China claims COVID-19 data transparent; European officials oppose travel curbs
South Korea and Spain on Friday joined the countries which have imposed restrictions on fliers arriving from China, as it insists that its COVID-19 data is transparent in contrast to the Western media reporting an overwhelming surge of cases. India, Italy, Japan, Taiwan, and the US have already mandated negative COVID-19 reports for entry. Meanwhile, China conditionally approved US-based Merck's COVID-19 treatment, Molnupiravir.
Why does this story matter?
- Western media reports claim that China is struggling to contain a spiraling COVID-19 wave after relaxing curbs under its zero-COVID-19 policy. Videos show Chinese hospitals and crematoriums flooded with COVID-19 patients.
- China criticized the reports calling them distorted, biased, and a politically driven smear campaign.
- It stressed that it has the lowest rate of COVID-19-related serious illness and deaths compared to other countries.
Need more information to assess China's COVID-19 situation: WHO
World Health Organization's (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said it needed more information to assess the recent rise in the number of COVID-19 infections in China. He earlier expressed concern about the unprecedented surge the country was experiencing and urged it to report detailed information. Meanwhile, Dr. Chris Murray from the University of Washington said no new variants will emerge from China.
Screening, restrictions on travelers from China unjustified: European health officials
In contrast, European health officials said restrictions on travelers arriving from China were unjustified. The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control said on Thursday that health systems on the continent can handle the current load of infections. Britain was reviewing its policy on Chinese arrivals but didn't have any plans to enforce curbs as the evidence doesn't suggest the emergence of new variants.
China stopped publishing daily COVID-19 update
China recently downgraded the management of COVID-19 to Class-B infectious diseases. He said that what China did was "scientific, timely, and necessary". Notably, China's National Health Commission (NHC) reportedly stopped publishing the daily COVID-19 update without stating any reason, raising doubts about its government's transparency. Health officials said only deaths directly related to respiratory failure will be counted under COVID-19 death statistics.
Cases rising in East Asian countries
China, Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Thailand, and Singapore are reportedly facing a spurt in COVID-19 cases. India has mandated negative RT-PCR reports for those arriving from the aforementioned countries. A random sampling of international travelers was reintroduced under which 2% of passengers arriving on an international flight are being tested. Since December 24, over 6,000 people were tested and 188 were found positive.