China Relents On More Zero-COVID Restrictions After Wave Of Protests Sweeps Across The Country

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Micaela Burrow Investigative Reporter, Defense
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Chinese authorities are moving to ease some rules aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19 after a week of nationwide protests against the government’s draconian pandemic elimination regime, Reuters reported Thursday.

Although COVID-19 cases in China remain near record highs, several cities have lifted lockdown policies and are preparing to remove additional restrictions and mass testing requirements, Reuters reported, citing sources. City officials have not mentioned the protests that erupted Friday in an expression of anger against Chinese General Secretary Xi Jinping’s draconian “Zero-Covid” lockdown regime, and have demonstrated historic levels of public rebellion.

“We remain committed to a people-first and life-first philosophy,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said Thursday. Beijing has “adjusted our response measures in light of the latest developments and achieved major progress in both COVID response and socioeconomic development,” he continued. (RELATED: Are The Anti-Lockdown Protests Rocking China A Threat To Xi’s Rule?)

Guangzhou, one of China’s largest population centers and the site of violent clashes between protesters and riot police on Tuesday, announced lifting of lockdowns in at least seven districts Wednesday, Reuters reported. One district said it would allow schools, restaurants and businesses to reopen.

Chongqing and Zhengzhou also announced easing of COVID-19 curbs, Reuters reported. China may allow some people who test positive for the virus to quarantine at home instead of at separate facilities, where “conditions can be grim to say the least,” Tom Simpson, managing director for China at the China-Britain Business Council and resident of Beijing, told the outlet.

Although city authorities arrested and detained an unknown number of protesters, they began easing some COVID-19 restrictions, including one that barred tenants in apartment complexes where infections break out from leaving their compound, as early as Monday after a weekend of protests, according to media reports. The lifting of restrictions appeared aimed at quelling public anger over being forced to stay in their apartments for weeks at a time and subjected to intense surveillance.

Chinese Vice Premier Sun Chunlan, who oversees China’s national pandemic restriction policy, claimed the threat from the virus had decreased despite a high COVID-19 infection rate, Reuters reported.

China reported 36,061 new COVID-19 infections Wednesday, of which were 31,911 asymptomatic, after hitting a record 40,052 cases on Monday, according to Reuters.

Earlier in November, China announced 20 new “optimization” measures, including shortening the required quarantine period for inbound and domestic travelers and no longer seeking to identify secondary close contacts of individuals who test positive for the virus.

“Facts have proved that China’s COVID response and policy have been science-based, correct and effective,” Lijian said in his Thursday remarks.

The Chinese Embassy and foreign ministry did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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