Mainland authorities on Wednesday announced a loosening of Covid-19 restrictions, which would allow Covid patients with mild or no symptoms to isolate at home, and reduce the frequency of mandatory testing.
Explaining the optimised measures at a press conference, the National Health Commission's Liang Wannian said authorities are acting in step with the latest Covid-19 situation.
"This time's optimisation is not really a complete relenting or loosening up. It is an active choice instead of a passive loosening," he said.
"We believe that [the measures] would be able to better cope with the new Covid-19 situation."
Liang added: "Such controls would be more scientific and precise and more operational and targeted, so we would be able to more effectively utilise the prevention control resources and coordinate the Covid response with the socioeconomic development to guarantee normal life."
Under the new guidelines announced by the commission, the frequency and scope of PCR testing will be reduced.
Lockdowns will also be scaled down and people with non-severe Covid symptoms can isolate at home instead of centralised government facilities.
Close contacts can quarantine at home for five days and be released if they get a negative PCR test result on day five, while lockdowns on high-risk areas should be scrapped in a timely manner if no new cases are found after five days.
The new rules noted that escape routes must not be blocked, and that people must be able to go out when they need to see a doctor or when there is an emergency.
And people will no longer be required to show a green health code on their phone to enter public buildings and spaces, except for "nursing homes, medical institutions, kindergartens, middle and high schools".
"Mass PCR testing only carried out in schools, hospitals, nursing homes and high-risk work units; scope and frequency of PCR testing to be further reduced," they added.
"People travelling across provinces do not need to provide a 48-hour test result and do not need to test upon arrival."
Health officials will also accelerate the vaccination of the elderly, the commission said, long seen as a major obstacle to the relaxation of Covid restrictions. (Additional reporting by AFP)
Last updated: 2022-12-07 HKT 16:53