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Monday, February 6, 2023

Lack of information on China’s COVID Outbreak stirs Global Concerns

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Moves by the US, Japan, and others to require COVID-19 tests for passengers coming from China show that people around the world are worried that China’s ongoing explosive outbreak could lead to new strains and that the government might not tell the rest of the world quickly enough.

So far, no new variants have been reported. But based on China’s past behavior, there is concern that the country may not share information about new strains that could cause new outbreaks in other places.

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When the US said on Wednesday that passengers from China would have to get a negative test, they said it was because of a rise in infections and a lack of information, such as the genomic sequencing of the virus strains in the country.

When he said that passengers from China would have to take a test, Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said that he was also worried about a lack of information.

Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus recently said that the WHO needs more information about how bad the outbreak is in China, especially about how many people are being admitted to hospitals and ICUs, “so that we can make a full risk assessment of the situation on the ground.” India, South Korea, Taiwan, and Italy have all said that passengers from China will have to go through different tests. German health officials are keeping an eye on the situation, but they haven’t taken any similar precautions.

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“We have no evidence that a more dangerous variant has developed in this outbreak in China,” said Sebastian Guelde, a spokesman for the Health Ministry. “This would be a reason to declare a virus variant area, which would restrict travel,” he added.

Last week, Mao Ning, a spokeswoman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said that China has always shared information with the WHO and the rest of the world in a responsible way.

She said, “We are ready to work together with the rest of the world to better deal with the COVID problem, protect people’s lives and health, restore steady economic growth, and build a global community of health for all.”

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China got rid of a lot of its strict pandemic rules earlier this month. This made it easier for the virus to spread in a country that hadn’t seen many cases since the first devastating outbreak in Wuhan in early 2020.

As infections spread, there weren’t enough cold medicines, there were long lines at fever clinics, and emergency rooms had to turn people away because they were full.

Cremations have gone up by several times, and funeral homes in the city of Guangzhou are so busy that they are asking families to put off funerals until next month.

China hasn’t told many people about this, and they say that Western media are making a big deal out of it. Since the start of the pandemic, people have said that the government is keeping information about the outbreak secret.

An investigation by the AP showed that China was keeping its own research on the origins of COVID-19 from getting out. In a report released this year, a WHO expert group said that “key pieces of data” were still missing about how the pandemic started and asked for a more thorough investigation.

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