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|China: How is its zero-Covid strategy changing? |
(about 2 months later)
China's zero-Covid policy has been among the strictest approaches to tackling the pandemic anywhere in the world.
But a recent surge in infections is forcing it to reconsider how it deals with the pandemic.
How serious is the current wave?
The latest jump in daily cases, widely spread across the country, has been driven largely by the Omicron variant.
Tens of millions of people in China, including the largest city and financial centre Shanghai, have been put under lockdown.
Mass testing is being carried out, while makeshift hospitals and quarantine centres have been set up across the country.
Shanghai lockdown: Economy shaken by zero-Covid measures
China: Shanghai hospital struggles with Covid infections
However, compared with the United States and Europe, infection rates remain low.
In the week prior to 1 April, there were about 54,000 new cases in the whole of mainland China. In the US over a similar period, there were over 180,000 new infections according to official data.
How is China's policy changing?
As more infections are detected across the country, China's strict zero-Covid strategy is becoming increasingly difficult to sustain.
However, most of its principal elements remain in place:
|Travel to and from China is strictly limited, and there are restrictions on internal movement||Travel to and from China is strictly limited, and there are restrictions on internal movement|
|Travellers from abroad with permission to enter China are screened and sent to government-designated hotels for a mandatory quarantine of at least two weeks, followed by a further period of monitoring||Travellers from abroad with permission to enter China are screened and sent to government-designated hotels for a mandatory quarantine of at least two weeks, followed by a further period of monitoring|
|Regular community testing programmes are carried out and if infections are detected, residents can be evicted and sent to quarantine facilities (along with targeted area lockdowns)||Regular community testing programmes are carried out and if infections are detected, residents can be evicted and sent to quarantine facilities (along with targeted area lockdowns)|
|All non-essential businesses have been shut, apart from food shops and some other essential suppliers||All non-essential businesses have been shut, apart from food shops and some other essential suppliers|
|Schools are closed and public transport is suspended, with almost all vehicle movement banned||Schools are closed and public transport is suspended, with almost all vehicle movement banned|
Millions of people are currently under lockdown in China
As China's healthcare system is put under increasing strain, some regulations have been relaxed:
People with mild symptoms no longer need to attend designated hospitals, but they still need to isolate at centralised facilities
Quarantine-period rules have been reduced
Self-testing kits are being made available in stores across the country and online, but those who test positive will need to take PCR tests
China has approved antigen (lateral-flow) self-test kits after cases hit a two-year high
How successful has China's zero-Covid policy been?
China has had remarkable success containing the pandemic prior to the current outbreak.
Since the end of 2019, it has reported just over 4,600 deaths (according to Our World in Data).
In the United States, close to one million people have died having contracted Covid-19.
That's around three deaths per million people in mainland China, compared with about 3,000 in the US and 2,400 in the UK.
Reported infections in China have also been very low throughout the pandemic.
Concerns have been expressed about the accuracy of the official data, but it seems clear that both infection and death rates have been low when compared with other countries.
About 88% of the population is now fully vaccinated. Despite this, China is almost alone in adhering to strict zero-Covid policies.
|Read more from Reality Check||Read more from Reality Check|
|Send us your questions||Send us your questions|