On Monday (Dec. 5), confusion was spread around China due to a gradual relaxing of the COVID-19 curbs, which raised hopes for more clarity as officials changed their tone regarding the threats COVID-19 poses in the wake of last month's rare protests.
"The information at this stage will be a bit chaotic," commentator Hu Xijin, former editor-in-chief of Global Times, said on Weibo over the weekend.
Three years into the pandemic, China's zero-tolerance policies, ranging from border closures to suffocating lockdowns, stand in stark contrast to the rest of the globe, which has mostly opened up in its attempts to live with the virus.
Although the protests mainly subsided amid heavy police presence in major cities, various regional administrations announced modest relaxations of lockdowns, quarantine regulations, and testing requirements in their wake.
China is about to announce a nationwide relaxation of testing regulations, as well as enabling positive cases and close contacts to isolate at home under specific conditions.
However, until then, a lack of clarity has caused some to fear being on the wrong side of rapidly evolving laws.
The rigid approach has harmed the second-largest economy in the world, stressed out hundreds of millions of people, and this month led to the worst display of public unhappiness in mainland China since President Xi Jinping assumed office in 2012.
Vice Premier Sun Chunlan, who is in charge of COVID-19 activities, stated last week that the virus's capacity to spread disease was waning along with the loosening of local restrictions.
This shift in messaging is in line with the viewpoint that has been taken for more than a year by numerous health authorities worldwide.
As the virus diminishes, conditions are developing for China to reduce COVID-19 management as a dangerous contagious disease, according to state media outlet Yicai late on Sunday, in comments that were among the first to raise the possibility.
Although the fervor of last week's protests appears to have subsided as people await clarification on the future of COVID-19 management, there are still some incidents of rage.
People under lockdown at a garment industrial park in Wuhan's center city broke out of a COVID-19 lockdown by breaking down walls on Saturday, according to video recordings posted on Twitter.
Since January 2020, China has designated COVID-19 as a Category B infectious disease but has managed it in accordance with Category A regulations, granting authorities the authority to place patients and their immediate family members in quarantine and lockdown locations.