COVID travel restrictions against Chinese visitors are ‘discriminatory’ – state media

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BEIJING/MADRID — Chinese state media has said COVID-19 testing requirements imposed by a growing number of countries on travelers from China are « discriminatory » and aimed to undermine China’s reopening, though a wave of infections broke out across the country.

After keeping its borders all but closed for three years, imposing a strict lockdown and relentless testing regime, China abruptly reversed its course to living with the virus on Dec. 7, and infections have spread rapidly in recent weeks.

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Some places were taken aback by the scale of the outbreak in China and expressed skepticism about Beijing’s COVID statistics, with South Korea and Spain the latest countries on Friday to join the United States, India and others to mandate COVID testing for travelers from China.

Malaysia said it would screen all international arrivals for the fever.

« The real intention is to sabotage China’s three-year effort to control COVID-19 and attack the country’s system, » state-run tabloid Global Times said in a Thursday night article, calling the restrictions of « unfounded » and « discriminatory ».

China will stop requiring incoming travelers to self-quarantine from January 8. But she will still require a negative PCR test result within 48 hours before departure.

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Acting a day after European Union health officials failed to agree on a common course of action, Spain has followed Italy’s lead to become the second of 27 members of the bloc to require testing for travelers from China.

« At the national level, we will put in place checks at airports requiring all passengers arriving from China to show a negative COVID-19 test or proof of a full vaccination course, » said the Minister of Health, Carolina Darias.

In recent days, French, German and Portuguese officials have said they see no need for further restrictions at this time, while Austria has stressed the economic benefits of returning Chinese tourists to Europe.

Global spending by Chinese visitors was worth more than $250 billion a year before the pandemic.

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The United States has raised concerns about the virus’ potential mutations as it sweeps through the world’s most populous country, as well as data transparency in China.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention plans to sample sewage from international planes to track any new emerging variants, the agency told Reuters.

World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the WHO needed more information to assess the latest outbreak of infections in China, without taking a position on the issue of travel testing. .

Meanwhile, a COVID vaccination campaign for German nationals in China has started its pilot phase, German Ambassador to Beijing Patricia Flor said on Twitter.

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A shipment of 11,500 doses of the BioNTech vaccine arrived last week, enough to administer an injection to half of the approximately 20,000 German nationals residing in China.


The lifting of restrictions in China, after widespread protests against them in November, overwhelmed hospitals and funeral homes across the country, with scenes of people on IV drips at the roadside and lines of hearses outside. exterior of the crematoria fueling public concern.

Health experts say China has been caught off guard by the reversal of policies long championed by President Xi Jinping.

In December, hospital tenders for key equipment such as ventilators and patient monitors were two to three times higher than in previous months, a Reuters study found, suggesting hospitals were scrambling to fill shortages.

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Experts say older people in rural areas may be particularly vulnerable due to insufficient medical resources. Next month’s Lunar New Year festival, when hundreds of millions travel to their hometowns, will add to the risk.

China, a country of 1.4 billion people, reported one new death from COVID on Thursday, like the previous day – figures that do not match the experience of other countries after they reopen.

China’s official death toll of 5,247 since the start of the pandemic compares to more than one million deaths in the United States. Chinese-ruled Hong Kong, a city of 7.4 million people, has reported more than 11,000 deaths.

British health data firm Airfinity said on Thursday that around 9,000 people in China were likely dying from COVID every day. China’s cumulative death toll since Dec. 1 likely reached 100,000, with infections totaling 18.6 million, he said.

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China’s chief epidemiologist Wu Zunyou said on Thursday that the difference between the number of deaths in the current wave of infections and the death rate for the same period in non-pandemic years would be studied to calculate « excess mortality » and assess any potential understatement. deaths from COVID-19.


The world’s second-largest economy is set to slow further in the near term as workers and shoppers fall ill.

Consumers may need time to regain their confidence and appetite to spend after losing income during the shutdowns, while the private sector may have used its expansion funds to cover losses incurred due to the restrictions.

Chinese airlines, however, appear to be early winners from the reopening.

(Additional reporting by John Revill in Zurich and Kirsti Knolle in Berlin; Writing by Marius Zaharia and Ingrid Melander; Editing by Gerry Doyle and Simon Cameron-Moore)



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