Covid-19 protests: China enters ‘new phase and task’ to control epidemic, says Vice Premier Sun Chunlan


China’s largest official responsible for Covid response Health officials said Wednesday that the country faces a “new phase and task” in controlling epidemics, the official Xinhua news agency reported — signaling a reshuffle in Beijing’s “zero Covid” strategy that has sparked days of nationwide protests.

“With the decrease in toxicity of the Omicron variant, the increase in the vaccination rate, and the experience accumulated in epidemic control and prevention, China is facing a new stage and a new task,” said Sun Chunlan, Chinese Vice Premier, Wednesday.

Not mentioning “Zero Covid”, her remarks, as reported by Xinhua News Agency, came a day after China’s National Health Commission (NHC) said that rectification of current epidemic measures was under way and that local governments should “respond to and resolve reasonable demands from the masses” in time. the appropriate.

In a meeting with the NHC on Wednesday, Sun also said a “people-centered approach” should be taken, China should strengthen “diagnosis, testing, treatment and quarantine” measures, and continue to boost vaccination rates — especially among the elderly. – And the promotion of medicines and medical resources.

The watered-down rhetoric comes as officials in Guangzhou signal a slow decline COVID-19 Containment measures, after the southern capital witnessed clashes between demonstrators and the police on Tuesday evening.

At a press briefing on Wednesday, Zhang Yi, a spokesperson for the Guangzhou Health Commission, said the city has adjusted risk levels and epidemic containment measures – to varying degrees – in all of its 11 districts.

Lockdowns have been lifted in four provinces – namely Liwan, Baiyun, Tianhe and Haizhou – while lockdowns remain in areas classified as high risk.

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Zhang said Guangzhou will stop sending all close contacts of Covid-19 patients to centralized quarantine facilities and will allow some to isolate at home if they meet the requirements.

The city will also not launch mass Covid-19 tests districtwide. “All provinces should conduct the tests in a scientific way,” Zhang added.

On Tuesday, Guangzhou reported 6,995 new domestic cases, Zhang said. The National Health Commission said on Wednesday that China reported 37,612 new domestically transmitted cases of infection nationwide on Tuesday.

China quickly moved to suppression of demonstrations People have erupted across the country against the government’s Covid-free policy over the past few days, deploying police forces to key protest sites and tightening internet censorship.

Protests were erupted by a A deadly fire last Thursday in Urumqithe capital of the western region of Xinjiang. The fire killed at least 10 people and injured nine in an apartment building – leading to public outrage after videos of the incident appeared to show that lockdown measures had delayed firefighters from reaching the victims.

Public protest is extremely rare in China, where the Communist Party has tightened its grip on all aspects of life, cracked down on dissent, removed much civil society, and built a high-tech surveillance state.

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