease some virus restrictions despite high daily case numbers. Dozens of districts in Shanghai and Guangzhou, cities that have seen rising cases, were released from lockdown measures on Thursday. The country’s vice-premier also announced that the country was facing a “new situation”.
It comes as China is seeing mass protests against its zero-Covid policy. The unrest was triggered by a fire in a high-rise block in the western Xinjiang region that killed 10 people last week. Many Chinese believe long-running Covid restrictions in the city contributed to the deaths, although the authorities deny this.
It led to days of widespread protests across various cities, which have since ebbed amid heavy a heavy police presence. Restrictions in major cities like Guangzhou were abrupted lifted on Wednesday, hours after the city saw violent protests that resulted in clashes between police and protesters. A community in the capital Beijing also allowed Covid cases with mild symptoms to isolate at home, according to a Reuters report – a far cry from protocols earlier this year which saw entire buildings and communities locked down, sometimes as a result of just one positive case. Other major cities like Shanghai and Chongqing also saw some rules relaxed.