Top health officials in China have warned against skin-to-skin contact with foreigners to prevent the spread of monkeypox, prompting a backlash from the country’s dwindling expatriate population.
China’s first infectious disease case was reported on Friday in Chongqing, a city in the country’s southwestern region. According to a statement on the local health commission website, the patient has been isolated, and the risk of an outbreak is low.
Despite the reassurance, a representative from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention advised taking extreme precautions to avoid the virus that has caused a global outbreak of infections since a case was reported in Europe in May.
Wu Zunyou, the chief epidemiologist at the CCDC in China, stated on his official Weibo page on Saturday, “To stop possible monkeypox infection and as part of a healthy lifestyle, it is recommended that you avoid direct skin-to-skin contact with foreigners.”
The World Health Organization reports more than 52,000 people, predominantly men, in 102 countries have been diagnosed with monkeypox, resulting in at least 18 deaths.
Generally, it is transmitted through close contacts, such as touching a contaminated object or a symptomatic skin lesion. There is no indication of a racial element.
China’s zero-tolerance approach to Covid-19, which included travel restrictions, may have limited its exposure to the escalating global outbreak. However, the notion that foreigners could spread it was offensive to many.
The announcement makes everyone angry, said a British teacher in Shandong province in China who requested anonymity to discuss sensitive issues. Racism occurs everywhere, but in most nations, people recognize its wrongness and speak out against it, the teacher stated.
In China, however, there is a constant drumbeat that foreigners are dangerous, describing this as state-sponsored racism.