Some Chinese Cities Ease Covid-Testing Protocols
Some Chinese cities have either scrapped or relaxed their Covid-19 testing mandates after China emerged from its worst regional outbreaks, with officials told not to cause too much disruption to people’s lives while staying vigilant about the virus. China, whose economy has been hit hard by Covid restrictions during March to May, including a lockdown in Shanghai, faces high stakes to prevent another major outbreak. It has demanded big cities and ports of entry to boost testing capacity to make sure they can detect the highly transmissible Omicron variant early. While cities such as Beijing and Shanghai that still have sporadic cases require citizens to test every few days, concerns have grown that frequent testing, if widely adopted across China, may result in huge financial burdens on local governments already squeezed by reduced revenue due to slower local economies and massive tax cuts to support businesses. A national health official clarified earlier this month that areas without infections should not force residents to test regularly. In the eastern province of Zhejiang, the cities of Ningbo and Hangzhou, said the testing mandate for entering public venues and using public transport from Saturday will require citizens to get tested once a week rather than the once-in-three-day rule earlier, reports Reuters. In the eastern province of Anhui, which reported dozens of local cases in April and May but zero this month, the cities of Hefei and Huainan halted their regular testing campaigns earlier this week. Dandong, a small town close to North Korea, said on Friday it removed some Covid restrictions for cargo trucks, as it started recently to ease a harsh lockdown imposed in late April that stirred anger on social media.