COVID19: Cyprus on alert over China threat

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Cypriot health authorities are on high alert over how to respond to China’s worsening COVID19 landscape after Chinese authorities lifted restrictions amid a wave of infections.

Health Minister Michalis Hadjipantela has called an emergency meeting with government advisors on handling the coronavirus outbreak on January 2 to discuss the situation in China.

“The Medical Services and Public Health Services are in close cooperation and are following the recommendations of the European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (ECDC) and the Health Security Committee carefully,” the Health Ministry said.

It said Hadjipantela would hold video calls with the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Regional Director for Europe and his European counterparts for further coordination.

The scale of the outbreak in China and doubts over official data have prompted countries, including the United States, India, and Japan, to impose new travel rules on Chinese visitors.

Only Italy has done so in the EU, while others in the largely borderless bloc either said they saw no need to follow suit or were waiting for a common stance across the 27 member states.

Top health officials from the European Union held talks on Thursday to coordinate very different views, with Italy’s Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini urging that “Italy cannot be the only country to carry out anti-COVID checks at airports for those arriving from China.”

After nearly three years of self-imposed isolation, China is opening up again.

The domestic travel restrictions, mass-testing requirements, and draconian lockdowns of the “zero-covid” policy were scrapped in early December.

On January 8, China will reopen its borders, too.

This is occurring amid a new wave of infections overwhelming the country’s health system, with experts saying the latest wave could claim the lives of up to one million people in China.

Some scientists are worried the COVID-19 surge in China could unleash a new coronavirus variant on the world that may or may not be similar to the ones circulating now.