China Eases Zero-Covid Policy in Response to Civil Protests and Deadly Fire in Xinjiang Region

1: china has announced a major easing of its zero-covid policy, allowing those infected or at risk of infection to quarantine at home rather than in state-run facilities. pcr test requirements have been scrapped for most public venues, except hospitals and schools, and the national health commission has outlawed the blocking of fire exits and doors. videos of the year have documented guards dragging residents out of their homes, including the incident in hangzhou last week.

2: the reforms come in response to civil protests against pandemic controls that occurred across the nation last week. china is currently experiencing its highest-ever daily infection rate of over 30,000 and vice-premier sun chunlan has signalled that the country is entering a new stage of the pandemic. a deadly fire in the western xinjiang region has also prompted widespread protests.

3: experts have warned that any relaxation of zero-covid measures must be done cautiously to avoid a sudden surge in cases that would be too much for the healthcare system to handle. vaccinating the elderly population is essential to successfully managing the pandemic, and professor ivan hung of hong kong university has suggested that this should be done before the chinese new year in 2023. critics claim the victims of the fire in xinjiang were unable to escape due to lockdown measures, though the chinese government denies this.

By Evey Lovelace

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