Lack of information on China’s COVID outbreak raises global concern

BEIJING (AP) — Moves by the United States, Japan and others to mandate COVID-19 testing of passengers arriving from China reflect global concern that new variants could emerge in its ongoing explosive outbreak – and the government may not let the rest of the world know fast enough.

No new variants have been reported to date. But given the country’s track record, the concern is that China is not sharing data on signs of evolving strains that could trigger new outbreaks elsewhere.

The United States, announcing a negative test requirement Wednesday for passengers arriving from China, cited both the spike in infections and what he said was a lack of information, including genomic sequencing of virus strains in the country.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida expressed a similar concern about the lack of information when he announced a testing requirement. for passengers from China earlier this week.

More broadly, Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus recently said the WHO needs more information on the severity of the outbreak in China, particularly regarding hospital and intensive care admissions, “in order to carry out a full risk assessment of the situation on the ground”.

India, South Korea, Taiwan and Italy have also announced various testing requirements for passengers arriving from China. German health authorities are monitoring the situation but have not taken similar preventive measures.

“We have no indication that a more dangerous variant has developed during this outbreak in China that would justify declaring a variant zone of the virus, which would trigger corresponding travel restrictions,” the carrier said. word of the Ministry of Health, Sebastian Guelde.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning said last week that China has always shared its information responsibly with the WHO and the international community.

“We stand ready to work in solidarity with the international community to more effectively meet the challenge of COVID, better protect people’s lives and health, and jointly restore stable economic growth and build a global community of health for all.” she declared.

China rolled back many of its strict pandemic restrictions earlier this month, allowing the virus to spread in a country that had seen relatively few infections since an initial devastating outbreak in the city of Wuhan in early 2020.

The spiraling infections led to shortages of cold medicine, long lines at fever clinics and emergency rooms turning away patients because they were full. Cremations have increased severalfold, with a request from overcrowded funeral homes in Guangzhou city for families to postpone funeral services until next month.

China has not widely reported this and has accused Western media of exaggerating the situation. The government has been accused of controlling information about the outbreak since the start of the pandemic.

A PA survey showed that China was controlling the dissemination of its internal research on the origins of COVID-19 in 2020. A WHO expert panel said in a report this year that “key data” was still missing on the origins of COVID-19. how the pandemic started and called for further investigation.


Wu reported from Taipei, Taiwan. AP writers Geir Moulson in Berlin and video producer Liu Zheng in Beijing contributed.

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