China Loosens COVID-19 Norms, Allows Asymptomatic People To Quarantine At Home 

For nearly three years, China has managed Covid-19 as a dangerous disease on par with bubonic plague and cholera.

China Loosens COVID-19 Norms, Allows Asymptomatic People To Quarantine At Home 
People wearing masks cross a street, as coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreaks continue in Shanghai, China. (Image Credit: Reuters.)

China's national health authority said on Wednesday that asymptomatic Covid-19 cases and those with mild symptoms can self-treat while in quarantine at home, the strongest sign so far that China is preparing its people to live with the disease.

Most of the cases are asymptomatic infections and mild cases, with no special treatment required, the National Health Commission said in a statement.

"Asymptomatic persons and mild cases can be isolated at home while strengthening health monitoring, and they can transfer to designated hospitals for treatment on time if their condition worsens," the NHC said.

For nearly three years, China has managed Covid-19 as a dangerous disease on par with bubonic plague and cholera, but since last week, top officials have acknowledged the reduced ability of the new coronavirus to cause disease while Chinese experts suggested it is not more deadly than seasonal influenza.

Earlier on Wednesday, China medical expert said that Covid has mutated and should be renamed. China should change its official name for Covid-19 to reflect the virus' mutation, and patients with light symptoms should be allowed to quarantine at home, a leading authority on traditional Chinese medicine was quoted as saying on Wednesday.

Gu Xiaohong told the state-run Beijing Daily newspaper that the coronavirus' Chinese name, which identifies it as a pneumonia-causing disease, should be changed to call it simply an infectious virus.

China's approach to Covid-19 which has emphasised widespread testing and the quarantining of positive cases in specialised facilities - should change from "passive detection" to "active prevention", with recuperation at home for light cases.

Gu said that the China Association of Chinese Medicine's infectious disease arm, which she heads, had reached a consensus to change how they describe the virus.

Her remarks are in line with a recent softening of the tone from China's health experts and state media towards Covid, while authorities have loosened what remain some of the world's toughest Covid curbs.

There are widespread expectations that the moves could herald a more pronounced shift towards normalcy three years into the pandemic.

Officials have started to play down the dangers posed by the virus. On Monday, the official Xinhua news agency said in a commentary that the "most difficult period had passed", citing the weakening pathogenicity of the virus and efforts to vaccinate 90 per cent of the population.

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