news Xi Jinping’s New Year’s message to China amid Covid case explosion
President Xi Jinping said Saturday that “a glimmer of hope is ahead of us” as China faces an explosion of Covid-19 cases after a sudden lifting of restrictions.
Three years after the coronavirus first emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan, Beijing this month began abandoning a hardline containment policy known as “Zero Covid.”
Chinese hospitals were then flooded with mostly elderly patients, crematoriums were overloaded and many pharmacies ran out of antipyretics.
“Prevention and control of the epidemic is entering a new phase…Everyone is working resolutely, and there is a glimmer of hope ahead,” Xi said in his New Year’s televised address.
It was the second time this week that a Chinese president has commented on the outbreak. On Monday, he called for measures to “effectively protect people’s lives.”
China reported more than 7,000 new Covid-related infections and one death out of a population of 1.4 billion on Saturday, but the numbers don’t seem to match reality on the ground.
Authorities have announced that they will end mandatory quarantines on arrival for travelers entering China from January 8, allowing Chinese nationals to travel abroad after three years of frustration.
In response, several European countries, including France and Italy, as well as the United States and Japan, have announced that they will require negative tests for passengers arriving from China, mainly due to fears of a new subspecies.
Canada said on Saturday it would join the list of countries requiring negative tests, citing “limited epidemiological and viral genome sequence data available” on recent Covid cases in China.
Meanwhile, Morocco has gone a step further, announcing a ban on all incoming travelers from China, regardless of nationality, “to avoid a new wave of contamination in Morocco and all its consequences.”
World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the precautionary measures taken by some states were “understandable” given the lack of information about the outbreak provided by Beijing. rice field.
“Without comprehensive information from China, it is understandable that countries around the world are acting in ways they believe can protect their own populations,” he said.
But the European branch of the International Airports Council, which represents more than 500 airports in 55 European countries, condemned the new Covid checks on Saturday.
“These unilateral actions run contrary to all experience and evidence gained over the past three years,” the statement said.
“Imposing other restrictions on travelers from this country is neither scientifically justified nor risk-based.”
European countries are set to meet next week to discuss a joint response to the issue, with incoming EU presidency Sweden “seeking a common policy across the EU regarding the possible introduction of immigration restrictions”. Stated.
The WHO said Friday night it had met with Chinese officials to discuss the outbreak.
In a statement, the United Nations Health Organization said, “WHO will regularly release specific real-time data on the epidemiological situation, including more gene sequence data and data on the impact of the disease such as hospital admissions, admissions to intensive care units and deaths. I asked for sharing again,” he said.
It also called for data on immunization of vulnerable populations, particularly those aged 60 and over.
Beijing says its Covid statistics have been transparent since the start of the pandemic.
Since 2020, the company’s zero Covid policy, with mass testing, strict monitoring of movement and quarantine orders, has protected a large portion of the Chinese population.
However, this strategy has isolated the country from the rest of the world and dealt a severe blow to the world’s second largest economy.
The draconian measures sparked nationwide protests last month in a rare form of dissent against the ruling Communist Party.
(This article is not edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)
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