The US will require all incoming travelers from China to submit proof of a negative Covid test before entering the nation starting January 5, officials announced today.
It comes amid fears rampant spread of the virus in China could have led to the formation of a new, more dangerous, strain of the virus. The country as reportedly suffered an explosion of Covid cases in recent weeks after abruptly ending its draconian ‘zero-Covid policy’.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has expressed concerns about the limited information that has come from China in the wake of this explosion.
Restrictions on Chinese citizens exiting their country were recently lifted. Previously, residents had to prove they had an important reason to travel abroad. Now, they can leave for tourism purposes. Around 75 flights arrived in the US from Beijing alone between December 26 and 28. Upwards of 250 flights from China’s capital may already have reached the US before the order goes into effect.
Officials also fear Chinese leaders are concealing Covid death figures. Most important, the lack of genomic data available from China has raised fears of a new strain. Some fear the situation could put the world back at ‘square one’ of the pandemic.
It echoes the situation in early 2020, where China was reluctant to inform the world of the true scale of the viruses outbreak. By the time the US did close travel from China in early February, thousands of potentially-infected passengers had already made it into the states.
Italy has instituted a similar policy as many travelers from Beijing head west after strict Covid policies were lifted. The change was made after up to half of passengers on two flights from China to Milan tested positive. Nearby Taiwan and Malaysia have done the same.
Chinese Tourists Flock to the Borders, Potentially Spreading Coronavirus Outbreak Worldwide
Travel bookings surged in China on Tuesday after the National Immigration Administration announced passport applications will once again be processed as of January 8, 2023. The policy change ends years-old travel restrictions just as the biggest coronavirus wave of the entire pandemic sweeps across China. Several other countries, such as Japan and India, announced their own restrictions on Chinese travelers in response.
Some Chinese provinces are now reporting millions of coronavirus infections in a single day, as an even more infectious variant of the highly contagious Omicron strain spreads like wildfire through a population with very little natural immunity, thanks to years of dictator Xi Jinping’s brutal “zero Covid” citywide lockdowns.
This would seem like an odd time to loosen (or, as the Chinese Communist Party likes to say, “optimize”) travel restrictions, unless one is determined to ensure the incredibly contagious strain of coronavirus ravaging one’s population is spread as quickly as possible across the world, to ensure China is not the only country to suffer its economy-crushing symptoms.
Nevertheless, China announced the end of mandatory quarantine for inbound travelers on Monday, and on Tuesday it began ramping up its passport machinery for the big Lunar New Year travel season, as reported by the state-run Xinhua news service:
Half of the passengers on 2 flights from China had COVID: report
Nearly half of the passengers on two separate flights this week from China to Milan tested positive for COVID, and health officials in Italy have announced they will test all travelers coming from the East Asian country.
The two flights of sick passengers arrived at Malpensa Airport from China on Monday, Bloomberg reported.
On the first flight, 35 out of 92 passengers tested positive for the virus, while on the second, 62 passengers out of 120 were infected, according to Lombardy region’s health chief Guido Bertolaso.
The passengers who tested positive have been isolated, and officials have ramped up their contact tracing efforts.
Italy’s Health Minister Orazio Schillaci on Wednesday announced that tests would be required “for all passengers from China and in transit through Italy.”
Officials say the measure will be critical to prevent the spread of new variants of the virus.
“The measure is essential to ensure the surveillance and identification of any variants of the virus in order to protect the Italian population,” Schillaci said, adding that further details of the plan will be provided later.
Schillaci’s announcement follows the reversal of China’s strict “zero-COVID” policies earlier this month. The sudden change has spurred China’s largest outbreak of COVID infections since the start of the pandemic and left hospitals swamped, turning away ambulances and unable to care for some critical patients.
Some 37 million people may have contracted COVID-19 in China on Dec. 20 alone, and as many as 248 million people — nearly 18% of China’s population — came down with the virus in the first 20 days of December.
US officials are considering taking additional measures for travelers coming from China, given the lack of virus-related data from the Chinese government.
Federal Court Rules Racist Messages are Not Protected Speech, High School Can Expel Student
A federal appeals court on Tuesday upheld the expulsion of a California student who posted racist messages online.
Cedric Epple, a former student at Albany High School, was expelled along with three other students who posted racist messages, including images of a slave being lynched and photo of a black classmate, with a caption saying Epple was “on the edge of bringing my rope to school on Monday.” The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled that the expulsion was justified, stating that the First Amendment does not protect expression that will disrupt classroom activities or target other students.
“Just as a school cannot be forced to teach hate speech, neither should it be forced to entertain and tolerate within its walls hate speech promulgated by arrantly misguided students,” the court opinion stated. “When school authorities take action to root out the persistent echoes of racism that arise from time to time in American society, courts should not stop them, instead allowing racist comments to be rooted out and not deemed protected by the First Amendment. These principles apply with cogent force to hate speech that threatens to dehumanize ethnic or racial groups within our multiracial society.”
Yahoo’s take on media and ‘fake news’ of voter fraud
Most Americans don’t think mail-in voter fraud is a big problem. Fox News viewers vehemently disagree
Where you get your news seems to directly correspond to how you view the myth of voter fraud.
As false claims of absentee voter fraud rise amid the 2020 election season, the Pew Research Center asked thousands of Americans how they view voter fraud, and compared it to where they say they get their news. Only a quarter of respondents told Pew they see voter fraud as a major problem when it comes to voting by mail, but Fox News viewers see things very differently.
More than half of Fox News viewers see mail-in voter fraud as a major problem, and another 30 percent see it as a minor problem, Pew found. The next highest percentage of those who see it as a major problem came from CBS News viewers, at 20 percent, while just a tiny 3 percent of New York Times and NPR consumers agreed.