China will cut the country’s COVID-19 quarantine period for incoming travelers to seven days, the Chinese National Health Commission confirmed Tuesday. File Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI | License Photo
June 28 (UPI) -- China will cut the country's COVID-19 quarantine period for incoming travelers to seven days, the Chinese National Health Commission confirmed Tuesday.
Under the updated regulations, visitors from overseas will spend seven days in quarantine at a designated centralized facility like a hotel in mainland China.
Following quarantine, travelers will need to spend an additional three days at home. That number had previously been seven.
Tuesday's news was the first time the country has moved to ease its COVID-19 border restrictions.
It brings China's policies in line with those in Hong Kong, which also imposes a seven-day centralized quarantine requirement on newly-arrived travelers.
Rapid antigen tests approved for use in China in March have also been included in the guideline as an additional tool, according to state-run China Daily.
The tests will be used by "grassroots-level medical institutions to screen suspicious patients and residents from medium- or high-risk areas," the publication quotes a government health agency as saying.
This comes only one day after Beijing residents reacted with confusion and alarm when a top Communist Party official was quoted in official media saying strict COVID-19 policies could be in place for five years.
The story, first posted in the Beijing Daily, the official publication of the capital's ruling party, quoted former mayor and current party chief Cai Qi as saying the city will uphold the controversial "zero-COVID" policy "for the next five years," the Guardian and CNN reported.
China had some of the most restrictive COVID-19 regulations in the world. In March, schools were closed and some residents were told to stay inside as long as 60 days, amid a breakout in Shanghai.
Mayors of two cities were also dismissed at the time and transportation services were suspended under the indefinite shutdown.