- China will introduce quarantine for foreign visitors from January 8
- The new elimination of its strong anti-virus rules
- Greece joins nations blocking travel routes to China
- Sooner or later, the holidays can flare up with viral infections
SHANGHAI/SINGAPORE, Jan 6 (Reuters) – As China nears the end of restrictions on a region that has been largely closed off from the rest of the world for three years, countries are imposing barriers to travelers from China to contain its COVID threat. -19 outbreaks.
From Sunday, January 8, China will introduce a requirement for travelers to self-quarantine, the latest repeal of its “non-COVID” policy that began last month after previous protests against frustrating series of mass closures.
But the sudden changes have exposed much of China’s 1.4 billion population to the virus for the first time, causing a wave of infections that are overwhelming some hospitals, running out of medical supplies and sparking a panic. world.
Greece, Germany and Sweden on Thursday joined a dozen countries to require Chinese travelers to be tested for COVID-19, as the World Health Organization said China’s official virus data was low. in the report of the extent of its destruction.
Chinese officials and state media have struck a defiant tone, hampering management of the outbreak, downplaying the intensity of the unrest and criticizing foreign travel requirements for its residents.
“No matter how China decides to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, some Western media and some Western politicians are not satisfied,” the government’s Global Times wrote in a statement late Thursday.
The airline industry, which has been battered by years of the pandemic, has also objected to decisions to impose tests on travelers from China. China will continue to require pre-departure testing for travelers after January 8.
Some Chinese people think the opening is too fast.
“They should do something before they open, like advising what precautions people of certain ages should take… and at least make sure the medical supplies are in good condition,” a 70-year-old man said. the age that sent it. surnamed Zhao told Reuters in Shanghai.
“Failure to do this will cause serious problems.”
China reported five new COVID-19 deaths in the mainland on Thursday, bringing the total to 5,264, one of the lowest in the world.
But that is at odds with the situation on the ground where funeral homes and crematoriums are struggling and some hospitals are overflowing with elderly patients on respirators.
International health experts believe that Beijing’s understatement of the number of COVID-19 cases does not reflect the true toll that could reach more than a million deaths this year.
Southeast Asia-Open Service
With the New Year holidays later this month, the mainland is set to reopen the border with its Hong Kong Special Administrative Region on Sunday, for the first time in three years.
Ferry services between the city and Macau’s gaming hub will resume on the same day.
Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific Airways ( 0293.HK ) said on Thursday it would more than double flights to mainland China. Flights from China remain at a small fraction of pre-COVID levels.
The WHO has warned that the holiday, which starts on January 21 and will bring the biggest drop in people on the planet as people return home from the big cities to see in families in rural areas, another wave of disease occurs without vaccination rates and other precautions. .
Authorities expect 2.1 billion passenger trips, by road, rail, water and air, during the holiday, double last year’s 1.05 billion in the same period.
The transport department has urged people to take precautions to reduce the risk of the disease to elderly relatives, pregnant women and infants.
One region that could benefit greatly from China’s reopening is Southeast Asia, which is no longer able to require COVID tests from Chinese visitors.
But for Malaysia and Thailand’s airport wastewater testing for the virus, the 11 countries in the region are like no other.
About 76% of Chinese travel agencies said Southeast Asia was the top destination when outbound travel resumed, according to a survey released in December by the ITB trade show China.
Brenda Goh in Shanghai, Bernard Orr and Liz Lee in Beijing, Farah Master in Hong Kong, Xinghui Kok in Singapore; Written by John Geddie; Edited by Robert Birsel
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