China’s anti-covid policy generates concern in the world

The sudden turn in Beijing’s anti-covid policy generated nervousness in the world, starting with the United States, which is studying restrictions for travelers from the Asian giant.

China eliminated the quarantine requirement for visitors from abroad as of January 8, the last measure in force of its rigid Zero Covid policy.

The initiative sparked jubilation among the Chinese population, who rushed to buy international air tickets.

But hospitals and crematoriums across China continue to be overwhelmed, mainly by the arrival of the elderly.

AFP journalists on Wednesday saw dozens of patients from COVID-19mostly elderly, lying on stretchers in the emergency areas of hospitals in Tianjin, 140 km from Beijing.

A doctor admitted that medical staff will have to keep working even if they test positive for the coronavirus.

Other countries expressed concern about the possibility of new variants emerging due to the rise in infections in China.

US officials said Tuesday the country is considering imposing restrictions on travelers from China, after Japan, India and other states decided to require PCR tests for passengers arriving from China.

“The international community is increasingly concerned about the continuing outbreaks of COVID-19 in China and the lack of transparent data, including viral genomic sequence data, reported” by China, US officials said.

Given this, Washington “considers taking measures similar” to countries like Japan and Malaysia, they added.

For its part, Italy decided on Wednesday to impose mandatory tests on all travelers from China.

Taiwan, the self-governing island that China calls its own, said Wednesday that visitors to China will have to undergo diagnostic tests.

predictable and controlled

Beijing’s easing measures ended the zero-covid regime, with mass testing, lockdowns and extensive quarantines that paralyzed its economy and sparked protests across the country.

“The current development of the Chinese epidemiological situation is predictable and controlled,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said on Wednesday.

“The exaggeration, defamation and political manipulation with ulterior motives do not stand the test of the facts,” added Wang, who called the Western press’s coverage of the covid in China “totally biased”.

Since March 2020, passengers arriving in China had to undergo a mandatory quarantine. Solitary confinement was reduced from three to one week in June, and to five days last month, before being completely eliminated in January.

Immigration authorities said Tuesday they will reissue passports for tourism purposes starting Jan. 8 after years of strict exit controls.

Case tracking

The winter outbreak of infections occurred before the long Chinese New Year holiday in January, when hundreds of millions of people usually travel to visit their families.

The China Center for Disease Prevention and Control reported 5,231 new cases of covid and three deaths on Wednesday, after it narrowed the criteria to define whether a death was from the coronavirus.

The reported figures could be lower than the real ones because people are no longer forced to report infections.

Currently, data from online consultations, hospital visits, demand for fever medicines and emergency calls are used to “cover the limitations in the (official) reported figures,” Yin Wenwu, a disease control official, told reporters on Tuesday. .

Faced with a lack of basic medicines, the Beijing city authorities are contemplating distributing Paxlovid, a remedy against covid, in local hospitals and community clinics.

The treatment developed in the United States was available online on the platform and the Meituan delivery service, but in recent days it has sold out.

FOUNTAIN: With information from AFP