China will reopen borders and abandon quarantine measures meant to stem the spread of coronavirus infections on Jan. 8, removing the last major restrictions under its strict "zero-COVID" policy, the South China Morning Post reported Monday.

The Hong Kong daily quoted three sources from health authorities and hospitals in Guangdong, Fujian and Jiangsu provinces as saying they were asked by China's National Health Commission on Sunday to prepare for a downgrade in COVID-19 management levels, meaning lockdowns, isolation and quarantine will no longer be required.

People visit a hospital for fever outpatient services in Beijing on Dec. 23, 2022, amid a surge in COVID-19 cases. The Chinese government eased its strict antivirus measures earlier in the month. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

Beijing significantly relaxed its stringent antivirus measures on Dec. 7 following the outpouring of public frustration in rare nationwide protests. It has since dropped requirements such as frequent PCR testing, but an eight-day quarantine for foreign arrivals has yet to be officially lifted.

The Hong Kong online media platform HK01 said Monday that one of its reporters, who arrived in Beijing the previous day, was exempted from isolation at a designated facility a day after signing a letter of consent to quarantine at home. The report suggests that Chinese authorities have already relaxed the implementation of the quarantine policy.

At present, five days of quarantine at a designated facility and three days of isolation at home are required for foreign arrivals. Some people, including travelers without a home in China, spend eight days at a facility.

Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee said Saturday he expects China will reopen the city's border with the mainland by mid-January, according to local media reports.

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