Wall Street Times

China criticizes mandatory COVID test

Image Source: PBS

The government of China claims that some nations’ limitations on Chinese travelers are done for political purposes, and it has warned that it may do the same.

Some countries, such as the United States, India, and the United Kingdom, have made it illegal to test Chinese immigrants.

There have been an increase in Covid instances after the country relaxed its tight standards.

Furthermore, some are concerned that not enough instances and deaths are being reported.

China’s last daily Covid update, on December 24, said there were less than 5,000 cases. But some experts say that the number of cases daily is already over 2 million and could reach nearly 4 million this month.

Due to a lack of information and China’s announcement that it would relax travel restrictions on January 8, more than a dozen countries said they would test people coming from China for Covid.

The World Health Organization has asked China to give more real-time information. On Tuesday, a foreign ministry spokeswoman said that Beijing was ready to improve how it talks to the rest of the world.

Mao Ning, a spokeswoman for the government, said that the government was “firmly opposed to attempts to use pandemic prevention and control measures for political purposes” and would take “corresponding measures” based on the principle of reciprocity.

Most of China’s borders have been closed since March 2020. This meant that only a small number of foreigners could come in, and those who did have to undergo strict tests and quarantine.

Both the European Union’s agency for preventing diseases and Australia’s Chief Medical Officer have said that high vaccination rates and immunity make Covid less of a threat.

Some countries, like the EU, have even had Chinese immigrants take tests.

The European Commission, which is in charge of running the European Union, said that most member states want to put travel restrictions in place. Some countries have already implemented their plans, but the EU will probably decide on Wednesday if this will apply to all of them.

This isn’t the first time the virus has made Beijing disagree with the rest of the world. At the end of 2019, it was first found in Wuhan, which is in central China. The government needed to find out where it came from.

Also, on Tuesday, China said no to an offer from the European Union to send an unspecified number of Covid-19 vaccines to help deal with the rise in cases. China said it already has enough vaccines to handle the increase.

According to official data, China has given more than 3.4 billion doses, most of which were CoronaVac.

So far, the government has only let people use Chinese-made vaccines, which are less effective against the Omicron variant than mRNA vaccines made in the West.

Strict rules for visitors from China

France and Spain decided to test Chinese tourists using Covid after Italy did the same thing.

The French government said that people flying from China to France must show a negative Covid test less than 48 hours before boarding.

Visitors to Spain who have had all their shots can skip the tests. But Spain does take some vaccines from China.

Beijing has said its borders will be open again next week, the first time since March 2020.

People are worried about the current Covid surge because hospitals are getting full, and illness is spreading.

On Friday, the UK, South Korea, and Israel announced new testing rules. Testing has already been limited in the US and India.

France and Spain have yet to say when the measures will take effect.

But France’s health and transportation ministries said the government would issue a decree and tell other EU countries about it.

On Thursday, the EU’s agency for preventing diseases said that these steps weren’t needed in Europe because people already have a high level of immunity, and there are already variants of the disease that are spreading in China.

The World Health Organization, on the other hand, said that it was “understandable” that some countries chose to put restrictions in place and asked Beijing to be more open about its Covid numbers.

Early this week, China’s foreign ministry said that the situation with China’s epidemics was predictable and under control.

But the number of cases and deaths daily in China is unknown because officials no longer require cases to be reported and have changed how Covid deaths are counted.

Han Duck-soo, the Prime Minister of South Korea, said that people from China who want to fly to South Korea need a negative PCR or antigen test.

They will also have to take a PCR test on the day they arrive in South Korea.

Also, Israel told foreign airlines that they couldn’t let people fly from China unless tested, and it asked its people not to go there unless they had to.

Some countries are the only ones who have said they will have control. For example, Australia, France, Portugal, and Germany have all said that there will be no new rules.

Germany’s health minister, on the other hand, has said that his country wants a coordinated system to keep track of variants in all European airports.

Read Also: COVID pushes the US to mandate testing 

China’s decision this week to reopen its borders on January 8 is the final step in the country’s controversial zero-Covid policy, which President Xi Jinping personally supported.

While the rest of the world learned to live with the virus, Beijing kept a strict lockdown and a policy of mass testing to try to get rid of it.

People were so mad at Mr. Xi and his government in November that they held rare protests in the streets. As a result, Beijing started to loosen the rules after a week.