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Countries bring back COVID travel restrictions for visitors from China

Countries around the world take steps to test or limit travelers from China as China, with a population of 1.4 billion, abandons its COVID-zero policy and prepares to reopen its borders in early January or are considering

The U.S. is considering new coronavirus precautions for people traveling from China as concerns grow over new risks of the spread of the disease, said U.S. officials who requested anonymity to discuss their internal thoughts. Japan moved swiftly to announce measures requiring negative COVID-19 tests on arrival yesterday, shortly after Beijing announced it would no longer have to quarantine inbound travelers from Jan. 8. .

Faced with dissatisfaction with COVID-zero rules, China is rapidly dismantling its draconian pandemic measures, sparking outbreaks across the country. The lack of reliable official figures and the uncertainty of the true scale of infection have raised concerns that the virus’ rapid spread could lead to the emergence of new variants.

U.S. officials said they questioned the transparency of the data the Chinese government reports on the spread of the virus. Earlier this week, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said there was a “great discrepancy” in information coming out of Japan, raising concerns.

China is experiencing the world’s largest COVID-19 outbreak, raising concerns among public health officials around the world. About 37 million people may have contracted the virus in a single day last week, according to estimates from the government’s top health authority.

Japan requires visitors who have been in mainland China within seven days to have a negative COVID-19 test result upon arrival, but those who test positive must quarantine for a week.

The U.S. is considering similar measures as a way to prevent further spread of the virus, officials said. Malaysia is also imposing new tracking and surveillance measures. India began random testing of about 2% of passengers arriving from other countries at all international airports a week ago to minimize the risk of new variants entering the country.

China will start issuing new passports and Hong Kong travel permits to mainland residents, the State Immigration Service said in a WeChat announcement late Monday. Applications for visa extensions or renewals by foreign nationals will also resume as part of the relaxation of measures on 8 March.

The new US travel precautions are based on consultations with public health experts and international partners, officials said. They said the consultation was driven in part by concerns over the lack of genome sequencing data that could help identify the emergence of new variants.

Health experts say they are concerned that the virus’ unabated spread could give rise to dangerous new variants since the Omicron strain spiked infections more than a year ago.

GISAID, a global consortium that maintains a database for scientists around the world to share coronavirus sequences and monitor mutations, said Tuesday that China stepped up surveillance amid the ongoing outbreak. said. All the sequences shared by Chinese health officials show that the virus fueling the massive nationwide outbreak is very similar to circulating variants found elsewhere in the world since July. , they added.

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