Sweden, which has always followed its less restrictive path than the rest of Europe during the pandemic, is taking over the presidency of the EU semester and is changing course with the announcement of a meeting of the partners Wednesday to discuss a joint response to travelers from China. The meeting of the Crisis Management Mechanism Council (IPCR) “is important to implement the necessary measures quickly,” Stockholm said.
The subpoena came after half of Europe moved in no particular order due to the extraordinary spike in infections in China following the end of airport security restrictions. Three days ago, France, Spain and Britain joined Rome in demanding a negative swab for all arriving from Chinese airports. In short, Sweden-led Europe appears intent on resuming the ranks of common policies on the pandemic, such as on vaccine purchases, as solitary anti-Covid policies have proved losers with hindsight. Skeptical Berlin, which did not consider compulsory testing to be necessary, but says it is thinking of a coordinated system for monitoring virus variants at European airports.
Finally, President Xi Jinping himself said in his televised New Year address that China is “still in a difficult moment in the fight against the coronavirus. The prevention and control of the epidemic has entered a new phase, but the light of hope is ahead.” Perhaps less optimistic are Chinese citizens after three years of very heavy restrictions imposed by Beijing, which is pursuing the “zero Covid” policy, by confining millions of people at home for endless periods of time. Not only that, the lack of trust in Chinese-made medicines is suddenly being shown, as is the rush to be vaccinated with Western mRNA vaccines wherever possible. This is the case in the small Macao SAR, which has been besieged by tourists from mainland China to secure a spot on the list at the only hospital to offer Pfizer and Moderna vaccinations.The schedule is currently packed and a hospital official told the Financial Times that his Phone “continuously” ringing since epidemic peaked in China.
Officially, China has registered just over 5,200 deaths from Covid, but there is a big gap between the picture the authorities are presenting and the reality emerging from social media posts. In addition to hospital emergency room numbers. Last week, police cordoned off a security cordon around a Beijing crematorium where long lines of hearses could be seen.
A first wave of infections in urban areas is expected to peak in January, according to British health analysis firm Airfinity. But a second, larger wave will hit rural areas where health systems are weaker in February. The Global Times newspaper wrote that the rural affairs leadership group had released a plan emphasizing the urgency of strengthening the epidemic prevention and control system and promoting vaccination and social distancing.
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