Wall Street Times

COVID pushes US to mandate testing

After China said it would reopen its borders next week, the US became the latest to require Covid tests for people coming from China.

Italy, Japan, Taiwan, and India all said they would require tests, but Australia and the UK said that travelers from China would only have to follow the new rules.

China has been closed to the rest of the world for three years, but starting on January 8; people will be able to travel more freely.

But the fact that the country’s Covid boom is still going on has made people nervous.

Analysts say that China’s numbers should be more accurate and that the number of cases daily may be closer to a million. Reports say that hospitals are complete and that it takes more work for people to get the necessary medicines.

The US said on Wednesday that China’s lack of “adequate and transparent” Covid data was why travelers from China, Hong Kong, and Macau would have to take Covid tests starting on January 5.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said this was needed “to help slow the spread of the virus while we work to identify…any possible new variants that may emerge.”

But on Wednesday, Beijing’s foreign ministry said that coronavirus rules should only be put in place if they are based on “science.” They also said that the situation was being “hyped up” by the West and the media.

Some people were upset when China shut down social media.

But some people said they knew why the rules were there. One user wrote, “This is nothing compared to all the rules we had for people entering China.”

Beijing’s decision to stop putting newcomers in quarantine was made public on Monday. This means that people can enter and leave the country again for the first time since March 2020. Everyone who went to China before this week had to go through quarantine in government buildings.

Before the pandemic, tourists from China went to more places than any other country. But it needs to be clear how many Chinese people will travel abroad after January 8 since there are only so many flights and many people need to renew their passports.

The rest of the world has reacted in different ways. For example, the UK and Australia said they were keeping an eye on China’s Covid situation but didn’t plan to announce any new testing requirements.

Others countries have acted quickly to place COVID limits

People from China will be checked for Covid on Friday when they arrive in Japan. People who test positive will have to stay in quarantine for up to seven days. The number of flights to and from China will also be limited.

People from China and four other Asian countries must pass a Covid test before traveling to India. People who are found to have HIV will also be put in quarantine.

Taiwan says that people who come to two islands from China by plane or boat between January 1 and January 31 will have to take Covid tests. Those who test positive can then stay at home and avoid other people.

In the meantime, Malaysia has set up more ways to keep track of people and keep an eye on them.

Italy has also required Chinese tourists to take the Covid test.

The European Commission said that its health security committee would meet on Thursday to discuss “possible measures for a coordinated EU approach” to China’s Covid surge.

But Italy, an EU member and will be a hotspot for the virus in late 2019 and 2020, said it would move first to “ensure the surveillance and identification” of any new virus variants.

This week, people from China were being checked on flights to Milan. Unfortunately, 52% of the people on a flight that landed on December 26 were found to have Covid.

Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said that the first tests of Covid-positive travelers from China showed that 15 already had Omicron variants found in Italy. She said the news was a big relief.

Italy is one of the 26 European countries that make up the borderless Schengen zone. So Ms. Meloni wants passengers from China to be checked everywhere in the EU. However, she says Italy’s plans might only work for a short time.

On Wednesday, China’s foreign ministry said, “Right now, the spread of epidemics in China is predictable and under control.”

But the real 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. Sunday, officials said they would stop putting out daily counts of cases.

Read Also: China to end quarantine for foreign arrivals 

China’s controversial zero-Covid policy, which President Xi Jinping backed, will end now that the country has decided to reopen its borders.

Even though the rest of the world learned to live with the virus, Beijing insisted on a plan to eliminate it that included mass testing and strict lockdowns.

As the economy worsened, people got tired and angry, and in November, they protested against Mr. Xi and his government. Then, after a week, Beijing started to relax the rules.

Opinions expressed by The Wall Street Times contributors are their own.