Are you excited about being able to finally lou hei this coming Chinese New Year without a mask on?
Well, you might want to manage your expectations a little, as there is a chance that new and dangerous COVID-19 variants might be emerging.
Here’s what you need to know.
Experts Warning of New & Dangerous COVID-19 Variants As China Continues to Reopen
Unless you’ve been living in a cave, you would have already heard of China’s easing of its zero-COVID measures this month. This week, China confirmed that from 8 January onwards, the country would finally reopen its borders.
Watch this video to find out more about China finally reopening its borders:
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However, while the nation’s reopening is undoubtedly good news, it doesn’t come without its own set of consequences as well.
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Aside from widespread shortages already occurring in China, the rest of the world is now preparing for the emergence of new COVID-19 variants.
How it works is simple: As China lifts its restrictions, more people are suddenly being exposed to COVID-19, giving the COVID-19 virus more opportunities to mutate and thereby for new variants to arise.
It’s even worse, thanks to China’s enormous population of 1.4 billion people.
After China lifted its restrictions, the COVID-19 virus is now circulating among nearly one-fifth of the world’s population. And unlike us, most of China’s population does not have immunity from prior COVID-19 infections due to the nation’s long-held zero-COVID policies. Most of the elderly in China are neither vaccinated nor boosted yet.
With China’s opening up, the COVID-19 virus has a new playground. According to experts, the virus has an increased chance of mutating to form a new variant with each new infection.
1.4 billion people—you already know the COVID-19 virus is about to go ham on its mutations. If you’re trying to get a week-long MC from work, it’s time to book that trip to Beijing.
More than 500 New Omicron Subvariants in Recent Months
Over the past few months, more than 500 new Omicron subvariants have emerged.
The good news, however, is that none of these hundreds of new variants appears capable of giving us more severe symptoms.
The bad news? This can’t be said with certainty for new variants emerging in the future.
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More than 130 new Omicron sublineages have already been detected in China in the last three months. This includes the XXB and BQ.1 sublineages spreading in the US and Europe.
While the main Omicron strains detected in China currently are BA.5.2 and BF.7, it won’t stay this way forever. A mix of sublineages is likely to start spreading altogether, and you’ll likely see another combination of alphabets and numbers making its rounds on the news as “the newest COVID-19 strain” again.
Other Countries Ramping Up Health Measures for Travellers from China
Hospitals in China will collect samples from COVID-19 patients and put the sequencing information on a new national database, allowing new COVID-19 strains to be detected in real-time.
Other countries, however, have had to take additional steps to ensure any new strains from China will be detected in time. The lack of transparent data from China has driven many countries to ramp up health measures for travellers from China.
Countries like India, US and Japan have already imposed mandatory COVID-19 tests on travellers from China.
Singapore, for now, will maintain our current COVID-19 rules for travellers from China.
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