On Tuesday, China halved the length of its mandatory quarantine for incoming international travelers – down to a 14-day week – in the biggest change to its Covid-19 containment policy to date, signaling a gradual reopening of its borders.
Under the updated policy, international travelers will need to quarantine for seven days in a government-designated facility, usually a hotel, followed by another three days of home isolation.
The country reported one locally transmitted Covid case and 21 asymptomatic cases on Monday.
Tuesday’s announcement marks a huge shift in China’s current strict policies for international travellers, but the restrictions – a total of 10 days of movement restrictions – are still relatively tough, especially compared to countries that have withdrawn entirely. quarantine and testing requirements.
China closed its borders at the end of March 2020 and has since allowed only a handful of international flights into the country, including special and charter flights.
Questions remain over the new policy: on the one hand, it may take months before international passenger air traffic normalizes, although many airlines are in talks with the Chinese aviation authority civilian to resume flights.
Additionally, it remains to be seen whether the new changes are scaled down in the event of a new outbreak, especially if it ends up being tied to an inbound international flight.
The official announcement, shared by the official Xinhua news agency, said that under the updated Covid-19 control protocol, “close and incoming contacts [travellers] will be under medical observation in isolation at designated sites for seven days plus three days of home medical monitoring.”
“This is a clear reduction in duration from the 14 days of medical observation in isolation at designated sites plus seven days of home health monitoring stipulated by the previous edition of the protocol,” added the Xinhua report.
He added that people ‘deemed to have had close contact with close contacts of Covid-19’ will face seven days of medical observation in quarantine at home, instead of seven days of medical observation in isolation at sites. appointed.
“Under the new protocol, China will increase the frequency of nucleic acid testing for people in direct contact with [travellers]goods and environments to once a day,” he added.
Wang Liping, a researcher with the communication and prevention division of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, told state media that the shortening of the quarantine period does not mean a “loosening” of prevention and control measures. but further optimization of prevention and control measures according to the characteristics of the Omicron variant.
The new rules have been welcomed by US, UK and European lobby groups in China, Reuters reported.
“We hope this will help increase trade and stem the outflow of international talent, some of whom come after three years of being separated from family and friends overseas,” the House told Reuters. of British commerce in China.