Beijing, Dec 26 (EFE).- China is due to drop Covid-19 quarantine rules for travelers arriving from overseas as of January 8 in a significant opening up of its borders and dismantling of the draconian zero tolerance policies in place since the early days of the pandemic.
National Health Commission authorities said on official social media channels restrictions to international air traffic, which has dropped to less than 5% of pre-pandemic levels in the last two years, will be lifted.
Under the new rule, people traveling to China from overseas will not have to get the so-called green health code before entering China but would have to produce a negative PCR test from the last 48 hours.
Visas procedures for foreign citizens who want to visit China are also becoming easier, after more than two years in which the granting of travel permits to China has been limited.
To shift the policy, the Commission declared that Covid-19 is no longer to be considered a category A disease, the most dangerous level which requires severe measures of containment, but will be considered as a category B disease instead.
Currently, travelers arriving from abroad would have to have to undergo an eight-day quarantine and monitoring period.
In recent weeks, China’s government has been easing its strict zero-Covid policy, one of the world’s strictest approaches to the pandemic and which remained in place even as many other countries scrapped measures such as obligatory masks and social distancing.
China announced Sunday it would stop publishing the daily report on new Covid-19 cases and deaths it has kept since the beginning of 2020 after the spread of the virus across the country cast doubt on the reliability of the official figures.
Health authorities have also stopped disclosing the number of infections that, according to their standards, were considered asymptomatic. These were only reported in the daily report but never added to the official case balances, to which only those infected who did present the required symptoms were added.
In addition, the end of the obligation to undergo routine PCR tests for most of the population resulted in significantly lower detection of cases than the actual spread of the virus, since those who were asymptomatic and those with mild symptoms received the green light from the government to quarantine at home.
The shifts came after the fed-up with restrictions led to protests in various parts of the country, which were also fueled by the death of 10 people in a confined building in Urumqi (northwest).EFE