China entering 'new stage and mission' for Covid-19 controls, says official, following protests
CNN —China’s most senior official in charge of its Covid response told health officials Wednesday that the country faced a “new stage and mission” in pandemic controls, state media Xinhua reported – potentially indicating an adjustment to Beijing’s “zero-Covid” strategy which has sparked days of nationwide protests.
“With the decreasing toxicity of the Omicron variant, the increasing vaccination rate and the accumulating experience of outbreak control and prevention, China’s pandemic containment faces new stage and mission,” Sun Chunlan, China’s vice premier, said Wednesday, according to Xinhua.
Chinese Vice Premier Sun Chunlan made no mention of "zero-Covid" her remarks.
Chine Nouvelle/Sipa/ShutterstockThe softened rhetoric comes as officials in Guangzhou indicated an inching towards easing Covid-19 containment measures, after the southern metropolis saw protesters clash with police on Tuesday evening.
Lockdowns in four districts – namely Liwan, Baiyun, Tianhe and Haizhu – have been lifted, while lockdowns remain in areas designated as high-risk.
Guangzhou will stop sending all close contacts of Covid-19 patients to central quarantine facilities and allow some to isolate at home if they meet the requirements, Zhang said.
The city will also no longer launch district-wide mass Covid-19 testing.
“All districts should conduct testing in a scientific manner,” Zhang added.
On Tuesday, Guangzhou reported 6,995 new local cases, Zhang said.
China reported 37,612 new local cases nationwide on Tuesday, the NHC said Wednesday.
China has moved quickly to suppress demonstrations that erupted across the country against the government’s zero-Covid policy over the past few days, deploying police forces at key protest sites and tightening online censorship.
The protests were triggered by a deadly fire last Thursday in Urumqi, the capital of the far western region of Xinjiang.