Government Policy

Beijing threatens response to ‘unacceptable’ virus measures

The statement from the agency comes as Sweden, which has taken over EU’s rotating presidency, has called a meeting of the EU’s crisis management mechanism for Wednesday to try to agree on a common European line.

 

The Swedish government “is preparing to be able to introduce travel restrictions. At the same time, we are conducting a dialogue with our European colleagues to get the same rules as possible in the EU,” Justice Minister Gunnar Strömmer said in a statement.

 

Austria, too, plans to test the wastewater of all planes arriving from China for new variants of the coronavirus, the Austria Press Agency reported Tuesday, following a similar announcement by Belgium a day earlier.

 

Chinese health officials said last week that they had submitted data to GISAID, a global platform for sharing coronavirus data.

 

The versions of the virus fueling infections in China “closely resemble” those that have been seen in different parts of the world between July and December, GISAID said Monday.

 

Dr. Gagandeep Kang, who studies viruses in the Christian Medical College of Vellore in India, said that the information from China, albeit limited, seemed to suggest that “the pattern was holding” and that there wasn’t any sign of a worrisome variant emerging.

 

Mi Feng, the spokesperson for China’s National Health Commission, said authorities have been open and transparent since the start of the pandemic three years ago. China held technical exchange meetings twice with the WHO last month on the overall situation, medical treatment, vaccination and other issues, he said Tuesday.

 

A senior Hong Kong official also criticized the steps taken by some other countries. Some have applied the requirements to passengers from Hong Kong and Macao, both semiautonomous Chinese territories, as well as mainland China.

 

Hong Kong Chief Secretary Eric Chan said in a Facebook post that the government had written to various consulates on Monday to express its concerns over the “unnecessary and inappropriate” rules.

 

Some experts have questioned the effectiveness of the testing. Kerry Bowman, assistant professor at the University of Toronto’s Temerty Faculty of Medicine, said that people can test positive long after entering the country.

 

The requirement is “not based on science at this point,” he said after Canada announced measures last weekend.

 

China, which for most of the pandemic adopted a “zero-COVID” strategy that imposed harsh restrictions aimed at stamping out the virus, abruptly eased those measures in December.

 

Chinese authorities previously said that from Jan. 8, overseas travelers would no longer need to quarantine upon arriving in China, paving the way for Chinese residents to travel.

 

Source: United News of Bangladesh