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Beijing Slams U.S., Others Over Virus Measures

National

A health worker guides travelers arriving from China in front of a COVID-19 testing center in South Korea, January 3, 2023. | Image by JUNG YEON-JE/Getty Images

As nearly a dozen countries have banned Chinese travelers due to an increase in COVID-19 infections, Beijing has responded with criticism and threats of countermeasures.

“We have noted that recently some people in the US have made comments on China’s COVID policy adjustment,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said at her daily briefing Wednesday.

“We also noted that quite many people have said if the US had not politicized the epidemic, and had treated it responsibly and put people’s life [sic] first like the Chinese government, perhaps the COVID situation in the US and the whole world would not have become what it is today.”

“We are firmly opposed to attempts to manipulate the COVID measures for political purposes and will take countermeasures based on the principle of reciprocity,” she said a day earlier.

The recent developments in China have raised concerns about new strains and Chinese authorities’ disclosure of outbreak information.

Citing health experts from many countries, Mao said that the main strain of the virus that is spreading in China has already been found in other places and that a new one could very well show up anywhere on the planet.

As a result, entry restrictions aimed at China, she claimed, are pointless.

Japan recently announced that all arrivals from China would need negative COVID tests, Kyodo News reported. Japan joins a list of countries that restrict travel from China, including the U.S., France, Spain, Italy, India, Israel, Australia, and Canada.

Meanwhile, EU experts gathered on Wednesday for a crisis meeting to plan a coordinated response to China’s recent relaxation of COVID-19 policies. The EU presidency, currently headed by Sweden, later issued a statement urging member states to suggest masking on flights to and from China as well as to perform random COVID testing on inbound passengers and the wastewater from flights and airports.

Élisabeth Borne, the prime minister of France, supported the obligatory virus screening. As of Wednesday, passengers traveling from China to France need to show proof of a negative virus test within 48 hours of departure and will be subject to random testing when they arrive.

At the same time, the usefulness of COVID tests has been questioned by Canadian specialists. According to Kerry Bowman, an assistant professor in the Temerty Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto, people can test positive for the virus days or even weeks after arriving in the country.

After Canada said it would require negative COVID tests on passengers from China, Hong Kong, and Macao, Bowman argued that entry screening was “absolutely a political move, and not based on science at this point.”

Instead, he claimed that a more effective, evidence-based approach would be to test wastewater from airplanes and airports to check for viral load and mutations.

The “zero-COVID” approach, which China employed for the majority of the epidemic to impose rigorous regulations intended to eradicate the virus, was dramatically relaxed in December, as The Dallas Express previously reported.

From January 8, Chinese officials said that travelers overseas would no longer have to go through quarantine when entering the country, making it much easier for those living in China to travel abroad.

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