SHANGHAI (Reuters) – China is trying out reduced quarantine times for overseas arrivals and close contacts of positive cases in eight cities, in a potential easing of some of the world’s most stringent pandemic entry controls, financial media outlet Caixin reported.
Shanghai and Guangzhou are among the cities picked by the State Council for a trial that will see quarantine times reduced to 10 days from 14 days currently, plus seven days of health monitoring with regular testing as before, Caixin said.
The State Council did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
While many major economies have began to ease COVID controls in a bid to live with the virus, China has kept in place strict measures and has sharply reduced transport links with other countries as part of efforts to halt the spread of the virus.
Shanghai is in the midst of China’s worse outbreak since the virus emerged in Wuhan in late 2019, reporting more than 25,000 local cases on Wednesday even after locking down the city of 25 million people. Restrictions were eased in 7,000 areas of the city on Tuesday.
The trial will help authorities to better understand how antigen testing can be used in pandemic controls and to better determine the optimal isolation period, Caixin said.
Shanghai has reduced loads on international flights by foreign airlines at 40%, down from 75% previously in a bid to reduce imported cases, sources told Reuters last week.
The other cities in the trial are Chengdu, Dalian, Suzhou, Ningbo, Xiamen and Qingdao.
Caixin said the trial should have begun on April 11, but it appears it is being rolled out in a piecemeal fashion.
A staff member of a quarantine hotel in the southern coastal city of Xiamen said their hotel was selected for the 10-day quarantine trial, but staff at several other hotels in the city and one in Shanghai said they had not been notified of any changes.
(Reporting by David Kirton, Beijing newsroom; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)