China is loosening restrictions on Covid Zero regulations as EU Council President Charles Michel meets Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Xi Jinping also told Michel that the protests were fuelled by teenagers and college students who were tired of following Covid protocols for three years, an EU official told news agencies Reuters and Bloomberg.
“The response we got from the president was an explanation why there were protests – explaining that after three years of Covid-19 he had an issue, because people were frustrated, it was mainly students or teenagers,” the EU official was quoted as saying by news agency Reuters.
“President Xi said that now Covid-19 in China was mainly Omicron. The Delta variant before was much more lethal and Omicron was less lethal, which opened the way for more openness with the restrictions - what we have already seen in some regions,’ the official further added.
The official said that EU President Michel told Xi Jinping that in the initial phase of the pandemic the focus was on isolation and social distancing but later the focus was on vaccination.
China could see Covid-19 cases surge because most of its elderly population remains unvaccinated risking their lives to severe Covid.
Even though Xi believes that Omicron is less lethal than previous variants, as per the EU official, Chinese people do not share the same level of confidence.
A report by the Financial Times earlier this week said that demand for oxygen machines and ventilators were rising as China was easing its Covid Zero restrictions.
The decision to relax Covid Zero restrictions came last month and coincided with a record rise in Covid infections which prompted the officials to double down on the Covid Zero restrictions.
However, after a fire broke out in Urumqi in Xinjiang leading to deaths of 10 people as rescue work was hampered due to strict regulations, people in several Chinese cities, including Shanghai and Beijing, protested condemning the authorities.
The rare protests led to a crackdown on the demonstrators. Michel’s visit on Thursday came three days after the protests broke out in several Chinese cities.
News agencies also reported that Covid restrictions were eased in Shenzhen and Beijing, bringing relief to residents.
However, it remains unclear if it was a premeditated move to make matters appear normal amid Michel’s visit and also made to relax investors as they grow jittery seeing the Chinese economy suffer from the Covid Zero regime.
Shenzhen authorities said that people travelling will not be required to show a negative Covid test result to use public transport or enter parks. Testing booths in capital Beijing were either removed or shut down.
China loosened restrictions but gave more autonomy to local authorities which in turn angered residents because there were no clear-cut instructions on how to deal with outbreaks.
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