The world is increasing checks on arrivals from China

After the United States, Japan, Canada and several European countries, Australia announced on Sunday mandatory negative Covid-19 tests for travelers from China, citing fears linked to the explosion of the pandemic in this country of 1.4 billion people.

“This measure is a response to the significant wave of Covid-19 infections in China and the possibility of an appearance of variants of the virus in this country”, explained the Australian Minister of Health, Mark Butler, announcing that a negative PCR test will be required of all arrivals from China from January 5.

The Government of Canada had earlier announced an identical measure, in “response to the outbreak of Covid-19 in the People’s Republic of China and due to the limited epidemiological and genome sequencing data available on these cases”.

When in Morocco, it will purely and simply prohibit entry into its territory to all travelers from China from January 3.

Europe consults

The member states of the European Union must discuss Wednesday a common response to adopt, announced Sweden, which ensures from Sunday the half-yearly presidency of the EU. In Europe, France, Italy and Spain, among others, have already introduced reinforced controls for travelers from China.

The precautionary measures taken by several states are “understandable” in view of the lack of information provided by Beijing, said the head of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

End of “zero Covid”

Three years after the appearance of the first cases of coronavirus in Wuhan (center), China put an end without notice on December 7 to its draconian policy known as “zero Covid”. Since the lifting of restrictions, Chinese hospitals have been overwhelmed by an onslaught of mostly elderly patients, crematoriums have been overwhelmed and many pharmacies have run out of fever medication.

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The country reported some 5,100 new positive cases and one additional Covid-related death on Sunday. Largely understated figures that appear to be totally out of step with the reality on the ground.

Despite the epidemic rebound, the authorities will end mandatory quarantines on arrival in China on January 8 and allow Chinese people to travel abroad, after three years of frustration.

Xi Jinping sees ‘light of hope’

“The prevention and control of the epidemic has entered a new phase. We are still in a difficult moment,” but “the light of hope is ahead of us,” Chinese President Xi Jinping said in a televised New Year address on Saturday evening.

Large crowds gathered for the New Year celebrations in the cities of Shanghai and Wuhan, although netizens noted that the festivities seemed calmer than in previous years.

WHO calls for accountability

The WHO announced on Friday that it had met with Chinese officials to discuss the outbreak.

“WHO has again requested the regular sharing of specific and real-time data on the epidemiological situation, including more data on genetic sequencing and on the impact of the disease, including hospitalizations, admissions to units intensive care and deaths,” the UN health agency said in a statement.

She also asked for data on vaccinations carried out and vaccination status, in particular among vulnerable people and those over 60 years of age.

A recent study conducted by Chinese researchers and published in the journal Frontiers of Medicine revealed that 30 substrains of the Omicron variant have been circulating in Shanghai in recent months, including the prevalent BF.7 and BA.5.2 subvariants that have been identified in Beijing and Guangzhou (south).

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