With his zero-COVID policy, China’s head of state and party leader Xi Jingping is not only threatening the Chinese economy, but also increasingly antagonizing the population. A report by the Chinese state news agency Yicai indicates that the Communist Party is now reconsidering this policy.
As the virus weakens, conditions are improving for COVID-19 to be downgraded to a serious contagious disease, the Yicai report said. More than 95 percent of cases in China are now asymptomatic and mild, and the mortality rate is very low. Under these circumstances, the classification of the virus in category A no longer corresponds to scientific knowledge.
Corona on a par with the flu?
The protocols for infectious diseases of category A form the legal basis for the strict corona measures. Category A diseases in China include bubonic plague and cholera, while SARS, AIDS and anthrax fall under category B. Category C includes influenza, leprosy and mumps, among others.
The Yicai report suggests that Corona could soon be downgraded to Category B or even Category C. The National Health Commission, China’s top health authority, is responsible for classifying infectious diseases. However, any change requires government approval.
Several Chinese cities have now further relaxed their corona rules. In the capital Beijing and Shanghai, residents are no longer required to present a negative test result that is no more than 48 hours old in order to use public transport. In the financial hub of Shanghai, which has been under lockdown for months this year, residents are now able to enter outdoor areas such as parks and tourist attractions without a recent test.
More normality also in Ürümqi
Also in the city of Wuhan, where the corona virus was first detected at the end of 2019, and in the city of Shandong, there is no longer a mandatory test for public transport. The city of Hangzhou goes one step further. It ends the regular mass tests for the ten million inhabitants. Excluded from the easing are people who attend or live in care facilities, schools and kindergartens.
Are the nationwide protests following the Ürümqi fire causing the Chinese Communist Party to change course?
In the northwestern city of Ürümqi, supermarkets, hotels, restaurants and ski resorts have reopened. The city sparked nationwide protests after a house fire killed 10 people. Critics blamed the corona lockdowns for the fact that people could not be saved from the fire. What began with protests against the strict measures quickly turned against President Xi and the Communist Party in general.
rb/qu (AFP, AP, Reuters)