BY MIKE OCHONMA
While many countries remain committed to to their respective set rules, a recent report says China has slashed the quarantine time for inbound travellers by half in a major easing of one of the world’s strictest Covid-19 curbs, which have deterred travel in and out of the country since 2020.
Following this recent pronouncement, quarantine at centralised facilities has been cut to seven days from 14, and subsequent at-home health monitoring reduced to three days from seven, the National Health Commission said on Tuesday.
Latest guidelines from the health authority also eased quarantine requirements for close contacts of people who have tested positive for the new coronavirus.
China has cautiously eased its Covid curbs on cross-border travellers in recent months, with health officials saying the shorter incubation period of the Omicron variant allows for an adjustment of quarantine periods.
The Chinese capital Beijing in recent months has reduced the quarantine period at centralised facilities to 10 days from 14. Last month, the country also removed some Covid-19 test requirements for people flying in from countries such as the United States.
Stock markets rose in Hong Kong and the mainland, with the Hang Seng Index reversing losses and ticking up roughly 0.4 percent and the CSI300 Index gaining 0.7 percent. Beijing and Shanghai reported on Tuesday that there were no new local Covid infections, the first time both cities were in the clear simultaneously since late February, after months of fighting their worst outbreaks.
The milestone for the two cities, achieved this week Monday, came after their daily caseloads dropped to single digits over the past week, allowing Shanghai to gradually resume eating at restaurants and Beijing to reopen some leisure venues.
Authorities, however, remained wary and were adamant that the government’s so-called dynamic zero-Covid policy, which aims at blocking flare-ups from spreading as they crop up, remained in place.