China to reopen borders, scrap quarantine for international travellers from Jan 8

Beijing: Days after it faced nationwide anti-government protests against its stringent zero-Covid policy, China in a major shift of its coronavirus response policies has announced that it will scrap quarantine for international travellers from January 8 as it reopens its borders and comes out of international isolation after nearly three years.

The National Health Commission (NHC) on Monday announced that COVID-19 management will be downgraded from Class A to B from next month, in the same category as less-severe diseases, such as Dengue fever.

China will cancel inbound quarantine for international arrivals starting from January 8, 2023, it said.

Previously passengers coming from abroad had to mandatorily stay in over two weeks of quarantine in government accommodations, which was gradually reduced to five days with three days’ of observation.

These announcements come at a time when the country is grappling with a sudden spurt in coronavirus infections fuelled by the Omicron variant after the Xi Jinping regime relaxed its stringent zero-Covid policy earlier this month following a wave of anti-government protests.

Officials argue that the Omicron variant was not as lethal as the Delta strain, which caused massive casualties all over the world.

COVID-19 has been managed as a top category ‘A’ infectious disease since 2020, putting it at par with bubonic plague and cholera, the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reported.

Under Chinese laws, authorities must impose the toughest restrictions such as quarantine and isolation of the infected and their close contacts, and lockdowns to contain those diseases.

At the border, the infected must be isolated and those who might be infected quarantined, depending on the incubation period.

The NHC also stopped announcing daily Covid cases from Sunday.

The novel coronavirus first emerged in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in December 2019 before it turned into a pandemic.