Health workers take swab samples from residents. Picture used for illustrative purposes only
Although daily cases hover near all-time highs, some cities are taking steps to loosen COVID-19 testing requirements and quarantine rules as China looks to make its zero-COVID policy more targeted amid an economic slowdown and public frustration that has boiled over into unrest.
Three years into the pandemic, China has been a global outlier with its zero-tolerance approach towards COVID that has seen it enforce lockdowns and frequent virus testing. It says the measures are needed to save lives and avoid overwhelming its healthcare system.
China began tweaking its approach last month, urging localities to become more targeted. Initial reactions, however, were marked with confusion and even tighter lockdowns as cities scrambled to keep a lid on rising cases.
At some booths, residents grumbled about hour-long queues for the tests due to the closures.
Then a deadly apartment fire last month in the far western city of Urumqi sparked dozens of protests against COVID curbs in a wave unprecedented in mainland China since President Xi Jinping took power in 2012. Cities including Guangzhou and Beijing have since taken the lead in making changes.
On Saturday, the southern city of Shenzhen announced it would no longer require people to show a negative COVID test result to use public transport or enter parks, following similar moves by Chengdu and Tianjin, among China's biggest cities.
Many testing booths in the Chinese capital of Beijing have also been shut, as the city stops demanding negative test results as a condition to enter places such as supermarkets and prepares to do so for subways from Monday, though many other venues including offices still have the requirement.
Shenzhen announced it would no longer require people to show a negative COVID test result to use public transport.
A video showing workers in Beijing removing a testing booth by crane on to a truck went viral on Chinese social media on Friday.
"This should have been taken away earlier!," said one commentator. "Banished to history," said another.
Reuters was not able verify the authenticity of the footage. At some of the remaining booths, however, residents grumbled about hour-long queues for the tests due to the closures.
The domestic outbreak in China — where the disease first emerged last year -- had largely been brought under control but then a fresh batch of cases was detected in the capital last week.
Anyone who has been near the Xinfad market since May 30, along with their close contacts, will be quarantined at home for 14 days and tested at least twice, said city government official Zhang Ge.
Concern is growing of a second wave of the pandemic, which has infected more than 7.66 million people worldwide and killed more than 420,000, even in many countries that seemed to have curbed its spread.
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The court indicated that he based his claim on a copy of the medical report, which was not sufficient to prove that the injury occurred as a result of work.