BEIJING (AFP) – China yesterday shortened its suspension period for inbound international flights carrying COVID-positive passengers, signalling that Beijing could soon ease its strict border controls.
Incoming flights carrying five positive COVID-19 cases, or four per cent of the total passengers, will now face a reduced one-week suspension, the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) said in a statement.
Previously, if a plane brought in five infected passengers, all flights operated by the responsible airline along the same route were suspended for two weeks.
Flights logging an eight per cent passengers positivity rate will be barred for two weeks, CAAC said.
The so-called circuit breaker mechanism has led to travel chaos, with flights into China being cancelled abruptly without the ability to rebook for weeks.
China is the only major economy still holding fast to a zero-COVID strategy with snap lockdowns and long quarantines.
The country’s borders have also remained largely closed since early 2020, halting international tourism.
Hundreds of thousands of Chinese students and workers abroad have been left stranded and complained about paying exorbitant prices to buy tickets back home, with the limited number of flights entering the country routinely suspended.