Italy announced Wednesday that all arrivals from China would be tested and positive cases quarantined, after two recent flights from China brought nearly 100 coronavirus-infected passengers to Milan. The United States mandated predeparture testing of such passengers on the same day, days after Beijing moved to reopen its borders amid a surge in cases.
According to Italian public broadcaster RAI, 50% of travelers on a flight to Milan on December 26 tested positive for the virus, and more than a third of passengers on a second flight that day were also infected. “This measure is essential to ensure the surveillance and detection of possible subspecies of the virus in order to protect the Italian population,” Italy’s Minister of Health Oraggio Schiracci said in a statement. rice field.
The move to ease the border, which has been closed for nearly three years, comes as coronavirus infections surge across China and U.S. officials are increasingly concerned about the lack of transparency about the state of the pandemic in Beijing. . Earlier this month, China stopped releasing daily numbers of asymptomatic cases and recently released death tolls from covid-19, which is considered highly unlikely.
The new regulations and China’s reluctance to provide data are reminiscent of the early stages of the pandemic. But even as China faces a health catastrophe at home, experts say these measures will only continue once a vaccine becomes widely available and coronavirus-related travel restrictions are largely lifted in much of the world. is considered ineffective.
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Paul Tambiya, president of the Singapore-based International Society for Infectious Diseases, said: “At the moment, there is no clear evidence that restricting travel from any country or implementing targeted surveillance would benefit. “We learned this … in the early days of the pandemic, travel restrictions and surveillance measures were mostly introduced long after the virus had already taken hold in countries imposing restrictions. was.”
“There is no real-world scientific evidence to support these measures,” said Karen Grepin, a professor at the University of Hong Kong who specializes in global health policy. She added that the situation is very different from three years ago, with many countries having access to vaccines and large segments of the population already exposed to the virus.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday that pre-departure testing could help slow the spread of the virus as new variants may emerge. Italy also expressed similar concerns about identifying new subspecies that may be introduced into the country.
China’s foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said Wednesday that measures to combat the pandemic “must be science-based and balanced without affecting normal human exchanges.” ‘ said.
Health care experts say that even relatively stringent measures failed to stop the spread of the Omicron subspecies last winter. Officials in Singapore and Australia, which closed borders in the early stages of the pandemic, said this week they had no plans to impose additional restrictions on travelers from China.
Tambiya acknowledged concerns that the virus might evolve, but said, “If this virus behaves like every other human virus in history, the new variant will be more contagious. is likely to be of low toxicity,” he said.
The omicron variant endemic in China “already exists in other parts of the world, and most countries now have good immune barriers,” said the OT&P Healthcare Medical Practice co-author of Hong Kong. Founder and physician David Owens said:
Experts said the government should prioritize vaccination over requiring border tests. As of early December, only about two-thirds of Chinese residents over the age of 60 had received the booster vaccine.
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Beijing said last month it would focus on getting boosters into the arms of older people, but so far it has relied on domestically manufactured vaccines, which many experts say are less effective than Western mRNA injections. I regard it as
Secretary of State Antony Brinken said last week that the United States “is thus ready to continue helping people around the world, including China,” but said Beijing has not so far sought that help.
The University of Hong Kong’s Grepin said the coronavirus situation in China was “extreme”.
But she argued that singling out countries would not help. rice field.