China mulls downgrading Covid-19 status as protests continue
After increasing protests over China’s zero-Covid policy, the government is reportedly considering downgrading its management of the virus. Currently, the harshest restrictions are in place for Covid-19, as it remains classified as a serious contagious disease. But, as the situation inside the country allegedly improved, state media outlet Yicai become the first to report the possible shift in the handling of the virus.
According to Reuters, such a downgrade would allow the local governments to be relieved of their duties in implementing lockdowns, freeing up the economy once again. The move to downgrade the Covid situation in China comes as global stocks posted a third straight day of losses yesterday. A downgrade would likely be seen as a relief to many as the looming recession has dampened the global outlook. Bloomberg noted that China’s current restrictions haven’t helped the country.
“While China’s emergence from almost three years of pandemic isolation is paved with uncertainty, technical charts signal Chinese stocks may enjoy some smooth gains as the economy reopens.”
”The incremental easing of Covid restrictions in cities from Beijing to Hangzhou has brightened the outlook for Chinese stocks, and both onshore and offshore gauges may rise toward levels reached earlier this year when optimism over an end to lockdowns and an economic recovery drove gains.”
China has classified the pandemic as a Category B infectious disease since January 2020 but has managed it under Category A protocols. Such a shift in management has given local authorities the power to put patients and their close contacts into quarantine and lockdown affected areas. Other Category A diseases normally include bubonic plague and cholera. Category B diseases (in which Covid is classified) include SARS, AIDS, and anthrax.
But, as more than 95% of the cases in China are asymptomatic and mild, with a low fatality rate, critics of the government’s handling of the pandemic say Class A management is not in line with science. Moreover, Vice Premier Sun Chunlan seemed to acknowledge last week that the Omicron variant of the Covid virus has weakened, becoming the first high-ranking official to publicly recognise the need for a downgrade.
The State Council or cabinet must approve of any adjustments to the management of infectious diseases by the National Health Commission, with some insiders saying that the downgrade could happen as early as this week.
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