China relaxes entry restrictions and shortens quarantines

China has abbreviated the quarantine to new arrivals and expanded the issuance of visas. The measures announced this Tuesday will alleviate the odyssey, as long as it is costly, that has meant entering the country since two and a half years ago the coronavirus pandemic.

Travelers will bear from now on hardly a week of isolation in a hotel and another three days of observation at home, says the National Health Commission. They are still the most restrictive regulations in a world that lives with the virus, but they are a huge relief. Until now, the absence of a national protocol allowed provincial governments to set their strategy and require up to three or four weeks of quarantine. New features also include shorter isolations for direct contacts of the positives and the lowering of the threshold of cycles in the tests PCR from 40 to 35, which is already applied by most countries. A lower threshold makes a negative result more likely.

China also now allows foreigners to visit direct relatives in the country and has exempted those who already had a residence permit from the cumbersome process that required a letter of invitation from local authorities.

wall against covid

China raised a wall to isolate yourself from a world devastated by covid and stopped shipping tourist and work visas. Only foreigners who had residence before the pandemic and other exceptional cases have been able to return after spending fortunes on plane tickets, undergoing countless medical tests and enduring very long quarantines. The first problem, with few flights and frequently canceled at the last minute, remains. A round trip ticket between Spain and China did not cost more than 600 euros before the pandemic and weeks ago 4,000 euros were paid for a single journey. China announced earlier this month that it will allow more international routes and already negotiates with foreign airlines the resumption of its services.

The new entry laxity coincides with the subjugation of the virus in Shanghai and Beijing. On Monday, for the first time in four months, the main cities of the country had no cases. Shanghai already allows restaurants to serve food inside and schools have reopened in Beijing after quelling outbreaks that, to varying degrees, had disrupted daily life. Shanghai locked up its 25 million citizens at home for more than two months while Pekingese have only lamented the temporary closure of bars, restaurants and other public spaces. Both, in their own way, have confirmed that also the variant omicron it can be overcome, contrary to what numerous voices from the West have assured. The cost debate is pending. It seems reasonable if the outbreak is attacked promptly and forcefully, as Beijing did, and disproportionate if it slacks off, as happened in Shanghai. The authorities of the latter have defended that avoidable torture as “completely correct” after declaring victory “in the people’s war” against the virus.

Zero tolerance policy

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The head of the Beijing party, Cai Qi, set fire to social networks on Monday after suggesting in a local newspaper that the zero tolerance policy would be extended for another five years. His words were erased minutes later and doubts persist today as to whether it was an “editing error”, as the media explained, or if it was intended to measure the country’s patience. If it was the second, it was clear that it is not enough.

Yesterday, the country registered barely twenty cases. Five of them belong to the district of shenzhen, the technological macro-city of the south, closest to Hong Kong. The outbreak cast doubt on President Xi Jinping’s trip to the former colony to celebrate the 25th anniversary of his return to the motherland on Friday.

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