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

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

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  • The US, Japan and others require COVID tests from Chinese visitors
  • Chinese state media calls COVID travel restrictions ‘discriminatory’
  • China’s manufacturing activity likely cooled in December – survey

BEIJING, Dec 30 (Reuters) – Chinese state media said the COVID-19 testing requirements imposed by several places around the world in response to a rising wave of infections were “discriminatory” in the most blatant pushback against restrictions that delay reopening.

After keeping its borders nearly closed for three years, imposing a strict lockdown regime and relentless testing, China suddenly reversed course on living with the virus on Dec. 7, and a wave of infections erupted across the country.

some places were surprised by the scale of the outbreak in China and expressed skepticism about Beijing’s COVID statistics, such as United States, South Korea, IndiaItaly, Japan and Taiwan mandate COVID tests for travelers from China.

“The real intention is to sabotage China’s three-year effort to control COVID-19 and attack the country’s system,” the state-run Global Times tabloid said in an article late Thursday, calling the restrictions “baseless” and “discriminatory.”

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

On Thursday, Italy urged other European Union countries to follow suit, but France, Germany and Portugal said they saw no need for new restrictions, while Austria highlighted the economic benefits of Chinese tourists returning to Europe.

The global spending of Chinese visitors was worth it more than $250 billion annually before the pandemic.

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

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers waste water sampling from international planes to track any emerging new variants, the agency told Reuters.

China, a country of 1.4 billion people, reported one new death from COVID on Thursday, as well as the day before — numbers that do not match the experience of other countries since they reopened.

China’s official death toll of 5,247 since the pandemic began compares with more than 1 million deaths in the United States. Chinese-ruled Hong Kong, a city of 7.4 million people, has reported more than 11,000 deaths.

UK-based health data firm Airfinity reported on Thursday approx 9000 people in China probably die every day from COVID. China’s cumulative deaths since Dec. 1 may have reached 100,000, with infections totaling 18.6 million, it said.

Airfinity expects China’s COVID infections to reach their first peak on January 13, with 3.7 million cases per day.

“EXCLUDED MORTALITY”

China’s chief epidemiologist, Wu Zunyu, said Thursday that a team from the Chinese Centers for Disease Control and Prevention plans to estimate the deaths differently.

The team will measure the difference between the number of deaths in the current wave of infections and the number of deaths expected if the outbreak had never occurred. By calculating “excess mortality,” China will be able to calculate what could potentially be underestimated, Wu said.

China said it only counts deaths of COVID patients caused by pneumonia and respiratory failure as COVID-related.

The relatively low number of deaths is also inconsistent with the growing demand reported by funeral homes in several Chinese cities.

The lifting of the restrictions, following widespread protests against them in November, has crowded hospitals and funeral homes across the country, with scenes of people on roadside IVs and hearse queues outside crematoriums fueling public anxiety.

Health experts say China is caught ill prepared from the sudden reversal of policies long championed by President Xi Jinping. In December, bids by hospitals for key medical equipment such as ventilators and patient monitors were two to three times higher than in previous months, according to a Reuters review, suggesting hospitals across the country are struggling to fill shortages.

ECONOMIC DISADVANTAGES

The world’s second-largest economy is expected to slow further in the near term as factory workers and shoppers fall ill. Some economists are predicting a strong recovery from the low base next year, but concerns remain that some of the damage done by three years of restrictions may be long-term.

Consumers may need time to rebuild their confidence and appetite for spending after losing income during the lockdown, while the private sector may have used its expansion funds to covering losses caused by the restrictions.

Heavily indebted China will also face slowing demand in its main export markets as its huge property sector licks its wounds after a series of bankruptcies.

Factory activity in China likely cooled in December as rising infections began to affect production lines, Reuters survey showed on Friday.

Written by Marius Zacharias. Editing by Gerry Doyle

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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