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Covid should be renamed in China: Expert

China should change its official name for Covid-19 to reflect the virus’ mutation, and patients with light symptoms should be allowed to quarantine at home, a leading expert on traditional Chinese medicine said.

Gu Xiaohong told the state-run Beijing Daily newspaper that the coronavirus’ Chinese name, which identifies it as a pneumonia-causing disease, should be changed to call it simply an infectious virus.

The expert also said that China’s approach to Covid should change from “passive detection” to “active prevention”, with recuperation at home for light cases. China has emphasised widespread testing and the quarantining of positive cases in specialised facilities under its Zero-Covid strategy.

Gu Xiaohong said the China Association of Chinese Medicine’s infectious disease arm, which she heads, had reached a consensus to change how they describe the virus. The remarks come at a time when China is easing Covid curbs- one of the world’s toughest restrictions- as it aims to shift towards normalcy three years into the pandemic.

Officials have started to play down the dangers posed by the virus following protests across China against the Covid curbs. Chinese state media reported that the country could optimise epidemic prevention and control measures next year as it seeks to better coordinate policies with economic and social development after a meeting of the ruling Communist Party’s politburo.