Covid: Switzerland will not test travelers from China

Death can wait. Beijing has stopped announcing Covid-19 deaths since christmasleaving this to the provinces.

  • At the time, the official death toll was 5,000. Even the WHO, reluctant to point fingers at countries, critique this aberrant count.

  • The British company Airfinity, specializing in predictive intelligence, foresaw between 1 and 2 million deaths if the measures are lifted, by analogy with Hong Kong.

Three local anecdotes.

  • The to naturethese “men in white” who have been testing and controlling everywhere in the street for three years, have simply disappeared.

  • On the networks, sick Internet users report themselves with a… sheep 🐑, which is pronounced like the word “positive” (/yáng/).

  • Despite censorship, some deaths are causing a stir, such as that of opera singer Chu Lanlan (40) or director Wang Jing Guang (57).

Read also: “Travelling in China is like playing cat and mouse”

The word that kills. “Covid? No one gives a fucking fuck, apart from health personnel or when it is necessary to take care of his infected family»confides to us a French expatriate, in a large Chinese city on the coast.

Towards a Lunar New Year. The return of Chinese people to their families for the New Year began on Saturday. It is the largest migration in the world: 2 billion movements are expected over 40 days.

Enough to bring the epidemic to the heart of the countryside, to elderly and vulnerable parents, where hospitals – already overwhelmed in the city – are rare.

Probable top of the wave in Inner China: by the end of January.

Make room for politics. Last week, pantomime in Brussels:

  • Several European countries have decided to test travelers before a flight: France, Italy, Spain…

  • Objective: to identify a possible new variant from China.

  • More no European consensus only emerged on a binding decision, faced with the beijing pressure.

The EU is limited to “strongly encourage” its members to request a negative Covid test from Chinese travelers, within 48 hours before boarding. The result shows a divided Europe, essentially along an East-West line.

Where the shoe pinches. In a notice dated January 3the European CDC tempers the risk posed by the Chinese wave: the level of immunity in Europe is already high, and the Omicron subvariants detected in China are “already circulating in the EU”.

But like everyone else, China has eased off on screening. However, the detection of new variants requires an active sequencing policy and transparent data sharing. Illusory, when it comes to Beijing.

If the mechanisms remain discussed, all the specialists say that the probability of emergence of a new variant is amplified by the circulation of the virus. Quietly, China may be producing tomorrow’s variant.

Read also: Covid in sewage: Switzerland in the fog

On the side of Bern. According to Time, Switzerland waited limply for the reaction of Brussels to decide on the attitude to adopt with China. The stakes are also diplomatic and economic: Beijing is the third business partner of the Confederation.

The decision fell on Wednesday January 11, at the end of the first meeting of the Federal Council of the year. It was thus decided:

  • not to take any measures aimed at testing Chinese travelers before boarding, or even upon their arrival in the territory,

  • to stick to informing about hygiene measures, in particular by recommending the wearing of a mask.

In his communiquéthe Federal Council explains this choice by taking up the arguments of the European CDC, embellished with a house addition:

“The risk of new variants of concern emerging is no greater in China than elsewhere.”

A reflection is also underway on the side of Bern to determine whether it is necessary to control the waste water of all flights arriving directly from China in order to search for new variants.

[Article mis à jour le 11 janvier 2023 à la mi-journée, pour intégrer la décision du Conseil fédéral.]

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