The US Might Set COVID-19 Restrictions for Travellers from China

Everyone knows US and China aren’t on the best terms; to say they don’t like each other is an understatement. 

From sanctions to arrests, their feud never ends, and it’s happening again. 

The US Might Set COVID-19 Restrictions for Travellers from China

Now that Chinese travellers can fly, the US has decided to leverage that to cook up more inconveniences. 

On Tuesday (27 December), US officials said the US government may impose new COVID-19 measures on travellers from China, citing concerns over China’s “lack of transparent data.”

In an interview with Reuters, the officials said: “There are mounting concerns in the international community on the ongoing COVID-19 surges in China and the lack of transparent data, including viral genomic sequence data, being reported from the PRC (People’s Republic of China).”

Not the Only Country

If you thought the US was the only one afraid of China, you’d be wrong. 

In the last 24 hours, Japan, India, and Malaysia have all reported a rise in infections. 

To manage the crowd, Japan will soon require a negative COVID-19 test upon arrival for travellers from mainland China, said Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Tuesday. 

If they test positive, they will be required to quarantine for seven days. 

The regulations will go into effect from midnight on 30 December. 

Also, the government will limit airline requests to increase flights to China. 

On Malaysia’s part, they have put in place additional tracking and surveillance measures. 

China Opening Its Borders from 8 Jan

Early next year, not only will our tourist spots will be filled, but we will also be allowed to travel to China. 

In a U-turn of policy, it has quickly transitioned from a strict and unrelenting system to an unusually relaxed one. 

On Monday (26 December), the National Health Commission announced that inbound passengers would only be required to present a negative COVID test result obtained within 48 hours of boarding. If all is well and no symptoms surface, visitors will not face special restrictions in the country. 

“According to the national health quarantine law, infectious disease quarantine measures will no longer be taken against inbound travellers and good,” the National Health Commission said. 

Along with this, mass PCR testing upon arrival and centralized quarantine will be done away with. 

Not only will its airports ease up, but its water and land ports will, too, with restrictions on outbound travel relaxing. Following this, citizens will be permitted to travel abroad “in an orderly manner.”

This move is a shift downgrade from Class A management of the disease to Class B. For context, COVID-19 has been managed as a top category A infectious disease since 2020. Others in the category include the bubonic plague and cholera. 

However, in actuality, it is a Class B infectious disease, alongside other diseases like HIV, viral hepatitis and H7N9 bird flu. 

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China’s Stringency

In the past three years, it would be an understatement to say China was tough on its people. 

From forced quarantine to citywide lockdowns, officials not only subjected its people to emotional torture but also physical. 

Even in the televised World Cup games, China censors footage of international fans cheering without wearing masks. 

But why is it so stringent on its people? 

Because of various factors that make China vulnerable to the disease, China has to control the citizens with an iron fist to prevent the virus from spreading. 

One of these factors includes its weak homegrown vaccine. 

China’s vaccine isn’t the strongest. But they refuse to import the mRNA vaccines by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna because of the obvious political challenges in conceding its inferiority. 

Also, the people in the nation are sceptical of the vaccine, leading to decreased numbers willing to take it. As such, China’s vaccination rate remains lower than in many similar countries. 

Only around 40% of people over 80 years old have received a booster shot, and millions in the country remain unvaccinated. Coupled with its vast population, the vaccination problem continues to intensify. 

Next, it has insufficient facilities to treat its patients. Apart from Panadol and Nurofen supplies, it is also lacking in critical care beds and hospital capacities. 

Research shows China has less than five critical care beds per 100,000 people. To put things into perspective, Taiwan has almost 30, and South Korea has more than 10. The country currently has fewer ICU beds than other developed countries, putting it at major risk if cases shoot up (which they have). 

With the rural parts of China receiving unequal access to healthcare, a COVID breakout would be disastrous for the nation. 

Hence, the “Zero COVID” policy was born.

Ong Ye Kung Urges Us to Get the Bivalent Shot

As China eases its restrictions, the concentrated pool of 1.3 billion fidgety people sick of staying home will begin to tsunami outwards to other nations. 

In other words, things are about to change. 

Health Minister Ong Ye Kung urges us to get the bivalent vaccination shot. 

But if we already have the COVID vax shot, won’t we be protected?

While the above is true, Mr Ong established the risks of mutations as China opens up. In other words, we might have protection against virus A, but China’s virus B, virus C, and others can still penetrate our defences. 

Wait, what’s the difference between the normal jab and the bivalent one?

When a vaccine is “bivalent”, it means that the vaccine stimulates an immune response against two different antigens. The bivalent COVID-19 vaccines include a component of the original virus strain to provide broad protection against COVID-19 and a component to provide better protection against COVID-19 caused by the omicron variant.

Essentially, better lor.

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Featured Image: Nomad1988 / Shutterstock + B.Zhou / Shutterstock