China’s state media said Covid-19 restrictions imposed by the US and other countries in response to a surge in infections were racist and discriminatory, in the clearest rebuke yet to restrictions that are slowing China’s re-opening.
China abruptly reversed course toward living with the virus on December 7, after keeping its borders all but closed for three years, imposing a strict regime of lockdowns and relentless testing. A wave of Covid-19 infections erupted across the country.
Some countries have been taken aback by the scale of China’s outbreak and have expressed skepticism about Beijing’s Covid-19 statistics, with the US, Canada, UK, South Korea, India, Italy, Japan, and Taiwan imposing Covid-19 tests on travellers from China.
“The true intention is to sabotage China’s three years of Covid-19 control efforts and attack the country’s system,” the state-run tabloid Global Times said late Thursday (Dec 29) in an article, calling the restrictions “unfounded” and “discriminatory.”
From January 8, China will no longer require inbound travelers to undergo quarantine. However, it will still require a negative PCR test result within 48 hours of departure.
No Need for Travel Restrictions
Italy urged the rest of the European Union to follow its lead on Thursday, but France, Germany, and Portugal said there was no need for new travel restrictions, and Austria emphasized the economic benefits of tourists from China returning to Europe.
Prior to the pandemic, Chinese visitors spent more than US$250 billion (S$336 billion) globally.
The United States has expressed concern about the virus’s potential mutations as it sweeps through the world’s most populous country, as well as China’s data transparency.
According to Asia One, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is considering sampling wastewater from international aircraft to track any emerging new variants.
China, a country of 1.4 billion people, reported one new Covid-19 death on Thursday, the same as the day before — figures that do not match what other countries experienced after they re-opened.
China’s official death toll since the pandemic began is 5,247, compared to more than one million in the United States. More than 11,000 people have died in Chinese-ruled Hong Kong, a city of 7.4 million people.
Covid-19 Daily Deaths in China
According to Airfinity, a UK-based health data firm, approximately 9,000 people in China are likely dying each day from Covid-19. According to the report, the total number of deaths in China since December 1 has likely reached 100,000, with 18.6 million infections. Airfinity predicts that China’s Covid-19 infections will reach their peak on January 13, with 3.7 million cases per day.
Wu Zunyou, China’s chief epidemiologist, stated on Thursday that a team at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention intends to evaluate fatalities differently. The team will compare the number of deaths in the current wave of infections to the number of deaths expected if the epidemic had never occurred.
China will be able to determine what was potentially underestimated by calculating “excess mortality,” according to Wu. China has stated that it only considers Covid-19-related deaths to be those caused by pneumonia or respiratory failure.
The relatively low death toll also contradicts the increased demand reported by funeral homes in several Chinese cities.
Following widespread protests in November, the lifting of restrictions has overwhelmed hospitals and funeral homes across the country, with scenes of people on intravenous drips by the roadside and lines of hearses outside crematoria fueling public concern.
According to health experts, China has been caught off guard by President Xi Jinping’s abrupt change in policies.
According to a Reuters review, hospital tenders for key medical equipment such as ventilators and patient monitors were two to three times higher in December than in previous months, indicating that hospitals across the country were scrambling to fill shortages.