China will reopen borders and abandon quarantine after it downgrades its treatment of Covid-19 on January 8, media reports said on Monday.
The decision is the country's last step in shedding three years of zero-Covid and pivoting to living with the virus, the South China Morning Post reported.
Covid-19 has been managed as a top category A infectious disease since 2020, putting it on par with bubonic plague and cholera. When the declaration was made to do so, authorities said it would be administered according to the Frontier Health and Quarantine Law.
Under Chinese laws, authorities must impose the toughest restrictions such as quarantine and isolation of the infected and their close contacts, and citywide lockdowns to contain those diseases.
At the border, the infected must be isolated and those who might be infected quarantined, depending on the incubation period.
But three sources from provincial health authorities and hospitals in Guangdong, Fujian and Jiangsu said they were notified by the National Health Commission on Sunday, asking them to prepare for the downgrade to category B management from January 8, the SCMP reported.
That category means Covid-19 only requires "necessary treatment and measures to curb the spread".
Strict control measures including compulsory quarantine for travellers coming to China will also be removed after the downgrade, since it is no longer a compulsory requirement in the category B management.
There are signs that China has been preparing for the pivot, with PCR testing no longer mandatory and Vice-Premier Sun Chunlan, who has been in charge of the Covid-19 response, urging lower level authorities to focus on treatment instead of infections, the SCMP reported.