China said on Wednesday it would allow COVID patients with mild symptoms to isolate at home as part of a set of new measures that marked a major shift in a tough anti-virus policy that has battered its economy and sparked historic protests, APA reports citing Reuters.
The relaxation of rules, which also included dropping a requirement for people to show negative tests when they travel between regions, came as top officials toned down warnings about the dangers posed by COVID-19.
That has raised prospects that Beijing may slowly look to align with the rest of the world and start re-opening its economy three years into a pandemic, which erupted in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019.
Investors were quick to cheer the prospect of a reprieve for the world's second-largest economy and the possibility of a shift towards a lifting of border controls next year.
"This policy change is a big step forward," said Zhiwei Zhang, chief economist at Pinpoint Asset Management.
"I expect China will fully reopen its border no later than mid 2023."
China is due to hold a press conference at 3.00 pm (0700 GMT) on "optimising" its COVID control measures, state media reported, after President Xi Jinping chaired a meeting of the Communist Party's Politburo on Tuesday.
Cities across China were gripped by protests over tough COVID policies late last month, in what was the biggest show of public discontent since Xi came to power in 2012.