Global Times - Weekend

China optimizes COVID measures, shortens quarantine time for intl arrivals

- By GT staff reporters

China made its latest move in scientific and precise epidemic control and prevention work to fight the COVID-19 epidemic by releasing 20 optimized measures on Friday. These include shortened quarantine periods for internatio­nal arrivals and cancelatio­n of circuit breakers for inbound flights in order to better carry out scientific and precise epidemic control and prevention work under the dynamic zero-COVID strategy while adapting the strategy to the latest global pandemic situation and the characteri­stics of the virus in a timely manner.

The newest steps made bold adjustment­s in some of China’s epidemic-management measures, including shortened quarantine periods for internatio­nal arrivals and close contacts of confirmed cases from 7+3 (seven days of centralize­d quarantine and three days of health observatio­n at home) to 5+3.

The measures required the timely screening of close contacts of confirmed cases, but no longer required the screening of close contacts of close contacts, or secondary contacts.

The circuit breaker mechanism on inbound flights to China upon detecting positive cases on board has also been canceled.

Passengers of inbound flights to China will only need to provide one negative nucleic acid test result within the past 48 hours instead of two, according to the latest measures.

The move came one day after the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee met on Thursday to hear a report on the COVID-19 response.

Chinese analysts said Friday the 20 measures are based on hard-earned scientific experience gained by China over the past three years in combating the virus, aim to achieve a better balance of protecting people’s lives and ensuring production and restoring normal life and will have a great impact on future

epidemic prevention and control work.

Timely adaptation, prepare for the future

The measures were optimized as the SAR-CoV-2 is continuing to mutate, the global epidemic is still spreading, and flare-ups are emerging in some domestic places. These facts require Chinese authoritie­s to adapt to the characteri­stics of the rapid spread of the virus, take more resolute and decisive measures to curb the spread of the epidemic as soon as possible, and concentrat­e on fighting the epidemic in key areas, according to a statement released by the Joint Prevention and Control Mechanism of the State Council on Friday.

Optimizing the measures does not mean China is relaxing its epidemic control and prevention, and still less that China is letting go or “laying back” on epidemic control and prevention, but that China is adapting to the new characteri­stics of the epidemic situation and the virus while sticking to the existing strategy in order to increase the scientific nature and the precisenes­s of the epidemic control and prevention work, so that people’s lives and health can be protected to the utmost and the impact on the economy and society can be kept a minimum, read the statement.

Tan Xiaodong, an expert on public health from Wuhan University, said on Friday that the 20 measures reflected Chinese authoritie­s’ comprehens­ive review and analysis of the past three years’ experience in combating the epidemic. It is based on the precise analysis and the measures show more significan­ce in guiding future epidemic prevention and control, and will have a great impact on future steps, Tan noted.

China has constantly optimized its prevention and control measures in line with the global epidemic situation, and on the condition of ensuring safety for people’s lives, Tan noted. “So we take a step-by-step, and steady explorator­y form. What we need now is everyone’s patience and confidence. On the basis of protecting our own lives and safety, taking small steps forward, this is the most hopeful way to achieve our goal,” Tan said.

Although the point for China to totally reopen has not come yet, every step the Chinese government takes, whether it is adjusting its policies or promoting mass vaccinatio­n, is in accordance with the situation and aimed at making preparatio­ns for future reopening, an expert in the epidemic prevention and control system told the Global Times on condition of anonymity on Friday. Omicron, the main dominant variant of SAR-CoV-2, has shown an increasing­ly fast spreading speed but decreasing severity. It is still difficult to predict whether a faster mutation will emerge, the expert said.

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