Chinese medical expert says Covid has mutated, and it should be renamed

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – China should change its official name for COVID-19 to reflect the mutation of the virus, and patients with mild symptoms should be allowed to quarantine at home, a leading authority on traditional Chinese medicine said on Wednesday.

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

China’s approach to COVID – which has emphasized widespread testing and quarantine of positive cases in specialized facilities – must change from “passive detection” to “active prevention”, with home recovery for mild cases.

Gu said the infectious disease arm of the Chinese Association of Chinese Medicine, which she heads, had reached consensus to change how it describes the virus.

Her comments are in line with the recent softening of Chinese health experts and state media’s tone towards the coronavirus, while authorities eased what remains some of the world’s toughest COVID restrictions.

There is widespread expectation that the moves could herald a more marked shift toward normalcy three years into the pandemic.

Officials are beginning to downplay the risks posed by the virus. On Monday, China’s state news agency Xinhua said in a comment that “the most difficult period has passed,” citing the poor pathogenicity of the virus and efforts to vaccinate 90% of the population.

(Reporting by Brenda Goh; Editing by Edmund Kelman)

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