China’s Covid tracking app: China withdraws main Covid tracking app as virus rules ease | world news

BEIJING (Reuters) – China said on Monday it would withdraw an app used to track travel to areas with Covid-19 cases, a major step in the country’s rapid reversal of its zero-tolerance coronavirus strategy. .
Beijing has effectively thrown in the towel on zero-Covidannouncing last week the end of large-scale shutdowns, mandatory quarantine at central facilities and a broad relaxation of testing measures.
And the central government is now beginning to unravel years of intransigent policy-making, with the state-run “Communication Route Map” that tracks whether someone has been to a high-risk area. risk based on its phone signal, to disconnect at 12 p.m. Tuesday. .
The ‘route map’ was a central part of China’s zero Covid policy, with millions of people required to enter their phone number to produce its iconic green arrow to travel between provinces or attend events and certain locations. public.
First rolled out in 2020 with a four-tier system that assigned different colors based on users’ expected level of Covid exposure, it was tweaked several times before a final change this year shortened the tracking period 14 to seven days.
It’s just one of many tracking apps that have governed daily life in China throughout the pandemic, with most people still using local “health codes” run by their city or province. to enter shops and offices.
The changes were introduced despite a warning from a top health expert of an increase in Omicron cases that could tear the country apart where millions of elderly people are still unvaccinated.
But social media users nevertheless welcomed the removal of the route map, noting the symbolism of the central government shutting down its main tracking app.
Many have posted screenshots of their “last” logins.
“Goodbye, this heralds the end of an era, and also welcomes a brand new one,” one person wrote on Twitter-like platform Weibo.
“Goodbye route map, gigs here I come,” wrote another.
Others asked what would happen to the mountains of data collected by the app.
“The route map and other similar products mean large amounts of personal information and private data,” wrote one Weibo user.
“Hopefully there will be mechanisms and measures to disconnect and remove that.”
Kendra Schaefer, Research Consulting Firm Technology Partner Trivium Chinadeclared that “the political victory of the return to normal is gigantic”.
“All the government really loses by taking down these apps is a fast-track method of keeping certain people at home based on public safety logic,” she wrote on Twitter.
“As Covid checks disappear, the rationale disappears and the benefits of removing outweigh the benefits of keeping it,” she added.
But this return to normal means the country is now facing a surge of cases that it is ill-prepared to handle, with millions of older people still not fully vaccinated and underfunded hospitals that have no lack the capacity to accommodate a large number of patients.
The country has one intensive care unit bed for 10,000 people, Jiao Yahui, director of the medical affairs department of National Health Commissionwarned last week.
Officially reported cases in the country have fallen sharply from all-time highs of last month, but top Chinese health expert Zhong Nanshan warned in state media on Sunday that the dominant variant of Omicron is “spreading quickly” across the country.
The easing of Covid restrictions has also released pent-up domestic travel demand, with state broadcaster CCTV saying on Monday that flights from Beijing’s two main airports are expected to soon return to 70% of 2019 levels.
China reported 8,626 national Covid cases on Monday, but with testing no longer mandatory for much of the population, the numbers are believed to be much higher.


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