The US, along with Japan and several European countries, have decided to impose controls on travelers arriving from China in light of the precautionary measures that the head of the World Health Organization deemed “understandable” given the lack of information from Beijing after the restrictions imposed to combat Covid were lifted. .
However, China’s health authorities confirmed on Thursday that they are releasing the data “in the interest of openness and transparency,” according to new Chinese news agency Xinhua.
On Friday, the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention announced just 5,515 new cases and one death. It seems that these figures no longer reflect reality, since large-scale examinations are no longer applied, according to Agence France-Presse.
On Friday, a World Health Organization delegation met with Chinese officials to discuss the huge rise in Covid-19 infections in their country, urging them to share real-time data so other countries can respond effectively.
“On December 30, a high-level meeting was held between the World Health Organization and China on the current rise in COVID-19 cases in order to obtain further information on the situation and offer WHO experience and support,” the UN health agency said in a statement. says in the statement.
The statement stated that “the World Health Organization has again requested the regular exchange of specific data on the epidemiological situation in real time, including additional data on genetic sequencing, the impact of the disease … and cases requiring hospitalization and intensive care units.” and also about deaths.
Meanwhile, the European Union’s health agency opined that introducing mandatory Covid-19 screenings for travelers from China is “unjustified”.
The European Center for Disease Control and Prevention said it does not believe that a large number of infections in China will affect the epidemiological situation in the bloc, “given the higher population immunity in the countries of the European Union and the European Economic Area.” in addition to the fact that the variants currently circulating in China have previously appeared and subsequently changed.”
Three years after the first cases of Covid-19 emerged in Wuhan (center), China abruptly lifted its strict “zero Covid” policy on Dec. 7.
This policy, adopted since 2020, has largely protected the population from the virus through universal testing, strict monitoring of movements, as well as mandatory quarantine when cases are detected.
However, these crackdowns, which kept the country largely isolated from the rest of the planet, dealt a severe blow to the world’s second-largest economy and sparked extreme discontent in November.
Since restrictions were lifted, hospitals have been overwhelmed with patients, most of whom are elderly and debilitated due to unvaccination, and many pharmacies are out of antipyretic drugs.
China has been keeping its borders largely closed to foreign nationals since 2020 and stopped issuing tourist visas about three years ago with mandatory quarantine upon arrival. This quarantine procedure will be lifted on January 8, but the PCR test must be submitted 48 hours in advance.
In response, the US and other countries, including Italy, Japan and South Korea, have announced that they will require a negative “Covid-19” test result for all arrivals from mainland China.
And the Spanish government on Friday ordered travelers from China to conduct “screenings” at airports to make sure they are free of Covid.
Spanish Health Minister Carolina Darias told the conference that those arrivals would be asked for “proof that their tests are negative or a certificate of full vaccination”, without mentioning when the measure would go into effect.
On Friday, the Israeli Ministry of Health announced the introduction of a negative Covid test for foreigners arriving from China.
Health Minister Aryeh Deri asked for the ministry’s benefit to set up a “voluntary” screening center for people returning from China, and advised citizens to “avoid” travel to the country.
And the French government announced on Friday evening that travelers bound for France must present a negative Covid-19 test before flying out of China.
Also in the United Kingdom, the government announced a similar measure for arrivals from China, British media reported on Friday.
Pointing to the divisions in Europe over the response to the new situation in China, Germany, for its part, calls for monitoring the spread of Covid-19 mutants in European airports, without going so far as to impose coronavirus tests.
In Brussels, an informal meeting of the European Commission to develop a “coordinated approach” for member states did not lead to a decision.
At Beijing Capital International Airport, a majority of Chinese people polled by AFP on Thursday expressed their understanding of the measures taken against China.
“Every country has its own fears and ways to protect itself,” said Huang Hongshu, 21, noting that the possible proliferation of new options is a concern. Traveler told AFP the measures were “useless”. “It’s kind of discrimination,” Ho said, declining to give his full name.
The 22-year-old noted that in China, “our Covid policy applies to arrivals from other countries just like it applies to everyone else,” asking, “Why do other countries treat people arriving from China in a special way?”
On the pandemic front, hospitals are grappling with a surge in infections that are hitting the elderly the hardest.
In Shanghai on Thursday, AFP reporters saw masked patients being transported on stretchers to the city’s hospital. At the hospital, the patient complained that he had to wait for medicine for four hours.