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China reduces quarantine, ditches flight bans in zero-COVID easing

Markets cheer first changes to rules since top leadership meeting last month

People line up to take a virus test in Guangzhou following an outbreak.   © Reuters

SHANGHAI -- China on Friday relaxed its controversial virus measures, triggering a rally on mainland and Hong Kong stock markets. But the easing comes after Beijing signaled it had no plans to ditch its zero-COVID strategy.

The country is battling a fresh nationwide outbreak, with infections jumping to their highest levels since a two-month lockdown in Shanghai that started in April, and as millions in the southern manufacturing hub Guangzhou were ordered into lockdown this week.

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