China plans to reduce the COVID-19 quarantine period for incoming travelers and close contacts from 10 days to eight, cancel circuit breakers for inbound flights and no longer trace secondary close contacts of confirmed cases.
Categories of COVID-risk areas will also be adjusted to two — high and low — from the previous categories of high, medium and low, according to a notice released by the State Council's Joint Prevention and Control Mechanism that lays out 20 measures aimed at upgrading disease control measures.
According to the notice, all passengers arriving from overseas will undergo five days of centralized quarantine plus three days of home — or hotel-based isolation, compared with the current protocol of seven days of centralized isolation plus three days of self-isolation. It also stipulates that inbound travelers should not be placed into isolation again after finishing required quarantine periods at their first points of entry.
The circuit-breaker mechanism, which bans flight routes if inbound international flights carry COVID-19 cases, will be canceled. Inbound travelers will only need to provide one, rather than two, negative nucleic acid testing results taken 48 hours before boarding.
Meanwhile, quarantine periods for close contacts of confirmed infections have also been reduced from 10 to eight days, while secondary close contacts will no longer be traced.
The notice said that modifying categories of COVID-risk areas is aimed at minimizing the number of people facing restrictions on movement. The optimization of virus control policies does not signal relaxation, but aims for more scientific and precise approaches to fend off the epidemic while minimizing the impact on the economy and livelihoods
The notice also requires ramping up stockpiles of COVID-19 drugs and medical equipment, preparing more hospital and intensive care unit beds, bolstering booster vaccination rates — especially among the elderly — and accelerating research of broad-spectrum and multivalent vaccines.