BEIJING/MADRID Reuters – Chinese state media have lashed out at a growing number of foreign governments imposing coronavirus tests on travelers from China, calling the measures “discriminatory”. Stated.
After nearly three years of closing its borders, imposing a strict lockdown and relentless testing, Beijing suddenly turned on 7 December to coexist with the virus, which has spread rapidly in recent weeks. Did.
On Friday South Korea and Spain joined the list of countries that included the United States, India and others. These countries are imposing her COVID test on a traveler from China, citing concerns about the scale of the COVID outbreak and skepticism about Beijing’s health statistics.
Malaysia said it will screen all international arrivals for fever.
“The real intention is to sabotage China’s three-year COVID-19 control efforts and attack the country’s systems,” state-run tabloid Global Times said in an article late Thursday, noting that the restrictions were “founded. He said it was “discriminatory”.
Starting January 8, China will stop requiring quarantine for incoming travelers. However, a negative PCR test result is required within 48 hours prior to departure.
China’s National Health Commission said in a statement that senior Chinese health officials held a video conference with the World Health Organization on Friday to exchange views on the current epidemic situation.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus earlier in the day said the organization needed more information to assess the latest surge in infections in China, but on the issue of travel testing. He did not express his position.
Not all countries impose testing. The European Union member states in particular are divided.
In recent days, officials in France, Germany and Portugal have said no new restrictions are needed so far, while Austria has stressed the economic benefits of Chinese tourists returning to Europe. .
Global spending by Chinese visitors was worth more than $250 billion in the pre-pandemic year.
A day after EU health officials failed to agree on a joint course of action, Spain became the second of the bloc’s 27 member states to require testing for travelers from China, after Italy.
Health Minister Carolina Darius said, “At the national level, we will implement airport controls that require all passengers coming from China to have a negative COVID-19 test or show proof of full vaccinations.”
EU health experts will hold a crisis response meeting next week, according to EU sources.
Meanwhile, EU health chief Stella Kiriakides sent a letter to the bloc’s health minister to immediately expand genome sequencing of COVID-19 infections and monitoring of wastewater, including from airports, in China. Given the virus’s surge, he proposed to detect new subspecies.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is also considering sampling wastewater from international aircraft to track new subspecies, the agency told Reuters.
The US has expressed concern about the potential mutation of the virus sweeping through the world’s most populous country and the transparency of China’s data.
Meanwhile, Patricia Flor, Germany’s ambassador to Beijing, said on Twitter that China’s COVID vaccination campaign for German citizens has begun the pilot phase. A shipment of 11,500 doses of the BioNTech vaccine arrived last week. This is enough to vaccinate half of the approximately 20,000 German citizens living in China once.
The lifting of restrictions in China after widespread protests in November has overwhelmed hospitals and funeral homes across the country, with scenes of people on IV drips on the roadside and hearses outside crematoriums. lines have fueled public concern.
Health experts say China is ill-prepared for a U-turn on a policy long championed by President Xi Jinping.
They say older people in rural areas may be particularly vulnerable due to inadequate health care resources. Next month’s Lunar New Year celebration, when hundreds of millions of people travel to their hometowns, will further increase the risk.
China, with a population of 1.4 billion, reported one new COVID death on Thursday, similar to the day before. This is a figure that does not match the experience of other countries after reopening.
UK-based health data company Airfinity said on Thursday that about 9,000 people in China are probably dying from COVID every day. The cumulative death toll in China since December 1 has likely reached 100,000, with the total number of infected people reaching 18.6 million, he said.
Wu Zunyou, China’s chief epidemiologist, said on Thursday that he had studied the difference between the number of deaths in the current wave of infections and the death rate for the same period in a year without a pandemic, thus establishing an “excess mortality rate.” Said to calculate and assess the possibility of underestimation. Number of deaths due to COVID-19.
(Additional reporting by John Reville, Zurich, Kirsty Knoll, Berlin, Phil Blenkinship, Brussels; writings by Marius Zaharia and Ingrid Melander; editing by Jerry Doyle, Simon Cameron Moore, Tomasz Janowski)