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Split opinions on the corona test requirement for travelers to China


In China, the number of corona infections has recently risen rapidly. The EU now wants to advise whether those entering the country must be tested. Experts, politicians and associations disagree on this.

Before the EU consultations on a possible compulsory corona test for people entering China, there was disagreement in Germany on the subject. A general obligation to test is only effective at the European level, said Green health expert Janosch Dahmen. He thinks it makes sense to test randomly. “It would make sense, for example, to use random tests to identify mutation variants at an early stage and to expand variant monitoring,” said Dahmen ARD morning magazine.

There is currently no evidence that the virus that is currently rampant in China is more dangerous than the virus variants in Europe. “From everything we know at the moment, it’s the same coronavirus of the same omicron strains that are common there as here,” said Dahmen.

“Random checks are certainly useful”, Janosch Dahmen, Bündnis 90/Die Grünen, health policy spokesman, on the obligation to test for people entering China

Morning magazine, January 4th, 2023

The chairman of the board of directors of the World Medical Association, Frank Ulrich Montgomery, advocated a general requirement for a PCR test for all travelers from China. “We don’t know what is currently happening in China. The infections are completely uncontrolled,” Montgomery told the “Rheinische Post”. He also advocated sequencing of those who tested positive in order to be able to identify variants that were not yet registered in Germany.

Stöhr: Spread of new variants possible despite tests

According to the epidemiologist Klaus Stöhr, however, tests are of little use in preventing the spread of new virus variants. “The monitoring is not such a bad idea, it is certainly scientifically interesting, but in practice you would have to see how this variant behaves in the population,” said the former head of the World Health Organization (WHO) influenza program Deutschlandfunk.

It is about which properties have changed in addition to the genetic ones, whether other age groups are also affected or whether the immune protection is undermined. “All of this takes a certain amount of time and then the variant has already slipped through. Even testing can’t prevent that,” said Stöhr. The tests would not identify every infected person.

“There are three measures under discussion”, Tobias Reckmann, ARD Brussels, on EU consultations on measures for travelers to China

Tagesschau 2:00 p.m., 4.1.2023

IATA: Mandatory testing harms the economy

The international association of airlines IATA has criticized the existing test requirement for travelers to China in some countries. “It is very disappointing to see measures that have proven ineffective over the past three years being knee-jerkly reintroduced,” said IATA chief Willie Walsh in a statement.

According to scientific studies, such measures could delay the spread of coronavirus variants by a few days at most. Instead, according to Walsh, they hurt the economy and destroyed jobs. “We have the tools to deal with Covid-19 without resorting to ineffective measures.” The association includes around 300 airlines, which together handle a good 80 percent of global air traffic.

Study: Wave threatens rural areas of China

According to a study by Chinese scientists, the wave of infection in metropolitan areas such as Beijing or Shanghai has already passed its peak. However, the massive outbreak should also affect the provinces in central and western China as well as rural areas by the end of the month, as the researchers warned in the scientific journal “Frontiers of Medicine”.

The duration and scale of the forthcoming provincial and rural outbreak could be “dramatically extended” by Lunar New Year travel on January 22. Millions of people traditionally travel to their home villages for the most important Chinese family festival. Because many older people live in small and medium-sized towns and rural areas and medical care is often inadequate, experts are concerned about the corona situation in the regions.