Don't underrate threat of new Covid wave in China

Shoppers wearing masks visit a popular mall following the easing of pandemic restrictions in Beijing, Sunday, Jan. 1, 2023. [AP Photo]

The rapidly rising Covid-19 infections in China continue to cause concerns globally.

The rate of infections skyrocketed soon after the country relaxed its strict coronavirus measures in December following public protests over the country's zero-Covid policy.

Since then, millions of people are said to have contracted the coronavirus since and pictures of desperate patients lining outside hospitals and mourners crowding morgues and crematoriums have been doing rounds online.

The current outbreak is said to be many times worse than the one that preceded the onset of Covid-19 in China's Wuhan in 2019.

Understandably, countries such United States and Britain, Japan and Italy and Australia have announced compulsory Covid-19 tests for people travelling from China and quarantine for anyone who tests positive. Morocco has banned entry to all travellers coming from China.

Incredibly, our Health ministry has said it has no plans to issue restrictions against passengers travelling from China, arguing that such a move would hurt the economy.

That is true. However, the damage - both to the economy and the people - would be huge if the tragic scenes unfolding in China are replayed here. No one should know this better than the Health ministry.

Needless to say, China has taken umbrage with the countries that have reintroduced travel restrictions on its citizens. But prevention is better than cure.

There are speculations that new Covid-19 strains could be doing rounds in China. If that's true, every effort should be made to stop them from sneaking out of the country to avoid plunging the world, most which is on a recovery path, back into the Covid-19 nightmare. Matter would be worse here as the rate of Covid-19 vaccination is still down.

Our government should do the right thing and protect its citizens. It must start testing travellers from China and quarantining those found positive.

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