January 31, 2023

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Covid-19: As China again worries the whole world: the emergence of new, more invasive strains is feared

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The sudden explosion in the number of people infected with Covid-19 in China is threatening the world. Several countries have already announced that they will implement formal checks on travelers from the Middle Kingdom. On the disease front, scientists fear the possible emergence of new, more serious variants.

Contagion threats from China after three years… In the last days of 2019, when the world became aware of the coronavirus, all eyes were once again on the Middle Kingdom and its run. Uncontrollable new Covid-19 patients. They’re crazy figures: When Beijing announced on December 25 that it would stop communicating the number of new cases and deaths, experts put the figure at 37 million daily infections, apparently related to the sudden end. At the beginning of December, the “Zero Covid” policy that has prevailed in the country since the start of the pandemic.

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The “liberated” Chinese population today is severely affected by the BF.7 variant – already active elsewhere in the world – once cases are detected, with small doses of vaccinations and very few immunizations, forced detentions and quarantines. Experts fear that new strains may prove more virulent than current forms of the virus in circulation.

“Get Out of China”

The situation on the Covid front is incomparable to 2020, thanks to vaccination and the immunity gained by successive waves. However, in the midst of a serious outbreak, Beijing has allowed its people to travel freely. Since January 8, it has again sparked an outcry in many countries abroad. As a result, the United States has announced that travelers from China will require negative PCR tests. Japan has taken a similar step. India and Malaysia have followed suit, and other countries may soon follow suit. Much to the chagrin of Chinese officials who accused him of “certain comments” on Thursday […] smear (China) and inconsistent with reality”. Without explicitly naming countries, Beijing called for “scientific” measures that would not disrupt human exchanges.

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Europe in all this? To begin with, Italy, hit hard by Covid-19 in 2020, announced the implementation of mandatory tests. In France, Emmanuel Macron asked the government for “appropriate security measures” for the French. However, the European Commission appealed for an “integrated approach” at twenty-seven levels. A meeting to this effect was convened in Brussels on Thursday, where members agreed on the need to establish a common and coherent strategy at Union level, but did not take any decisions at this stage.

“unfair” action

However, it was not enough to convince the health authorities. For the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), it is “unfair” to introduce mandatory screening for Covid-19 within the EU for travelers from China. European countries “have relatively high levels of immunization and vaccination” and “variants circulating in China are already circulating in the EU,” the ECDC said in a statement.

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It is the same story in France. When asked about France Inter Thursday morning, Brigitte Audran, head of the Committee for Monitoring and Anticipation of Health Risks (Covars), opined that border screening “never prevented the virus from entering” a country. The only “potential interest” in his view: analyzing the type of variant carried by travelers to identify a previously unknown mutation. For others, systematic screening would have another benefit: avoiding the opacity maintained by Beijing about the reality of the disease in China.

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