China lifts travel restrictions despite rising COVID cases, raising concern in the US and other countries

Tokyo — Many hospitals and funeral homes say they are overwhelmed by a Worsening COVID-19 outbreak in China, although the government reports only a handful of new deaths from the virus. The rise in cases over China draws an answer from other countries, including the US

Japan, India, South Korea, Taiwan and Malaysia have already said they will require virus testing for visitors from China, and Japanese authorities have severely restricted flights to and from China.

U.S. officials are considering similar measures, with officials telling CBS News on Wednesday that there are growing concerns about the rise in infections and the lack of transparent data from Beijing, making it increasingly difficult for public health officials to ensure they are in will be able to identify potential new variants and take prompt action to contain the spread.


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The US officials told CBS News that Washington, along with international partners, is considering “possible steps” that could be taken to monitor the surging cases in China, identify any potential new variants of concern emerging there and ” to protect the American people”. .”

The new restrictions that Japan has imposed include travelers from China who have entered the country and found COVID-19 must be quarantined for one week in a designated facility.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said the new restrictions are temporary – spurred by an information gap about the true state of the pandemic in China.

Since China dramatically reversed its years-long “zero-COVID” policy aimed at eradicating every case of the coronavirus, it has been quick to lift restrictions. Authorities plan to lift all travel bans early next year – a move likely to trigger a flood of Chinese travelers going abroad for the Lunar New Year holiday after nearly three years of continuous lockdowns as part of the draconian zero-COVID approach.

The news that international travelers will not be required to undergo quarantine, as well as the lifting of the ban on issuing or renewing passports for Chinese nationals, have excited people across the vast country.

Within 15 minutes of the policy change being announced, searches for popular international travel destinations increased 10-fold, with popular Chinese travel booking site Qunar reporting a seven-fold increase in searches for international flights.

But relief at the end of China’s lockdowns has been tempered, and much of the nation is now in dire straits. Some estimates suggest that more than half of all Beijing residents are currently infected with the virus.


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dr Howard Bernstein said the hospital he works at in Beijing is out of beds and “is just overwhelmed from top to bottom.

While Chinese officials say COVID has only claimed about 5,000 lives, recent scenes at funeral homes tell a darker story. The rows of coffins in front of an unidentified building in northern China appear to be endless this week.

By at least one estimate, the explosion of cases in China, where many people are unvaccinated or under-vaccinated, could kill 1 million people by the end of 2023, and it is threaten to unleash new, more dangerous mutations from the virus.

CBS News’ Tucker Reals, Gillian Morley, and Shuai Zhang contributed to this report.

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/china-covid-cases-deaths-travel-restrictions-other-nations/ China lifts travel restrictions despite rising COVID cases, raising concern in the US and other countries

Rick Schindler

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