Sun, 05 Feb 2023

Beijing [China], December 7 (ANI): China on Wednesday announced nationwide loosening of coronavirus restrictions, allowing home quarantine for covid close contacts and scrapping covid test rule in most public venues, state media said.

This comes less than two weeks after largescale scale protests gripped the country against the zero covid policy. This announcement has brought relief to millions of people under various restrictions since the start of the pandemic.

"China further adjusts and optimizes COVID response by releasing 10 new measures including allowing infections with mild or no symptoms to take home quarantine and reduce the frequency of nucleic acid testing," state media outlet Global Times said in a tweet while quoting the country's Joint Prevention and Control Mechanism of the State Council.

In the last week of November, hundreds of people in Shanghai, China's biggest city and financial center, began publicly protesting against the government's strict Covid-19 measures.

Demonstrators held blank banners - to evade arrest and minimize risk - and chanted slogans such as "Down with Communist Party!" and "Down with Xi Jinping!", the country's leader, according to New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW).

On November 27, university students across the country gathered on their campuses to demonstrate, and that night, hundreds of people in Wuhan, where Covid-19 originated, Chengdu, Beijing, and other large cities, took to the streets.

The protest in Shanghai was in response to a November 24 fire at an apartment building in Urumqi, the capital of China's northwest Xinjiang region, in which at least 10 people were killed.

Media reports suspected that residents were prevented from escaping the blaze due to pandemic control barriers, and Covid-related restrictions hampered emergency responders.

Later, Urumqi residents gathered in front of a government administration building to mourn the deaths and protest Covid restrictions, which have kept the city under lockdown for over three months.

"Chinese authorities have badly underestimated the willingness of people across China to risk all to have their rights and liberties respected," said Yaqiu Wang, senior China researcher at Human Rights Watch.

"People in China with incredible courage are showing the Chinese Communist Party and the world that they, like everyone else, are entitled to have a say in how they are governed," Yaqiu added. (ANI)

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