Chinese woman wearing a face mask during coronavirus pandemic

World prepares to contain China’s post-pandemic opening as it experiences a ‘tsunami’ of COVID cases

China’s neighbors and other more distant countries, are cautiously preparing for China’s post-pandemic opening, which has already prompted Japan and Taiwan to announce that they will require PCR testing of travelers from the Asian giant.

Chinese authorities said on Monday that from January 8 they will waive quarantine requirements for those entering the country, which is expected to encourage many Chinese to travel abroad after nearly three years of severe restrictions.

Although Chinese tourism is a boon for other economies, some neighboring countries fear the arrival of tourists infected with COVID.

The precautions taken by neighboring countries coincide with the lifting of the quarantine requirement in China to enter the country. This scenario takes place in an attempt to return to normality although the truth is that many travelers are considering whether to travel to the eastern country considering that cases of COVID-19 have skyrocketed in recent weeks.

The date decided for the opening is related to the holidays in China for the Chinese New Year, which in 2023 will be on January 22. The State Council is thus seeking a revival of tourism, both domestic and outbound.

The problem is that cases of COVID-19 have skyrocketed in the country in recent weeks and in many Chinese cities infections are in the thousands with an overload in hospitals that are at the limit of workload.

China’s National Health Commission announced Sunday that it will stop publishing daily coronavirus cases, at a time when the country is experiencing a surge in cases after relaxing some restrictions. 

Some 248 million people in China, 18% of the population, have tested positive for coronavirus in the first three weeks of December. While official statistics speak of 62,000 infections nationwide in the three weeks of December, according to The Financial Times, estimates by the deputy director of the China Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Sun Yang, show that infections are on the rise.

Regarding restrictions from neighboring countries, Philippine Transportation Minister Jaime Bautista announced Wednesday that his country is considering imposing a PCR test on arrival for travelers from China.

“We have to be very careful with Chinese travelers coming to the Philippines,” Bautista told reporters, according to GMA channel.

In the same vein, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said that starting Friday, Japanese authorities will require a PCR test for all travelers from China upon landing and that in case of a positive result, a seven-day quarantine will be imposed.

Taiwan also announced that it will require PCR testing of travelers from China starting January 1 in response to the increase in covid cases in the Asian giant, and those who test positive will be allowed to isolate themselves at home for five days.

There is also serious concern in the United States and its government is considering imposing restrictions on travelers from China.

“There is growing concern in the international community about the ongoing covid-19 surges in China and the lack of transparent data, including viral genomic sequence data, being reported from the People’s Republic of China,” U.S. officials told ABC News.

The World Health Organization (WHO), India and Malaysia have also expressed concern about the situation in China, said officials consulted by the news network.

In Europe, the Italian Ministry of Health is studying the possibility of forcing all passengers arriving in the country from China to be tested for covid. This scenario comes after receiving news about the evolution of the new wave of the disease in that country, authorities reported Wednesday.

The steering committee of the Italian Higher Institute of Health has been monitoring since last Friday the evolution of the COVID contagion in China and some passengers coming from the country are being tested, the Ministry revealed.

From Saturday December 24 until today Wednesday, the health minister “has closely followed the results of the tests of passengers arriving at Malpensa airport in Milan from China and has recommended the sequencing of all variants that may arise from the results,” a statement said.

“Surveillance and prevention, through sequencing, are essential to detect any new variant that may be of concern and that is not currently circulating in Italy,” he adds.

Minister Orazio Schillaci “has also been in contact for days with the competent authorities of the other European Union countries to define shared strategies,” the Ministry explains.

-Thailand News (TN)

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