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China will drop COVID restrictions and quarantines for visitors starting in January

COVID-19 rapid testRapid test device for COVID-19.

Massimiliano Finzi/Getty Images

  • Visitors to China will no longer be subject to strict COVID restrictions starting January 8.
  • China is ending quarantine requirements for visitors, and will begin managing COVID as a Class B disease.
  • The announcement comes after China eased domestic measures, even as cases skyrocketed.

Travelers to China will soon not have to quarantine and abide by previous COVID measures, according to China’s National Health Commission.

The updated guidance comes after rare protests roiled the country over a strict domestic “zero-COVID” policy, which China ultimately moved to ease in early December. Now, visitors will also no longer have to abide by previous COVID restrictions.

Previously, travelers had been subject to mandatory quarantines as long as 10 days, although the latest policies required a five-day hotel quarantine and then three days of home isolation, according to CNN. Now, starting January 8, none of that will be required — although visitors will still have to show a negative PCR test result from 48 hours before travel, but will not need to submit it ahead of time.

China is also reclassifying COVID and managing it as Class B, instead of Class A, disease. China will instead focus on increasing vaccination among vulnerable populations, epidemic education, and investing in medicine, among other measures.

Part of that is easing restrictions for visitors to China — and, according to NHC, “the outbound travel of Chinese citizens will be resumed in an orderly manner.”

It marks another turning point in the globe’s response to the pandemic. China had clung to tight restrictions longer than many areas, battering the economy and angering citizens. But easing restrictions has also led to an explosion in cases, with the government no longer making daily reports on cases. According to the Financial Times, officials in China estimated that 250 million people were infected in just the first 20 days of December — amounting to 18% of the population.

At the same time, the NHC is no longer counting asymptomatic cases, saying that it’s impossible to do so. As of December 19, there were 116,634 confirmed cases in China, according to the World Health Organization, with 28,493 new cases in the prior 24 hours.

Read the original article on Business Insider