China Covid – latest news: Beijing threatens retaliation over travel rules as ‘70% of Shanghai infected’

Ben Wallace says Covid screening on travelers from China is ‘under review’

Beijing has threatened to impose counter-measures on countries such as the UK following the introduction of new Covid restrictions on passengers arriving from China.

“We believe that the entry restrictions adopted by some countries targeting China lack scientific basis, and some excessive practices are even more unacceptable,” foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said on Tuesday.

“We are firmly opposed to attempts to manipulate the Covid measures for political purposes and will take countermeasures based on the principle of reciprocity.”

People arriving from China into Britain need to present a negative Covid test before entry. Earlier today, however, a Cabinet minister announced that travelers testing positive for coronavirus after arriving from China would not be forced to quarantine.

The UK Department for Health and Social Care said China had been slapped with the new rules because of “a lack of comprehensive health information”, as Chinese state media continue to downplay the severity of the current outbreak.

Chen Erzhen, vice president at Ruijin Hospital in Shanghai and a member of the city’s Covid expert advisory panel, was quoted as saying that 70 percent of the megacity may have been infected.

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EU presses for negative Covid report for China passengers

The EU is moving towards making it mandatory for passengers from China to test negative for Covid-19 in order to enter the bloc nations.

The EU health advisers yesterday agreed on a draft opinion that includes masking recommendations and increased wastewater monitoring and suggests discussing Covid testing.

A strong majority of countries back pre-departure tests, Bloomberg quoted a commission spokesperson as saying. “Unity remains our strongest tool against Covid,” the EU’s health commissioner, Stella Kyriakides, tweeted.

EU ambassadors will meet today to discuss the recommendations.

Alisha Rahman Sarkar4 Jan 2023 05:45

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People urged to wear masks and stay at home if unwell

People have been urged to wear face coverings and remain at home if feeling unwell, as an already crisis-stricken NHS faces down multiple waves of winter illnesses.

With children returning to school at a time when high levels of flu, Covid-19 and scarlet fever are all being reported, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has issued fresh guidance in a bid to minimize the diseases’ spread.

Parents have been urged to keep children at home if they are unwell and have a fever, with adults told to only go out if necessary and wear face coverings if they are ill and avoid visiting vulnerable people.

Alisha Rahman Sarkar4 Jan 2023 04:45

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China reports five new Covid deaths

China on Wednesday reported five new Covid-19 related deaths, compared with three a day earlier, the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention said.

The official death toll now stands at 5,258.

Alisha Rahman Sarkar4 Jan 2023 03:48

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China state media plays down severity of Covid surge

State media in China has played down the severity of a surge of Covid cases on Tuesday as its scientists briefed the World Health Organization.

The global body had invited the scientists to present data on viral sequencing at a technical advisory group meeting and has asked China to share data on hospitalisations, deaths and vaccinations.

A spokesperson said the agency expected a “detailed discussion” about circulating variants in China and globally and it is expected to give an update on Wednesday.

China’s abrupt U-turn on Covid controls as well as the accuracy of its case and mortality data, have come under increasing scrutiny at home and abroad.

China’s foreign ministry labeled travel entry curbs imposed by some countries as “simply unreasonable”, saying they “lacked scientific basis”.

“We are willing to improve communication with the world,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning told reporters in Beijing.

“But … we are firmly opposed to attempts to manipulate the epidemic prevention and control measures for political purposes.”

Natalie Crockett4 Jan 2023 02:45

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Covid travel restrictions return – the new rules explained

Covid travel restrictions are back. From January 5, every traveler flying from mainland China to England will need to provide a negative test result before being allowed on the plane. It is not yet clear what kinds of tests will be acceptable, but the previous policy was to allow lateral flow/rapid antigen tests as well as more reliable and expensive PCR tests.

In addition, travelers flying direct from China to Heathrow may be invited to take a second test on arrival. The government says as many as 20 percent of arriving passengers will be checked, though they are able to decline the invitation.

The government announced the measures on Friday night – a day after saying there were no plans to reintroduce Covid testing.

Our travel correspondent Simon Calder explains what it all means.

Natalie Crockett4 Jan 2023 01:45

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Potential for imported Covid cases from China ‘low’, says European health body

The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control said last week it did not recommend measures on travelers from China.

It said the variants circulating in China were already in the European Union, that EU citizens had relatively high vaccination levels and the potential for imported infections was low compared to daily infections in the EU, with healthcare systems currently coping.

Despite the health body’s stance, most European Union countries favor introducing pre-departure testing for travelers from China, the European Commission said on Tuesday.

“The overwhelming majority of countries are in favor of pre-departure testing,” a Commission spokesman said.

“These measures would need to be targeted at the most appropriate flights and airports and carried out in a coordinated way to ensure their effectiveness,” he said.

The Commission on Tuesday prepared a draft proposal for the talks, which included a recommendation for mask-wearing on flights from China, wastewater monitoring for planes arriving from China, testing at airports and increased EU vigilance on testing and vaccination.

“This will now be revised and adopted based on the input of (EU) Member States,” the Commission spokesman said, adding more talks on the measures would take place at another meeting of health EU officials on Wednesday afternoon.

EU to try again for coordination on China Covid policies

European Union nations will try again on Wednesday to mold a coordinated approach on if and how to check incoming airline passengers from China for any new COVID-19 variants after several member nations announced individual efforts over the past week

Natalie Crockett4 Jan 2023 00:45

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Belgium to test wastewater on planes traveling from Covid-hit China

Belgium will test wastewater from planes arriving from China for new Covid variants as part of new steps to prevent the spread of the virus as infections in China surge, the government announced on Monday.

“This will be an additional monitoring objective to verify that the data we receive from China is accurate,” Steven Van Gucht of the Sciensano national public health institute told Reuters.

Natalie CrockettJanuary 3, 2023 at 23:45

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Most EU countries back Covid pre-departure testing for flights from China

Most European Union countries favor introducing pre-departure Covid testing for travelers from China, the European Commission said on Tuesday.

The common EU approach emerged after a meeting on Tuesday of the Health Security Committee, an EU advisory body of national health experts from the EU’s 27 countries.

It follows Beijing’s plans to lift travel restrictions on its citizens despite a wave of Covid infections in the country.

Natalie CrockettJanuary 3, 2023 at 22:45

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ICYMI: 70 percent of Shanghai infected with Covid, doctor says

ICYMI: A senior doctor at one of Shanghai’s top hospitals has claimed that 70 per cent of the city’s population has been infected with Covid as China continues to battle a massive surge in cases.

The wave of cases comes after the Communist regime loosened draconian Covid restrictions overnight, overwhelming hospitals and crematoriums.

Chen Erzhen, vice president at Ruijin Hospital in Shanghai and a member of the city’s Covid-19 expert advisory panel, was quoted as saying the majority of the city’s 25 million people may have been infected.

Maroosha Muzaffar have more:

Natalie CrockettJanuary 3, 2023 at 22:05

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White House calls for greater ‘transparency’ from China’s Covid data

The United States has echoed calls for more transparent Covid data from Beijing, after Washington became one of the first governments to reimpose coronavirus testing requirements on people traveling from China since Xi Jinping’s “zero Covid” policy was eased.

A World Health Organization committee was holding a virtual, closed-doors meeting with experts at China’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention today, prior to which some scientists present had expressed hopes for a “more realistic picture” of the situation in China (see post at 4:43 p.m.).

A White House national security council official would not comment on Tuesday’s meeting, but echoed WHO calls for more information.

“Public health experts and officials, including in the United States, have been clear it is important that the People’s Republic of China (PRC) share more adequate and transparent epidemiological and viral genomic sequence data,” the official told Reuters.

“This is in the interest of the PRC and the international community and critical to identify any potential variants.”

Andy GregoryJanuary 3, 2023 at 20:46

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