China began resuming normal life on Sunday after three years of strict pandemic management when it implemented its downgraded COVID-19 measures.
The nation reopened its border ports for the transportation of cargo and visitors coming and going. Additionally, it resumed services for Chinese citizens to apply for business and leisure-related passports and visas.
The inbound visitors’ quarantine and on-site COVID-19 tests, as well as the preventative disinfection of imported goods and sampling inspection of cold-chain food, were eliminated.
Mass COVID-19 tests and quarantine measures will no longer be enforced by the nation. The identification of close contacts and the designation of high-risk and low-risk locations have also been discontinued.
As the country reached a full vaccination rate of over 90% and the COVID-19 virus exhibited less severity, China downgraded COVID-19 management from Class A to Class B and removed it from quarantinable infectious disease management. This decision was made in response to a variety of recent policy shifts regarding the virus.
COVID-19 was a Class-B infectious disease during the pandemic, but China’s strict quarantine and frequent epidemiological surveys made it subject to the same preventative and control measures as a Class-A infectious disease.
40 infectious diseases that must be reported have been divided into three categories in China: Class A, Class B, and Class C. Class A infectious diseases include cholera and plague. Class B infectious diseases include AIDS, tuberculosis, and SARS. Mumps and influenza are examples of Class C infectious diseases.
According to Liang Wannian, head of the COVID-19 response expert panel under China’s National Health Commission (NHC), an infectious disease is categorized based on a comprehensive assessment of multiple factors, such as pathogen characteristics, symptoms, how far and fast it can spread, how much it harms health, its social and economic influence, group immunity, and the capability of the health system.
Liang said, “At the outbreak of the pandemic, we categorized COVID-19 as a Class B disease but applied Class A management because of its rapid spread.” He also said that because they didn’t know much about the disease at the beginning, such management was necessary to protect people.
Liang explained that a number of crucial conditions, such as a less lethal virus mutation, a high vaccination rate, and the expanding support for the country’s epidemic response, have changed recently, providing a solid foundation for new adjustments.
According to Liang, “We are ready to downgrade it to Class B management to respond to the infections in a more precise and scientific manner.”
The expert also emphasized that the country’s downgraded management does not imply that it has stopped all virus prevention efforts or has no control over them.
Liang stated, “It means we are stepping up our capacity to respond to epidemics and provide health services.”
To better describe the disease, China changed the Chinese term for COVID-19 from “novel coronavirus pneumonia” to “novel coronavirus infection” in December.
Stepped-up COVID-19 response
Saturday saw the release of the NHC’s 10th edition of the COVID-19 infection prevention and control guidelines, which emphasized the significance of increasing vaccination rates among high-risk groups like the elderly.
It increased capabilities for monitoring and early warning, such as regular monitoring of virus mutation, unknown pneumonia, hospitals, urban wastewater, and additional emergency measures like monitoring among key groups.
Communities will no longer undergo mass COVID-19 tests; those who require them will be provided.
Liang stated, “For the time being, medical treatment for severe cases is our priority.” He emphasized the significance of further strengthening vaccination, virus monitoring, and suburban healthcare capabilities.
Liang stated, “For any contagious disease like this, it depends on the synergy coming from the government, society, all the organizations, and each one of us.” “It’s not enough to only depend on the government,” he said.