Beijing/Brussels, December 30 – More and more countries are reacting to the corona wave in China with restrictions on travelers from the People’s Republic. Among others, Spain, Italy, the USA, South Korea, India and Japan now require negative corona tests. According to an insider, the EU’s health experts are expected to meet for another crisis meeting next week. While German employers criticized the lack of a uniform EU line on Friday, Chinese state media criticized the measures as “discriminatory”.
“Almost three years of experience with Corona have proven that national solo efforts are dangerous for the internal market and the EU,” says the head of the German employers’ associations (BDA), Steffen Kampeter. “The export-based German economy also needs clear and reliable rules for people and employees entering and leaving China.” The Health Committee of the European Union waived an EU-wide testing requirement on Thursday after an emergency meeting. The European Health Authority (ECDC) had described such a move as unjustified, since the variants circulating in China had already been found in the EU. She referred to the high level of immunization and vaccination in the EU. Nevertheless, Spain decided on Friday that travelers from China must show a negative corona test or a full vaccination against Covid-19.
In a letter to the EU’s 27 health ministers, EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides urged them to be “very vigilant”. She referred to China’s lifting of travel restrictions on January 8 and the lack of reliable data from the People’s Republic. If a new variant emerges, the EU must recognize it at an early stage in order to be able to react quickly, the commissioner writes in the letter, which Reuters has seen. The EU countries should once again strengthen their measures for sequencing the corona virus. It is important to continue or start monitoring wastewater, including wastewater from major airports. According to an EU insider, health experts from the international community are expected to discuss how to move forward at a crisis meeting next week.
Chinese state media criticized the restrictions. “The real intention is to sabotage China’s three-year Covid-19 control efforts and attack the country’s system,” the state-run Global Times tabloid wrote. She called the restrictions “unfounded” and “discriminatory”. China itself will lift the quarantine for incoming travelers from January 8, but will still require a negative PCR test result within 48 hours before departure.
Germany has so far not introduced any special measures. A health ministry spokesman in Berlin said on Wednesday that Germany is initially waiving entry restrictions. There is currently no evidence that a more dangerous virus mutation has developed in China that would result in this. In its decision to make testing mandatory, the United States cited concerns about mutation and a lack of transparency on China’s part in particular.
The country with its 1.4 billion inhabitants reported a single corona death on Thursday. Since the outbreak of the pandemic two years ago, the People’s Republic has only counted 5,247 corona deaths. Experts consider the Chinese figures unrealistic and refer to the experience of other countries after the protection measures were lifted. The Chinese special administrative region of Hong Kong, with its 7.4 million inhabitants, has so far reported more than 11,000 deaths. The US registered over a million corona deaths, Germany more than 161,000.
DATA BUSINESS – END OF JANUARY 25,000 DEATHS PER. DAY
In early December, under pressure from anti-government protests and a slowing economy, China announced an abrupt departure from its strict zero-Covid policy. Since then, a massive corona wave has rolled through the country. According to employees, hospitals and funeral homes are under enormous pressure because of the rush. Long queues formed in front of hospitals and crematoria. However, since there are almost no tests anymore, this is not reflected in the official figures.
In addition, China only counts people who died of pneumonia or respiratory failure among the corona deaths. The experts at the British data company Airfinity now estimate the number of corona deaths in China at 9,000 per day. That would nearly double the estimate from last week. According to the model calculations, the peak of the current wave should be reached on January 23, with around 25,000 deaths per day.
Due to the sparse information, it is still unclear whether new virus variants may have developed. The World Health Organization (WHO) called for more transparency from China. “In order to conduct a comprehensive risk assessment of the Covid-19 situation on the ground in #China, WHO needs more detailed information,” tweeted its chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
Meanwhile, vaccination of Germans in China started with the Biontech vaccine, German Ambassador Patricia Flor tweeted on Friday. China had only recently allowed this after Chancellor Olaf Scholz advocated it during his visit to Beijing in early December. The Chinese vaccines are considered to be significantly less effective than the modern mRNA vaccines.
The massive corona wave is also leaving deep traces in the Chinese economy. According to experts, the economy of the second largest economy in the world is likely to weaken as many employees are absent due to illness. Some economists predict a strong recovery from fairly low levels over the next year. However, there are concerns that some of the damage caused by the strict zero-Covid policies of the past few years may be long-term.
Additional restrictions for travelers from China due to the Corona wave
Symbol photo: Image by Leo on Pixabay
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