Beijing/Brussels, December 30 – More and more countries are reacting to the corona wave in China with restrictions for travelers from the People’s Republic. Spain, Italy, the United States, South Korea, India and Japan, among others, now require negative corona tests. According to an insider, EU health experts are set to gather for another crisis meeting next week. While German employers criticized the lack of a uniform European line on Friday, Chinese state media called the measures “discriminatory”.
“Nearly three years of experience with Corona have proven that national individual efforts are dangerous for the internal market and the EU,” said the managing director of the German employers’ associations (BDA), Steffen Kampeter. “Germany’s export-based economy also needs clear and reliable regulations for people and employees entering and leaving China.” The European Union’s health committee on Thursday lifted an EU-wide testing requirement after an emergency meeting. The European Health Authority (ECDC) had qualified such an approach as unjustified, since the variants circulating in China were already found in the EU. She referred to the high level of immunization and vaccination rates in the EU. Nevertheless, Spain decided on Friday that travelers from China should present a negative corona test or a full vaccination against Covid-19.
In a letter to the EU’s 27 health ministers, EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides called on them to be “very vigilant”. She referred to the lifting of travel restrictions by China on January 8 and the lack of reliable data from the People’s Republic. If a new variant emerges, the EU must recognize it at an early stage so that it can react quickly, the commissioner wrote in the letter seen by Reuters. EU states should once again strengthen their corona virus sequencing measures. It is important to continue or begin monitoring of effluents, including effluents from major airports. According to an EU insider, health experts from the international community are expected to discuss the way forward at a crisis meeting next week.
Chinese state media criticized the restrictions. “The real intention is to sabotage China’s three-year Covid-19 control effort and attack the country’s system,” the state-run tabloid Global Times wrote. She called the restrictions “unfounded” and “discriminatory”. China itself will lift the quarantine for inbound travelers from January 8, but will still require a negative PCR test result within 48 hours before departure.
Germany has not imposed any special measures so far. A health ministry spokesman in Berlin said on Wednesday that Germany was initially waiving entry restrictions. There is currently no indication that a more dangerous viral mutation has developed in China that would cause this. In its decision to make the tests mandatory, the United States notably cited concerns about the transfer and the lack of transparency on the part of China.
The country with its 1.4 billion inhabitants reported a single corona death on Thursday. Since the outbreak of the pandemic two years ago, the People’s Republic has had only 5,247 corona deaths. Experts consider the Chinese figures unrealistic and refer to the experiences of other countries after the lifting of protective measures. China’s special administrative region of Hong Kong, with its 7.4 million people, has so far reported more than 11,000 deaths. The United States has recorded more than one million corona deaths, Germany more than 161,000.
DATA COMPANY – END OF JANUARY 25,000 DEATHS PER DAY
In early December, under pressure from anti-government protests and a sluggish economy, China announced an abrupt abandonment of its strict zero-Covid policy. Since then, a massive corona wave has swept over the country. According to employees, hospitals and funeral homes are under enormous pressure from the rush. Long queues have formed in front of hospitals and crematoria. However, since there are hardly any more tests, this is not reflected in the official figures.
In addition, China only counts people who died of pneumonia or respiratory failure among corona deaths. Experts from British data company Airfinity now estimate the number of corona deaths in China at 9,000 per day. That would almost double last week’s estimate. According to the model’s calculations, the peak of the current wave should be reached on January 23 with around 25,000 deaths per day.
Due to the paucity of information, it is not clear whether new virus variants may have developed. The World Health Organization (WHO) has called for more transparency from China. “In order to be able to perform a full risk assessment of the Covid-19 situation on the ground in #China, WHO needs more detailed information,” tweeted its chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
Meanwhile, vaccination of Germans in China has begun with the Biontech vaccine, German Ambassador Patricia Flor tweeted on Friday. China had only recently allowed this after Chancellor Olaf Scholz advocated it during his visit to Beijing in early December. Chinese vaccines are considered significantly less effective than modern mRNA vaccines.
The massive corona wave is also leaving deep scars in the Chinese economy. Experts say the economy of the world’s second largest economy is set to weaken as many employees are absent due to illness. Some economists are predicting a strong recovery from fairly low levels over the next year. However, there are fears that some of the damage caused by the strict zero-Covid policy of recent years will be long-term.
Additional restrictions for travelers from China due to the Corona wave
Photo symbol: Image by Leo on Pixabay
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