China shortens COVID-19 quarantine times, eases flight curbs

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China on Friday eased some of its COVID-19 curbs, including shortening by two days quarantine times for close contacts of cases and for inbound travelers and scrapping a penalty on airlines that bring in infected passengers.

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The new rules were among the 20 measures examined at the first meeting of the new top leadership body of the ruling Communist Party on Thursday, amid a new push to optimize and improve COVID-19 control policies.

Under the new rules, quarantine for close contacts will be cut to five days at a centralized location plus three days at home, from seven days centralized and three days at home.

A similar shortening of quarantine rules was made for inbound travelers, according to the revised rules, which the National Health Commission (NHC) published on its website.

The suspension of international flight routes due to the detection of infected passengers was also abolished, while for inbound travelers, the pre-departure COVID-19 test requirement was cut to once in 48 hours from twice.

The party’s Politburo Standing Committee stressed the need to minimize the impact of China’s zero-COVID-19 measures on the economy while not relaxing the clamp-down on outbreaks.

In what appeared to be another reform to simplify the campaign against the coronavirus, the NHC adjusted its classification of risky areas to “high” and “low” risk, from “high,” “medium” and “low” previously.

The NHC said the number of people affected by COVID measures should be minimized.

Secondary close contacts would no longer have to be identified although close contacts would still be, the health authority said.

Every effort should also be made to ensure smooth logistics for firms and industrial parks during outbreaks and important firms should not be arbitrarily required to suspend production.

China would also draw up a plan to accelerate vaccination, especially for the elderly, the NHC said.

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