China loosens anti-COVID rules in major policy shift

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(Reuters) China on Wednesday announced the most sweeping changes to its resolute anti-COVID regime since the pandemic began three years ago, loosening rules that curbed the spread of the virus but sparked protests and hobbled the world’s second-largest economy.

The relaxation of rules, which includes allowing infected people with mild symptoms to quarantine at home and dropping testing for people travelling domestically, is the clearest sign yet Beijing is pivoting away from its zero-COVID policy to let people live with the disease.

But health officials are still warning that trends in deaths will be closely watched in case a return to tougher measures is needed.

Many of the changes announced by the National Health Commission (NHC) reflected steps already taken in various cities and regions in recent days, following protests against COVID controls that were the biggest demonstration of public discontent since President Xi Jinping came to power in 2012.

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