China set to loosen COVID curbs after protests
STORY: China is set to announce in coming days an easing of its COVID-19 quarantine protocols and a reduction in mass testing. That's according to sources familiar with the matter. Marking a shift in policy after widespread protests. And as state media reported that Vice Premier Sun Chunlan, who oversees COVID efforts, claimed the virus's ability to cause disease was weakening.The measures due to be unveiled include a reduction in mass testing and regular nucleic acid tests.And moves to allow positive cases and close contacts to isolate at home under certain conditions, according to Reuters sources. That is a far cry from earlier protocols that led to public frustrations as entire communities were locked down, sometimes for weeks, after even just one positive case. The frustration boiled over last week in demonstrations of public defiance unprecedented in mainland China since President Xi Jinping took power in 2012.And come as the economy is set to enter a new era of much slower growth than seen in decades.Expectations have grown around the world that China could look to re-open its borders at some point next year. But that depends on vaccination rates among its hesitant elderly. For now, many, like Yang Zhijie, fear that the treatment will make them sick. “There are already so many diseases without vaccination. I fear that the diseases will become more serious after vaccination."China has offered vaccinations for the elderly since April 2021, but the take-up rate slowed noticeably this year. By November, the proportion of people aged 60 and above to be fully vaccinated reached 86.4%, barely changing from 85.6% in August. The vaccination rates in Japan, by contrast, was at more than 90%. Public health experts say studies show the elderly have also been slow to take up the jab due to health, mobility and access.China's health authorities said on Wednesday (December 1) that they would aim to improve accessibility and launch targeted programs in nursing homes and leisure facilities among the over 60s.