China to stop using Covid-19 tracking app from December 13
Chinese authorities announce easing the zero-tolerance policy towards Covid-19.
China will stop using tracking citizens' intercity movements application as of December 13 as part of easing its "zero tolerance" policy towards the virus following the recent protests in the country, the Chinese authorities said on Monday.
The Chinese State Council developed the travel code service and put it into operation in 2020 to prevent and control Covid-19 spread. The application was used by China's government to track people's movements and thus find out if a particular person's visits to locations lead to an increased level of epidemiological risk. Citizens had to show their travel codes at airports, bus and train stations, and when attending different events.
Though the country will abandon the service now, the authorities will keep using another Covid-19 control application, where the health code is developed independently by each city and province. It will include data about the PCR test results, Covid-19 vaccinations, and the name and number of the person's identity card. Upon entering public places and when using transport, taxis, residential complexes, and catering facilities, Chinese citizens will be asked to scan their QR codes. The data will be used to identify close contacts with those infected.
In November, China saw a record increase in local Covid-19 outbreaks. Consequently, the authorities introduced partial lockdowns in some areas and forced residents to undergo PCR testing daily. Starting from November 24, a number of China's major cities, including Beijing and Shanghai, tightened restrictive measures.
Protests were the result of these measures in some cities, such as Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou, Wuhan, and others. Immediate lifting of lockdowns, eliminating regular PCR testing, and easing Covid-19 restrictions were the demands of the rioters.
Chinese authorities had to make concessions as a result. On December 7, the introduction of steps to optimize the Covid-19 policy was announced. The measures included eliminating indiscriminate PCR testing, lifting restrictions on online and offline purchases of antipyretics, and accelerating the vaccination of older people.