In a sharp reversal, China has announced a series of measures rolling back some of the most draconian anti-COVID-19 restrictions.
The Wednesday announcement includes limiting the scale of lockdown to individual apartment floors and buildings, rather than entire districts and neighbourhoods.
People who test positive for the virus will be able to isolate at home rather than in overcrowded and unsanitary field hospitals, and schools where there have been no outbreaks must return to in-class teaching.
The announcement follows recent street protests in several cities over the strict “zero-COVID” policy now entering its fourth year, which has been blamed for upending ordinary life, travel and employment while dealing a harsh blow to the national economy.
China has sought to maintain the hardline policy while keeping the world's second-largest economy humming, but public frustration with the restrictions appears to have finally swayed the opinion of officials who had championed zero-COVID as superior to the approach of foreign nations that have opened up in hopes of learning to live with the virus.