China imposes transit curbs for S.Korea, Japan; WHO voices concern over data
- The World Health Organisation said a lack of data was making it challenging to help China manage the risks of a COVID-19 surge over the Lunar New Year holiday, as the world's second-largest economy reopens after three years of isolation. The holiday, known before the pandemic as the world's largest annual migration of people, comes amid an escalating diplomatic spat over COVID curbs that saw Beijing introduce transit curbs for South Korean and Japanese nationals on Wednesday.
- The virus is spreading unchecked in China after Beijing abruptly began dismantling its previously tight curbs in early December following historic protests. The WHO said it still does not have enough information from China to make a full assessment of the dangers of the surge while China says it has been transparent with its data.
- China removed quarantine mandates for inbound travellers on Sunday, one of the last vestiges of the world's strictest regime of COVID restrictions. But worries about the scale and impact of the outbreak prompted more than a dozen countries to demand negative COVID test results from people arriving from China. Among them, South Korea and Japan have also limited flights and require tests on arrival, with passengers showing up as positive being sent to quarantine. In South Korea, quarantine is at the traveller's own cost.
- In response, the Chinese embassies in Seoul and Tokyo said on Tuesday they had suspended issuing short-term visas for travellers to China, with the foreign ministry slamming the testing requirements as "discriminatory."