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China re-opens more areas at risk for COVID spread as lockdowns ease


Medical workers in protective suits collect swabs from residents during a citywide nucleic acid testing following cases of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Zhengzhou, Henan province, China, January 5, 2022. cnsphoto via REUTERS

China has slashed the number of locations deemed at high risk of wider COVID outbreaks, re-opening locked down areas including one hosting a key factory of an Apple supplier.

The number of high-risk areas tumbled to around 4,500 on Monday, official data showed, down 85% from more than 30,000 on Dec. 7 before the latest policy shift was announced.

A district in the city of Zhengzhou in central China where iPhone supplier Foxconn (2317.TW) has a vast facility declared on Monday that it had released all high-risk zones from lockdown.

Last month, thousands of workers fled the Foxconn facility on fears of COVID lockdowns, curtailing production.

High-risk areas without new infections for five consecutive days should be released from lockdown, according to one of China’s latest protocols released on Dec. 7.

Local authorities have also been warned not to arbitrarily expand the scope of lockdowns or prolong them.

Economists say the China’s shift to live with COVID will reduce disruptive lockdowns that have dragged on the economy particularly this year because of the high transmissibility of the Omicron variant of the virus.