By Bao Han, People's Daily
China will downgrade management of COVID-19 to Class B and cancel quarantine requirements on inbound travelers from Jan. 8, 2023, China's top health authority announced recently.
In a statement released late Monday, the National Health Commission (NHC) renamed the Chinese term for COVID-19 from "novel coronavirus pneumonia" to "novel coronavirus infection," and manage the disease from Class A to Class B in accordance with the Law of the People's Republic of China on Prevention and Treatment of Infectious Disease.
Additionally, it said that COVID-19 will no longer be included in the quarantinable infectious disease management following the Frontier Health and Quarantine Law of the People's Republic of China.
The new term better accurately describes the current disease characteristics as the Omicron variant becomes the global dominant strain, which includes declining pathogenicity and only a few cases showing pneumonia-like symptoms, said a document released by the State Council joint prevention and control mechanism against COVID-19 on the same day.
The decision was made after China's COVID-19 control reached a new stage as the virulence of the virus dropped, the document added. Considering its vaccination rate, medical resources and experience in prevention and control, China has the right conditions for downgrading the management.
According to the document, the country will no longer implement quarantine measures for infected individuals, and stop tracking close contacts or designating high-risk and low-risk areas. It will provide classified treatment for COVID-19 cases and promptly modify medical care policies.
The document further clarifies that starting from Jan. 8, China won't conduct any quarantinable infectious disease control measures for inbound persons and imported goods. Passengers entering the country still have to take nucleic acid tests 48 hours before departure.
The country will gradually resume passenger entry and exit at sea and land ports, as well as outbound tourism in an orderly manner. Arrangements for foreigners to visit China for work, business or other purposes will be improved and the required visas will also be facilitated, the document added.
Following the adjustment, China will keep track of the spread of COVID-19 and strengthen the health monitoring of special groups such as the elderly. Appropriate steps will also be implemented to ensure adequate medical resources and lessen the impact on economic and social development, said the authorities.