People from low-risk areas no longer need to undergo 14-day quarantine
Beijing has lowered the intensity of its response to the COVID-19 outbreak from the top level to the second level based on the current situation, which will lead to adjustments of prevention and control measures, a senior official said on Wednesday.
"Beijing has been taking strict measures on both domestic and overseas travelers coming to the capital, as well as community control to prevent infection risks, which has proved to be effective," Chen Bei, deputy secretary-general of the Beijing municipal government, said at a news conference.
In Beijing, the risk of outbreak has been generally mitigated, she said.
By the end of Tuesday, 15 of the 16 districts in Beijing had reported zero new local cases for more than 36 days. Chaoyang district, which was listed as the high-risk area for COVID-19 control, will have no new local cases for 14 days by Thursday, which means it will no longer be considered a high-risk area.
On April 14, Beijing reported a cluster of infections involving four family members caused by a Chinese male student who came home from Miami, Florida, in the United States.
Chen also announced that people who left Beijing for business trips and travelers who come to Beijing from low-risk areas will not need to undergo a 14-day quarantine starting from Thursday. People who need to check into hotels in Beijing no longer need to provide nucleic acid testing results as long as they have a "green code", which is an indication that a person is free of COVID-19 symptoms according to a health code app.
According to Qunar, an online travel service provider, the number of flight reservations from Beijing increased 15-fold within a half-hour after the news was announced.
Chen Qiulin, director of the Institute of Population and Labor Economics at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, was quoted by Beijing News as saying that lowering the response grade will reduce people's worries about going out, which will help to increase consumption.
As of Tuesday, 23 provinces and municipalities have reported no new local cases for more than 28 successive days. As many as 28 provinces and municipalities have lowered their emergency grade, and no rebound of cases has occurred.
China's response for public health emergencies has four grades, from 1 to 4, with the top being Grade 1.
Neighboring Hebei province and Tianjin municipality will also lower their emergency response to COVID-19 from the top level to the second level starting on Thursday morning, according to their governments, which means that by then, only Hubei province will still maintain the Grade 1 response. Nine provinces and municipalities including Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, Hebei and Guangdong are at Grade 2.
Prevention and control works will continue in the province to lower infection risks brought by imported cases and to avert a rebound of local cases.
As of Tuesday, Hebei had reported 10 imported cases of COVID-19, six of which had been cured and discharged from hospital, according to the Health Commission of Hebei. The province had a total of 318 confirmed cases among local residents, with 312 of the people surviving.
Yang Cheng contributed to this story.