Lack of information on the Covid epidemic in China raises global concerns

BEIJING: Steps taken by the United States, Japan and others to impose Covid -19 tests on passengers arriving from China reflect global concern that new variants could emerge in its ongoing explosive epidemic – and the government might 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, in announcing a negative test requirement for passengers arriving from China on Wednesday, cited both the spike in infections and what it called a lack of information, including genomic sequencing of strains. virus 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 arriving 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, which would justify declaring a variant zone of the virus, which would lead to corresponding travel restrictions,” ministry spokesperson of Health. Sebastien Guelde said.
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 address 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.
An AP investigation showed that China controlled the dissemination of its internal research into the origins of Covid -19 in 2020. A WHO expert panel said in a report this year that there was still a lack of information. “key data” on how the pandemic started and demanded further investigation.

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